Many freelance writers need to write under pressure and meet strict deadlines
We could write stories that provided a range of perspectives, debated the relevant body of evidence and added a unique perspective.
Unfortunately, the world is less than ideal when it comes to health writing. The practice of pilfering bits of information from previously published content in order to craft a news story in a flash is rife (as is inaccurate health reporting).
A client recently found themselves in a situation where another publication used their article as a reference point to formulate a story. As a result, the author of my client’s article was actually represented as the study author.
The writer of the erroneous piece hadn’t checked the original clinical trial to verify the author details because of tight deadlines. And, this situation got me thinking about some of the pitfalls of writing under pressure.
For some online writers, it’s too easy to read other news articles about health research or a medical breakthrough and then formulate a story. Some writers don’t even read the original abstract, let alone the full study – another common side effect of needing to write and create content under pressure.
While an incorrect author name doesn’t seem like a big deal, factually incorrect and inaccurate health reporting has the potential to do a lot of damage.
With that in mind, here’s a checklist you can use whenever you need to write under pressure. The list is certainly not exhaustive, but it helps me to stay focused and gives me direction when I’m meeting tight deadlines.
7 tips for writing under pressure
- Double check crucial study details including journal title, author details, location and affiliations – check PubMed and the official journal website. Think about how you can accurately refer to the authors if they’re from different locations.
- Consider how new research is placed within the context of the body of evidence – have a look at what past studies showed to try and add some perspective or depth to your story
- Write an original piece based on the outcomes of the study – try and avoid reading what other people have already written about the research in case it influences you
- Speak to an expert if time permits – contact the study author, health professional or key opinion leader
- Include statistics or quotes from key organisations if relevant – cancer councils, disease associations and government health organisations have relevant vital statistics that can enhance a story
- Don’t use another writer’s work as the primary source – read the full original study
- If you must refer to the work of someone else, credit them in-text – you can write “according to a report published in xxx” but it doesn’t always work well, only use it as a last resort
What are your best tips for writing under pressure?