Not all writers are introverts. Take Herb Benham for example.
Herb is a columnist for the Bakersfield Californian newspaper where he writes 3x/week. His personal stories reach 70k+ readers and have earned him a bit of local celebrity. It’s a role he’s comfortable in if his speech at the Bakersfield Writers Conference where I met him is any indication.
It helps that Herb is a natural speaker. The audience hung on every turn in his hilarious and often touching stories. But what struck me the most about Herb is how much his readers feel like they know him. Attendees waited in line just to ask him if he ever found a new TV or how his kids are doing.
It isn’t because they know him personally. It’s because Herb shares intimate details about his home and family life in his news column. Does this sound like your kind of gig?
If you love writing + the social life, you might make a great newspaper columnist. Here’s what Herb has to say about the career.
Interview with Newspaper Columnist, Herb Benham
Mandy: What are the basic qualifications for newspaper columnists?
Herb: It helps to be crazy and interested in people and be willing to be constantly out of ideas.
Mandy: What is your average workday like?
Herb: Write early in the morning, preferably after exercise. Nap, edit, and then do something completely unrelated to writing like painting a fence.
Mandy: How did you break into the field?
Herb: I started by being a stringer, covering high school sports on the weekends.
Mandy: What do you love about your job?
Herb: The freedom and the terror.
Mandy: What are some of the challenges of being a columnist and how do you work around them?
Herb: Writing isn’t always fun. Better not to wait for inspiration. Better to plunge in.
Mandy: What advice do you have for aspiring columnists?
Herb: Get ready to eat once every other day.
Mandy: Technology changed the publishing industry. How has it changed things for you and your field specifically?
Herb: The paper in newspapers is going away. Staffs have been decimated. Everything will be online in a few years.
Mandy: Besides writing, what are some of your job responsibilities?
Herb: I speak in front of groups, answer all emails, Tweet, Facebook and do a lot of stuff I don’t care to do but am expected to do.
Mandy: Thanks for stopping by, Herb!
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