As the Midterms Come to a Close, Writing is the Way to Stay Grounded and Make Change
By Lakshmi Sunder
Everywhere I looked on social media over the past two months, there were posts urging people to vote in the midterms. Though I am not able to vote just yet, I have friends voted for the first time in this year’s midterms. They confronted long lines and dozens of candidate names. But I noticed the pride in my friends’ faces as they placed “just voted” stickers on their phone cases. Midterms not only mark a change in American politics, but a change in teens who are voting for the first time.
I found myself drowning in the quick-paced ebbs and flows of my social media feed in midterm season. It felt that I was constantly swallowing snippets of emotionally jarring and discouraging information—from the rejection of a mail-in ballot to the loss of a much-admired candidate. To ground myself in my state and the general country’s political atmosphere, I’ve turned to writing. That, in fact, is what I am doing right now with #TeenWritersProject’s blog.
Writing as a tool for rationalization is not exclusive to me. The value of this practice in non-writing related fields is underdiscussed, especially for the sphere of politics. However, writing is arguably the most vital skill for a campaign. It is the middleman between candidates who understand the minutiae of legislation and the everyday people who vote for them.
Writing underpins the electoral process—before candidates even declare their intentions to run and long after a person is elected. From opinionated ad campaigns to unbiased journalistic reporting, writing is the vehicle for Americans to exercise their right to vote.
So, if you’re a writer who is also vested in politics, consider a career in which you can use your writing to bolster a cause or candidate you’re passionate about. I know multiple people who have gone into writing-adjacent political fields. It’s possible! Below is a list of potential careers to get you started on your journey toward bridging art with advocacy:
While it might be difficult to get started speechwriting for electoral candidates in high school, reach out to peers rfunning for school-wide officer positions and ask if you can help with their election speeches, or join debate events like Oratory and Congressional Debate to learn how to write your own speeches. Also, check out this free Harvard course on public speaking and rhetoric.
A key part of an election is advertising. This is the reason why teenagers’ social media feeds have evolved in recent weeks to fit information about the midterms and races to watch out for. Look out for youth-led organizations who support candidates that align with your values—for example, a local city council member’s “teen team” or like organizations. Then, ask if you can get involved in a social media push by interviewing peers on why they would vote for this candidate.
Another organization that can give you experience with this is Junior State of America. This organization gives you nonpartisan discussion and deliberation skills in the realm of politics, while also providing a platform to run for state- and nation-wide officer positions or assist with another member’s election.
3. TV Writing
The first televised US debate was in 1960 (fun fact: historians pose that Kennedy might’ve won that presidential election because he looked better on television). Since then, television has only become more instrumental in documenting the outcomes of political races.
Writing, namely TV writing, holds an important space in this area. As a TV writer for political news channels, you could work to make reporting unbiased but engaging, writing scripts on the spot as votes get counted. It’s a thrilling, fast-paced environment. Talk to the broadcasting team at your school to see how you can report on school-wide news, whether that be through daily announcements or monthly newspapers.
4. Informative Writing
Information deprivation can contribute heavily to a lack of voter turnout. With the growth of social media, this problem has waned among younger generations, though this also allows election-related misinformation to pervade unsuspecting users and influence their vote.
As an informative writer for a news outlet, you could work either as a journalist gathering information on elections firsthand, or a person who puts this information in a readable and accessible format. This is likely more achievable for those just getting started in the informative writing spaces, and there are hundreds of youth-led organizations looking for content creators. You can help run our social media by creating socially relevant writing-related content that matters to you!
5. Creative writing
Perhaps my favorite way to write about the midterms is through a creative writing lens. To cope with often disheartening and never-ending news, I turn to poems that weave my own identity with society, or I build dystopian worlds that reflect the darker aspects of our reality.
Creative writing can be an excellent way to tap into the pathos of an audience, often saying more than statistics alone can. This is something that anyone can do with practice! Write a piece about a social justice topic you care about and share it at a local open mic or gather a group of peers who are also interested in “artivism” and workshop with each other.
Finally, of course, it is always an option to submit your content, essays, articles or creative works to us for publication consideration in The #TWP Quarterly, our quarterly lit zine.
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