Monday, September 12, 2016

Want a Byline? Learn to Write the Op-ed

By Ananya Bhattacharyya

After eight years of writing and editing articles about marketing and managing small businesses—and spending my evenings and weekends polishing a literary novel—I reached a critical juncture. My novel was rejected by dozens of literary agents, and I wondered whether I should have gone to law school instead. It was in this dejected frame of mind that I wrote my first personal essay, and to my amazement it was published in The Guardian’s opinion section!

Since my d├ębut in The Guardian, I’ve had success in placing op-eds in well-respected publications, including The New York Times, Reuters, Al Jazeera America, and The Baltimore Sun. I’ve come to realize that editors are constantly looking for opinion-driven articles, which is why I’ve had success publishing them. While some newspapers and magazines only work with their regular columnists, many save space for outside contributors. How else can the press remain vibrant, keep a finger on society’s pulse, and provide meaningful insight into hundreds of ongoing issues?

Through the Opinion Writing For Publication workshop at The Writer’s Center, I will provide strategies and exercises to help you choose topics based on your sensibilities and experiences (as well as developing expertise) to create op-eds and get them published. You will learn to: perfect the art of making forceful arguments; know when to be subtle and when to not; craft a compelling narrative; figure out what one is trying to say as one is saying it; be aware of the power of aesthetics, humor, anecdotes; trust one’s intuition; and much more.

Are op-eds everyone’s cup of tea? No! There are many exceptionally talented writers with absolutely no interest in writing opinionated pieces. Instead, the op-ed is the perfect medium for writers who have the desire to be thought-provoking and who wish to shape public conversation.

If you tend to have contrarian opinions, if original ideas pop into your head regularly, or if you have expertise in one or more areas, I encourage you to join me. You will gain the understanding that an op-ed byline is an attainable goal—providing that you are willing to work hard—and that is a giant step toward success.

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