F. Scott Fitzgerald once said "Do not write because you want to say something, write because you have something to say." As an editorialist, what is it you have to say; what perspectives do you think are uniquely yours?
I felt this was one of the most challenging questions on the list. I think the response depends upon what one considers to be "having something to say." Is simply conveying information having something to say, or is Fitzgerald getting at a more philosophical meaning, suggesting that what you say should have long-term meaning and relevance?
As a journalist, there's a strong incentive to publish. "Content is king," as the saying goes. This is why I keep the line between writing in my journal and submitting articles for publication very clear. When I write for WG, it's for general dissemination. Here, if I indulge in what some might consider author's masturbation (writing just to write), well, it's my personal journal. I generally write here for myself, and for my personal growth, not for an audience of strangers. If folks read here and like what they see, great, but their enjoyment isn't a primary motivating factor in this space.
In a publication space like a magazine or newspaper, authors have responsibilities to their readership and they must meet them, else risk losing their circulation, sphere of influence, and possibly credibility. This does not mean pandering to the readers, but it does mean educating and delivering relevant content as frequently as possible.
In my work for WomenGamers.com, I regularly write articles that inform the public. However, much of the information in those articles (and in any newspaper) is transient and quickly outdated. The phrase "yesterday's news" exists for a reason. It doesn't mean that it's not needed, only that events change quickly.
However, when writing editorials, it is important to dissect and to analyze. I never write an editorial unless I feel inspired. I have to feel like I've seen something in the big picture that's worth commenting on and bringing to the attention of our readers.
Perspectives that are uniquely mine . . . well, being a left-handed, blue-eyed, Southern ENTJ female is pretty unusual in and of itself. *laughs* Anything anyone writes is inevitably shaped by their knowledge, personality, and experiences. Even if they're trying to be objective, the way in which they are capable of being objective is affected. I will say that back in my college debate society, I never took the floor if someone else had already said what I'd intended to say, and I sort of prided myself on bringing up aspects that other members had not considered on a given issue.
As far as a unique perspective, I try not to write editorials unless I believe I'm covering territory that hasn't already been addressed by someone else. The particulars vary on what that territory is, depending on the issue and content being addressed. I do try to be very critical of my own work. While editing, I'll demand of each sentence: "Is this relevant?" If not, out it goes. I've already deleted several paragraphs while composing this response, if that tells you anything. *smiles*
However, when writing for myself, I will sometimes write just to open my mental pathways for the process of writing. I'm not exactly sure I believe in writer's block: there's always something to write about. It may not be what you need to be writing about for a given project or deadline, but I find that writing about other topics will often fuel ideas and sometimes inspire new directions and associations.
Every now and then, I try those stream of consciousness exercises, writing my train of thought without revision. Those posts, you never see, which is another form of self-editing. It's like the deleted scenes on the cutting room floor. They exist, yes, but the audience never sees them unless the studio decides to put them on the DVD, yet they surely influenced the content that was visible, even if only by changing the context because of their absence. This is kind of a fun train of thought: it's interesting to imagine what's on the "cutting room floor" of our favorite authors' minds.
Thanks for the question. I will try to answer the final segment in a more timely fashion.