In this article, I will lay out my exact strategy for writing a game-changing manifesto every time.
Here’s how to write a manifesto:
To write a manifesto, choose a passionately held belief or value, outline the belief into a series of short sections, explain a part of the belief under each section, and make recommendations for change. Use transitional phrases and internal summaries to make the manifesto highly readable.
But there is more to it than that.
How do you choose the right topic? How is a manifesto structured? How can you ensure your manifesto hits the right notes to actually make a difference?
I will give you my best answers from 20+ years of experience as a professional writer, including writing manifestos.
What Is a Manifesto?
A manifesto is a declaration of an idea, belief, or mission. Sometimes it’s all three. A manifesto is an expression of a deeply held value, something for which you are passionate and maybe even a bit obsessive.
A manifesto can be a written document like a book or the Declaration of Independence. It can also be a speech like Dr. Martin Luther King’s famous “I have a dream”.
Michael Jackson even wrote a manifesto that was discovered after his passing.
The word “manifesto” is a noun that comes from combining two Latin words (manus and infestus) into “manifestus,” meaning to manifest or clearly reveal.
15 Easy Steps To Write a Manifesto (For Beginners)
When you want to write a manifesto, you want quick and easy tips that really work. Me, too.
That’s why I created the following list of 15 steps for how to write a good manifesto.
1. Pick a Passionate Topic
The first tip is to choose the right topic.
A good topic is one about which you are passionate. A manifesto is usually written, at least at first, in a blind fury of emotion.
How do you choose the right topic?
You ask yourself what makes you angry, excited, or joyous. What do you believe? What do you hate? What do you want to change?
Also, consider these questions:
- How do you want people to remember you?
- What do you stand for?
- What words, phrases, or quotes best define your life?
- What would you be willing to die for?
The best and easiest topics to write generally focus on a subject about which you feel very strong positive or negative emotions.
2. Choose Your Main Sections
The next step is to build the structure of your manifesto. You can do this by outlining your main sections.
Your main sections will depend on the type of manifesto you write, your topic, and any guidelines (for example, from you teacher or a publication like a newspaper).
In general, your manifesto will divide into:
Start by writing down your biggest message, point, or purpose for your introduction, body, and conclusion.
Again, you can simply follow the standard structure of what you believe, why you believe it, and any recommendations.
Divide a piece of paper or an online document into three sections. Label them based on your preference. Then, write down your main message for each of the three main sections.
Once you complete this important step, you will have your basic building blocks for how to write a manifesto.
3. Outline Each Section
As you might have guessed, the next tip is to write down the main points for each one of your main sections.
Under each section (beginning, middle, end), list the points that you want to make. You might have a few points or many.
For example, in a recent manifesto I wrote about marriage proposals, here is an outline of my main points for my introduction:
- It’s easy to get swept away by big-budget proposals
- Proposals shouldn’t have to be huge Hollywood productions
- Proposals should be special
- I’m a hopeless romantic
Read the full manifesto to get the full picture of how I structured my manifesto.
4. Summarize Each Point In One Sentence
Try not to get carried away by writing paragraphs. Save that energy for later in the process. Right now, attempt to keep each point concise. Shoot for one sentence per point.
Say your point as simply and clearly as possible. Pretend that you must say it so that a third-grader might understand. Pretend that you must say it in a 140-character tweet.
Apply this lesson to each point in each section of your manifesto. This is going to be your outline for how to write a manifesto.
5. Support Each Point
One thing that separates good manifestos from great manifestos is your support for each point. When you take the time to collect good sources, stories, and statistics, your manifesto is 10X more readable.
Your support builds trust and credibility for your statements. If you want to create change, collect support.
For each of your points, collect and write down support:
- Personal story or experience
- Research data
- Examples from other people
- Examples from books
- Examples from movies
For example, in my manifesto about wedding proposals, one of my main points is that I am a hopeless romantic. I wanted to let the readers know that I’m not some heartless love-hater.
So I supported my point by mentioning that I may have cried during The Notebook and Titanic.
6. Organize Each Section
Each section of your manifesto is like a mini-manifesto. In other words, each section—beginning, middle, end—also can be divided into three parts. Your introduction will have a beginning, middle, and end.
So will your body and conclusion.
How do you organize each section? Simple. You look at each of the points in each section and determine how best to arrange them.
You may have already listed them in a logical order. If so, great! If not, here’s your chance. Rearrange your points into the most logical order or sequence of ideas.
Do this for each main section of your manifesto: introduction, body, and conclusion.
If it’s not obvious how to order your ideas, consider these recommendations:
- Arrange the ideas by the steps in a sequence.
- Arrange the ideas by what you need to understand first, then second, and so on.
- Arrange the ideas by what is most interesting, second most interesting, etc.
7. Tease Each Section
Introduce each section of your manifesto with a short tease of the main points.
By “tease,” I mean tell your readers what they will learn or get out of this section of your manifesto. Sometimes simply stating a summary of your main point or points is enough.
In my manifesto, I introduced one of my sections by stating that proposals absolutely should be special.
Your “tease” doesn’t have to be complex or overly creative. You can simply state the point, then move into your supporting evidence.
8. Summarize Each Section
At the end of each section, leave your reader with a short summary of the main points you covered.
This serves as a “conclusion” for your section.
If you skip this tip, your reader is likely to feel confused. It may seem like you leap from one point to another seemingly unrelated point. Your writing may appear choppy or disorganized.
If you are going to learn how to write a manifesto, you might as well learn how to do it right.
You can eliminate these potential readability issues by summarizing your points at the end of each section.
9. Summarize Your Entire Manifesto
Your big conclusion at the end of your entire manifesto is just a bigger summary. By “bigger,” I don’t mean longer. I mean that it covers more ground.
Since it’s the last thing your reader will read, make it count.
Your summary should include the main point or point from your entire manifesto. Your conclusion should conclude your argument for change, if applicable.
Again, it’s not about repeating every last point in your piece. It’s about concisely summarizing your main message so your reader is left with the essential echo of your manifesto.
Here’s how I did it in my manifesto:
If you love your proposal, that’s what matters. If the rest of the world loves it too? Well, then that’s just the proverbial icing on the wedding cake.
10. Write a Compelling Introduction
You now have a very fleshed-out outline for your manifesto. You are killing it. In fact, you have enough information to write a compelling introduction that grabs your reader.
You don’t have to write your introduction now.s You can wait.
However, whenever you decide to write your introduction, keep these points in mind:
- State your main point, message, or thesis early.
- Tell a personal story.
- Share a surprising statistic
- Report compelling data from research
11. Add Transitions Between Your Sections
Sometimes writers forget to connect sections with transitions. When this happens, the writing can feel “off” or disjointed to readers.
The fix is actually pretty easy.
Simply add transitional words, phrases, and sentences to connect the different parts of your manifesto.
The following transitions can work wonders:
- For example
- As a result
- Once again
- For the most part
- In spite of
The key is to use a mix of transitional words and phrases between parts of your manifesto. Avoid using the same transition word or words over and over again. Variety matters.
12. Write a Paragraph for Each Point
By now, you should have an almost complete manifesto.
One last step in your first draft is to write a paragraph or three for each main point.
Simply elaborate on the main point. You should already have an example. You can also answer questions about the point like why, where, when, and how.
13. Provoke Conversation
A great manifesto provokes conversation, even conflict.
Your manifesto should fire people up because you infuse it with your own fire. The more emotion you pack into your manifesto, the better.
This doesn’t mean melodrama, or exaggeration.
If you can’t figure out how to make your manifesto provocative and emotion-fueled, you might not have the right topic. When you write about the right topic, you’ll know it.
The emotion comes easily.
14. Use All the Writer’s Tricks
Your manifesto is your opus. Don’t hold anything back. Lay it all on the page (or screen) for the reader.
This is not a time to play coy with your talent or the tricks of the writer’s trade. Apply everything you know, and then some. Add alliteration, use imagery and figurative language.
Sound, syntax, and style all matter in the manifesto.
Here is a quick list of literary techniques:
- Juxtaposition or contrast
15. Listicle Your Manifesto
A listicle is an article with a list. It’s those articles with numbers in them, such as 10 Secrets of Billionaire Bobble-Head Sellers. Sadly, I made that one up.
Many manifestos include lists. Some manifestos are entirely made of lists.
Your list can include your principles, your beliefs, your values, your standards, or your goals. A great example is the Self-Repair Manifesto.
The Self-Repair Manifesto begins by stating, “We hold these truths to be self-evident.”
Then, the rest of the manifesto is a list of those truths.
Here are a few samples:
- Repair is better than recycling
- Repair saves you money
- Repair teaches engineering
Before you check out the examples below, you might want to watch this highly valuable video about how to write a manifesto:
How To Write a Manifesto: Examples
Reading real-life examples is the best way to learn how to write a manifesto.
Take time to review the following examples:
- The Futurist Manifesto
- The Communist Manifesto
- The Cluetrain Manifesto
- Humanist Manifesto
- Self-Repair Manifesto
Why Write a Manifesto
You might be asking yourself, “Why should I learn how to write a manifesto?” That’s a great question.
Here are several reasons you should learn how to write a manifesto:
- You want to capture your deepest beliefs in writing
- You want to clarify your thoughts and feelings about a topic
- You want to share your ideas with others
- You want to make a change
- You want to ensure that your ideas are not forgotten
- You want to build your personal or professional portfolio
- You want to impress your boss
- You want to complete a school assignment
Types of Manifestos
There are several different types of manifestos.
Before you write your manifesto, it’s important to know the different types so that you can choose the right one.
The most common types of manifestos:
• Personal manifesto
• Professional manifesto
• Political manifesto
• Brand manifesto
In a personal manifesto, you make a statement about one of your core beliefs and values. This is the most common type of manifesto.
Famous examples include Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech and Carl Marx’s Manifesto on Communism.
The second most common type of manifesto is a political manifesto.
An example is the declaration of Independence. Individuals can also write political manifestos about deeply held political values.
There are also professional manifestos.
In this type of manifesto, you express a deeply held belief about your job or career. Why would you write one? You could write one as part of a job application, annual review, or even pitch to your company.
Finally, there are brand manifestos.
This is a company-generated statement or expression of a brand value. Essentially, it’s marketing.
The Structure of Most Manifestos
Most manifestos follow a similar structure. Although there may be some differences depending on the different type of manifesto, most manifestos include a few important elements:
- What you believe
- Why do you believe it
- Recommendations for change
In other words, you explain the what and why of your core value. A manifesto is a statement of a belief. So tell people what you believe and give evidence that supports your idea.
Finally, if applicable, make recommendations for change.
Final Thoughts: How To Write a Manifesto
Manifestos are personal passion projects. In this article, we have distilled the best practices of how to write a manifesto. Follow these guidelines, and you will write a masterful manifesto that may change lives.
And the life you change the most may be your own.