Writing is a powerful tool to communicate socialist ideas, to share the best lessons, tactics and strategies and to build the capacity and confidence of people to build a better world. At Spring Magazine we are committed to using our publication to amplify voices from the movements and present timely socialist analysis in order to help put socialist ideas in action. If you are interested in writing for Spring Magazine you can use this writing guide.
Steps for writing
Choose a topic
The first step is deciding what to write about. The most direct approach is to write about your own activity. As Egyptian revolutionary Gigi Ibrahim explained, “By me going to this protest and writing about it and expressing my views, I was able to connect this through social media so others are aware. When people have a clear story of what the issue is, then they can know what their simple role can do for this cause.” What movements are you building, what debates are you engaged in, what events are you attending?
Choose a format
- News stories about recent developments (600 to 1000 words).
- Reports from protests, strikes or movement events provide an eye-witness account of developments (400 to 800 words).
- Feature articles allow you to take the time to write a longer article that explores in greater depth a topic and how it connects to socialist theory (1000 to 1500 words).
- Reviews of books or movies provide a summary, and the opportunity to comment on the politics (800 to 1200 words).
- Interviews give voice to movement organizers or participants. You can ask about their experience, the issues of the struggle, strategic debates, or next steps (1000 to 1500 words).
Set a deadline
News articles or reports should be written within days of the event. Timing matters, the sooner it is online the more relevant it is and the more likely it is to be read and shared. Interviews, feature articles or reviews take longer to write and are not as time-sensitive, but you should give yourself a deadline of a week or two, or you won’t write it.
Writing starts with reading. Before writing about a topic you need to do the research. The who, what, where, and when: often the corporate media suppress these basic facts, and simply stating them can be helpful. Why and how: context and explanations have competing interpretations. As you learn the facts, notice how the corporate media are presenting the issues and what their arguments are; see if there are any good alternative media articles about it, and if there are any debates. Read socialist interpretations in related articles, and read around relevant socialist theory if you have time.
Make a rough outline
Your outline can change as you write, but it is good to sketch out the main structure before you start. Include a short (5 to 12 word) headline, which should be simple and catchy. What three or four main points do you want to convey, and in what order? How are you reflecting people’s experience, connecting it with socialist politics, encouraging activity, and intervening in debates? Think carefully about your main argument and ensure it is threaded through your article. A common difficulty with article submissions is a lack of focus (going on tangents, trying to cover too much, etc).
Lede: this opening paragraph of one or two sentences provides enough information to give readers a good overview of the entire story and hooks them into wanting to read more. It answers who, what, where, when and often why.
Keep paragraphs short. Each paragraph should be between 2 sentences and 6 sentences in length. This helps with ease of reading online. If you include a lengthy quote (two sentences or more), please make it a separate paragraph (a ‘block quote’). Use ‘bloc quotes’ sparingly, it is better to have a shorter quote and paraphrase the core ideas of a long quote. It can be useful to add section headings to divide up the text. These appear after every few paragraphs and should give some flavour of what the following few paragraphs will be saying.
Edit: get it written, then get it right!
Practice makes perfect. There is only one way to become a better writer, and that is by writing. There is an old saying, there is no such thing as good writing, just good editing. Focus on writing down your ideas first and then come back to correct for errors and sharpen your style. Spring editors are more than happy to help.
Tips for writing
Weave in an equity lens through every stage of the writing process. This means thinking about equity when choosing a topic, researching a topic, choosing people to interview or quote, ensuring that equity questions are part of your analysis and vocabulary (eg avoid words that reinforce nationalism, ableism or other forms of oppression).
Audience and accessibility
Your article should be aimed at a non-specialist audience and written in an accessible style. Avoid academic jargon. Do not use obscure words or phrases merely for the sake of it. Spring is looking for thoughtful, intelligent and well-informed content that is communicated with clarity and precision. For the same reason avoid the passive tense that obscures responsibility (eg “workers were laid off”, “protesters were shot”) and instead use the active tense (eg “the company laid off workers”, “police shot protesters”).
We are not “neutral” when it comes to economic inequality, oppression, or war. We are activists who take sides in political and social struggles. What we publish is geared towards the needs of the left and of the movements we support. This does not mean that every article has to be about an immediate priority issue, but our activist commitment and our political partisanship should be reflected in the spirit and content of what we publish.
Get the facts right
Partisanship does not mean that factual rigour is any less important. If a reader spots even one small error, how can they trust that the rest of the article is correct? Only when the facts are credible and supported by evidence will readers take a writer’s opinions and conclusions seriously.
We use hyperlinks to source articles. Do not include footnotes or endnotes.
If there is a strong reason why you wish to publish anonymously, please make this clear when you submit the article and suggest a pseudonym. We strongly encourage articles being credited to real names as this creates accountability.
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