Recap: Finding Your Online Voice: Political Blogging 101

photo from CommonCensus blog

“Look for things to have an opinion on. They won’t always come to you.” – Amanda Hess”

Pay attention to the races nobody else is paying attention to.” – Kay Steiger

“You can pack a lot of right wing anger into 140 characters.” – Michelle Kinsey Bruns

These are just some of the pieces of advice offered to attendees of our recent event, titled “Finding Your Political Voice: Political Blogging 101.” Our panelists, Amanda Hess, Kay Steiger and Michelle Kinsey Bruns spoke to an enthusiastic crowd about the importance of women writing, and more specifically about politics. They also shared their insights on topics like the different avenues that are available for getting published, and (cue cheers from the Writing Group) a community where women can write and get supportive and constructive feedback. Yes, without any prompting, our fabulous panel suggested that women who want to write seek out a community that will encourage them to do so and will help them improve their craft. We wholeheartedly agree.

What else they said:

Get better at writing by reading
Classic. Keep up on what your fellow writers are writing. Books, news, everything. Especially work in the style you want to write.

Write every day
Another classic that bears repeating. It takes discipline, but always pays off. It also supports Amanda Hess’ earlier piece of advice to seek out things to have an opinion on. So, read every day, including the news, and you should find something worth writing on. Even if no one reads it, write it.

Meet people in person whenever you can
This speaks more to the importance of participating in the community to which you want to be a part. Online communication is important, but it doesn’t replace the significance of offline meetings. People will remember you better once they’ve met you and spoken to you in person.

Find a race nobody else is paying attention to
In the spirit of straight up political writing, check out a local race, or a race that’s not getting a lot of coverage. By fall of 2012, everyone will have espoused their beliefs on the presidential race, as well as prominent Senate and House races. But there are always gems flying under the radar. It’s great way to make your voice heard, especially if you can start early and establish yourself as the go-to person for the most up-to-date and relevant information.

Don’t be afraid to be critical of your friends and allies
Michelle gave the example of calling out the DCCC and the Democratic party for the Democratic Reps who voted for HR3, the rabidly anti-choice bill that recently passed the House.

Women need to pitch more
You’ve probably heard the statistics. Men pitch stories at a much higher rate that women. This isn’t because they are more qualified. In fact, there’s a good chance you are just as, if not more, qualified to write on that topic. Plus, editors are often looking for more female writers, so keep pitching your writing.

Politics is struggle, and there is no struggle without passion
What else needs to be said here?

A few more things to keep in mind…

Share your writing with friends, fellow writers, and of course your beloved Writing Group. Don’t be afraid to get – and give – criticism (constructively, of course).

For formal training, check out the Writers Center and Media Bistro.

Use social media. Michelle live tweets the anti-choice protesters outside her local clinic every Saturday morning, and has a gained a substantial following for doing so.

photo from Her Royal Highness blog

So, here’s what you need to do: Write! Read as much as you can, write as much as you can, and share it with as many people as possible. Now get started!

We’ll see you at our next meeting.

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About WIN Writing Group

WIN Writing Group is a network within the Women's Information Network (WIN), Washington's premier professional, political, and social network dedicated to empowering young, pro-choice, Democratic women. From this organization, our writing group was formed to give WIN members a community in which to write. We focus on creative nonfiction, which is defined as any writing that is intended to be read as true.
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