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Feb 21 / Nate Loop

Writing lesson from a paramedic: You can always do better

Nate LoopI had an instructor in my EMT (emergency medical technician) course who was a veteran paramedic/firefighter. He’d been on thousands of 911 calls, but he insisted he had never run one where he’d done everything to perfection.

He had great outcomes, saved plenty of lives and was a consummate professional, but he was positive he could have improved at least one aspect of every call.

How does this relate to sportswriting? Well, have you ever submitted an article and felt it was perfect?

Sure, the stakes are lower in writing, but just like every 911 call is different, every article you write is going to be different, with its own unique subject and challenges.

Maybe seasoned pros have filed pieces in which they wouldn’t shift a single syllable, but I would bet there are very few among us young, aspiring writers who can make that claim. I know I can’t.

Thanks to Bleacher Report and the Advanced Program in Sports Media, I have a strong quality assurance team to let me know exactly where my writing can improve on every article I submit.

Even when I think what I’ve written is beyond reproach, my editors catch a typo or Nick Houser tells me exactly why my lede failed to properly echo my headline.

This continual revision and feedback process (don’t worry, they have these for paramedics as well) has taught me to take even greater care in writing my articles. When I want to see where I can improve, I look to the works of great writers, the professionals who pull all the facts, quotes and video together to make their prose sing.

By doing this, I discover where I can add a great highlight video, tweak a lede or search for a particularly revealing quote. And it is in this process where I have realized that with every article I write, I can always improve and do something more.

To me, this is the key to getting better.

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Nate Loop is in the Winter Class. Follow him on Twitter @Nate_Loop