Writing Excuses 9.14: How to have an Opinion as a Public Figure

Let’s poke the Internet!

Of course, we may want to just sit on our hands for a few minutes and think before we poke…

Enough thinking. Let’s talk about talking about things. As 21st-century writers, we often spend time writing the things we think on assorted topics. We might blog these things, tweet them, or post comments to other people’s blogs. And before we do those things, we should consider the consequences, and not just the possible fallout from what we’re saying — all the consequences.

This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t express our opinions, of course. This is just a reminder that choosing to express is also choosing a bunch of other stuff.

And on the outside chance you find yourself needing to apologize for something you’ve said, well, here’s a link to Scalzi’s Whatever regarding Apologies.

Dave Farland’s Writing Workshops sponsored us for this bonus episode! Both Brandon and Dan have studied under Dave, and we’re all happy to wholeheartedly recommend his workshops to you. If you can’t fly to his place, well, visit MyStoryDoctor.com and take the online course.




Write out a strong opinion on something extreme, and do it three times: Once in a furious tone, once in a helpful tone, and once in a manner that is totally safe for all possible audiences including (as appropriate) your mom.

Then delete all three of them. This, no lie, is very valuable practice.

8 thoughts on “Writing Excuses 9.14: How to have an Opinion as a Public Figure”

  1. This is great advice for anyone and just one more reason I believe ‘Writing Excuses’ is the best site on the web for serious writers.

  2. Well, Brandon, you can relax. Your hardcover snafu now appears to be well beyond the first page of Google in terms of relevance (Instead, you largely find store pages that allow the purchase of your hardcovers). One thing that everyone should be aware of that isn’t the cliche’d “everything on the Internet is always on the Internet” is “Eventually, no matter how profound or horrifying it is, there will be enough more recent semi-relevant stuff to bury it.” A corollary to that is the point that “No matter how deeply buried it is, a sufficiently determined enemy will find it. This is why we don’t annoy the NSA.”

  3. Any chance we could hear from Dan a little more and Mary a little less? Unless Dan is still recovering from the mariachi incident. Anyways not that Mary is bad, just that there is a pretty significant disparity in air time and Dan is pretty dang awesome. Keep up the good work.

  4. First, this podcast seems applicable to more than just writers, but professionals in general (and certainly anyone who’s livelihood comes, even if just in part, from the public’s perception of them).

    Second, Orson Scott Card might be an interesting case study in this regard. He’s written hundreds of opinion pieces over the years (if one considers his “Uncle Orson Reviews Everything” column), yet only a few of those have been latched onto and become problematic for him. Curiously, it is the ones he published in the “safest” magazines and newspapers that have come back the most. This also serves the point that nothing is ever forgotten: twenty and more years have passed between him and some of those opinion articles, yet those articles still get dregged up fairly frequently.

    In general, I feel that if the Writing Excuses crew has a rallying cry for striving authors, it is to be intentional in both one’s career and writing. That applies here, too, it seems. Or, in other words, write every opinion piece as if your career will be defined by it (because it just might be).

  5. SO glad you all did an episode on this. There’s been so much craziness lately that I was hoping WE would take a stab at it. Got a 4 hour car ride coming up today and I’m going to catch up on all of these; can’t wait to listen.

Comments are closed.