Writing is a great way to reach people, tell stories and make your voice be heard. As a writer, you can be in control of the kind of topics you approach most of the time, offering people something they enjoy reading.
But there are also times when you have to work with delicate subjects, those that are usually handled with kid gloves: sensitive medical conditions, family tragedies or religious beliefs. Online writing courses suggest that, when it comes to the latter kind of topic, writers must be very careful with their tone of voice and follow a few important rules:
1. Be a friend, not a critic
Readers need to feel that the purpose of your article is to help them. Whether they read it for advice or to have a sense of belonging, they definitely didn’t choose your work so they can feel bad about themselves. They will, of course, expect you to share your opinion about certain matters, but you don’t want to be judgemental, confrontational or treat others’ beliefs as being wrong. Telling someone that their weight is a direct reflection of their laziness, for example, is an easy way to lose readers, no matter how helpful you may think you are.
2. It is not your secret to tell
You may receive important information from third parties, but that doesn’t mean you can treat it as your own. Try to be as professional as possible and treat people the way you would like to be treated. Don’t share personal details and don’t give out names if you didn’t receive permission to do so. To make your article more substantial, you can always seek out reliable sources and ask for a quote. After all, integrity is not something that can be taught in a writing course
3. Give a piece of yourself
It is not an overstatement to say that sensitive subjects bring up powerful emotions and reactions and you want your readers to know that you really understand this. Root your opinions in your experience and talk openly about what made you write about that particular subject. After all, your opinions didn’t appear overnight, out of nowhere. Taking your readers through the threads that contribute to your opinions can give a better understanding of your position. And just like it was mentioned before, the readers will feel that you are there to help them. However, be careful not to make the text completely about yourself.
4. Don’t press send right away
Sometimes you will feel the urge to write about a hot topic and you will want people to know your opinion right away. But this is not always helpful. You never want to publish something that was written when emotions were running high, because you may end up giving your readers something that you may regret later. Let your text rest for a day and then return to it with a fresh set of eyes. Do you still want to publish it now?
Writing about sensitive subjects can be challenging, but not impossible. An online writing course, for example, can help you use your experiences and knowledge to write great articles. The secret is to make sure that your work represents something you would want to read and then convey your opinions in the most respectable manner possible.
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