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SoberRecovery Writer's Guide


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SoberRecovery Writer's Guide

  1. 1. Page 1 of 5 Welcome to the SoberRecovery Team! Thank you for your interest in contributing to the recovery space. SoberRecovery is home to the largest online addiction recovery community, an expansive directory of treatment centers and an engaging content section that covers a wide array of topics filtered through the lens of recovery—here’s where you come in! We advise that you first take a moment to familiarize yourself with the site, making note of our overall vibe, voice and style. Then use the following information to guide you in writing the kind of content that performs best on our site. CATEGORIES Our content is organized into two primary blogs: addiction and recovery. They are labeled as Addiction Info and Recovery Support, respectively, on the navigation bar. As a general distinction, Addiction Info tends to be more informational or scientific by nature while Recovery Support leans more towards lifestyle or inspirational content. Here’s a breakdown of all the categories we cover in addiction and recovery: Addiction Recovery Addiction Treatment  12 Step  Counseling & Therapy  Getting Help  Non-12 Step  Treatment Center Information Alcohol Abuse Co-occurring Disorders Q&A Signs of Addiction Drug Abuse  Cannabis  Club/Street Drugs  Depressants  Designer Drugs  Hallucinogens  Opiates/Opioids  Other Drugs  Prescription Drugs  Stimulants Family & Friends Kids & Drugs Healthy Living  Body  Mind  Nutrition  Recipes  Spirit In the News  Celebrity Op-ed Personal Stories Q&A Relationships  Love Sober Living  Entertainment  Holidays  Music  Work
  2. 2. Page 2 of 5 TYPES OF ARTICLES Online readers have a lot of content to choose from and very little time, which is why we strive to produce content that is engaging, useful and easily consumed. Keep in mind that our editorial team reserves the right to add, move, paraphrase or delete information in order to make a piece more packageable for the web. Before beginning your article, please determine which of the 3 content formats would best convey your message: Standard Article Short: About 200+ words Regular: About 500-750 words 1. Headline 2. Introductory paragraph 3. Body paragraphs 4. Sub-headers, to separate themes and ideas when necessary 5. Conclusion/Takeaway - Try to answer the following question by your concluding statement: “Why does this information matter in the long run?” Examples: Letting Your Loved One Hit Bottom Wet Brain: Alcoholism’s Dangerous Outcome List Article (Text/Multimedia) 1. Headline 2. Introduction - 1 to 2 paragraph(s) - Strong opener - Should hit on a general theme of the topic in relation to addiction/recovery 3. Segue to List - “Here are the 5 most encouraging things you can say to someone in recovery.” Or “Here 7 tips on how to keep stay motivated when you feel like giving up.” 4. List Items - Numbered items or ideas (can be a word or a full sentence) - 1 to 2 paragraphs elaborating on each item or idea Examples: 5 Most Encouraging Things You Can Say to an Addict Sobriety Playlist: 7 Songs That Get You High on Life 5 Radical Statements Made About Addiction
  3. 3. Page 3 of 5 Slideshow 1. Introduction Slide - A paragraph giving overall background on the slideshow topic and items 2. Body Slides - Each slide should correspond to a single item with a paragraph of description Examples: Top 10 Alcohol Brands Consumed By Youth 6 Herbs to Take During Recovery AUDIENCE As you probably know, addiction and recovery is a highly personal and sensitive issue. There are many schools of thought on what works and what doesn’t, and SoberRecovery does not specific endorse one method or idea over another. The only thing that we do take a stance on is total abstinence. This is very sacred to our readers as they often come in from the forum community where that is a long-supported idea. Here are two other things to know about how to best approach our readers tactfully:  They fall under all stages of recovery. Our readership is broad and varied and we want to reach them all—whether that’s in an universal piece or a specific, targeted article. For a better idea, here are the five categories that readers generally fall under: 1) Someone who has just recognized his or her addiction and is considering getting help 2) A newcomer in recovery who is looking for support and guidance 3) Someone who is past the initial phase of recovery and embraces sobriety 4) A family member or friend of an addict who is looking for advice or support 5) A treatment specialist or professional in the recovery field interested in spreading awareness  They do not all go to AA. Though the bulk of readers do seem to practice the 12 steps, a small (but vocal) percentage do not. Unless an article is specifically about the program, we do not want to assume our readers abide by that approach. We can certainly use themes and ideas that AA encourage, but tweak the language so that it does not isolate those who have another approach in their recovery.
  4. 4. Page 4 of 5 STYLE GUIDE DOS & DONTS Generally, with a few exceptions, our editorial staff adheres to the AP Stylebook. For additional guidelines, please review our list of dos and donts below. DO …trim the fat. Web readers often don’t have a lot of time on their hands so we want to be direct in our delivery. Each sentence should either contain a new point or a complementary idea to a previous point. If it doesn’t, chances are it doesn’t need to be there. …be specific. Recovery is a general and broad topic in itself. Any practical takeaways for the readers to implement or remember are always welcome. …use active instead of passive voice. The key difference between active and passive voice is that the subject performs the action in the former while the subject receives the action in the latter. Whenever possible, we want to write in the active voice. For example, instead of saying, “The entrance exam was failed by over one-third of the applicants to the school,” we should say “Over one-third of the applicants to the school failed the entrance exam.” …stay in the present tense. Unless referring to actions specifically happening now, use the simple present tense (instead of present continuous tense). For instance, instead of stating “Many recovering addicts are also finding help in Buddhism…” state “Many recovering addicts also find help in Buddhism.” …connect the dots. An article won’t make sense if the ideas are not arranged in order. Determine the right order by grouping ideas that belong together. Then, think of the best way to arrange them in a way that naturally unveils what’s next and is consistent to the reader’s expectations. …use transitions. Transitional words and phrases also help link your thoughts together and make your article flow smoothly instead of abruptly jumping from one idea to another. Here’s a link to The OWL at Purdue University’s list of common transitions you can use: …fact check and cite your sources. We aim to provide accurate information that can help keep our audience in-the-know and inspired. Always provide evidence when stating major ideas. For scientific research articles, we cite our references in American Psychological Association format and/or include links to the original study. …italicize titles of books, magazines, novels and research materials. This is another instance where we break away from AP style. …answer the question—and a little more. Before submitting an article, ask yourself if you’ve not only tackled the topic at hand but also the “so what” factor of the story. Let readers know why your information matters.
  5. 5. Page 5 of 5 DON’T … make sweeping statements about addiction. When addressing topics that are not necessarily hard-and-fast rules, we want to give ourselves room for error. Incorporating words such as “commonly,” “often,” “may” and “can” are subtle ways to state ideas that may or may not always be true for everyone. …ask rhetorical questions. Sometimes a question can be a good tool to provoke critical thought. However, more often than not, it simply takes up space on the page without truly saying anything. Instead of asking a question, it’s usually productive to just directly state the idea. …use serial commas. For example, we write: “The doctors, therapists and counselors.” and NOT: “The doctors, therapists, and counselors.” …use exclamation marks. Anything that’s important or exciting should be able to be conveyed through the content of the article, and not the punctuation. In most cases, an exclamation mark is adding emphasis where no emphasis is needed (or trying to add emphasis without actually going through the writing process). PITCHING The best way to get an assignment is by pitching your own story ideas. To help guide you in your brainstorm, here are five articles that have performed really well on our site, with a brief explanation for each: 5 Most Encouraging Things You can Say to an Addict  Speaks to friends and family members of an addict, who are a large percentage of our readership  Guides people in better navigating personal relationships, which is a huge area of interest on the site How to Spot an Overdose at a Music Festival  Published the first weekend of the Coachella Music Festival so the timeliness of the piece created more urgency for people to read  A topic that’s relevant to a broader audience beyond just the sober recovery world—useful for anyone who attends music festivals in general Wet Brain: Alcoholism’s Dangerous Outcome  Creates interest with a catchy term that not many people are aware of but sounds important  A medical piece that focuses on the facts raises more awareness on the condition and lends more credibility 6 Common Personality Traits of an Addict  A broad topic that is highly applicable at the same time  Speaks to those who are trying to determine if they or their loved one has a problem in a non-threatening way 5 Radical Statements Made About Addiction  A blend of news and opinion that makes for great debate or conversation  Word “radical” encourages thoughts or reactions from opinionated and passionate readers