We've been in the middle of a big push to get two dozen articles completed by Thanksgiving. Our internal processes combined with our training as journalists makes this a lot easier. But sometimes, it's hard to create interest-getting ledes and strong endings--yet we know those are mission-critical. Lately, if I don't have the lede or ending figured out pretty quickly, I just write the article. I create the logic, the flow, and make sure it opens and closes properly--if not creatively. Then I move on, noting that an important paragraph or two need to be written during the revision phase. This enables me to do two things:

  1. Keep working on stories. I don't compound the pressure by letting work back up while I try to solve the problem. Often I find that the missing graf for CTA comes to me while I'm working another piece, and I can quickly go back in and add it. The key is to produce a piece that has all the necessary information--it's complete--so that if it had to be filed, it could be. This is important not only for managing workflow, but for managing my own feelings about unfinished work.
  2. Put it off till revision. Revision is the time to make our writing better, so sometimes I just need to be in that frame of mind--a slower pace that gives me more time to craft rather than draft. This is where we have the space to be more strategic and creative. It's also when we ask other writers for help on a specific aspect of our work. This could be a lede or ending, or the flow, or the tone -- anything we can name and get other people to suggest solutions.

Next time you find yourself stumped for the perfect lede or ending, use this plan to help you stay on the path and find your inspiration down the road.