When you’re a writer, you’re more powerful than you think. If you have the ability to put words in the right order and know the difference between “their,” “there,” and “they’re,” you can shake governments. You can right the wrongs, move the mountains, and force the change from the comfort of your cubbyhole.

Or you can Netflix and wonder if that second bag of Cheetos in the cupboard will still be there in an hour.

I’m trying to empower you, not insult you. If you have even a mediocre gift with words, then this is your chance to shine outside of your books.

Is something broken in your community? Are you upset by the state of politics in your town? Is public debate on a critical issue not including your unique viewpoint. Write and submit an op-ed to your local newspaper!

I did. Frankly, it wasn’t much of an op-ed. It didn’t get much notice, and the editors didn’t push it like other submissions, but that’s okay! I’m not an idiot. There are a ton more important things going on in our state that deserve their attention than my little piece.

But my little piece needed to be written (just like yours!). I felt there was a dimension to this critical argument that needed visibility. I wanted the challenge, too. A novelist pretty much sets their own rules in their books (aside from that pesky grammar thing), but an op-ed is writing that must stand up to light of day. I found it surprisingly hard to stick to the facts, as Sergeant Joe Friday says.

And how about that feeling of empowerment? I was participating in the solution, versus my usual bellyaching about the problem. This is the key point because I think it’s easier today than any other time in our history to not participate in social change. Clicking a “like” button or participating in a Twitter survey is a placebo. It takes courage to become visible.

So be brave! Get over your complacent self and do what you do best: write and send it out as an op-ed. The editors will love you! Who knows? You might actually make people’s lives better, including your own.

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