Want to be an IdeasTap columnist?
I really can’t state this enough: if you want to get into arts journalism, you MUST apply to be the IdeasTap columnist. You MUST. I won’t take no for an answer. And you’d better get a wiggle on, because you’ve only got until Thursday 31 July.
I can say this with confidence because I spent seven months as the IdeasTap columnist (that’s 28 columns – bloody hell! What did I manage to write about for 28 columns? Find out here…) After that I was as a literary editor at The List for two years, as well as freelancing for newspapers and magazines across the world. I still consider the columnist job one of the best I’ve ever done. So believe me when I say that you must apply.
To help you along, here are some top tips from previous IdeasTap columnists:
“Have an absolutely killer opening and closing line. Of course, to do that, you need to know exactly what you’re going to argue from the very first word and be able to sum it up brilliantly at the end.”
– Nell Frizzell was the Columnist for August-December 2010. She is now the IdeasMag Commissioning Editor and has written for The Guardian, Vice, Elle, Grazia and many others.
“Be real. Write about what really matters to you, and do it in your own voice. The most honest and meaningful articles I wrote for Ideastap, were about issues that genuinely affected me. And guess what, it’s a lot easier too.
And PS. No one likes a lazy edit. Check and double-check your pieces so your lovely editor doesn’t end up cleaning up your grammar, spelling and half-researched facts.”
“Don’t be a dick. A lot of columnists think they have to have incredibly strong opinions to stand out – being funny, interesting, and likeable is far more important.”
– Jamie Ross was the Columnist in 2010, and is now a trainee broadcast journalist at BBC Scotland.
“Don’t write what you think people want to read, write what you want to say. If you have something that you’re passionate about, which infuriates you, or just plain amuses you, chances are it will chime with someone else. Keep it current and keep it concise.”
“Try to find your own voice. For every Charlie Brooker, there’s a legion of impersonators raging tediously away. One of the great things about writing is that it allows you to be more angry, neurotic or assertive than you might be in real life – but aim to exaggerate your own personality, rather than somebody else’s.”
– Orlando Bird was the Columnist in 2013 and is now sub-editing at The Telegraph.