Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Great Thaw Begins ... Yeah right!

According to the national news here in the UK 'the great thaw has begun'. Well, it may well have done in the town and cities, but just because that's what's happening in places where many people live, that doesn't mean to say that's what's happening to everyone.

This first picture was taken yesterday and is of the country lane I walk along most days in order to post my submissions and any assignments that I've had to mark back to students. As you can see, the snow is banked up high on one side, but on the actual road itself, the snow is compacted to about 2 inches thick. It's perfectly possible to navigate if you're wearing the right walking shoes and have a well padded rear end, just in case.

This next picture was taken 20 minutes ago and is of the same country lane. We may not have had any more snow, but what has been lying on the adjacent fields has been blown overnight onto the road. I tried walking in it, but it is over three feet deep in places (and my padded rear end got very cold!). So much for the great thaw! I had to abandon my trip today.

What has this got to do with writing? Well, as I said at the beginning, just because the media say something is happening, it doesn't mean that it actually IS. And if it is happening, it doesn't mean that it is happening to EVERYONE. Whilst a story may be classified as national, the local angle can be a very different one. It's a useful way of generating ideas.

Go through your national newspapers and pick out the national stories. Then consider the impact on your locality. If the Government is pushing for free swimming for under 16s, how does that national policy fit in with your community if your local council is closing your neighbourhood swimming pool? If the national news is saying that unemployment is falling, but in your local area it is still rising, then there is an article angle there. Ask the question, "What makes my local community different?" and your answer will produce your article.

So don't rely on what the national news is telling you, get out there and establish the facts for yourself in your local area. You could find yourself producing an article for your local newspaper or magazine, or, if the story at your local level is very different to the national story - you could end up selling it to a national newspaper!

I'll try again tomorrow to make it to the postbox. In the meantime, good luck!