Last week, I was wrestling with how to teach my public relations students about writing to impact change. I looked in the usual places for inspiration on the subject (Google & the bookstore), but found very little. Suddenly it occurred to me that I have a lot of friends who, on a daily basis, are writing to impact change. Why not ask them? And so I did. I sent out an email to a bunch of people whose writing I respect and here are the answers that came back to me:
– Christine Claire Reed
Follow the fear. When I have something to say that I’m afraid to say because of the reaction I fear I might get, that’s when the writing has the most impact. And I just have to sit down and write it. If I overthink, the power dwindles.
– Renae Cobb
Tell a personal story about an experience that impacted you in a profound way. A moment in which you knew with absolute certainty, this is the person I am meant to be.
– Margaret Sanders
1. Start with: “I want to tell you that…”
You’re going to erase that little line once you’re done your piece, but I find if I start with that bit of sentence, my writing is more focused on what I really want to say, and what I really want the reader to remember.
2. Once you think your piece is polished, go back and cut 20 percent more. Most of us write too much and you would be surprised how much you can cut without losing your message. Your message will be more clear because you’ve taken out all the extraneous words. If you are really long winded, you might even need to cut 30 percent.
3. Believe what you are writing about. Bullshit doesn’t make for behavioural change.
– Michele Visser-Wikkerink
Think of a time in your life when someone said something to you and it
changed everything. It may have been as simple as yelling out “Stop!” as you
were about to step into the street. It may have been hearing that someone
believed in you. Or that they didn’t. For me, it was when my boyfriend
looked at a sign for theatre auditions and said to me, “Hey, you might like
that!” It changed my life forever. What words have changed your life?
– Jamie Ridler
Write from your own experience.
Don’t be afraid to share your wisdom.
Be transparent with your process, warts and all.
Invite people to consider, rather than trying to get them to change.
Share your stories, because they are the best way to make a point.
– Julie Daley
Reframe, reframe, reframe….what is the inherent possibility or potential
and how can your words and perspective illuminate this? This of course
presumes potential exists and that pattern emerges from chaos.
– Katharine Weinnman
Write it for the people not for yourself.
– Jarda Dokoupil
Consider these questions:
Who are you talking to?
What do you want to say to them?
What are you feeling?
What qualities do you want to infuse your self and your world with?
How can you be the change you want to effect?
– Hiro Boga
I think if you come to the page thinking “I have to impact positive change” you’re going to shut yourself down immediately.
I think the most important thing is to TELL THE TRUTH, because the truth speaks for itself. Open, honest, vulnerable writing will influence readers.
– Susan Plett
1. Meet people where they are – make sure they feel GOTTEN – empathetic messages before emphatic messages
Understand change has stages
2. Give baby baby baby steps
3. Share specific stories, “before and after” style that help people see themselves both now and in the positive future you’re inviting them to
– Michele Lisenbury Christensen
My writing advice is to be brave enough to make yourself vulnerable in your writing—while still being honest and respectful to yourself—and your words will resonate on a deeper level with others. When I write on my blog I write for myself with the intention that by sharing it–my words will touch others. I try to never write at them–but to include them in my thought process. When I sit down to write I always think “what do I want to talk about”…never “what do I want to write.”
– Connie Hozvicka
Use fewer words. You may not like it that most Americans read at an 8th
grade level and have the attention span of a gnat, but that’s the reality.
If you want to communicate you have to live by it.
Create strong metaphors. If it’s wimpy, don’t use. It it’s stunning it will
– Rachelle Mee-Chapman
Here is one quote I just found yesterday that I posted on my facebook.
“You write to communicate to the hearts and minds of others what’s burning inside you. And we edit to let the fire show through the smoke.” ~Arthur Polotnik
As I am editing my draft memoir I am finding it very important to be clear and to use truthful words. Sometimes I find it extremely difficult to find the words to put together a sentence that will make an impact, but then I sit down to the page and take a deep breath and trust the process, I trust that I am using the right words to make the impact that is intended. To tell the story and hopefully it will be remembered.
I find it helpful for me to read out loud what I have written, to see if it makes sense, are the words I am using, choosing the right fit for the intention? I like this process.
– Marion Ann Berry
I thing the one most important thing new writers need to learn is how to tell a good story – in order to impact behavioural change, as a writer, I need to create emotional impact. To create emotional impact I need to create the opportunity for emotional resonance and, although there are other ways, a well-constructed story is one of the most effective ways to do that. Ultimately I’m interested in behavioural change that results from us becoming more connected – more connected to our true selves, other people and everything that lives and grows in our natural environment. In my experience that kind of connection can be enhanced through good story-telling. Examples could range from a well-told story about where the trash that we throw out actually goes and whose lives it effects, through to a woman sharing her birthing story.
– Marriane Elliot
Use stories! Not theoretical language.
– Tara Sophia Mohr
TELL THE TRUTH! Write in vulnerable ways. Write from your soul. Write from your own experience – or even lack thereof. Just acknowledge to us that your words are grounded in your own passions, doubts, strengths, weaknesses, questions, hopes, fears, etc.
Of course, this has to be appropriate to audience, but I think somehow, no matter the subject or the context, the best writing comes from the heart. When I read that kind of writing, I am changed. Over and over again.
– Ronna Detrick
And here are some that I added:
1.Write for the intellect AND the emotions. If you convince both, you can impact change. If you convince only one, the other may put up roadblocks.
2. Show don’t tell. Show me why the change will benefit my life. Don’t just try to convince me with impressive stats.
3. Focus on possibilities. Show me someone just like me who’s made the change and is happy about it. Make it seem attainable.