The theme of this issue is wellness. I was going to use this editor’s letter to share a few poetic and profound thoughts on the subject but seeing as how so many of our amazing members have shared theirs so thoughtfully in the following pages, I’ll spare you my purple prose.
Instead, I’ve decided to address a different kind of wellness — the wellness of The Docket. In order to keep this a thriving, relevant, and entertaining publication, we need the voices of as many members as possible to join in the chorus.
To provide a little guidance and hopefully some inspiration, here are a few tips from longtime friend of the magazine Gurney F. Pearsall III.
10 Publishing Tips
- Read the past few editions of the magazine to get an idea of its overall style and the many kinds of articles and article styles (not every article has to be a feature-length law review). By seeing what kinds of topics it likes to publish, you’ll be able to see what topics are oversaturated and what topics are receiving little to no coverage.
- Pick a topic that’s interesting or unusual, a topic that covers an area of law that is niche or emerging, or a story about a case of yours that offers something for everyone to learn from, like a case study.
- Write what you know. Discussing your experiences makes an article automatically more readable because practical experience is more valuable than reciting facts and statistics. Having personal experience in the field you’re writing about adds credibility to you as an author and gives you opportunities to tell stories.
- Pre-write. Creating bullet points and making decisions about the overall structure of the writing before putting any words on paper help eliminate writer’s block and streamline the writing process. Knowing what to say is as important as knowing how and in what order you are going to say it.
- Accept the rough draft for what it is. Rough drafts are flawed. They are full of typos, non-sequiturs, and missing pieces, but keep going until you have a complete rough draft or else you will get bogged down in minutiae. Save the editing for after you have a complete rough draft.
- Use a funnel strategy to revise, meaning start the editing process with the broadest revisions (adding arguments, addressing weaknesses, moving around sections and paragraphs), then narrow down to the more detailed revisions (typos, grammar, word choice).
- Edit on paper. We tend to gloss over things when we see them on a computer screen. For many, if not most people, there is something about editing on paper that helps them catch errors. Maybe not having Microsoft Word’s red underline for typos forces us to pay closer attention.
- The final edit. The toughest edit is the final one, because at that point you’ve written and rewritten so often that you are probably numb to the words on the page. It helps to print out the article and read it backwards, word by word. With the words taken out of context, it helps to catch errors and word choice issues. We tend to read words in clumps, especially when we read quickly, and that makes it hard to catch even the most glaring errors.
- Add illustrations. The magazine might ultimately find better ones or not use them at all, but an article with illustrations is more readable and therefore more publishable.
- Have fun. Pick a topic that you would enjoy talking about in your free time so that the extra effort you have to put in to create a publishable article feels more like exploring a hobby than finishing off yet another tedious work assignment.
To these I would just add BE CREATIVE! Remember, it doesn’t have to be about law. The Docket is looking for reviews of Denver restaurants, attractions, events, and exhibitions, local interest stories, travel stories, photos, illustrations, and everything in between. Length can be anywhere from a couple of sentences to 2,000 words.
I’m looking forward to hearing from you!
PS: Thank you, Gurney!
Charles McGarvey, Editor