1. bfaye
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    bfaye New Member

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    column writing

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by bfaye, Apr 5, 2009.

    Hey everyone, I am curious to see a variety of opinions on how to start writing op-ed/columns and how to keep a constant range of ideas flowing. I want to write for my University's newspaper but I'm into the journalism thing. I like writing my opinions and views on certain issues but feel like I'd run out at a certain point.

    Please give me some guidance on how to keep a stream of ideas flowing so publishing one day doesn't end up leaving my notebook blank the next...

    Thanks, B
     
  2. lynneandlynn
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    lynneandlynn Contributing Member

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    How to keep a stream of ideas flowing? Look at the world around you and jot down anything and everything that inspires you.

    That at least is what I try to do for ideas, whether it's for fiction, non-fiction, or poetry. I think it works with all types of writing.
     
  3. krevency
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    krevency Banned

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    I've been in similar situations, where I was afraid of running out of ideas over time. I believe that the only thing that could really block you from getting ideas is worrying about it too much. Especially with something like opinions, wow! Who ever runs out of opinions?

    In short: I don't expect it to be a problem, even in the long term.
     
  4. Mat Growcott
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    Mat Growcott Member

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    While it is admirable, and a very good idea, to write for your university paper, there are very few papers that will pay for your opinions unless you are a noted journalist or a celebrity.

    The best place to start for freelancers are small, locals magazines and newspapers (writing on topics of local interest: Upcoming events/historical anniversaries) or niche market magazines, on subjects such as history or the paranormal (Both competitive industries for freelancers i personally have found, but a good place to start none the less.)

    Then don't be afraid to send emails off to editors asking if you can submit a piece of work. There are more in depth articles on line about submitting to editors and basic etiquette in doing so that will do you far more good than I can fit in this post. I suggest looking them up.

    Edit: To add to my post, try looking for newspapers/magazines that give out a small pay or complimentary item for readers letters. You can pretty much write what you'd like and, as long as it's valid and well thought out/written, I have known at least one person make an impressive side income from this alone.
     
  5. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    since you're only asking about your uni paper, all you have to do is tune into what's going on in campus life, check out what goes on in the world by watching an hour of cnn every night, and you'll have more than enough to write about...

    and take a couple of hours each week, to listen in to conversations at the coop and ask what issues the students want to read about, or be heard about... talk to professors and ta's and folks in the dean's office, etc.... read the local newspaper and see what effect the uni has on the town and townies... all of that will give you more than you can ever need...
     
  6. othman
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    othman Member

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    Yeah, I agree with all the other posts: you won't ever run out of ideas in the long term but you may run out of relevant ideas in the short term and if that happens you simply have to try harder to find interesting things and portray them in an even more interesting style.
     
  7. NaCl
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    NaCl Contributing Member Contributor

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    Controversy "sells"; pablum journalism becomes irrelevant. I wrote a column for a fishing industry magazine for several years. At first, I tried to write about the issues that tournament fishermen deal with on a regular basis. BOR...ING!

    Then, I changed my format. I began writing that "maybe" the radical environmentalists were "right". Perhaps, fishermen should become more in tune with water quality, fish conservation and habitat protection. My first article and column from this perspective ignited a firestorm of criticism. "What the Hell's wrong with Sault? He's gone nuts! Can't believe he'd support those anti-fishing eco-freaks."

    I apologized to my editor and promised to stop stirring up such controversy. He said, "Sault, if you stop writing that great stuff, then you're fired! Our circulation and website hits just shot up and most of it is due to your blasphemy. Good job!"

    By the way -- the Sacramento/San Joaquin Delta is experiencing severe water quality degradation from massive pumping of our fresh water to thirsty Southern California. The fish populations began to crash, including my beloved largemouth bass. One indigenous species, the Delta Smelt, made it onto the federal Endangered Species List. Local "eco-nuts" filed a lawsuit against the powerful SoCal water districts and WON!!! The pumping stations were ordered to reduce total pumping and restrict such pumping only to hours near high tide which would help to protect the Delta smelt. The side benefit to all this -- tournament bass fishermen saw a rapid improvement in the quality of Delta bass. Hence, my original controversial suggestion turned out to be prophetic. Many local bass fishermen now consider themselves to be stewards of the environment, a very different attitude than existed 15 years ago.

    So, instead of writing an op/ed column about the usual campus crap, step out of your comfort zone and explore controversy. Challenge convention . . . for example, why are universities raising fees faster than the rate of inflation? Why are professors selling their own books to students at outrageously inflated prices instead of using perfectly good existing texts? Use your journalism to challenge the way things are being done. It's fun and socially responsible to ask the questions that others are afraid to pose.
     

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