Mastering the craft of engaging column writing

by Dr Rahim Said

In this enlightening article, let’s delve into the essential elements that can transform your columns into compelling pieces of prose, creating a powerful connection with your readers.

As an aspiring writer, I understand the challenges you face, having navigated a similar path myself when I first began. Emerging from the shadow of lockdown, I embarked on a quest to grasp the art of column writing, fumbling through the darkness in search of mastery.

Allow me to share with you practical tips and guidelines to help you navigate this challenging terrain with greater ease. I wish I had the guidance I’m offering you now when I embarked on my own writing journey.

Many of these tips draw inspiration from articles available on the web and are enriched by my personal experiences contributing to various publications. I believe these guidelines will fast-track your success as a columnist, surpassing my own journey.

• Captivating Your Audience with a Strong Opening

Just as famous personalities make grand entrances at parties, your column’s opening should leave an indelible impression. However, avoid the trap of seeking attention for its own sake, as readers often recoil from narcissistic displays.

I make it a practice to craft the initial sentences of my column in a way that instantly engages readers without overwhelming them. Seasoned writers assert that these opening lines present a golden opportunity to captivate your audience.

I recommend commencing with a compelling anecdote, a thought-provoking question, or a striking quote. The goal is to arouse curiosity, ensuring that your readers journey through the rest of your column.

• Maintaining consistency in tone and voice

Consistency is the cornerstone of success in column writing, as in any endeavour. Develop a unique tone and voice that resonate with your personality and the message you wish to convey.

Consistency in your writing style enables readers to identify with you, fostering a connection that keeps them returning for more. Building a following is crucial in the realm of column writing, where platforms track readership and shares.

• Ensuring Clarity in Message Delivery

Effective column writing hinges on clarity. Your message should be well-defined and easily comprehensible. Avoid jargon and overly complex language that might alienate your readers. Your aim is to connect with and inspire your audience, not to impress them with bombastic words and exaggerated rhetoric.

• Harnessing the Power of Storytelling

Human beings are drawn to stories, and columns are no exception. Incorporate personal anecdotes and relatable narratives into your writing. These real-life experiences infuse depth and authenticity into your message, making it relatable and memorable.

• Embracing the Virtue of Brevity

In an age of information overload, brevity is a virtue. Keep your columns concise, focusing on the most crucial points. Every word should carry weight, and verbosity should be avoided. Shorter, well-structured columns often hold greater appeal for readers.

• Prioritising Research and Fact-Checking

To establish credibility, meticulous research and thorough fact-checking are imperative. Accuracy is the foundation of trust, and readers rely on content that is consistently reliable and well-researched.

• Engaging with Your Audience

Write with an intent to engage your readers. Encourage feedback and dialogue, and be responsive to comments and emails. Consider the interests and needs of your readers in shaping your future columns.

• Evolving as a Writer

Every column offers an opportunity for personal growth as a writer. Embrace constructive criticism and consistently seek ways to enhance your craft. Your journey from lockdown to liberation is a journey of self-improvement.

• Celebrating Your Unique Perspective

Every writer possesses a unique perspective and experience. Embrace your individuality, allowing it to shine through in each column you compose. Authenticity is your greatest asset for connecting with readers, whether you’re writing a regular column, a short story, or an op-ed.

• Perseverance and Resilience

Remember that column writing, like any form of writing, demands persistence and resilience. Not every column will be a resounding success, but with dedication and a commitment to improvement, you’ll continue to evolve as a writer.

So, there I have shared some insights and wisdom gained during my personal journey through the challenging lockdown period. Embrace these principles, put them into practice, and continue honing your craft. The art of effective column writing can indeed be a path to liberation for aspiring writers like yourself. 

(This is from a chapter of  Dr Rahim Said’s forthcoming book: “From Lockdown to Liberation: How Writing  Saved My Life”)


Dr Rahim Said, who goes by a pseudonym of Mihar Dias, an anadrome of his given name, is a human behaviourist and a regular contributor on digital media platforms. He is a professional management consultant, a corporate trainer, and an executive coach specialising in coaching of senior executives and individual entrepreneurs with the purpose of modifying their behaviour in the pursuit of their cherished missions.