Help! I’m stuck on my lead!

The lead (lede). It’s an essential part of an article. It’s the hook that brings readers in, it’s the flag that sets the tone for the rest of the article. A reader’s road map…I could go on and on.

There’s nothing more frustrating than doing the research, conducting the interviews, gathering your cup of joe and sitting down to that blank page with a blinking cursor. An article’s lead is important – which is why it is often the hardest part of the article for writers to write.

So what do you do when you’re stuck?

Reread your notes.

There’s gold in them there notes! Go through your notes and research and pay attention to things that jump out at you – statistics, quotes, anecdotes, etc. A lead is supposed to set the tone and tell readers where the article is going. Find a point and build the article around it.

Create an outline.

Sounds old-school, I know, but many writers like to let the article flow organically from their brains through their fingertips and out onto the screen. Well, when your lede has a Kung-Fu grip on your organic process, its time to structure a way out of the roadblock. Outlines go a long way in helping writers organize their ideas and find their main point.

Revisit your angle.

There are times when an article takes a different turn than expected and writers will find themselves trying to fit a round article into a square editorial angle. If it doesn’t work, don’t force it. Revisit the angle with your editor and explain what works and what doesn’t. Be sure to have a viable, alternative angle prepared for the discussion.

Do more research.

Lack of a lede can indicate a lack of information to present – which means you have to go back into the research phase. Hopefully you haven’t left the article until the last minute! Sometimes writers can get away with holes in their articles, but when the hole is in the lead…Yeah, not good.

Take a break.

The blinking cursor, the blank screen – they are just big ole bullies. They sit there expectantly, waiting on you to do something… So, skip out on the pressure and take a break. Take a walk, eat a snack, open a window, or play some music. Do whatever you need to do to recharge your brain. Writing is a creative process, but it’s also a lot of work. Make sure you are giving yourself enough opportunities to reboost!

What do you do when you’re stuck on a lede? Tell us below!


One response
  1. Greg Avatar

    When I get stuck when writing my leads, I just start typing and don’t worry about the quality (per se) of the writing. Once I have the article written, I go back and cut out the fluff, I rearrange sentences and paragraphs. I sculpt the clay that I just molded. It’s always easier for me to edit my writing than to sit down and try to get it right the first time.

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