“Learning to write well as a journalist isn’t easy,” says Allison Lawlor. “I like to tell journalism students, especially new ones, that writing is a craft you can learn. It takes years to master, and there will always be room for learning, growing and improving.”
Lawlor is a King’s graduate (BA’94) who has 25 years of experience working as a newspaper reporter and freelance writer. “I’ve written for magazines, newspapers and published several nonfiction books,” she says.
Lawlor is also the writing coach with the School of Journalism and as a new academic year gets underway, she wants students to know they can contact her for help.
“If you’re struggling with punctuation, quotes, or how to structure a news story, you’re not alone. I’ve been there and can help. Whether you’re thinking about a feature assignment and feel stuck or working on a draft and know you can make it better, but don’t quite know how, I’m here to work with you.”
The guidance Lawlor provides is free and delivered one-on-one. “There is no judgement or pressure,” she says. “The goal is to make your print, broadcast or web writing clearer, stronger and more engaging.”
Asking for help isn’t always easy. But in this case, it’s as simple as sending a quick email and Lawlor makes a strong case for the impact a little coaching can offer.
“You’ll get better grades,” she says, “learn how to correct recurring issues and feel more confident and excited about your writing and reporting.”
Lawlor is available to meet with students in the School of Journalism via Zoom throughout the school year. To make an appointment, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the meantime, Lawlor offers these five helpful writing tips for journalism students:
1. “Write the way you talk. By that I don’t mean swearing or using slang, but instead writing informally, without any pretension, the way you might tell a friend a story.”
2. “Test your writing. Read your story aloud to see if it sounds good, to make sure it flows well.”
3. “Good writing is re-writing. Don’t expect the first draft of your story or assignment to be perfect; it will have flaws. Make time for revisions and second or third drafts.”
4. “Keep your eyes and ears open, actually, all of your senses. Look for concrete and specific details. ‘Get the name of the dog,’ says writing coach Roy Peter Clark.”
5. “Celebrate simplicity. Don’t use long words where short ones will work; cut out unnecessary words.”