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    Home Columns

    Column Writing Spin-Offs

    Writing columns for newspapers, magazines and online publications can lead to various spin-off activities. These may include teaching classes, giving talks, collecting your columns into a book or writing a book about your topic.

    These activities could involve teaching or talking about column writing for writers' groups at conventions or online. Or, if your columns are about other topics - cooking, quiltmaking, gardening, money matters, car repair, etc. - your workshops and talks could revolve around them.

    Look at the topic you're writing about. Brainstorm about the types of groups/organizations/schools that would be interested in a talk or demonstration. You may start out by volunteering to give a talk to a small group, to your child's class at school, your writing group. As you become confident and gain recognition, you're likely to begin charging for these events.

    Quilting Column

    • When I was writing a column for a quilting magazine, our local historical society asked me to give a talk about the history of quiltmaking. I also displayed old quilts from my collection.

    • A school asked me to teach their students a workshop about making a simple quilt square as part of their studies on Unites States Colonial Crafts. I also talked about the history of quiltmaking.

    • At a quilt convention, I taught a workshop on quiltmaking as a business because some of my columns covered this topic.

    • As I researched quiltmaking for my columns, I acquired enough information to write my book, "The Magic of Patchwork." This was not a compilation of my columns but a book for youngsters and beginning quilters which resulted from my research.

    • Currently I'm compiling the information about quilting/patchwork as a business into a book.

    Teaching Column Writing

    Because I've written so many columns for publications and online zines, I began teaching the craft of column writing. Teaching a 45-minute or hour workshop generally is the easiest way to start. Then you may want to expand into longer workshops or one covering a number of weeks.

    I teach the hour workshops at conferences and in schools. At the state college in our town, I teach 3-hour evening workshops. The online workshops I teach consist of three lessons, sent via e-mail to the students over a 3-week period. These have worked well for me. Other teachers have different lengths of workshops which work in with their teaching style and the amount of time they have available in their life.

    Develop an Outline

    Don't teach off the top of your head. Develop an outline of the topics you want to cover in your workshop and expand upon it. Some teachers teach well from an outline. Others want more copious notes.

    I found that from my outline, I wrote a manual. I used this for teaching my class. The manual was available for my students to purchase. (Sometimes it could be included in the fee for the class.) Students also can purchase and use these manuals even without taking the class.

    I like to hand out an outline for the students to follow as I'm teaching the class. They can take notes on it. The outline also helps keep me on track.

    Online Classes

    To check outlines for online classes, go here. The outlines for my classes, "Column Writing Workshop 101" and "Introduction to Self-Publishing Workshop" are posted here.

    If you're reluctant to teach before a live class, gain confidence by teaching an online class. You'll have the pleasure of reaching students all over the world.

    These spin-offs from column writing can provide a very enjoyable aspect of your writing and a source of income, too.

    Copyright © 2002 Mary Emma Allen

    Mary Emma Allen writes for children and adults and writes columns about many topics. Information about her books and manuals is available on her web site. There also are some sample columns there, too. Visit her Web site --

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

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