Thursday, September 12, 2013
Blogging the Taboo: Should Writers Discuss their Hot Button Opinions
By OFW Member: Renee Miller
Published: July 09, 2014


Earlier this week I blogged about hot button issues that we're advised to avoid online. Rachelle Gardner also wrote a blog post about what writers shouldn’t blog about. You can read the full post here, and I recommend that you do. It’s very helpful. I agreed for the most part with what she advises, but there is one point I find…debatable. This:
Extreme social or political opinions
I think it’s important to be yourself, and Rachelle agrees you should. However, she points out:
“If you’re online as a way to create relationships with readers as well as potential business partners (agents, editors) you may need to temper your instinct to make your social and political views an important part of your online presence. There’s no need to alienate people who don’t agree with your views, yet might very well love you and your books.”
While ranting about social bullshit and political opinions is rarely well-received, I think more should be said on these topics. You can’t be yourself without a bit of your unpopular ideas or beliefs coming through eventually. Why not be an open book? I think the way in which you do this is where writers should be careful. Don’t go all batshit and rant and rave about a social issue that is pissing you off. Instead, calmly state your feelings, the facts (this is MOST important), and ask your readers what their thoughts are. Yes, you are totally opening yourself up for some nasty blog comments and bitch-fests, but it isn’t reflecting on you necessarily, and it might just broaden some minds.
As writers we should be interested in all sides of a story, not just our own perspective. This is also true of subjects like politics, religion and social norms. To avoid these subjects is like pretending they don’t exist. To state our opinions and nothing else is like telling our readers we’re right and they’re wrong. But to make our opinions clear, along with making sure the facts for any side of the debate are also clear and not just those that support what we believe, (include ALL the facts) opens up discussions that need to be had. People need to realize it’s okay to have an unpopular opinion and it’s okay to disagree or have someone disagree with you. The sky will not fall and no one’s going to come in and arrest you. Well…not where I come from anyway. Being in the public eye, so to speak, gives authors an opportunity. Should we avoid it because someone might not read or publish our books? I don’t agree with that. Perhaps I’m in the minority. That’s okay. It’s still what I believe. Rachelle might be completely right in her advice to avoid it. She does seem to have a lot of folks hanging on her every word. (And she's said some hang-worthy words too.) Part of that is because she maintains a neutral position on many hot button issues. Correction: What she does is avoid voicing an opinion for, against or neutral. She doesn’t discuss such things at all. Perhaps that’s the smart way to go about things.
The bottom line, I suppose, is you have to make a choice when blogging about these things. Can you stand firm in your opinions and such, while allowing others to voice their own, or will you crumble or be offended when the shit hits the fan? If you’ll do the latter, do as Rachelle says. You’re not doing your career any favors by making enemies just so you can rock the boat. If your goal is to open the door for meaningful and intelligent debate, then have at it.

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