Writing Op-Eds

Periodically, AWP posts alerts in the Writer's News about steps our members can take to advocate support for the literary arts. If your institution or arts organization is facing cuts to its federal or state budget, consider writing an op-ed piece for your local paper that argues for greater support for writers and their work.

Keep it short.

800 words is the typical length of a piece in the opinions and editorials section of your newspaper. Your article is unlikely to be considered if it exceeds the usual length. The newsroom is a busy place, and editors are unlikely to have time to whittle a long diatribe down to an appropriate length.

Dramatize the local impact.

The editors considering your piece will be more inclined to publish your piece if it demonstrates a strong connection to your local community. What have recent budget cuts done to your local library, local tuition rates, your public schools, your arts council, or your favorite theater?

Woo and persuade, don’t demonize.

Although you may feel impassioned about the subject, seek to persuade your adversaries rather than to insult or punish them.

Make sure your information is accurate.

Nothing will undermine the strength of your argument as much as inaccurate information or obsolete analysis. Consider your sources carefully.

Make sure your information is up to date.

News regarding federal and state budget-making processes change overnight, and political positions are just as mercurial. Check your favorite news media, the Internet, and our helpful links for up-to-date analysis and alerts.

Include your contact information.

Provide your work phone number, your home phone number, and your email address so that the editors can contact you should they decide to publish your piece.