Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Rewrite, Reuse, Recycle

Note:  the original version of this post was published in 2008. 

How do we manage a lack of writing time? The same way we manage our paper and plastic:  reuse, rewrite, and recycle.

Rewrite:  Sell the Same Topic to Multiple Markets

There's nothing like double dipping to get the most out of your research. For example, I just did research for an article about "Preparing Your Child for Preschool." While doing that reading and interviewing, I learned about more than preschool prep. I also found out about ways to 1)help children handle the first day of preschool, and 2)help older children settle into a new school. These are two additional articles that I already have most of the information to write.

I used to do this more often when I had freelance clients who took up a lot of my writing time. I'd write the article for them, and afterwards, use the same research to slant it towards other markets I was interested in.  With the research already done and the writing foundation laid, it takes a lot less time to rewrite the additional articles.

This morning I brought Linda, the freelance writer I've been working with, an article I'd written for an insurance website. It's called "Summer Barbecue Safety." (not exactly a seat-of-your-pants topic, huh?) She suggested I now rewrite it, angling it towards parents who want to protect their kids and home from burns and fire; and then rewrite it again by getting some quotes from a couple of BBQ manufacturers & fire officials, and pitch it to magazines. While it's probably too late to pitch a summer BBQ article, I can think of several other articles I've already written that can be reworked this way.

Doing this reduces the time spent researching and writing three different articles from scratch, and makes it easier to keep up the continuous pitching.

Reuse:  Submit Your Reprints 

Why is it we always feel we need to produce new content for it to be valuable? There are tons of publications out there that take reprints. In fact, the regional parenting markets I submit to assume I'm sending them reprints, unless I specifically tell them otherwise.

As long as the article was initially published with first rights only, and you disclose that it's a reprint when submitting to a market that accepts reprints, there's no reason the same piece you published years ago can't generate current clips - and cash. Just make sure the new publication accepts reprints.

Recycle:  Update Old Articles with Timely Info

And speaking of old articles - even if aspects of the articles are outdated, who says you can't make use of previous research by recycling the old material into newer, updated articles? In scanning one of my old articles, I found that only the web listings had to be changed; on another, I needed to replace a few paragraphs - but the rest is fine as is.

Between research and writing, I usually spend three to five hours on one article, so I saved most of that time simply by sifting through old work.

If you've already sold exclusive rights to an old article, you can use still recycle it into a new submission. Use the content to write completely new articles with a different spin. And save research time in the process.


ACW said...

I've heard this advice before and I think it has a lot of merit. Another opportunity is to turn the piece into an FOB (front of book) -- you might even be able to turn one solid, well-researched article into several FOB's.


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