Creative Writing: The Opinion Essay | Kelsey Miller | Skillshare

Creative Writing: The Opinion Essay

Kelsey Miller, Author & Journalist

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11 Lessons (31m)
    • 1. Introduction

      1:46
    • 2. Know What You Know (And What You Don’t)

      4:13
    • 3. What’s Your Beat?

      2:24
    • 4. Put Your Antenna Up

      5:03
    • 5. Find Your Angle

      1:33
    • 6. Ask Why

      1:25
    • 7. Back It Up

      2:18
    • 8. Draft It

      3:48
    • 9. Edit It

      3:40
    • 10. Pitch It

      3:35
    • 11. Final Thoughts

      1:26

About This Class

International bestselling author and journalist Kelsey Miller takes you through each step of crafting a strong, impactful opinion essay.

From inspiration to execution, this class will help you hone your ideas, back up your opinion and personal experience with research, and draft a vital and topical essay that resonates, loud and clear. By the end of this class, you should have a solid draft to work with — or pitch for publication.

This course is for anyone who’s felt they had valuable input on a topic — an experience or stance that should be heard. Let this class help you amplify your voice and join the conversation.

Transcripts

1. Introduction: I think opinion essays are some of the best and most interesting writing out there. I also think it's the most accessible writing out there. It helps you say what you want to say clearly and well. It helps you to become a better arguer. It helps you to really think critically about your own beliefs and also other people's beliefs. It just is a really great mental exercise and it's certainly a crucial creative exercise. Hi, my name is Kelsey Miller. I'm a bestselling author and a full-time freelance journalist. My first book was a memoir called Big Girl, and my second was a pop culture history called I'll Be There For You. I spent five years at Refinery 29 as the first senior features writer before transitioning to full-time freelance writing. I write in a wide variety of areas and formats. I write about political events, current events, social issues, popular culture, and I write in a lot of different styles. But one thing that I do quite a lot of is opinion essays. Opinion essays are just personal essays where you use your own expertise, knowledge, or personal experience to offer deeper insight into something super topical or widely relevant. Think about, for example, those essays that you read in the days and weeks after a very big news story breaks. Something that offers a personal take or a little bit of deeper insight onto something very newsy. I think any of us who have watched a big news story break or witnessed a cultural phenomenon explode, has occasionally had the thought, "I have something valuable to say about this," we've all been there. In a nutshell, in this class, I want to help you say it. 2. Know What You Know (And What You Don’t): We'll start by making some helpful lists to identify your areas of expertise and knowledge. Then we'll choose a topic, hold your angle, learn about supporting your opinion with research, and then dive into the draft. By the end of this class, you should have a fully drafted essay, which if you like, you may pitch for publication. You're going to have an opinion on anything you want, it is a free country. But when it comes to opinion writing, you really want to start with what you know. You want to have a strong sense of your own knowledge and your knowledge gaps. We are all human, we've all gotten. What do you know about? That is a big daunting question and many of us freeze when we hear it. That's because we've for the most part fall into one of two camps, either thinking that we don't know anything, somebody else is always more knowledgeable than us, and we're always second guessing ourselves, or on the other end of the spectrum thinking that, we can probably speak to whatever topic because we've read a lot of really good articles about it.Both of these are equally wrong-headed and are not going to help you. We want to identify your areas of expertise. But that is a big question. We pause and break it down into some smaller ones that are really going to help us size the both those extreme ways of thinking. First, get out a piece of paper or your notes app and write down this first question. What are some topics that I am very interested in? What are some of the topics that whenever they come up in the news, we always read up? Or what are some things that you've read a lot of books about? Or if you use things like Medium or Pocket to save articles, what does your history reflects? This can be very general, this can be very specific. Feel free to be all over the place. Fell the like, movies, politics, fashion, books, whatever. I will read pretty much any story that comes out about cults. That's just one of my things. Write down at least three things. Really, I'd like you to post for like five or more. When you've got that list, set it aside. The second question, what are some of the topics that I'm particularly not interested in, or things that I just don't know a ton about, but I hear a lot about, that kind of thing? This is a harder question because we're all a little bit embarrassed to admit our knowledge gaps. Think about things like political issues that you're maybe not well versed in, or social movements that you've heard a lot about, but you're not really sure of the specifics, or, for example, names that you hear a lot, but you're not totally sure of who they are. A lot of these will probably be things that you know you should care about but you just can't get invested in for whatever reason. Maybe it's just not in your area of interest or your skill set. That's okay. You can even write down that TV show that everybody is obsessed with that you have not watched. Are one of those people that never watched Game of Thrones, like me, and you were not able to have a conversation for about five years? Go ahead put on list. One thing I've often struggled with, for example, is some of the scientific reporting on climate change. It's one of the things that is really important and I understand the basics and a lot of the details, but if you asked me to explain the breakdown of carbon gas emissions, I have to do a lot of googling before I answer that question well. As you're writing this, just remember that we all have knowledge gaps. It's totally okay. You don't have to be honest with anybody and throw those lists away when you're done with it. It's going to be helpful. It's really important to identify what It is you're naturally into and not, because if you keep writing, you'll probably get to a point in your career where you're writing about things that you are not personally interested in, or really excited by. You might end up writing about things that fall within your knowledge gap. I love when I get to report on climate science because it allows me to do a lot of research, and interview the actual experts, and fill in one of those knowledge gaps for myself. But when it comes to opinion writing, you probably don't want to start with that list. You want to start with the first one. You want to write about things that you are super excited by, things that you're really itching to write about. By now, you should probably have a sense of what that is and what that is not, and that means that we can dive into the big question in next lesson. 3. What’s Your Beat?: Now that you've thought about your personal interests and your knowledge gaps, it's time to write down the last question. What are some general topics that I have personal experience with or knowledge of? These can be as broad or as niche as you want. It can be fashion, film, composting, raising triplets, whatever. Remember that this is an exercise and nobody is going to be checking your credentials on these so for now, don't worry about proving yourself. If you really get stuck on this just try and think about maybe some parties you've been to recently or meetings even where you have felt comfortable chiming in and speaking to something. That should help get the ball rolling. Now look at the biggest most general topics on this list and for each of those, make a little list of subcategories. For example, if you wrote down fashion, what are the specific areas of fashion that you are interested in? or if you have done TV comedy, what particular areas of TV comedy could you possibly make into a list of its on? Like 90's sitcoms or Tina Fey shows or Mockumentary series, or even a specific show. For example, one area that's sort of broad and general that I would put on my list is Film and Television. It's something that I studied in college, it's something I keep up with, it's something that I can generally speak to with a little bit of authority, and something more specific within that list would be Polish Cinema. That filled up a lot of my Film education, and it's something that I feel particularly confident writing and speaking on because I probably know it and love it more than the average person or at least the average American, and that's list making. Take a look at everything that you've written under question number three. Congratulations, these are your beats. When it comes to opinion writing, these are the places that you want to start. Doesn't mean that you can't have an opinion or you won't have an opinion on anything else, certainly not. But it's really important to keep these in mind at all times whenever you're reading the Internet or the news or watching television and we'll talk more about that later. Sometimes, I actually like to keep a list like this, things that I'd really like to write about or things that I know I could write about well. Literally, on a piece paper, on the bulletin board behind my computer. It just really helps to have it always literally in the background so that you're always bearing it in mind as you're going about your day. It is like a subtle nod to your subconscious writer brain. 4. Put Your Antenna Up: Now, we're going to get started on your project. We're going to do it basically the same way that you would get started on any piece, and in fact, by the end of this, the project that you produce could very well be a piece that you end up publishing. But the important part is to produce an essay that is strong and that you feel good about. Get one more piece of paper or keep your Notes app open and just make one more list. Let's call it Topic Areas. Now, we're going to start by doing a little bit of guided brainstorming. Let's start by looking at Twitter. By the way, Twitter is the bane of most professional writers experience, and if you hate it, that's totally fine. We're not going to pay attention to any of the nonsense today. We're going to just look at what is trending. Are there any big new stories that people are buzzing about? Is it perhaps a big cultural anniversary, like the 25th anniversary of a film or a television premiere or something like that? Or did a celebrity do something weird or controversial? Probably, most importantly, do any of these topics fall within your area of expertise? Did anything jump out at you immediately? Now, take a look at a handful of news outlets, Washington Post, Reuters, AP. You can also take a look at industries, specific papers like the Hollywood Reporter for example. Just take a look at what are the big news stories of the day there. Do any of those jump out to you? Or do they seem particularly spicy or interesting, or do they hook you in any way? Now, just take a moment to take a look around at the daily updating blogs or other digital outlets that you personally read. Like the stuff that you read when you're sitting on the train or you're eating lunch or something like that. For me, it might be like The Atlantic or The New Yorker or the Cut or Jezebel places like that. What are the types of stories that have been showing up a lot in the last week, or month or day? If they have a most red lists which a lot of places do, what's on that list? This is just going to help you get a sense of what they are into right now. What the readers are in to? What the editors are into? This also, by the way a hint, going to help you figure out where your essay might live eventually. Finally, since we're not super worried about timeliness for the sake of this exercise, just think about some of the big things that have happened in the last year. Anything in your recent memory that was like a big event or a new story. You should have a pretty healthy lists right now. Just take a look at it first and see if any of these things overlap with your areas of expertise. If nothing specifically jumps out, just ask yourself, which of the topics on this list do I have something to say about? What angles are being missed? What needs to be added to the conversation? Above all, what can you add to the conversation? In general, you really only want to step in when you do have something to say. But for the sake of this exercise, just go with what your leaned toward the most. You don't have to have a fully formed angle yet, but you should have a strong sense of what it is you'd like to say. You should always be in the practice of doing this, reading as much as you can, digesting information, really thinking about it deeply and then just like letting a knock around in your brain. Because for the most part, that is how a lot of good opinion writing happens. You will take in some information and your subconscious will chew it over. Then you'll be in the shower a day or two later and the idea will just hit you. But it's also really important to keep abreast because every once in a while something will happen, some news story will break and it will be so utterly up your alley, that all you have to do is just sit down, and wait for the essay to finish pouring out of you. This has happened to me only maybe a handful of times in my career. Probably, the first big time it happened was in 2014, when I published a piece about what was then not a very controversial topic, Woody Allen. What happened was it that year's Golden Globes, he was given a major Lifetime Achievement Award, and his son the journalist, Ronan Farrow, who then also it was not super famous, sent out a tweet that resurfaced allegations that Woody Allen had abused one of his children in the 90s, and this was something that I just happen to know a lot about. I have read a lot about it years before. I already had a preexisting font of knowledge to draw on. I had a lot of time to think about it, so I did have a really strong informed opinion, something that was really considered. All I had to do was write my editor very, very fast. Pitch it super quickly and then sit down and I wrote it in a matter of a couple of hours. That story when it was published blew up immediately. First because it was well thought out and strongly written and edited, and second, because it came out before a million other pieces about the same topic had come out. The hard truth is, you can write the best, most nuanced opinion piece out there, but if it comes out weeks after everybody else have come out, it may get lost in the shuffle. This does not mean that timing is everything, it is not. The best thing you can do is just write the best essay that you can whenever you can write it. But if you can write a really good piece and you can do it in a timely fashion, your goals.That's another really important reason to always have your antenna up. 5. Find Your Angle: Look at your list of topic areas. What jumps out of you? Remember that this exercise is a freebie, so don't worry too much about timeliness and definitely don't worry about how many other people have written about it already. Just what do you want to write about today? What do you have a strong reaction to and why? What is your opinion? Which of these topics do you look at and think, I have something to say about this? Got it? Great. What's your angle? Obviously, most opinion writing is going to be about slightly hot topics and be super timely but for the sake of this exercise, here's an example. Say you are writing about the Sound of Music. For whatever reason, you have a very strong personal stance on this film. This universally adored film, you have some other sort of opinion on that nobody else shares. Perhaps you feel that Baronness Von Schraeder is the true, unsung heroine of the film. She is a feminist icon, she's a self possessed, single woman who doesn't need a man and she gets cruelly shoved aside for this younger, less experienced women, we need to revisit this unsung heroin and give her her due. Congratulations, you have an angle, it's a silly one, but it's an angle, yes. This is a silly example, but it serves to underscore the point that a lot of us feel that our opinions are maybe a little bit silly, especially if they are not publicly shared by a lot of other people. So don't worry, I built in a bit of a safety net for you there and in another lesson, but for now, just go with it and fine tune your angle. Just try and write it down like a thesis like you would for any personal essay and try and keep it to about one or two sentences. 6. Ask Why: So before you start your draft, just take a minute to ask yourself why you're writing this? Why do you have to say what it is you have to say? What gives you personal authority? Pretend this isn't an assignment for a moment, ask yourself why you need to mount this argument? Why you're the one to mount it? It may simply be that you have thought about it a lot, probably more than most and, therefore, you've formed a really informed and strong opinion and that's a perfectly fine reason. Or it may be that you just happened to have a lot of relevant personal experience with this topic. Maybe you dated a rich guy who had seven children or maybe you've got dumped for a babysitter. Or maybe you have a background in feminist film theory or mid-century musicals. What's your reason? Ultimately, there are any number of reasons that you might have to write this and it doesn't really matter why. But it is important to investigate your personal stake in this topic. It's important to know where you're coming from because first of all, you don't want to write just because you have an ax to grind. That's not going to come across well at all. You don't want to write an opinion piece about something that you haven't really thought through. Because you're going to get about two sentences in and realize that you don't have anything else to say. So no knee-jerk cut takes. Taking the speed for self-reflection will give you a much greater sense of confidence and groundedness as you're writing and that is crucial. Always take a moment to ask yourself why you are saying what you're saying? 7. Back It Up: Next we're going to back up your opinion with some data and here's why. Everyone is entitled to an opinion and yours may be absolutely right. You might be spot on, but a well-researched argument is infinitely more powerful than just your personal stance alone. Even if you happen to be the world's foremost authority on this topic, I'm going to respect your opinion a lot more if you show me that it's an informed one. This is another really helpful way to stop yourself from falling into those two traps of either self-doubt or self-aggrandizing. So do a little research on your story. Look for things like academic papers, or books written on this topic, or news reporting, or research findings and it goes without saying, please always use reputable studies. If this is a scientific subject, obviously go for a well-controlled, double-blind studies, always preference those. You don't want biased data. When I say data, I just mean any kind of backup. If you're writing about a TV show, you might look at research materials that talk about the history of that particular genre. It doesn't always have to be like data points. I just mean, any kind of backup, anything that you can cite. Look for experts on your topic as well, because you probably won't be doing interviews for this opinion essay, but every once in a while, an editor might ask you to reach out for commentaries, so it's always good to have those names at the ready. While you're researching, always look for data that opposes your argument. Always look for opinions that counter yours. It's easy to cherry pick your research, but everyone respects a writer who can acknowledge there is another side of the argument. So what's the other side of yours? Again, the other side of your argument, depending on what you're writing about, might be crazy. It might seem like they are flat out wrong-headed and you don't have to give those people a lot of real state in your essay, but just acknowledging that another site exists makes your own opinion feel all the more valid. Bookmark all of your data so that you can always easily research it as you're writing. Before diving into your draft, remember, your opinion is great and valuable and you should always assume that going in. You should also assume that you are a person and like all people, you have blind spots. So you're just taking care of that covering your bases so that you can have confidence going into the draft. Also remember that the reader doesn't, at this point, have any reason to trust you, so it's very, very good to give them a reason to do so. 8. Draft It: Finally, it is time to start your draft. At this point, you may be jumping at the bed or you may have psyched yourself out a little bit. Either way, totally fine. I encourage you to think of this as a draft, meaning a living document that can and probably should be tweaked and edited and if necessary totally rewritten, it's completely fine. The only important thing right now is to jump in and to get there from beginning to end. Start by presenting your topic and your angle as quickly as possible. We all know and love the classic movie musical, The Sound of Music. It's a story of love, family, and resistance during a time of worldwide upheaval. The bitter and widowed Captain von Trapp falls for the idealistic postulate Fraulein Maria, hired to care for his seven children. Guided by Marias unshakable optimism and Julie Andrews' stunning vocals, the family escaped both their grief and Nazi occupied Austria, and all the good guys live happily ever after. Except one, Baroness von Schraeder, Captain von Trapp's wealthy, worldly and utterly self-confident girlfriend, nay fiance, who gets dumped for the babysitter halfway through the film. Why? Because she's a grown-ass woman and not a virginal aspiring nun. All due respect to Fraulein Maria, the girl can sing but Baroness Elsa Von trader is the unsung and unfairly treated feminist icon of The Sound of Music. What I've done there is, I have grounded the reader and the topic, The Sound of Music. I've given them a quick refresher on the film, and I've given them a second to get oriented in this piece, and then I've hit them hard with my angle and stated the opinion that I will be arguing throughout this essay. They know where we're going here. If you get stuck or if you find yourself choking, just go super simple. It is perfectly fine to start this essay by saying something like, the first time I saw The Sound of Music, its completely fine don't get hung up on the grade of swan dive. For example, if you get stuck in the middle, it is also perfectly fine to say something like, the reason I think this is. Again, you can always go back and change this later, but it doesn't matter so much. Just get into it however you have to get into it. Also remember if you get stuck at any point in your argument to try speaking out loud, I guess ideally in a room by yourself. You might also try taking out your phone or your recorder and recording what it is you have to say or you can just say it over and over and over again to get back into the flow. Just think about explaining this argument to a trusted friend, somebody who values your opinion, like who's your ideal dream audience for this? Who do you like debating things with? Think about the way that you would mount this argument with them. As you're writing, make sure that you hit all the points you want to hit. You can even have a list of the points that you want to hit in this essay on a little notepad next to as you're writing and just go. If something occurs to you that you want to add as you're writing but you don't want to break the flow just make a little note of it at the bottom of the draft and you can go back and add it later. Just start by writing this full draft purely from your experience and opinion, don't worry about incorporating your backup at this point, you might not at all. But as you're writing, you can have it in the back of your mind and you can recall it and you might think of something that you read and think, "Oh yeah, I think I can add that point here right now." Just put a little parenthetical note for yourself, so that you can go back and add it later. Again don't break the flow, just keep on going. Always err on the side of overwriting. It's way, way easier to edit something out than to add meat to a draft. So just repeat yourself, don't worry about that right now just go. The only important thing here again is to get to the end and when you sense the end approaching, just remember to finish on a very strong conclusion and a kicker, meaning your final sentence. This should feel like a strong, sharp summary of everything you've just written, with a strong punctuating point at the end. 9. Edit It: First off, you did it you finished the draft. The hard work is done, the heavy lifting is accomplished. Now all you have to do is fine tune it. When you're writing this for publication, odds are you're obviously going to have an editor to work on this with. But even in that case, you really do want to do a fair amount of self-editing before sending it off. On this first pass, that's probably going to involve a lot of cutting and rewriting. First and foremost, go back and reread and look for repetition. Are you repeating yourself anywhere? If so, cut it out. If a point really does need to be made twice, make sure that you are making it into very distinct ways. Now go back and look at your sentences and paragraphs. Does anything read a little bit long? Probably, because it's really easy to get rambling in opinion writing. It's really easy to get caught up in your own thought process. And again, I encourage you to do that so don't kick yourself. Just go back and tighten and trim wherever possible. Remember that the more concise an argument, the harder it tends to land. Another important thing is to go back and to look at this through the lens of the reader who has no idea what you're talking about. Just remember most people know the sound of music. Probably most people haven't read your particular opinion on it. Not everybody's going to have your background or your knowledge on what you're writing. So just always make sure that you're being very clear. It's very important obviously, that your own voice shine through here, but you want to make sure that people can hear it and understand it clearly. So if you need to rewrite for clarity at any point, just always take the time to do so, and finally kill your darlings, this is a well-worn phrase and for very good reason. You're going to come across a lot of lines that you were just in love with, it just like are such delightful turn of phrase and just sounds so good and so beautifully written, just "mwah". But, they don't add anything to the peace and therefore they're weighing it down, so they got to go. If it doesn't add something, it really is detracting from your piece. So, you really do have to kill your darlings. There might be something for example, that sounds really good when you say it out loud when you've talked about this argument before, but it just doesn't translate on the page. So it's just not as funny as you want it to be and it doesn't actually support your thesis. Sometimes it does make it easier if you actually cut and paste them in a little section at the very bottom of your daft and you can tell yourself, "Well, maybe I can find a way to incorporate it back in later.", and you won't, I promise you that. But it does make the cutting a lot easier and the important part is to cut them, sorry. Once the heavy lifting is done, all you have to do is do tiny tweaks and fine tuning. At this point, I really strongly encourage you if you can, to step away from it for a little bit, to go for a walk or make lunch, or if you can, sleep on this and then go back to the draft. We can all get caught up in the delirium of the first draft. We can also all get very self-critical and over analyze every single word. So a breather does wonders for your essay. You may suddenly recall a point that you didn't make that you really want to. Or you may take a look and realize that that paragraph, it doesn't mean anything. You can take it out entirely and it won't do anything for the piece and if you have a trusted friend who you'd like to read and who maybe has the time to take a look at this, just ask them. It's not that they have too many cooks in the kitchen, so don't ask all your friends. But sometimes two pairs of fresh eyes are better than one. Finally proofreading, do not skip the proofread. Always be proofreading. Do it all the time. There is nothing worse, I tell you, than sending off your beautiful, well argued, eloquent, nuanced essay, and realizing that you wrote Australia instead of Austria in your opening paragraph. 10. Pitch It: Publishing an essay can work one of two ways. You may write up a pitch for the thing before you actually write it and then place it in a publication and then write the draft, or you'll write the draft and then pitch it to an outlet. There are pros and cons to both. If you pitch before you write, then your editor can put in their two cents early on, make sure that they give you all the points that they really want you to make or maybe even tweak the angle a little bit. It can save you a lot of rewriting. If you write before you pitch, then you've done all the heavy lifting already and that's great. But in either way, you really do need to be open to tweaks and adjustments as needed. For the sake of this exercise, you're doing it the second way, obviously. But even if you don't plan to publish this essay, I really do strongly encourage you to write a practice pitch for it because writing a pitch can be surprisingly challenging and it's really good to get some practicing. Start by coming up with a list of dream outlets. Where would this piece live ideally? Then start at the one at the top of the list. Next, find the editor, the appropriate point of contact that you should reach out to at this outlet. If I were pitching my essay on The Sound of Music, I would look and see if my outlet had a film editor or a culture editor. If not, then I would just find the first editor whose email I could get a hold of and ask them to put me in the right direction, politely. Finding editor email addresses can be really tricky but sometimes it is surprisingly easy, so check Twitter bios again. When in doubt, just go to the website's about section or look on their masthead because a lot of the time an outlet will have a general email just for receiving pitch submissions. Now write up your pitch. This should include a very brief introduction of who you are and then go directly into the summary of your essay. For example, I have a piece tentatively titled Why Baroness von Shraeder is the True Heroine of The Sound of Music.'' In it, I argue that the Baroness, who is depicted as a vain hyper-sexual villain, is actually a self-assured and independent character who gets unfairly misused by Captain von Trapp and is punished for the crime of being a single, independently wealthy woman who doesn't need a husband. I argue that her characterization is this beloved film's great flaw and that juxtaposed against the younger, inexperienced Maria, Baroness von Shraeder is by far, the more powerful role model. I say tentatively titled in that pitch because odds are you probably won't even get to write the headline when it gets published, but always be open to what the headline is. Once that pitch is written, resist the urge to add onto it. Brevity is your friend here. I can promise you that an editor is far more likely to be receptive to a pitch that is concise and clear rather than one that is long and detailed. If they want more information, they're going to ask for it. Writing a pitch for your essay is like giving it a strong backbone. The key is to convey what this essay is about and why it should run using the least amount of words possible. If this is a timely piece though, you should note what makes it timely and then sign off and send. If you don't hear back in a few days, follow-up. You might send a couple of follow-ups but if you get nothing after that, move on to the next on your list. I can't promise you that you will place your essay but I can say that these things always do take time and persistence. You will get more nos than yeses and that is true of every other writer in the world, including myself, but the most important thing is to always keep in the practice of this process. Keep reading, keep researching, keep writing, keep pitching. You may not be interested in pitching this particular piece by the way. But either way, I really do strongly encourage you to do a practice pitch for this essay because it can really serve to underscore the power of your piece. It can really help to give it a strong foundation and to remind yourself why it is you're writing what you're writing. 11. Final Thoughts: [MUSIC] We fill out here, we went through the process of identifying your areas of interests, your areas of expertise, we bring from a million different topics and learn how to properly research. We formulated your subject and we fine-tuned your angle. We got to the process of backing up your opinion with research and we went through an entire draft, editing it. We even learn how to pitch it, if that's what you want to do. Again, if you're not interested in that, I think that this is still a really good practice for everybody to be in because it helps you to sharpen your opinion and to really develop nuanced arguments for things that matter to you and it helps you become a stronger writer in general, whether or not you choose to publish opinion essays or not. Opinion writing is a crucial genre. It keeps journalism alive and interesting and reminds us all of the importance of hearing outside perspective and challenging our own beliefs, be they about political and social issues or iconic movie musicals. As writers, these essays help us do a lot of crucial self-reflection as well as creative expression. I encourage you to take on this exercise and write a few different drafts, take on a few different topics and a few different angles. You really might surprise yourself. Of course one of the biggest steps, is sharing your opinion publicly. So when you've finished your project, make sure to share it with the rest of us. I really look forward to reading it.