You mentioned if I do my writing over the Fall semester that it would be credit/no credit. Do you know if that would affect my GPA or ranking in my class?
It will actually have no effect on your GPA and class standing. The reason we do credit/no credit instead of a grade on a curve is this: Making the article-writing graded would make it so the top 10% of the class would be in a "class" (writing their article) with each other and would force 10-20% of them to fail as a curve does. That would tank everyone's GPA, and be completely unfair.