TUESDAY'S D3 DAILY ACTION: Learn How to Write OpEds That Make a Difference

The Indivisible Project and The OpEd Project have joined together to publish a great resource and training tool on how to write effected OpEds that increase the range of voices and quality of ideas we hear in the world, with a focus on increasing the number of underrepresented voices and thought leaders in influential public forums. The Indivisible Project’s mission is to equip locally-led groups across the country with tools to hold their Members of Congress accountable and resist the Trump agenda. 


If you are tight on time and don't have time to read the complete training tool, here are a few basic tips... 

TIPS FOR OP-ED WRITING

1. OWN YOUR EXPERTISE

Know what you are an expert in and why—but don’t limit yourself. Consider the metaphors that your experience and knowledge suggest. 

2. STAY CURRENT

Follow the news—both general and specific to your areas of expertise. Whether you're an educator, a medical professional, an entrepreneur or a cancer survivor, it will help you speak confidently if you’re up to speed on the news in your community.

3. THE PERFECT IS THE ENEMY OF THE GOOD

In other words: write fast. You may have only a few hours to get your piece in before the moment is gone. But also…

4. CULTIVATE A FLEXIBLE MIND

Remember that a good idea may have more than one news hook, indeed if the idea is important enough it can have many. So keep an eye out for surprising connections and new news hooks—the opportunity may come around again.

5. USE PLAIN LANGUAGE

Jargon serves a purpose, but it is rarely useful in public debate, and can obfuscate—sorry, I mean cloud—your argument. Speak to your reader in straight talk.

6. RESPECT YOUR READER

Never underestimate your reader’s intelligence, or overestimate her level of information. Recognize that your average reader is not an expert in your topic, and that the onus is on you to capture her attention—and make the argument compel.

QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF BEFORE WRITING

  1. Why should we readers trust you? Are you authoritative on your topic? Are you accountable to what you say you know? Can you provide evidence of your expertise? You don’t need to have a famous name, a big title, or a fancy degree—but you do need to be well positioned to speak on your topic, and able to convey it.
  2. Can you back up what you say? Is your argument based on evidence—solid material and logical building blocks that will be acknowledged as credible even by those who may disagree with your interpretation?
  3. What’s new? Is your argument different, particularly original in the way it is delivered, or is it backed up by substantially new information or reporting? What is compelling about its contribution to the conversation?
  4. So what? Why should everyone else—including those of us who are not experts in your area—care?
  5. What’s the difference between being “right” and being “effective”? Does your language tend to write off the people who would disagree with you, or do you employ empathy and respect in the pursuit of changing minds?
  6. How will your ideas and arguments contribute to the conversation, and be helpful to your audience? Do you see your knowledge and experience in terms of its potential value to others?