Here’s a great resolution to make for 2020: Write a letter to the editor.

More people should take this option to express their opinion on issues that are important to them.

It’s much better than forwarding on a meaningless meme through social media.

True, sitting down and writing or typing a letter takes a bit more time and effort but it also commands more respect and attention. It shows that you have the ability to organize your thoughts and the courage to put your opinion out there with your actual name attached to it, not a bogus Facebook alias.

A letter doesn’t have to be a long, ponderous treatise filled with footnotes and excruciating details. In fact, the best letters are fairly short, to the point and from the heart.

You can write about practically anything – a recent county board or city council decision, how much you enjoyed a community event and why, hopes or fears you have for this country’s future, a leader you admire, an unsung local organization that deserves recognition, something that bugs you about living in this area, something that inspires you and others to be a better person, suggestions on how to address a local problem or something that’s happening globally. The topics are limitless.

We print almost every letter we receive, especially those from local readers. The only exceptions are those who don’t include their name or don’t follow our basic guidelines.

With a new year starting, it’s an ideal time to review those guidelines: Letters must be 400 words or fewer and a name and address is required for verification purposes. To ensure a variety of viewpoints on the Opinion page, we allow only one letter per writer every 30 days. Letters (or other submissions for the Opinion page) can be emailed to sgeisen@parkrapidsenterprise.com, dropped off at the newspaper office, or sent to the Park Rapids Enterprise, 203 N. Henrietta Ave., Park Rapids, MN 56470.

During the election season, we have a paid political letter policy, which begins as soon as the filing period opens. This year, it’s May 19. Election-related letters that advocate for or against a candidate, a ballot measure or political party are subject to a charge of $15 for up to the first seven column inches (about 125 words). Each additional column inch (about 25 words per inch) is $10.

Here are a few other pointers for writing a letter to the editor:

  • Although it’s not required, include a phone number with your letter. That way, if there is something in the letter that's unclear, an editor can get back to you.

  • Be brief. Get to your point quickly and stick to it. Don't ramble on into other topics. You'll lose a lot of readers along the way. Support your points with facts, research, or opinions of others.

  • Don't go into attack mode. Take the high road. If you're writing about a political candidate, emphasize his or her strengths, not the opponent's flaws. The Enterprise does not allow attacks on private individuals.

  • Spell-check the document and check over your grammar. A poorly written letter can muddy your point and readers won't take it as seriously.

  • Don't write when you're red-hot angry and send off your letter without thinking it through. Take some time to collect your thoughts. Your best approach may not be anger.

  • Be brave. Take a stand. Don't be timid. And always remember, you have a right to your opinion as much as anyone else.