This week’s headlines

I had the opportunity to write many good articles for my third issue. One was

Took some time off to take the grandkids to the park Saturday. My grandson Lennox discovered swinging and cried when I took him home.

about a Boy Scout Troop, whose members have disabilities, a Hiawatha business, whose owner is also a founder of an animal rescue in a neighboring community, and the update on the Hiawatha city council happenings.

There were many others, but those are the big ones. And I finally have a few new writers. Granted, two of them are my daughters, but two others are people who just want to write for me.

My first two issues weren’t bad, but they weren’t the best, either. Someone told me, “Don’t be so hard on yourself,” but I have to be a little bit. How can I expect to do improve if I’m OK with being mediocre?

And I am getting better. My third issue was actually 15 minutes early, compared to last week’s hour late. I also received some great feedback that I used in the latest issue.

But I had to improvise a little. I was only going to do 8 pages, and found that I did have enough material for almost 12. Not enough sports or school news, so what do I do?

The material I had was mismatched and so I could have gone back down to 8 and stockpiled the others, or go for the 12. I had to make a decision, so I went for the 12. I wanted to put in an engagement and wouldn’t have been able to include two stories I had to get in. But it doesn’t matter what the reason is. I believe that I made the right choice.

And it will get easier to make those choices as I go, but it’s nice to know that I can go with 8 pages if I need to.

I’m definitely learning a lot, not just about how to put together a newspaper, but about business, and people, how they are affected by what I write, and how I can have an impact on the world around me.

Issue four is coming right along, and with spring coming next week and summer not far behind, I may just have to go to 16 pages.

How to write headlines and leads-Week 16

“Your headline is the first, and perhaps only, impression you make on a prospective reader.”

Headline of the War of the Worlds broadcast (volcanoseven.com)

This is a fairly accurate summary (courtesy of copyblogger.com) of why we use headlines to  attract our reader’s attention. It’s also something that I have always had to work at.  It’s not that I’m bad at it; I’m just not as good as I could be. I was told that practice makes perfect, but believe me, I have practiced…a lot.

They say that a good writer is not born, they are made.  But I beg to differ. I think it’s a combination of the two. I think it takes both talent and good writing skills to make a story come to life, which includes having an awesome headline, a great lead, and an interesting story. You can be a talented writer, but without the necessary skills, readers wouldn’t be able to follow it very well. And you can have good writing skills, but without the talent, it could possibly be dull and lifeless.

But unfortunately, headlines are not my only downfall; I am also lacking in the mastery of lead writing. But I am getting better at it. I understand the concept of good lead writing, but for some reason, my right brain and left brain seem to get confused with the logical and creative attributes that should be balancing itself in my writing. In one story a lead will come to me right away. In another story, it may take a while.

Why? I’m not exactly sure. You would think I would have a set pattern to follow, but I don’t. I think about what I want to write, think about what audience I’m targeting, and think about how I can catch their attention. Then my fingers have a mind of their own. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but usually my lead has all the needed elements, even if it isn’t very catchy.

The headline and the lead are the most important parts of a news story.  I know that if I want to get people to read my stories I have to become better at it.
Week 16 has me thinking a lot about what I need to do to become a better writer. All the pieces of my puzzle will come together very soon and I have to be ready. But I don’t think it’s just practice that will help me be a better headline and lead writer. Opening up my creativity a little more will also help. Now I just have to figre out how to do that.
I’m taking a few days off and travel to Colorado to enjoy the mountains and fresh air. I have a feeling this will be my last vacation for quite a while, but that’s OK. What I am doing is not like work to me. I guess that means I’m on the right track.

Hiawatha Advocate