The Ins and Outs of Writing a Weekly Column

Art by Thomas Brewer

Art by Thomas Brewer

Writing a column. From the outside it seems glamorous but when you’re in the middle of it there’s nothing more harrowing and nerve wracking. Currently I’m wrestling not only with what to write about this week but what I should be drinking while I do it and where I should type it up (these things are just as important as the actual writing). Some writers also have to deal with what to listen to while they work but I’ve slowly built a playlist of manuscript friendly music to guide me through the creative process (Rachmaninoff, Throbbing Gristle, Conway Twitty, Black Flag, etc.).


Although the sounds of my creative process are taken care of, there’s still the question of everything else that goes into writing a weekly column. Should I take a shower before I write? If so, how do I go about keeping my hair the perfect consistency of matted and soft (it usually takes a couple of days to achieve perfection)? Is it good for my computer if I write wet? The shower is definitely out.


Now my head is aching and I feel like having a good cry, that can only mean that I’ve attempted to compose prose without drinking a hot cup of joe. While preparing a French-press I wondered if should I drink something else? Something harder? Sexier? There is a half bottle of tequila in the freezer. Polishing that off would surely get the creative juices flowing and have me knocking on my neighbor’s doors, challenging them to fits of strength at 10:30 in the morning. It worked for Hemingway so it should work for me.

After some deliberation while staring into my icebox I decide to stick with coffee, it’s important to stay on point once you start writing and making a beverage switch this late in the game would lead me to certain disaster.

Before I can really get started with my column I need to think of a topic to write about. Should I delve into the murky political flood waters that this week has left the populous adrift upon? To be fair, I’ve been having trouble crafting mildly interesting tweets about the topic, so pushing myself to begin an engaging political discourse on the pages of the internet could only lead to disaster. After researching the lyrics to a song I heard in a documentary it seems that they won’t be as interesting to anyone else and I give up on the column for the next 10 to 15 minutes in order to amend a grocery list that I constructed on the previous evening while mixing sound at a local bar.

Maybe there’s something in the construction of an excellent grocery list that could make for a proper column. Personally I prefer to stick close to the fruit and vegetable section when I make my rare visit to the grocer’s. When I do venture over to the canned and frozen food sections I prefer my time spent there to be as brief as my foray into organized sports in the 7th grade. To ensure the maximum amount of grocering in the minimum amount of time I like to build my list by section rather than food.

For Example:





Black Beans

Keen readers of the column will notice that the move from spinach to black beans was not only a change in the type of food that I would be adding to my cart, but a delineation between sections that I would be milling about in.

I still have nothing for this week’s column although I feel close to a break. In an effort to learn something about myself I’ve created an Excel spreadsheet consisting of various skin tags and other oddities acquired in the last ten years (new freckles, the cut on my face, an indention in my foot where I dropped a mason jar full of Haribo peaches) to view definitive proof that I’ve changed since I was a teenage lay about, constantly putting off my responsibilities until it was too late. Yes, according to the lovely computer generated cells I’ve changed quite a bit in the last decade. Not only have I acquired the scrapes that come with age but also my knuckles have changed shape and I seem to have gone down two waist sizes.

None of this has brought me closer to a finished column. Have I been going about the process all wrong? I shouldn’t be wracking my brain endlessly about what to write- I should be living! I could spend a day in a tree, or throw a television set through a plate glass window at a Sunglass Hut! Anything other than living the carefree, couch bound life of a columnist; maybe I’ll climb onto my roof and play a solitary game of Scrabble and see if inspiration hits. Once it does I’ll be sure to string it out as long as I can, languishing around my computer keys, moving words about to form myriad phrases and ideas. If everything goes accordingly I can squeeze out a few weeks worth of words in one sitting. If not, there’s always the grocery list.