NMA Email Newsletter: Issue #23

Making The Most Of An Editorial

Writing an editorial can be a rewarding experience. It’s a way to get repetitive thoughts out of your head and out where they might do some good. Often, an aggravating experience or memory will bang around in our heads like one of those tunes that gets locked in and repeats itself over and over and over until we’re ready to beat our heads on the wall in hope of at least changing the melody!

Let’s take a hypothetical situation, say you just received a standard 15 MPH speeding ticket on the way home from work, doing nothing different than anyone else on the road and driving in a safe courteous manner. Now you’re rehashing the event in your mind – it has taken the place of that ridiculous tune that was driving you crazy, and you’re thinking about what you should have said, or shouldn’t have said, how arrogant the cop was, or how unrealistic the speed limit is, or why were you singled out from all the other people who were doing the same thing. Then, it all coalesces and you say “this would not have happened if the speed limits in this town were half way reasonable and they reflected the normal flow of traffic.”

Unless you take some form of concrete action this series of events and your final conclusion are just going to keep cycling through your mind, for hours if not days. In fact, this is why so many people immediately sit down and write the check to the court, just to get the whole affair off their minds.

Instead, I’d like to suggest you sit down and write an editorial. I have heard all the excuses for not writing, that’s what they are, excuses.

Here’s how you write an editorial: You start writing anything that comes to you mind concerning this experience. Don’t worry about spelling, grammar, use as much profanity as suits your mood, tell it like it is. When you’ve burned through all your pent up irritation and anger you may think you have just generated a lot of gibberish, certainly not something any paper or web site is going to publish. A little organizing is in order. You will probably be able to pick out a few strings of coherent thought, like; what happened, why it was wrong or should not have happened, and what can be done to fix the problem. In other words: I got a ticket. I should not have gotten a ticket because I was driving safely. I would not have gotten a ticket if there were reasonable speed limits in this city.

After putting your thoughts in a logical order you have to address the most difficult task; reducing your masterpiece to somewhere around 200 to 300 words. You see, despite your proclamation that you are not a writer, there will be in front of you a 1500 word miniseries on the failure of traffic regulation in the Western Hemisphere. It’s tough and ugly work, but by the time you wheedle your novelette down to 250 words you will discover a tight, concise editorial that says what you wanted to say in a manner that other people will actually read and understand what you have written.

You’ve put a lot of work into this editorial so make the most of it. In addition to sending it to the newspapers in your community, send it to the mayor, aldermen, state senator, state representative, and the local traffic engineer. Just attach a cover note that says something like “I hope you will take the time to read my comments on the appropriateness of speed limits in XYZ city.”

One final task; be sure and check the “not guilty” box on your ticket and send it in – make them work for your money.

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