How to Write Effectively For a Cause
by Mary Emma Allen
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Incidents will occur in your life that prod you to write for a
cause. This writing may be to right a wrong, educate and inform,
help others avoid a situation that's happened to you, or raise
You may do this as an individual writer. Or you may work with a
group, helping them in various ways with your writing talents.
Sometimes you'll get paid for the articles you write to inform
others about this cause. Other times you write simply because you
want to share and help others.
What Are Causes?
Causes encompass almost anything that affects your life or the
lives of others. They may include issues such as: Alzheimer's
Disease, cancer, environmental concerns, political issues, organ
donation, literacy, preserving historic sites, rights for
handicapped persons, campaigns against drunk driving, etc.
Here are some ways to spread the word about your cause:
- Letters to the editor
- Op Ed Articles
- Essays (back page of magazine type)
- Investigative reporting
- Newsletters for an organization
- Press releases
- Speeches for yourself and others
- Booklets/pamphlets (writing or editing)
- Grant proposals
How Are You Most Effective?
- Write without anger and name-calling. When you write with
obvious anger, perhaps even stooping to name-calling, you'll
likely be considered a fanatic, one whose writing others will
ignore or not want to be associated with. Instead of blasting off
in anger, show through examples and facts the arguments that
prove your point or help others see another side to a topic.
- Check your facts. Whether you're writing articles, grant
proposals, booklets, a speech -- in fact, for any project --
make sure your facts and figures are accurate. Don't simply
write "off the top of your head" with emotion rather than
accuracy. You'll lose credibility quickly this way.
- Appeal to emotions. You do want to appeal to people's emotions,
not in a maudlin or insincere way, but in a manner that enables
them to relate to other people or situations. Often they'll
recall something similar they or a friend encountered and thus
understand better what you're trying to say.
- Use clear, short sentences, not rambling epistles. Keep your
writing precise, even when using a conversational tone. While
rambling pieces or scholarly tomes have their place, generally
you need to keep your writing simple, yet clear and concise.
- Know your audience. Know the people whose attention you wish to
attract with your writing or speech. Use a different tone for a
humor essay than a grant or investigative report.
- Use humor to make a point. Most readers are receptive to humor.
One or two humorous references, even within a serious piece, help
keep your reader/listener's attention.
- Use case histories and examples. Relating your or others'
experiences give credibility when writing about a cause.
In writing for a cause, your rewards are many and may even be
monetary. You know you're using your writing talents to help a
cause dear to your heart and bring awareness, information and
comfort to others.
As you draw attention to yourself and your writing, you may be
asked to write more on this topic and even to speak about it.
From writing for free to further a cause, you may receive
payment for your articles from other publications and talks
As writers we have the "power of the pen" (and nowadays our
keyboard connected to the Internet) to reach out to people around
the world to do good, to comfort, and encourage.
Copyright © 2001 Mary Emma Allen
This article may not be reprinted without the author's written permission.
Mary Emma Allen is a children's writer and teacher. She is a graduate from the Institute of Children's Literature and has had more than 200 stories published in magazines and anthologies. A number of her stories and poems, along with her illustrations, appear in her book, Tales of Adventure & Discovery. Visit Mary Emma's web site: http://maryemmallen.blogspot.com/.
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