You’ve heard the saying, the pen is mightier than the word, right? The written word has been used to make massive changes in society from petitions, articles, letters and books. It’s a way to gain exposure or get buy in to help a cause.
So what are you passionate about? Do you feel that we all have the right to freedom of speech? Or do you want to see some kind of activity stopped because it’s inhuman, bad for the environment or dangerous? Our stories can put a spotlight onto these causes that can really create changes in the world. The more we tell people about things, the farther our words travel. If people collectively write about something, the power is multiplied.
PEN International is a perfect example of a group that brings writers together from around the world to discuss ideas and campaign for people who are prosecuted for speaking out. In Australia we take it for granted that we can write and say what we think without censorship (within reason; think terrorism) but in many countries there is not the same freedom. Imagine being thrown in jail for writing a blog post about your rights as a woman! Check out PEN for more information about the great work they do.
Of course, your cause might be closer to home or something close to you heart like the local animal shelter or a medical condition that affects you or someone in your family, like the fundraising book that we did called Walk with Me.
How do you go about writing for your cause? Telling stories is how to get your message out, so for any cause you want to get support for, engage with your reader through story. As an example, if you are incensed by the treatment of greyhound race dogs, the best way to get other people incensed is to relate the stories that show how they are treated. Be specific. You could follow the life of a particular dog, or trainer and give day-to-day details of what happens. Or, if you want people to be aware of prostate cancer treatment and you have experience, relate that in your writing. Again, be specific. Don’t use language that is vague or common like, the treatment of greyhound dogs is horrific or it felt devastating to be diagnosed with cancer. No one can relate to those details. Use specific details that encompass emotions and senses. Sometimes you’ll need to write the gory details. Don’t censor your writing because if you want people to care and take action, they need to know the truth.
The more passionate and honest you are about your subject, the more connection and action will result from your story.
This is where writing can make real changes, even if it’s just to get one person to sign a petition to get someone out of jail or to get checked early for cancer. Your experience can help someone else.