The Weekly Writing Tips are a collection of best practices for writing and reporting at Global Voices. February and March's tips are brought to you by Ndesanjo, regional editor for Sub-Saharan Africa.
How does an author become a regular Global Voices contributor? How does one overcome the challenge of having nothing to write about for a long period of time?
Today, I will briefly address these questions by pointing out tips that can help us come up with GV stories on a regular basis.
Here we go:
Borrow a brain:
Interviews someone who is doing something amazing that falls under our mission.
Interviews are a great way of getting stories and highlighting great works being done by people in our communities or countries. With interviews, you just have to do a bit of research about the person and come up with questions.
Most of our interviews are email based.
And with interviews, you don't have to come up with the answers. Yeah!
Learn important issues/topics happening around you by using Twitter trends
Want to know what’s trending on Twitter around the world? Or in a specific country or city? Trendsmap, for example, shows this at a glance. It is free for basic search, which works perfect for me.
Ask your editor:
You can ask your editor for ideas. He/she might have come across a story that you can work on. Or he/she can look for it.
Look for unique perspectives on big events/stories:
Covering big events that have been widely reported in the media can be challenging. The best way can be to look for social media content around the issue that offers a completely different perspective. Highlighting unique perspectives fits extremely well with our core mission.
Read Global Voices posts:
Yes, we do not publish our posts only for non GVers! Read other authors’ posts for ideas. You will be surprised how many ideas for stories you can get from reading other authors’ posts. You can come across topics that you maybe usually ignoring not knowing they are suitable for our readers.
These posts should not only be from the authors in your own region.
Subscribe to email lists:
Email lists are a great way of alerting us about important stories that we might have otherwise missed. For example, I get a lot of story ideas from Committee to Protect Journalist email list.
Look for organizations that speak to your interest and subscribe to their email lists.
Send your editor a “very rough” draft:
There are instances where authors send me posts in rough forms and even in word format for me to upload to the site and do all the formatting, add images and all other final details such as checking categories. This maybe due to internet speed/access, power shortage, time, etc. I am sure we will agree that despite the extra work put on your editor, having that wonderful post on GV is more important.
However, this should be approached with care and only when it is REALLY necessary.
Contribute to a story by sharing an idea:
You can contribute to a story by sharing a story idea with your editor in situations where you do not have time to write it. You come across a story that you would normally write, but you are held up in meetings, traveling or busy with your daily work or social demands…tell your editor about it.
Follow your heart:
Finally, do not hesitate to follow your heart. Your passion. We are all passionate about something/s. I hope so.
To find stories that are directly connected to your passion and even writing them does not require much effort as when we write about a topic we are not very familiar with.
For example, if you love photography, write a post showcasing the best photo blogs in your country. If you love poetry, showcase poetry blogs. If you love politics, show us how politicians or political parties are using social media in your country.
Topics that are close to our hearts are endless: fashion, food, music, film, books, travel, human rights, gender, etc.
Thanks everyone. Have a great weekend.