How to Spread Your Ideas: Write a Manifesto

Years ago, I started an online magazine with some friends and colleagues.

Misfit manifesto
Wrecked for the Ordinary

The idea was that when people have a paradigm-shifting experience, they feel “wrecked” or “ruined.” And that’s alienating. These experiences leave people feeling isolated and even a little weird. So we wanted to do something about it.

We knew that we had something to say. The question was how to do it. We wanted to use stories to change lives. We figured starting a community was the way to go. So we launched the magazine with the intent of conveying the following message:

  1. It’s okay to be weird.
  2. You’re not alone.

We launched the website where people could share stories about their personal experiences with being “wrecked.” This morphed into articles and commentaries about faith, culture, and life change.

Three years later, I feel like there is still something left to be said. The stories were pieces of a larger puzzle. And I kept wondering if people were getting confused when they stumbled upon a random article about orphans in Africa or AIDS in India.

I thought it might be useful to provide a 50,000-foot view of our message.

So I wrote a manifesto.

A manifesto is a great way to condense your message into a short, all-encompassing format. People can read it, print it, email it to their friends, or feed it to their dog. By reading it (if you’ve written it well), they get a fuller understanding of your core message, which you have may have been trying to communicate (through your blog, website, Twitter profile, etc.) for years.

This is the reason why people write books instead of just publishing a series of magazine articles. Sometimes, you have more to say than can be contained in short, bite-sized pieces. A community can’t do this.

When you have something powerful to say — revolutionary, even — you need a manifesto.

As a point of reference, here are a few different types of manifestos:

  • Wrecked for the Ordinary by Jeff Goins — This was, of course, the most-recent manifesto I wrote and published on ChangeThis.com, a great site for spreading your ideas.
  • Brainwashed by Seth Godin — This is a business manifesto by one of the world’s most popular bloggers, also hosted on ChangeThis.
  • Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx — There’s no denying the impact that this short pamphlet had on the world. Of course, I’m not suggesting that you convert to the ideals expressed in this document, but it gives you an idea of the kind of power that a manifesto can carry.
  • The Expect Enough Manifesto by Corbett Barr — This is a short, typography-based manifesto for anyone who has wondered if they’re good enough to start something.
  • The Writer’s Manifesto by Jeff Goins — Here’s another one I wrote and gave away to my blogging community (you can still get it for free by clicking the link) as a way of expressing my own thoughts about writing and why writers write.

If you’ve got something to say that can’t be contained in a simple article or blog post, maybe it’s time to write a manifesto.

What would your manifesto say? Feel free to practice in the comments.