Tips for finding the courage to express anger in writing

When I read a letter from my Catholic bishop, Robert Lynch, to the faithful, it made me angry. Although it was framed as an issue of Church and State, I took the letter as a direct attack on President Obama and his health care reform efforts.

I wondered why my bishop and others had chosen to enter the political fray on an issue involving contraception. Why now, and why over birth control, I wondered? Why not about the growing income inequality? Why not about homelessness? Why not about war?

So I wrote the column, which appeared in Poynter's Tampa Bay Times last week, and have spent most of my time since answering, one by one, more than 300 emails of condemnation or support. Many readers thanked me for what they imagined was my "courage." Others wrote that they wished they could find the courage to express themselves on such a hot button issue. They felt they lacked the means to write something strong, and the guts to deal with serious consequences that come from speaking truth to power.

I believe that every writer has one of these columns in him or her -- a column derived from righteous anger that is looking for a path from the heart and soul into the sunshine.

In this week's writing chat, we talked about how you can find the courage to write such a column. I offered related tips for journalists and writers in general, answered questions, and responded to feedback from chat participants. You can replay the chat here:

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    Roy Peter Clark

    Roy Peter Clark has taught writing at Poynter to students of all ages since 1979. He has served the Institute as its first full-time faculty member, dean, vice-president, and senior scholar.


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