What Is a Think Piece (And How to Write One)

Posted on Oct 16, 2023

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Writing a compelling think piece involves navigating the complex landscape of contemporary ideas and societal dialogues. 

This form of writing combines critical analysis with engaging storytelling, encouraging readers to contemplate intricate issues. Think pieces dive into the heart of a matter, exploring diverse perspectives and shining a light on the breadth and depth of experience and opinion within our world. 

In this article, we will break down the details when constructing an impactful think piece.

From selecting a relevant topic to honing a unique voice, we will explore the nuances that transform an opinion into insightful commentary. 

In doing so, we will equip readers with the knowledge to understand and enjoy think pieces on a deeper level, whilst also helping writers who wish to write think pieces, how to go about doing so successfully.

This article on how to write a think piece contains:

  1. What is a think piece?
  2. Where are think pieces published?
  3. How to write a think piece – step by step guide

What is a think piece?

A think piece is a form of writing designed to provide a profound exploration and analysis of a particular subject or issue. It goes beyond surface level reporting, aiming to offer insights and perspectives that challenge conventional understanding. 

Covering a wide array of topics including politics, culture, technology and society, a think piece often adopts a distinctive or unconventional viewpoint. What sets it apart is its emphasis on critical thinking, encouraging readers to question assumptions and engage in thoughtful deliberation. 

Utilizing personal experiences, historical context, expert opinions and research, a well written think piece aims to present a comprehensive understanding while encouraging intellectual discourse. 

Its goal is not merely to inform but also to influence readers by stimulating multiple perspectives and contributing to meaningful public dialogue.

Where are think pieces published?

Online Magazines and Newspapers: Publications like The New Yorker, The Atlantic, and Salon often feature in-depth think pieces.

Blogs and Personal Websites: Many bloggers and writers share their think pieces on personal websites, providing unique perspectives on various topics.

Literary Journals: Journals such as Granta and Aeon publish think pieces that blend literature and insightful analysis.

Academic Journals: Scholarly publications like JSTOR, Taylor & Francis, and Sage Journals host academic think pieces for a more research-oriented audience.

Social Media Platforms: Twitter threads, LinkedIn articles, and Facebook posts often feature mini-think pieces, offering quick reads on trending topics.

Public Forums and Discussion Platforms: Sites like Reddit and Quora host discussions that sometimes evolve into thoughtful think pieces.

Podcasts: Podcasts like Radiolab, TED Talks, and Freakonomics often delve into subjects in a think piece-style format, offering auditory insights.

University Websites and Blogs: University websites often feature think pieces by professors and students on various academic subjects.

Literary Magazines: Journals like Tin House, Paris Review, and McSweeney’s often publish think pieces that merge literature with thought-provoking analysis.

How to write a think piece – step by step guide

Step 1 – Choose a thought provoking topic

Selecting an engaging topic is the critical first step in writing a great think piece. The topic should be relevant to the audience and the current societal or cultural landscape.

Aim for subjects that provoke thought, challenge norms or shed light on unexplored perspectives. It should inspire curiosity and offer a platform for discussion and debate.

Effective topics resonate with readers, enticing them to dive deeper into the content, making it an ideal starting point for crafting a thoughtful and impactful think piece.

Step 2 – Conduct thorough research

To write a great think piece, thorough research is key. Engage with reliable sources, varying perspectives and factual information related to your chosen topic. Validate your assertions with credible data, studies or expert opinions.

A well researched piece instills confidence in readers, providing them with valuable and accurate insights. It is essential to verify the authenticity and credibility of your sources, ensuring the accuracy of the information presented.

Proper research helps in constructing a well informed, thought provoking narrative, allowing readers to trust and engage with the ideas and arguments being put forth.

Step 3 – Craft a strong thesis statement

Crafting a strong thesis statement is the foundation of a compelling think piece. Clearly articulate the main argument or position you intend to support. Ensure it is specific, concise and arguable, providing a roadmap for your readers.

A strong thesis guides the piece, serving as a focal point around which your thoughts and evidence revolve. It should capture the essence of your perspective on the issue at hand, compelling readers to explore further.

A well crafted thesis ignites curiosity and sets the tone for a thought provoking discourse, encouraging critical thinking and engaging readers in meaningful dialogue.

Step 4 – Create an engaging introduction

Creating an engaging introduction is crucial to hook your readers from the outset. Begin with a compelling anecdote, a surprising fact or a thought provoking question that piques curiosity.

Introduce the topic and its relevance to the reader’s life or the broader society. Establish a connection, making them invested in what follows. Offer a brief overview of what the piece will cover without revealing too much, building anticipation.

An engaging introduction sets the stage, inviting readers to  explore the nuanced perspectives and arguments presented in the think piece. It is an invitation to a meaningful intellectual journey.

Step 5 – Organize your thoughts with an outline

Organizing your thoughts with an outline is like creating a roadmap for your think piece. Start by identifying key points and themes you want to address, ensuring they align with your thesis.

Arrange these points in a logical order to maintain a smooth flow of ideas. Subdivide each point into subtopics, ensuring clarity and coherence. This structured approach allows for a systematic exploration of your ideas, preventing tangential or disorganized writing.

An outline helps maintain focus, ensuring that every part of your think piece contributes effectively to the overall message. It is a key tool to ensure your writing remains cohesive and compelling.

Step 6 – Present a balanced argument

In a think piece, presenting a balanced argument is essential. Acknowledge multiple perspectives related to your topic, providing fair and objective coverage. Balance does not mean compromising your thesis but rather incorporating counterarguments, addressing potential critiques or discussing contrasting views.

Presenting a balanced argument showcases a thoughtful, nuanced understanding of the subject, bolstering your credibility. This approach also engages a wider audience, including those with differing opinions, creating meaningful discussion and enriching the overall impact of your think piece.

Strive for objectivity and fairness while making a compelling case for your perspective.

Step 7 – Incorporate personal insights

Incorporating personal insights is a hugely beneficial aspect of writing a think piece. While presenting facts and analysis, include your unique perspective and experiences into the narrative. These personal insights provide authenticity and depth, making the piece relatable to readers.

However, ensure a balance; too much personal bias may overshadow objectivity. Use anecdotes, reflections, or real life examples to enrich the narrative, allowing readers to connect emotionally and intellectually with your ideas.

Your insights should illuminate and support your thesis, offering a human dimension to complex topics, and encouraging readers to consider diverse viewpoints.

Step 8 – Use engaging language and style

To create an impactful think piece, use engaging language and style that captivates the reader. Utilize a conversational tone, avoiding overly complex or jargon laden language.

Write sentences that flow smoothly, enhancing readability. Include rhetorical devices like metaphors, analogies or anecdotes to illustrate points vividly. Varied sentence lengths and structure maintain rhythm and prevent monotony. Strive for clarity, ensuring your ideas are easily understood. Address the reader directly, inviting them into a thoughtful discussion.

Your words should evoke emotions and curiosity, encouraging the audience to understand your perspective. Balancing eloquence with accessibility is key to holding the reader’s attention throughout the piece.

Step 9 – Write a thoughtful conclusion

Writing a thoughtful conclusion is vital when writing a think piece. Summarize your main arguments and restate your thesis in a way that reinforces its significance.

Offer a sense of closure by providing a broader perspective on the topic, inviting readers to contemplate its implications. Avoid introducing new ideas but encourage further thought and action. Aim to leave readers with a lingering thought or emotion that reflects the essence of your piece.

A well written conclusion will prompt readers to engage with the ideas presented in your think piece.

Step 10 – Edit and revise thoroughly

Once the think piece is written, dedicate substantial time to edit and revise diligently. Begin by reviewing the piece for grammatical errors, punctuation issues and spelling mistakes.

Ensure clarity and coherence in each sentence and paragraph. Check if the argument flows logically, refining the structure where needed. Assess the strength of your thesis and if it is effectively supported throughout. Trim unnecessary content and refine redundant points. Read the piece aloud to catch awkward phrasing or ambiguous ideas.

Seek feedback from peers or mentors, considering their perspectives to enhance the piece. Rigorous editing and revising refine your think piece into a polished, impactful composition.

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