Not long ago someone asked me if there is ever a time that my profession is unappealing. To be more specific, she wanted to know if I am ever asked to write articles that I have absolutely no interest in. Naturally, the answer is, “YES!”
Suddenly the managing editor gets “inspired,” and hits you up with something completely off the cuff, or there is no one else to cover “this particular story.” Guaranteed this article will never be a feature. It plays out something like this. In a series of five brief emails, you are suddenly writing a story that could be your worst creative nightmare:
Editor: Need you to cover a story about horse manure and waste management.
Writer: What kind of story? Can you be a little more specific?
Editor: Research. Talk to the derby and take a spin out to the waste management. See what’s going on.
Writer: The derby?
Editor: Kentucky? Hello? Derby? We live in Kentucky? Word has it manure is the easiest thing to compost, and now the waste management is planning to work with the derby and surrounding horse boarding facilities. Get the story. Need it tomorrow at noon. We’ll run it this week.
Wow. Suddenly I am supposed to get inspired.
As completely boring as this kind of story might seem, the excitement is not in the subject matter, but more in the way you play with the words and unfold the story. While the entire subject matter would normally make me cringe, the process becomes the fire that keeps me on track. That’s right! Once again, writers block is hard to find!
Here are some suggestions:
Don’t forget your hook, and a title that will lure the reader in. The title might read something like this: “Managing manure: Kentucky Derby joins ranks with Waste Management,” or, “Waste Management’s horse manure strategies: Compost it!”
In a news-driven article like this you want to make sure that you present a problem and a solution. If there are no solution(s), a reader will get lost in the problem(s) and rapidly lose interest. Using anecdotes is another way to hook your reader. Address your reader–make it personal. “So if YOU have a lot of manure laying around…”
It’s doable. Just focus on the process and not the subject matter!
(and, NO… I don’t live in Kentucky)