Living the Dream, One Idea at a Time

As a journalism student, I have thus far focused more on media ethics and the importance of projecting a professional online identity than I have on constructing interesting ideas and topics for stories. If you are a news reporter covering a local or national event, usually the current happenings draw you to a good story. In magazines that are tailored for a specific audience, however, how are you to know which topics to pursue and those that should be trashed?

I’ve began brainstorming how one pursuing a career in magazine writing (mwah!) would go about narrowing down an idea to make it both intriguing and relevant to a particular audience while simultaneously offering a fresh approach.

The process may seem confusing, as it was to me at first, but I am going to offer you my thoughts on this subject and a list of tips on how to write engaging material:

  • You can never do enough brainstorming. An idea that appears far-fetched and ridiculous to you could fascinate an editor and eventually attract loyal readership. Anything goes, and anything is possible.
  •  Scope out the competition. In no way should you be searching for ideas to steal or build off of, but doing your homework to see what has already been done to offer a new spin on a traditional topic will interest readers.
  • Seek out your audience. Defining who you wish to target and what their likes/dislikes are will help narrow your idea. Also, by identifying your audience, you can ask for their input on what they wish to read about and are interested in finding more about.

  • Go with what you know. It is never a good idea to attempt to write an article you have no interest in or have no information on. If you are an expert in something or possess a unique skill, use it to your advantage when magazine writing.
  • Incorporate quirkiness. Stories about peculiar or somewhat controversial topics draw in attention and make the reader want to know more about you are talking about. However, be sure to balance a controversial subject with both sides of the controversy. Don’t be biased.
  • Write something that’s relatable to a broad audience. Even though you might love a topic, if it is not relevant to a large audience, the article will nose-dive. Yes, it is good to have an interest in what you’re writing about, but don’t fall in love with your story.
  • Seek inspiration. Who are your idols, icons, role models? Research what they are writing about and what has made them popular in their profession. Don’t hesitate to ask for their guidance and for an opportunity for them to mentor you.

“The more you think, the more time you have.” ~Henry Ford 

Uniting the Talent

Stumbling upon the site recently, I discovered I Want Her Job , a database that compiles the stories of successful women who have accomplished their goals and are on the road to fulfilling their dreams in many different fields including writing, design, art, and many others. When I began reading about the success stories and journeys of these women, it gave me hope that one day I too will be able to do what I love- magazine writing. It also allowed me to gain insight into the process of landing a dream job and tips on how do to so, which can be relevant to anyone who is on the prowl for that killer position!

In the words of Grace Gold, beauty expert and journalist who graduated from NYU with a BA in Journalism, “Don’t view other women as your competition. Your only competition is time. Find like-minded girl friends, support one another, grow together and dominate.”

It is more common to hear nowadays about unemployment rates rather than about how individuals are actually securing jobs that they are passionate about. When I tell others that I am majoring in Journalism/Professional Writing, sometimes they reply, “Why would you ever do that?”  The truth is, regardless of how competitive the job market is for writers to work for Cosmopolitan, Vogue, Marie Claire, or any other high-end magazine, it is my passion. Faking enthusiasm in any other field would surely make me miserable. I Want Her Job gave me the opportunity to identify with and relate to other women similar to me who have succeeded. Now that’s what I call inspiration!