Advocacy letters are often written for a variety of reasons and the first step is to decide your purpose in writing the letter. It may be that you want to:

  • Request information.
  • State an opinion.
  • Decline a request.
  • Express appreciation.
  • Create a paper trail.

Some letters have more than one purpose. A good way to organize your thoughts before writing is to create a document on your computer or use three blank sheets of paper to answer these questions: 

  1. Why am I writing this letter?
  2. What are my goals in writing this letter?
  3. Other thoughts I want to share

Use a sheet of paper for each of the three questions, then brainstorm and write down your thoughts. Lists can be helpful.

Don’t worry about writing in complete sentences or prioritizing. Your goal is to dump your thoughts onto these sheets of paper or into the documents. It doesn’t need to take a long time for you to write down all your important thoughts. Do not allow yourself to obsess about details. Don’t worry about spelling at this point. You should focus on the big picture.

Next, it’s time to write your first draft. Tell your story chronologically (put events in the order in which they happened from first to last) and weave in the facts. Make your letter or email clear, concise, and easy to understand. Then, put it away for a day or two. Often, emails that are written in anger, or when you are feeling emotional, require a “cooling off” period and revision time.

It is helpful to read your letter or email out loud. Think about whether your letter is brief, clear, interesting and accurate. Then, make the necessary edits. It is important that all spelling and punctuation are correct. Double-check your work using the spell check feature on your computer or have a dictionary handy.

Now, it’s time to get an outside opinion by sharing your letter with at least one other person, who will critique your letter and share honest comments and suggestions. Ask this person if they understand.