Thursday, August 12, 2010

Fight For Your Right to Write

I’ll start with what will probably be the highlight of my internship: I’m writing three articles for the magazine! I still can’t fathom that people all over the country will see my name and read my writing. I’m incredibly happy that I have this opportunity — but it’s not going to be easy to pull off.

I found out I was writing these articles the second-to-last week of my internship. That gives me only eight days to work on the articles from the office. I can always work from home and send the articles by e-mail, but it would be nice to leave the internship with everything completed.

Since the timing is so rushed, I got to work as soon as I found out the topics of the articles. The first step was contacting experts that could contribute to each piece. I e-mailed three people, one for each article. One expert said yes right away, while the other two forwarded my e-mail to a few different people. As of now, the end of my second-to-last week, I have one interview completed, one interview scheduled — and the other is up in the air. The people I’ve contacted for that article are foreign and are traveling, so it’s been difficult to confirm that they can answer my questions. I’m hoping they will send me responses next week, but I may be writing that article from home.

Ah yes, actually writing the articles. Since my words will be featured in the magazine, I really want to write professional, informative pieces. The editors of the sections my articles will appear in have been incredibly helpful. They met with me and talked me through the format the article should be in, gave me tips for interviewing the experts, and taught me some new terms used in the publishing industry. My articles will start with a “lede” (yes, it’s lede, not lead) as an introduction. The lede is similar to the hook used in a formal essay — it speaks directly to the reader and draws them in. The “nut graf” explains the main point that the article is about. The “button” at the end of the story sums up the content in a perky tagline. (Psst: See more magazine speak here). I’m nervous that I won’t be able to strike a balance between keeping my own style and writing for a large audience, but I feel better now that I know what I need to do.

I’m looking forward to seeing how everything turns out, especially because I was initially hesitant to take on the articles. I knew I wouldn’t have much time to work on them from the office, and from my experience working for my high school and college newspapers, I know interviewees can be fickle. When I was asked at the ideas meeting if I wanted to write the articles, I said I didn’t think I’d be able to. Luckily, the editors all talked me out of it. They were so supportive of me — they offered to help with whatever I needed and pointed out that having these articles would further my career and résumé. Thanks to their encouragement, I changed my mind and said yes. Now I see what a mistake it would have been not to write the articles. I’ve put in so much work at the magazine, and this is the best pay-off I could hope for (besides actual money — that would be nice too). Wish me luck!

Have any other interns been assigned a big story to write? Let me know if you have any advice!

Successfully yours,
Lifestyle Intern

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