A Regular Column: How to Start and Write One

Writing a regular column is a great way to establish a presence in your field or genre, and to reach more people than you possibly could one on one.

Start by recognizing a need. I recommend all my patients eat an unrefined diet rich in whole grains, legumes, vegetables and fruits. Few of them knew what these were, let alone how to cook them, but they wanted to learn.

Form your objective. My column’s objective is to educate my readers about the benefits of whole foods and how to prepare them. You will develop a devoted following when your readers know what to expect from your column.

Make sure your passionate it. Writing a column is like having a baby. Make sure you enjoy your topic enough to turn out fresh and original material even after your sick child kept you up all night. My editor wanted at least a year commitment. I knew I had at least that much material to share and the initiative to do it.

Choose a catchy title that gives you room to play. I titled mine “The Doctor Cooks.” It attracts people seeking credible advice on healthy cooking. I discuss nutrition, shopping, organic farming, techniques, tools and recipes all under the umbrella of my title.

Keep it relevant. My topic almost always arises from my holistic medicine practice. If it comes up several times there, then I know it is on the radar screen of my readers. Keep an ear out for the buzz about your topic.

Choose the right tone. I’m communicating brand new information to my readers to motivate them to change their lifestyle. I’m a cheerleader for healthy whole foods cooking. I lead them step-by-step with enthusiasm.

Follow your editor’s guidelines. My editor says she likes working with me because she doesn’t have to reformat my work. Make your editor’s job easy.

Read it aloud. I always read my columns aloud to my husband. If it doesn’t flow off my tongue well or if he doesn’t get my point, then I revise my work. Alternately, send it to someone else to read.

Don’t be afraid to request a vacation. Last fall I was studying for a new board certification and it was clear that writing my column wasn’t going to happen. My editor offered me a vacation that month. I learned who was reading my column when a number of people asked me how my vacation went!