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Gut-spilling and the value of sober second thought

by Shari Graydon

There’s nothing like the inspiration of anger to fuel a frenzy of word-spilling; fury is a page-filler, tried and true.

But emotional momentum only takes you so far. The synapses that fire when you’re worked up and spewing guts aren’t always the same ones needed to ensure that the argument you’re making is clear and compelling. This is where the expression “sober second thought” comes in. Resist copying and pasting your commentary into the message box and sending it off to an editor before you’ve had a chance to sleep on the piece – or at least put it aside for an hour or two.

Then when you return, ask yourself the following:

  • Have I made one clear argument?
  • Have I supported it with different kinds of evidence?
  • Does every paragraph illuminate or reinforce my central thesis?
  • What will readers who disagree with my position say in response, and
  • How can I acknowledge and refute their critique within my own piece?

The answers to these questions will help you polish your commentary, enhancing its persuasiveness and your chances of being published.