Kick-start your writing by considering the P-A-S-T

Purpose. Audience. Style. Tone. (Easy to remember as “P-A-S-T,” an acronym I share with my students…) Whatever you’re writing, by considering these elements, you’ll be able to organize your thoughts and kick-start your writing efforts.

Purpose — Ask yourself, “What are my objectives for writing this piece?” Your answer will help you outline a path to reach your goals and determine your purpose.

Audience — If I could have figured out an acronym that started with an “A,” I definitely would put “A” for “audience” first. In my opinion, knowing your audience — the people you want to reach or connect with through your writing — makes the whole writing process much easier. Pretend you’re talking to this person or these people. In your writing, “talk” directly to your audience, using words like “you” and “your” and other conversational words and phrases, which brings us to the “S” in “PAST”..

Style — To be effective, the style and structure of your writing piece needs to meet your audience’s expectations — or it needs to cleverly attract their attention. At times, a conversational style is appropriate, but sometimes it’s not.

  • If you’re writing a news release to send to journalists and editors, they’ll expect you to structure your news in an “inverted pyramid style,” where the most important news and information appears in your lead paragraphs, followed by the less important information. Also, news releases should be written in the objective third-person (without “you” or “your”…).
  • If you’re writing a page for your website, it’s good to be conversational, but you’ll also want to use a “chunk” style with quick headings and sub-heads and bullet-point information.
  • Sometimes an “unexpected” and creative style or structure will get more attention for your writing. On, the authors of Social Media Will Change Your Business structured the article as a series of blog entries, which the authors were writing about in addition to other social media.

Tone — Determine how formal or informal your writing needs to be, depending on the audience and purpose. This is the “tone” you should use in your writing. If appropriate, don’t be afraid to use a casual, conversational tone, one that “talks” directly to your audience. Also, it’s okay to use technical words and acronyms if you’re sure your audience will understand — but only if your audience will understand what you’re saying!

Consider the “P-A-S-T” and move forward with your ideas and writing efforts. If you have any other considerations that help you kick-start your writing, please share them with us by responding below. Thanks for reading this post. Until next time, take care!

Kathy Magrino


  1. Hi Kathy,
    I am so excited to have discovered your blog. I am also a writer and teacher. Your blog is definitely bookmarked in my favorites now.

    This is a great article. I teach English and Communications classes, so I am sure you’ll have great information which I will find interesting and very useful as well. The P-A-S-T acronym is awesome.

    I would love for you to visit me at I write articles about online learning and various careers and try to offer helpful information for online students.

    Thanks for the great articles. I loved the video your students did about addiction. What a great idea!

    Looking forward to reading more of your articles.


    • Kathy Magrino says

      Hi, Sandy! Thanks for stopping by and for your comments! I am very interested in learning more about your blog. I’m a big fan of online learning — I completed my master’s degree online at Thomas Edison State College and I’ve taught classes for Axia College at the University of Phoenix. The flexibility of online learning can’t be matched! Thanks, again, and I’ll stop by your blog later this evening or over the weekend.

  2. Thanks, Kathy! We have a lot in common as online teachers and writers. Maybe we can become a useful resource for each other and our readers. That would be very cool. 🙂 Sandy

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