Athens Review, Athens, Texas

Opinion

March 7, 2014

Writing a column not always a simple task

Athens — The Athens Review requires me to write a column every other Friday. I hate to admit it, but my life is just not that interesting. 

Sometimes my mind just doesn't work fast enough to come up with a column idea every other week. When writing a column, it's important to have subject matter that at least one person would  identify with or find interesting.

This is how the Internet defines a newspaper column - A newspaper column is a recurring article in the newspaper that is usually written by columnists. It generally gives personal points, perspectives and opinions on different social, economical and political issues.

Common types of newspaper columns include humor column, advice column, gossip and showbiz column, critical review column, etc.

I looked at that list, and decided I could be an advice columnist or possibly a gossip columnist. I would love to give advice to a few people I know. And what girl wouldn't want to gossip for a living?

I don't mind writing columns when I have  good subject matter. When I was going through chemotherapy, I wrote a column every couple of weeks about my experience with chemo. During that time, I had what is commonly  known as Chemo brain, and each week, I was living in a different world.

Most columns should be less than 600 words. They say you should keep it short and keep the reader from getting bored. Column writing can be the bread and butter for some journalists.

While researching information on good-column writing, I ran across a website that said writing a column requires clarity of thought, the ability to communicate a message clearly and simply, and an engaging style. The column must be planned, so that the writer knows before he or she starts, just what they are going to say.

And there lies the problem. I never plan a column. I just start writing, and hope it makes some kind of sense.

The New York Times gives personal column writing ideas. The one that intrigued me the most, was write your own obituary.  The New York Times said to base your obituary on what you envision for yourself. And for those who know you. My friends would have a field day with what I think about myself. 

Another website said make your column simple. Do not write beyond the intelligence of your average reader. The article went on to say you might be dazzled by your intelligence, but if your readers cannot understand your language, then you wasted your time and effort.

I can promise you, my intelligence won't dazzle anyone, including myself.

I was told that the more research I do, the better-informed I would be about writing a column. The better-informed I am, the more credibility I will have. The article said, “Remember, you are trying to be taken seriously, and you will be taken more seriously if you know what you are writing about.”

I did my research, and am trying to take myself seriously – not the easiest task. Still nothing came to mind except to write a column about writing a column.

What I did find in my research, is a strong ending to your column is important.  The ending rewards the reader for sticking around to read the column. Any reader who stuck around to the end of this column, definitely should be rewarded. 

Okay, so this is my ending. I need help. If you have a subject matter or a story line you would like to see in the pages of the Athens Review, I am your girl. Send all columns or story suggestions to knailling@athensreview.com. 

If not a column idea. I am always looking for good feature stories.

Kathi Nailling is a Staff Writer for the Athens Daily Review.

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