How to Sustain Political Activism and Write a Book

Activism and Writing both take persistence and self-care.

Like at least half the American population, I’ve been distressed by current national politics. I went into a deep funk of disbelief back in November; then I became hyper-active, making phone calls and writing letters. After that, I needed a vacation from both work and politics. Now, I’m trying to find a sustainable way to continue to support issues I care about, like civil liberties, social justice, and ethical government.

Jen Hofmann’s Weekly Activism Checklist

Lucky for me, a friend forwarded a link to Jen Hofmann’s Weekly Activism Checklist. It’s been a big help.

As I read it, I realized immediately that the ways to sustain political activism are almost identical to the methods necessary for tackling a long writing project.

The Weekly Checklist

Hofman’s Action Checklist for this week starts with current congressional bills and issues that need immediate attention.

My writing checklist for this week includes a meeting, a phone call and a writing assignment for my long narrative about learning to hunt. This checklist helps maintain forward momentum on a project that will take at least another year to complete while I continue to write, broadcast, teach and talk.

These days, I also create a checklist of the political phone calls I will make:

  • Senator Leahy about the Supreme Court nomination;
  • Senator Sanders about the Budget and Healthcare;
  • Representative Peter Welch about the unresolved conflicts of interest between this president’s private businesses and public office.
The Rule of Three

I’ve written about the Rule of Three before: Choose three manageable and achievable goals each week.

Every week, I limit myself to three projects, and every day I limit myself to three tasks related to those projects. More than that and I’ll just stare out the window and not lay down the words. Same thing with phone calls to politicians. I can make three every week.

Three phone calls won’t change the world quickly, but if I make three phone calls every week, they add up, just as writing three sentences, paragraphs or pages adds up.

Worse, not making phone calls equals silence, as in “everything is okay.”

Everything is not okay. So I make three phone calls each week, minimum; more than that’s gravy.

Take Good Care of Yourself

You can’t write from your heart any more than you can change the world if you don’t take care of yourself. Self care includes measures to maintain your general health, sustain your emotional health and nourish your spiritual health. So do whatever it is that keeps you whole, whether it’s reading a book, sleeping, eating well, fishing, sky-diving, going to church, or some combination thereof.

Persistence and Self-care: They make a difference when it comes to writing book or changing the world.

In addition to making phone calls, Deborah Lee Luskin frequently comments about current affairs on her blog and on Vermont Public Radio.

14 thoughts on “How to Sustain Political Activism and Write a Book

  1. Good Morning! Please tell me what activists do or what they do or think about “birth control” since today the millennial to millennial generation is believing in systems that have gone kind of like Christianity. Is fallen because Churches and State make pacts to display their Badge in public organs prevaricating and adulterating the jurisdiction. And Brazil is full of prostrating and Catholic Churches, all of them Christian, and Christian Parties and corrupt pastors and priests because they Lied to say that Jesus died on the Cross. An evangelical fraud made by Greeks and Romans in the Bible to found a capitalist Christianity in which the woman has an adept Churches that are NGOs because they do not support their children? Who do not educate and are not believed in the version they preach from a corrupt gospel of Greeks and Romans and Jews who say that God would be Father being that is not for the Islamic world. And how much does the woman want to emancipate?

    • Hi,
      An activist is a person who campaigns to bring about political or social change. Each activist is different and campaigns for what s/he/they believe. You would have to ask a person campaigning for religious issues to answer your questions more specifically. I’m engaged in activism aimed at preserving the separation of church and state, issues of social justice, ethical government and civil rights.
      I hope this gives you a better idea.

  2. Great advice. Last night was my night to write to my city’s mayor and city council member. I’ve never been involved in any political activity before (other than voting) so I am just finding a balanced way to let my elected reps know of my views.

    • Starting local is a great way to influence change. In Vermont, where there are only 623,000 people, all politics really are local – including my three Members of Congress, all of whom I’ve met. Thanks for your comment.

  3. Excellent advice! We can make such a difference if we each do 3 things each week, and help the little things become big things, become enormous things.

    Thanks for this post!

  4. I started out making calls and being active, but I kind of stopped because it didn’t seem to make a difference. 😦 Thanks for the motivation to keep going!

  5. Pingback: Weekend Edition – Being Kind and Creative During a Revolution | Live to Write – Write to Live

  6. I love your rule of three as a way to keep focused on both activism and writing. It’s so much saner than trying to do everything–and more likely to get results.

    Thanks so much for mentioning my checklist on your blog. It makes me happy to know it’s bringing you inspiration!

  7. I find it tremendously helpful to equate strategies for activism with those used for a long-term writing project (or any other long-term project for that matter). Persistence and do-able goals that are manageable are absolutely crucial. I am putting together a self-care workshop for some of the very active political activist groups in my area. I will mention your post! We are in it for the long run and we must learn to pace ourselves and take really good care of ourselves if we want to avoid burnout.

    • I’m glad you found this so helpful! I love the idea of a self-care workshop for activists. If there’s any silver lining in this new political cloud, it’s a reinvigorated electorate that is willing to organize, march, write editorials, make phone calls, and engage in civil, respectful, discourse – especially with those who disagree with us. Thanks for the work you’re doing.

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