Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Write Your Lead Last

Do you ever spend too much time trying to figure out how to start writing something? An article, an essay, a blog post, a book?

It's generally a waste of time to try to craft your lead or your introduction first. Instead, write the body first. See where things go as you write. The argument or the logic behind your article might change--perhaps radically--as you write it, as you gather new information and as you interview new sources. Don't put the cart before the horse and try to decide on the perfect intro before you know what your article is really about.

Even on those extremely rare occasions when I come up with a good lead up front, I almost always end up being forced to change it as the article takes new twists and turns as I write it. Those twists and turns change what I need to say to introduce the piece. Thus, not only did I waste time trying to think up the perfectly crafted intro, I ended up having to re-craft it anyway.

Once you've completed most or all of the body of your article, it will be a lot easier to craft a good lead.

It might seem logical to write something from beginning to end, but this is a perfect example of how it's much more efficient and effective to start at the middle and write the beginning last.