Writing About Climate Change | Part 1

You, Too, Can Write About Climate Change!


During the pandemic, it has been frustrating that I haven’t been able to go out to protests. I really want to make a difference, but without being able to go anywhere…it’s been a challenge.

But now it occurs to me that, even while I’ve had to stay home, writing about the climate is one way I’m still making a difference!

A different way to make a difference

Have YOU ever wanted to do what I do: make a difference by writing about climate change? 

Well, here are some tips––things I learned in the making of this website––and ideas to do just that!

Somewhere to post or publish 

No, you don’t have to start a website.  The first and most obvious way to publish a piece on climate change is to send it to a newsletter, newspaper, magazine, or other publication in your school or community. You can simply write a letter to the editor, or talk to the editor about writing a longer piece.  And who knows? Maybe it will even become a regular feature in your school or community newspaper!  

There are many writing contests where you may enter your writing, too. There may even be websites or nonprofits that are climate-focused and specifically looking for earth-loving contributions! 

The blank page…

You sit down, blank page before you, and poise your fingers above the keyboard…then, oh, no!  Your mind had gone just as blank as the sheet! What do you do?

I work best when I plan it out beforehand. With my stories, I make outlines––or I never get past the first page! With posts, which are a bit simpler, I just write down the idea, then write about it; although it often needs to be edited later, I have at least gotten the ideas onto the page. Sometimes I write down the different stages for the post. For example, for this one it would be something like: introduction, “Starting,” “Editing,” “Submitting,”conclusion. 

When I’m having trouble deciding what I should even write about, I jot down all the possibilities––from the vague, to the silly, to the extremely complicated. Eventually, I get a good one, and I use it!

To copy, or not to copy…?  Plagiarism (copying someone else’s writing) is bad news...a form of lying. But don’t worry; it’s not plagiarizing unless you copy someone else’s words without giving them credit––that is, without stating who wrote it, and where you read it.  Write, “According to (writer’s name) in (name of the publication/website),” then tell what they’ve said. Paraphrasing (changing the words around a bit) can be okay, but credit should still be given even if you don’t use quotation marks...after all, where did you get that idea from? Copying or reprinting entire articles or long sections from them––even with credit––also need permission from the writer: “reprinted with permission from (source).”  Always, always give credit for original content to the writers who created it...it’s the right thing to do. 
Editing

Have you finished your piece? Good! Now let’s go on to the next (and very important step: editing!

Although it may seem boring and tedious, editing is super important! And it’s not all checking your spelling (although, you do have to do that!). It’s choosing, rearranging, subtracting and sometimes adding. But most of all, it’s making your piece better!  I like editing, despite the difficulty, because I love looking back at my piece and thinking about how much more beautiful it is. 

When you’re editing, you cut out words, sentences, and even paragraphs. Why? Even if it makes your piece shorter, this is very important because you must have nothing that distracts from the goal of the piece.

But often there’s only so much you can do when editing on your own. You’ve submerged yourself in your piece and it’s hard to tell where you need to make it more clear. That’s when you ask for suggestions:  take your draft to someone you trust and show it to them. Help them along by asking “Is this the problem?” or “If I changed this, would it help?” 

If you don’t have someone to help, take a break. Come back to it when you’re fresh…you will see it with “new” eyes, and it can help to imagine you are someone else reading it.  You will soon realize what works and what doesn’t!  Changes will be much easier.

When editing, follow my editor’s (and my mother’s) golden rule: Make sure every word counts!

Wait for it…

You’ve written, edited, and maybe even submitted your writing! Now what?

Once you’ve submitted your piece, just…wait.  It’s understandable if you feel nervous—it happens to us all! If you’ve entered it into a contest and it doesn’t win, don’t feel bad! Use your piece for something else and in the meantime make it better! The possibilities are endless, and when it comes to the climate crisis, the need is great!

Now you know how to write a piece on climate change. I hope my tips are helpful—I’ve only been writing for a year about climate change, after all. But now you can, too…and I hope you will!


Interested in writing about the climate crisis?  Comment below!  

And look for next week’s post––Part Two––in which I offer tips on starting your own website like this one!

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