Ever have a moment (or two or three) where you want to jump on the soapbox and start ranting?
From rude behavior to society's injustices, we've probably all been tempted. While I believe that these episodes are opportunities to build character and patience, I think they also offer a host of writing, creative, and other productive possibilities.
For example, while attending a funeral years ago, I witnessed an interesting faux pas by someone paying their respects. To be fair, it wasn't horrible; funerals are awkward and people are often at a loss as to how to behave. I was probably only attuned to this hiccup in decorum because the funeral service was for my sister.
I wasn't upset, but rather, inspired. My thoughts turned to writing an article, perhaps entitled Five Things Not to Do at a Funeral. Once the brainstorming began for that idea, I had others, and was pleased that an event that could have sparked a ranting soapbox speech provided a creative opportunity instead.
Another example resulted in an article about my publishing journey. Although my adventure with my first publisher yielded good things, it was also a bumpy road, with opportunities for discontent and soapbox rants. After I left the publisher, I penned that article, reflecting on lessons learned. My goal was to share insight and tips, helping writer and other freelancing friends make wise, informed choices.
As recent elections, a pandemic, and societal unrest has illustrated, soapbox topics can be tricky. They can generate a host of emotions, from good to bad and downright ugly. Tact, of course, for any foray into hot topics is necessary. What purpose does a blistering speech serve if the point is lost in the rant itself? Or what good does it do if it turns listeners and readers off?
An emotional and thought-provoking commentary, done right, can speak to readers in a unique way. Not everyone will listen to or agree with the stance you take, but a well-spoken presentation or diplomatically written piece will earn respect and offer takeaway value.
As a writer, there are several key things I heed before publishing any work generated by an emotional topic or event. I believe these points serve well for anyone, whether you’re a writer or not.
Give it Time
Writing when emotions run high isn't a bad thing. But it's usually not a good idea to commit to a final draft in a highly emotional state. Whether a blog post or article, text, email, or social media rant, it's better to check those emotions and see how it looks after letting it rest a while.
The same goes for an in-person response, whether to a family member, friend, colleague, or group of people. Allowing time and space before responding never hurts. It provides time to think and collect one’s thoughts, and to hopefully allow a cooler head and rational thinking to prevail.
When it comes to soapbox rants, there’s rarely an emergency where one must speak or write immediately, like as in, this minute. For important or noteworthy topics, a little time, whether several hours or a day or two or three, can be a very good thing. It helps avoid problems, regrets, and apologies down the road.
Get Another Opinion
A perspective outside the realm of one's heart and head can offer valuable counsel and feedback. Whether this person shares your opinion or not, they can offer insight, helping your written and/or spoken words convey a balanced message. They can act as a valuable sounding board, challenging you to circle the issue and view it from all sides.
One caution when asking another’s opinion about your proposed rant inspired presentation – choose someone who’s not likely to fly off the handle and get into an argument with you. You’re looking for balance and wisdom to help you gather your thoughts and choose your approach, not someone to fan the flames and cause an out-of-control wildfire.
Rather than Rant, Make a Difference
The temptation to rant over a situation offers us several choices. We can explode with emotion, possibly doing harm to our cause, to others, and to ourselves. Or we can step back and assess the issue. Sure, this issue may seem unfair, offensive, unforgiveable, or just plain too hard to overcome. But there’s always an angle, a way to turn something negative into something productive.
Consider human trafficking, for example. It’s despicable and downright inhumane. We can sit at home and think about how terrible it is. Or we can donate to organizations that fight it or volunteer our time and resources to help combat the problem.
Perhaps there’s a local issue you’re tempted to rant about, such as not enough parking in your local shopping district. While this is annoying and inconvenient, have you done anything to help remedy the situation? Have you spoken to local officials about the situation and made suggestions, or looked for alternative parking areas?
On a more personal level, such as the funeral episode mentioned above, have you directed the energy you might use getting upset into a creative venture, such as writing an article? Or what about teaching a workshop or creating a how-to video? There’s almost always a way to offer a solution, or to help or educate others about the situation.
From big issues to small ones, and all the ones in between, we can use these opportunities for good and constructive things. With care, caution, and class, rants, pet peeves, and emotional topics can provide great opportunities for us all. In doing so, we, and the world around us will be a healthier and more pleasant place in which to live.
Image 1 - Pixabay
Image 2 - Pixabay