5 Tips for Writing a Monthly Column

by - December 06, 2018

Every month I write a column that's printed inside the first few pages of Wiregrass Parents. So far, I've written four and am currently working on the fifth. It's been almost 20 years since the last time I wrote a monthly column that didn't have an assigned topic for my high school newspaper, The Paw Print, so it'd be safe to assume I was out of practice. The first month wasn't too difficult as it was more of an introduction to the magazine and myself, but man did I struggle that second month. I thought I'd hit my stride in November, but I hit a wall writing December's column. Writing is like that: some days the words flow easily, other days not so much, but there are some simple steps you can follow to make the process a little smoother.

1. When in doubt, write what you know. For my columns, I like to reference our feature articles, but sometimes because I only have one child who's under age 5, they're not exactly relatable to any of my experiences. So instead of trying to write around those specific topics as they relate to my parenting experience, I share a childhood memory that ties into the topic.

2. Draw on your own experiences. People don't like to read impersonal columns. Whether it's sharing a parenting story, childhood experience, or something that's just about me, using those personal anecdotes helps bring the entire article together.

3. Read similar columns/articles. I seriously do this every month. I read my sister publishers' monthly columns, as well as editorials from major publications and even blogs. Reading other writers' work helps inspire me.

4. Write in a circle. The first and last paragraphs have always been the hardest things for me to write. I've been known to write the middle part of a piece before the beginning. Sometimes, I write the end first. But no matter where I start, one thing that helps me is writing in a circle, or beginning and ending on the same topic. It helps bring a sense of resolution.

5. Use a call to action. Challenge your readers to do something. After Hurricane Michael hit our area, I shared how my family was helping those affected and encouraged my readers to do what they could to help as well. You do have to be careful with this one as certain topics can make it appear as if you're biased for or against something.

I hope these tips help anyone who writes regular columns, articles, or even blog posts. If you've got other tips that have helped you, please share!

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