Tuesday, November 13, 2012

How Writing an Article is Like Feeding a Baby

I help a lot of writers hone their article writing skills. I also see a lot of the same mistakes. Through this, I’ve discovered how much writing an article is like feeding a baby. This may seem like an odd comparison, but bear with me. I think you’ll see the similarities just like I did.

Here are some of the things I’ve learned:

Make Healthy Choices: A baby can’t grow into a healthy adult without a variety of foods. A diet of nothing but sweets may sound like fun at first, but can leave even the most sugar hungry unsatisfied.
Likewise an article needs to present something of substance. Otherwise the reader is left empty and feeling like the time spent reading was wasted. 

Serve Reasonable Portion Sizes: Any parent knows you tailor the amount of food you give a child to their size. A baby can’t get around the same serving size as a full-grown adult.

The same is true with writing. You have to tailor the size of the article to the medium your reader is using. An audience who is reading an educational periodical can handle a much longer article than one who’s surfing the Internet reading blogs. Even beyond the length of the article, you’ll have to consider the sentence and paragraph lengths.

Find the Right Mix of Textures and Tastes: We all know what our kids like. And we know how to sandwich in the healthy stuff to make it palatable for them to eat. For my sons it involved a spoon carefully loaded with a small bit of broccoli and a larger bit of peaches. It’s a smart parent who makes healthy food more palatable by including favorites.

With articles you need to do the same thing. There is certain information your reader needs to know to understand the point you’re making. But that doesn’t mean you can’t make it in a pleasing manner. For example, don’t give me an entire two paragraphs of statistics. Serve those statistics within a story or anecdote.
Offer Small Healthy Bites: Most parents have seen firsthand the result of offering bites that are too big to a baby. Without going into too much detail, the gagging that follows affects everyone within earshot. It’s just not possible for a small child to swallow a huge bite.

The same holds true with our sentence structure in an article. When we offer our readers run-on sentences with large amounts of unrelated information, it overwhelms them. They just can’t process it all.

Finish with a Flourish: Especially with picky children, parents have to learn to keep meal time positive. Ending with a special treat or something fun is a way to keep them coming back for more without too much whining.

Finishing off an article with a satisfying conclusion or thought provoking morsel will keep your readers asking for more.

Writing an article with valuable information presented in a pleasing format isn't difficult. But it does take some thought and some planning. 

Don't forget to join the conversation!


  1. Great suggestions. Will keep this handy when I write the 10 or so blogs I've promised myself to write before the first of the year.

  2. Thanks for the advice,Edie. What an original comparison--writing and feeding a baby. Definition got my attention.

  3. Hahahaha! I love this comparison! And yes, when I first read your title, I thought "What?" Then I HAD to read it. :-)

  4. You are bringing back the memory of my son being in his highchair with his mouth firmly shut so that no spoon could get in. Thankfully the ceiling fan was above that spot in the kitchen, and I could tell him to look at the fan, and when he looked up his mouth would drop open, and the spoonful of food went in. I am not sure how to relate that to article writing, but with your insight I think you can make it work. Thanks for the memory and your good advice. Uh oh! Do I spot a run-on sentence in what I just wrote? LOL

  5. I love the comparison, Edie. I especially like "finish with a flourish."

  6. i really love your article and work when i mom come in your blog then fell happy to your mind thought awesome work friend