A friend of mine recently commended me on being able to come up with a new column every week. She claimed she could never do it herself; I would have to disagree.
You see, writing a column is not really as hard as it may appear. All it takes is understanding the formula that is needed.
So, at the peril of creating a columnist to compete with me and lose my job, but at the same time with the goal of helping others succeed, I reveal here today how I do it.
First, and most important, you need a subject and an idea; without these your column will just be a mish mash of vowels and consonants that are put together to form words that have no meaning when read.
Right about now you may be asking: “But Brendan, where do I find these ideas?”
Ideas for columns can be found anywhere, you just need to pay attention as they can come from places you least expect it. For instance, say you are struggling for an idea for a column and out of the blue a friend comes up to you and compliments you on being able to write a column every week and claims that they could never do it and then suddenly you think that maybe that in itself would make a great idea for a column to tell others how to write one.
There’s a column.
I hope by now you are beginning to see how easy it really is.
Once you have an idea, it is important that you write it down so as not to forget. It doesn’t matter where you write it. It doesn’t have to be a fancy notebook or some kind of journal you carry around with you. Anything handy will do. Napkins and the backs of business cards are acceptable alternatives as well as crumbled up receipts from the convenience store. (Always remember to say yes when they ask if you would like one, even for a cup of coffee, it may come in handy.)
You don’t need to write out too much detail, only a few words to jog your memory later.
The most important part about jotting down ideas is to remember to make sure to check the pockets of your pants before doing a load of wash as this is a great way to lose these ideas forever. (It is also important to make sure you don’t give away the business card with the great idea on it to someone by mistake as you will have given away your idea to someone who may make good use of it.)
See, isn’t this getting easier?
The third step is considered the most difficult, it is the actual writing of the column itself. You have the idea, you wrote it down, so now what do you do with it?
An important piece to this puzzle of writing is which tool do you use to do the actual work of putting words together. Some writers still like the old electric typewriter but I prefer a laptop, especially one that has a wireless Internet connection.
Having an Internet connection is a valuable tool when creating. It is perfect for when you are stuck on details of a specific subject since it gives you a way to rapidly look up the needed information so you can get back to your writing as quickly as possible so as not to lose the flow of your project.
Having an internet connection is also crucial when facing writer’s block since it gives you a way to rapidly connect to Facebook and Twitter where you can spend mindless hours finding out what one of your friend’s pets recently did or to see who Donald Trump thinks is a “failing loser” today. It helps you keep your mind off the frustration of your writer’s block until it’s time to be finished with your work on the column for the day.
This may seem counterproductive to some, but what it does is to help you procrastinate enough so that you will suddenly find yourself facing an inevitable deadline and you buckle down and just get the darned thing done.
It works for me every time.
I certainly hope this has helped dispel the myth that not just anyone can write a column. If you follow this easy advice, you too can find yourself in the unenviable position of trying to figure out what to write every week and then figuring out a way to actually write it.
Brendan welcomes your comments at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit his website at www.BrendanTSmith.com