10 Day Itinerary To See Animals In British Columbia How to Write a Column About a Personal Experience

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How to Write a Column About a Personal Experience

I once read an article in my local paper about the experience of a person who adopted a kitten. The subject of the column seems to be that it is difficult to get a kitten that you want precisely because of what the writer argues to be the lack of unwanted kittens in our province, British Columbia. The publisher ended up buying her cat at a pet store, which was good, according to her, because she sent it there through a shelter in Quebec, which was overcrowded.

This page caused some backlash as expected. Instead of a paper running letters to the editor, the editor edits snippets of emails and calls he’s been receiving. The rumors were heavily edited to make the callers and emailers look unfair, and the singer accused them of being on their “high horses”.

The whole thing makes me wonder, what is a good personal pillar? We’ve all read bad personal columns, and great ones. It is very difficult for an inexperienced writer to walk the fine line between the two. Most of the papers doing the worst variety are small weekly papers that tend to hire entry-level writers. They have a tendency to want to fill space, regardless of whether or not they have something to say.

That’s the first issue you need to address before you sit down to write about your pets, your kids, your garden or your trip to New York City. Does your column have a point? Your life is interesting to you, your family and your friends, but why should it be interesting to other people? No matter how fun your trip to the top of the Empire State Building was for you, many people in the city can relate to their own experiences.

Choose a theme

Think about the theme of your article before writing. The author mentioned above has an interesting theme: there is a shortage of kittens due to increased awareness of the importance of spaying and neutering.

Ask yourself a few questions about your own experiences: What did raising children teach you about life? What advice can you give people about gardening based on your own experience?

He probably enjoyed his trip to the top of the Empire State Building, but later that evening he got lost and turned down a dark alley where he stumbled upon the best jazz club he had ever visited. Perhaps the theme is that you should take some time to travel off the beaten track if you really want to experience New York City.

Research

While the author above has an interesting theme, he has not researched it to make sure it is true. In fact, one of the “high horse” emails was from a local animal shelter who was convinced that they had lots of kittens available for adoption. One might even say that there is “no shortage” of kittens available for adoption. Another angle you can take is to check if it is better to buy animals sometimes from pet stores instead of shelters. Again, you will have to do the research and not just rely on the word of a pet store clerk.

Many reporters enjoy writing personal columns because they consider it a “break” from the heavy lifting of research and reporting. Of course not. You also have to have confidence. If you are making a statement, check it.

Make sure people can relate to your experience

When writing for a general audience, people may need some help relating to their experience. I once cringed when reading about someone’s highly uneventful meeting with his favorite rock star – a singer whose name most of our readers would not have known. “He shook my hand, he said, ‘I want your shirt.’ Who knows?”

I did not say, you should not write about holding hobbies or interests, but try and connect it to experiences people may already know. For example, “for me it’s the same feeling as my mother going to her first Elvis Presley concert.” Your sense of happiness will be more interesting than what color Doc Martens your hero is wearing that day.

Adopting a pet is a very relatable experience, but one of the reasons the cat singer falls short is that people can’t understand her desire to find the kind of kitten she wants. We can relate to loving a kitten versus a cat or a short-haired cat versus a long-haired cat, but the choice of information makes it impossible for many to emphasize. However, if he was writing for a cat magazine, he might have found a more sympathetic audience.

When thinking about your topic, think about your audience. If you don’t think they might be related, ask yourself why not. Then think about how to make it more meaningful. Don’t dumb it down. Just place it in your reader’s reference field.

Don’t brag

Have you just discovered a cure for cancer? In that case, it probably doesn’t matter that you get a raise, promotion, praise, certificate, new car, etc. Is there anything interesting about your success? Did you go back to school after raising the kids? Write about that experience, not about the achievement itself. If there is something extra-special about you, people will notice and congratulate you anyway. If you’re just tooting your own horn, trust me, people will notice that, as well.

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