Article Writing and How a Cup of Tea Led Me to the 4Rs

On one of my recent article writing courses – during a tea break, I hasten to add – we were discussing the way education has changed. Someone mentioned the 3Rs, which, as everyone knows, refers to ‘reading writing and arithmetic’.I made the frivolous point that I always feel cheated when people speak about the 3Rs because only one of those words actually starts with the letter R.At which point someone in the group challenged me to come up with the 3Rs of article writing. And no cheating. Well, it turned out to be surprisingly easy. In fact, after about 30 seconds, I realised I could go one better and give them the 4Rs.So here they are: four critical things to remember when you write an article – as they occurred to me over a cup of tea.Readers
These guys have to be number one. If you fail to focus on your readers or their needs and interests, you will produce a very unsatisfactory article. Perhaps the most common mistake made by new writers is to overlook this.Research
No matter how knowledgeable you are on a subject, I believe a little research can go a long way. Firstly, it enables you to double-check that you are giving up-to-date information. Secondly, it allows you to be more specific in your writing. Not all articles need research, but where it’s appropriate, it can add value and substance to what you are saying.Respect
I strongly believe we must show respect to the reader. We do this by checking spelling and grammar, as well as by working hard to give them useful and engaging material. When I look across the web, I see many articles that have been cranked out at speed simply to fill a screen or get a backlink. These articles can be barely readable, and sometimes contain mistakes that could easily have been corrected. As far as I am concerned their authors are being disrespectful.Rewards
Every article we write should deliver some rewards for the reader. These could be useful tips, insightful observations, or links to helpful resources. They could also include an entertaining story or even a good joke. If the only thing readers get from our articles is a cheesy sales slogan or an affiliate link, then I would suggest we are sending them away unrewarded.So there you have it – my 4Rs of article writing. They may not be as famous or as widely taught as the 3Rs, but at least they all begin with the letter R.