Politics and your Author Platform

…don’t mix. The end.

Thanks for reading, folks! Yes, I know that was amazing and –

Ok, just kidding. I’m an overwriter, it’s my nature to elaborate. And, since this is Election Day here in the USA, I figured this would be a perfect topic for this week’s blog post.

Can it really be that I’m the only one who gets annoyed by the need in the modern world of arts – not even just in the writing community, but in Hollywood and everywhere in between as well – to push a particular political agenda? Don’t get me wrong, I’m fairly interested in politics myself and whole-heartedly support each and every one of us talking about, defending, and discussing that in which we believe. But, at the same time, I also don’t appreciate the creators of things I love wandering down a tangent to try and tell me what to believe, based on what they believe.

I mean, I think we all remember how this turned out:


And, let me make this clear as well, I don’t think there should be any official capacity which prevents anyone from sharing on their platform what they think needs shared – that’s one of the basic definitions of American freedom, the ability to talk about what you believe in without fear of being silenced by the authorities. But, I would like to contend there’s something we creatives have to ask ourselves when we’re tempted to turn our creative platform into a cog in the political machine: what is it that we really want – to tell what we believe, shouting it out with a megaphone that drowns out the opposition, or show it, subtly weaving a tapestry for any curious eye to study?

Inevitably, every one of us – informed, misinformed, uninformed – has a world view that’s going to influence our work. That’s the very nature of a world view, it informs how we view the connections between circumstances and the interworkings of our own minds and the minds of others. As an author, our world view is going to present itself, subtly or maybe not so subtly, in our writing – in how we structure our plot, in how our characters interact, in who’s ‘good’ and who’s ‘bad’. And that is a GOOD THING. That is, dare I say, the very intention behind the art of writing: to present and explore the questions, messages, and ideas that we observe and experience in the world – to show the truth of what we observe, understand, and believe.

There’s a little writing craft adage I’m sure you’ve heard before: Show, don’t tell. Well, if we show our worldview through our writing, what are we doing when we start pushing things on our author platforms? It seems to me like we’re telling. And, as anyone who’s been a 10 year old before knows, no one wants to be told what to do; we want someone who leads by example.

So, my conclusion? You do you – if you find the need to be political in you author platform then so be it, make some noise, take that stand. But, if instead you’re pausing in contemplation… maybe consider letting your work do the talking. Chances are, your thousands of words story is going to have a more developed and compelling message than your 280 character tweet.

So, what do you think? Am I saying something crazy or radical here, or maybe you’ve been thinking something of the same thing? Leave your VOTE down in the comments below! (Heh, get it? Vote? It’s election day? – Yeah, sorry, you got it.)

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