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  • Kourtni Tucker

Writing as a Means of Change

Updated: May 10

Writing has been one of the most profound tools of communication since its earliest inception. With this comes writing as a tool for advocacy. It’s no secret that we face many societal and global issues. It is our job to use our voices where we can.

To clarify: We are not pushing any one ideology or issue. This is simply a means of encouraging you to be active participants in the things that influence humanity, because it does matter. You matter. With that being said, here are the 5 most basic tips to using your voice as an advocate:

  1. Educate Yourself

This is arguably the most important and crucial step. You must have a firm grasp of what you are speaking on before you speak. It is completely valid to have feelings about a certain issue, but wouldn’t you want those feelings to be rooted in factual information?

The reality, unfortunately, is that many people have different agendas and will twist information as they see fit. Especially in an age where people can post just about anything online, you want to be very judicious as to what you accept as “real” and “truth”.

The point is this: Spreading misinformation or even well-meaning, unintentional falsehoods can do much more harm than good.

So how do we know if a source is reliable? Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • How recent is this information?

  • What is the source’s proximity to the situation/issue at hand? Are these lived experiences, or are you getting information based on an outside lens?

  • Does the source have biases or affiliations that are influencing their perspective/reporting?

  • Are they citing well-documented or thoroughly researched materials/events?

  • If the events are not well-documented or thoroughly researched, consider why that may be. Is this something that is being uncovered or unfolding now, so we don’t have much to go off of? If so, consider how you wish to proceed.

2. Remain Open To And Respectful Of Other Positions

Don’t let perfectionism or emotion get the better of you. While your emotions are valid, you don’t want them to close you off.

Most people would say that if you’re wrong, you’re wrong. If you’re right, you’re right. However, things are often more nuanced. You may have been “right” about some aspects and “wrong” about others. Everything is often grey, not black or white. So remember that as you’re learning and debating.

As for respect, hurling insults or accusations won’t solve anything. Be mindful of others when speaking to them.

3. Don’t Be Afraid To Correct Yourself Or Change Your Own Position With New Information

Honestly? There is not much more to be said for this. A meaningful “I was wrong. I apologize. Here is why/how I was wrong and ways we can do better” statement can go a very long way and be just as impactful as your original point (if not more).

People will consider your stance more seriously if you’re willing to admit when you’re imperfect, as ironic as it sounds.

Why? For the very reasons we’ve already stated. People are so used to standing their ground and being unwilling to listen to/receive information when advocating that the human element often gets lost. Being willing to grow is proof that you wish to promote truth rather than yourself.

4. Consider Your Own Biases

While pathos isn’t inherently bad in advocacy, and it’s necessary to appeal to others’ humanity, you don’t want your pathos to turn into bias. Consider your proximity to the topic at hand. The very lived experiences that make your arguments so compelling are also the very lived experiences that could make you biased.

5. Structuring Your Arguments

How you wish to structure your stance is, honestly, completely up to you. After all, it is your stance. While starting out, I’d personally suggest remaining professional in tone and using a mixture of persuasive and informative writing tactics. Once you’re more comfortable, you can obviously start branching out into different formats if you wish. Just keep the other points in mind along your journey!

MM’s Challenge for this post: Write an advocative piece about an issue you’re invested in and share it at our next event!

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