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    10 Tips For Writing Columns

    1. Learn to write tight. Don't use many words when a few will suffice.

    2. Columns usually are shorter than other articles in a publication. Newspaper columns run from 300 to 800 words, often no longer than 500 words. Those I write run from 2 to 3 typewritten pages (400 to 500 words).

    3. Write a one sentence summary before you write your column. Keep it in front of you to help keep you on track as you write.

    4. Try to keep one month ahead in your column writing (whether you're writing weekly, biweekly, or monthly columns), unless you're writing something that's timely, like a political column or sports commentary.

    5. Always meet your deadlines and produce your columns as agreed.

    6. Write a list of column ideas and keep these at your desk so you don't draw a blank. (Some editors will want a list of your columns for two or three months.)

    7. Keep a notebook with you and jot down ideas and information as they come to you when you're away from your desk or computer.

    8. Check out the Internet. There are many types of ezines and web sites on various topics that provide opportunities for column writing.

    9. Study local publications. These often will be more receptive to a new columnist and enable you to accumulate experience and tear sheets.

    10. Write about a topic where you either have a great deal of knowledge or have access to research. Then you won't run out of ideas quickly.

    Copyright © Mary Emma Allen

    Mary Emma Allen is the author of "Writing Newspaper and Magazine Columns" and has been writing columns since the 1960s. She's written on many topics including cooking, gardening, quiltmaking, hometown history, local businesses, travel, and consumer news. Currently she writes cooking columns for two newspapers, a consumer column for another, a travel column for an online newspaper, and a history column for a monthly publication. Some of her columns are posted on her web site http://homepage.fcgnetworks.net/jetent/mea.

    The Authentic Self: Journaling Your Joys, Griefs and Everything in Between by Shery Russ



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