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There Are Lives At Stake—Writing With Emotion and Logic

What is your responsibility as a writer?

Image by Bannon Morrisy

When we say writers are superstars, we mean it. We are historians, entertainers, truth-tellers, mind-changers, fact spitters—all of the above. And as we enter into this particular period of fear, uncertainty, anger and confusion, we also need to be responsible. There are lives at stake.

Many of us are going to be moved to comment on the Russian invasion of Ukraine. We’re going to share our opinions, pour our hearts out, and let readers know how we feel. But it’s in these very times that we writers need to be most careful.

People will be more eager to believe what they read. They’re searching for comfort in your words, or maybe they’re looking for something to feed their anger or justify their pain. And when they come across your article, they will be swayed one way or another. We need to be careful.

Think Things Through

Right now more than ever, you need to think about your responsibility as a writer. Understand the power of your words and really think about what you’re putting out into the world.

When I say there are lives at stake, I’m not trying to be dramatic. Your writing matters. You have no idea at what point in someone’s journey they will come across your piece. Depending on what they read, it can calm them down or rile them up, it can offer perspectives they never considered or fan the flames of illogical thinking.

With that in mind, here are some things to consider before you hit publish to make sure you maintain your superstar status:

Separate fact from opinion

So many assumptions will be made for the duration of this event. As you write your piece, make sure it is clear what is fact and what is your opinion. It may be fact that “X” number of troops are positioned in “Y” location, but unless those troops act, it is your opinion on what they are doing there.

Think about your intention

Even when writing facts, think about why you are including those facts in your article. What purpose does it serve? Does it support your story or is it superfluous? Think hard about your intentions, then press publish.

Consider how your piece will be interpreted

I know this is a tough one. People will interpret things based on factors you can’t control, including their own personal experiences. But as a responsible writer, a superstar writer, it’s up to you to articulate your words with care. You will sway people one way or another. Think about which way you want them to go.

In no way am I saying not to write with emotion or insert your opinion into your pieces. What I’m saying is to be responsible about it. People will read what you write and they will react because that’s what words make people do.

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