5 Lessons on Writing for Change from Roxane Gay
A Guide Garnered from this Brilliant Author’s MasterClass
Roxane Gay’s MasterClass on writing for social change is absolutely spectacular. Ever since I completed it, I’ve gotten paid for penning pieces about the news.
I’ll be real with you: Writing about politics is simultaneously exhausting and depressing at times, but it is also very important, and I consider it an honor to receive compensation of any amount for my work in this area.
1. Embrace Your Own Identity and Experience in Your Writing
It is essential to embrace your own identity and experiences in your writing. For instance, the fact that I am female has an enormous influence on my writing, especially because I am a feminist, so this viewpoint has an impact when it comes to a great number of issues.
2. Challenge Societal Norms
There are many ways to challenge societal norms. Some examples include questioning the arguably racist roots of the United States police force and the societal expectation in many ares of the country that women ought to have children and get married, even they want to do neither.
Of course, it’s wonderful to tie the knot and have kids, if that’s what you genuinely want, but it is just not everyone’s cup of tea.
3. Do Your Research
When you are writing about news stories, it is essential to do your research, even if you are writing an opinion piece: You must be informed about both sides to be even remotely convincing, especially if someone has an opposing viewpoint. That said, your aim should not be to change people’s minds on a certain issue.
Instead, you should simply try to make them think.
4. Consume & Criticize Various Expressions of Culture
Believe it or not, there are actually quite a few cultural creations influenced by politics. Even horror movies sometimes incorporate themes surrounding the greed of corporations or corrupt presidents of the time, so watching movies, reading books, etcetera, might inspire you. That said, newspapers tend to be the most concise, direct, and helpful if you have to come up with a story quickly.
Nonetheless, if you are working on a complex piece about feminism with many layers, for instance, advertisements as well as movies — old and new — speak volumes about the cultural norms of today and yesterday surrounding gender roles, oppressions, and expectations.
5. Do Not Over-Edit
Finally, perhaps Roxane Gay’s most valuable piece of advice was to actually set your work free: You can only edit a piece so many times, after all. At the end of the day, you simply have to submit it and take the risk.
I feel like this is true for many areas of life.
By the way, penning political pieces definitely comes with its pros and cons.
You might want to watch my video on the topic before you begin!