>Problem-solving articles touch lives–and they sell

>The front page of this morning’s Living section of The Oregonian brought tears to my eyes. I had been up for only a short time and was expecting the usual collection of TV gossip, cartoons and local features. But the first article I saw addressed itself to not one but two problems that I am struggling with in my life. What those problems are I’m going to keep private, but there’s a lesson in this for writers, especially those who write for newspapers and their online counterparts.

Think about what your readers need and want. What kinds of problems do they have and what solutions can you offer after doing the research for them? They don’t have to be deep, heavy problems. They can be practical things like where to eat in Portland or how to buy a bathing suit that doesn’t make you look fat, or they can address more important problems. Should you take antidepressants? What if your child seems to have a learning disability? How do you take the car keys away from an aging parent who shouldn’t be driving anymore?

Editors and readers love articles that provide information to make people’s lives better. If you find yourself short on ideas, get out a piece of paper and make a list of the problems and challenges that you face in your own life. Then expand it with problems and challenges other people might be dealing with. Perhaps you have solved one or more of these problems, which means you already know most of what you need to write an article about it. Maybe you don’t know the answers yet, but you could find out. Make your list, then get to work.

I’m saving that article from today’s paper. I’m going to the website mentioned and using that information to improve my own life. What a wonderful gift that writer has given me. You can do likewise.

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