I find it comes in drips and droves.
Some days I’ll be sitting, pouring through Twitter feeds and news sites for hours, contemplating story after story. What do I think about this subject? Is what I think unique? Can I articulate it the way I want to? Do I know enough about it? Is it going to be of interest to enough people?
As the ideas circle around in my head, I get dizzy. Not knowing what to do, I often just keep reading, keep watching the world. Maybe if I watch for long enough I’ll see something I can write about.
So often I find it’s the ideas which I lack. Execution can sometimes be tricky, especially if it’s a particularly contrarian or controversial argument. But sometimes it pays to be edgy.
Never edgy for edgy-ness’ sake, no, never. Your audience can always tell, I think. Fake rage is frivolous. What’s more, it’s harder to write. When you’re in a true position; have considered all the angles; really have this yearning desire to speak up, that’s when you’re ready to write.
Or, at least, when I’m ready.
My process of writing opinion typically follows an order not greatly dissimilar to this:
- Find an opinion –
As mentioned, this tends to be the hardest part for me.
- Research that opinion –
I’ll sometimes look up other opinion pieces on the subject to grasp an understanding of the common arguments to differentiate myself or to refute those points, but more often than that I’ll do some serious fact-finding to shore-up my position. Often, though, these facts have appeared before me when I saw a news article somewhere, so I tend to start with their quoted sources, and then move on to find competing and supplementary ones.
- Develop a mental plan –
Sometimes I have too much evidence or too many points to make regarding an opinion, so it’s a matter of condensing the arguments. These are my favourite and easiest articles to write. Other times it’s the opposite, and I’ll be trying to really focus on key evidence, expanding upon it as necessary. I find this harder.
- Start! –
When I’ve finally figured out my logic for the argument – what my key points are – I start writing. Unprofessionally perhaps, I don’t often dot-point or have a tangible, over-arching plan written anywhere. It’s normally just all up there in my head.
- Make it funny, make it stick –
After a first draft, if I think it needs more or is a bit dry, I try to spice up paragraphs or sentences one at a time by adding hints of humour or making the phrasing more digestible. More often than not, I opt for humour. Jokes are memorable.
I hope that if you’ve happened across this blog and are keen to start sharing your ideas with the world, that I’ve given you some practical advice to do so. The best advice you’ll get most of the time, though, is from yourself, from your experience, and from your gut. Good luck.