3 FACTS OTHER WRITERS TELL YOU THAT I’M BEGGING YOU TO IGNORE


Misinformation abounds in the writing world, so be on guard
by Dawn Bevier

I make my living on words. Reading them and writing them. I’ve been an English and writing teacher for over twenty years and a part-time writer for the last two. And this is why I have a hard time digesting the “this is how to be a great writer” articles, especially those with simplified lists or numbers.

Throughout history, great writers’ extremely diverse styles are proof that no such cut and dry recipes are accurate. Shakespeare, one of the greatest writers ever to have lived, rarely spoke in direct language. His power is metaphor. Ernest Hemingway’s straightforward style, which most likely came from his job as a reporter for The Kansas City Star, is just as revered.
So don’t believe the hard and fast rules people try to tell you about what you can and can’t do to achieve writing success. Here are three of the cut and dry statements that I urge you to ignore.

You can’t be a successful writer if you have multiple responsibilities

I was fuming yesterday. I read an article saying if writers have a lot of responsibilities or a full-time job, they should choose one or the other because it’s impossible to do both. I am a soft-spoken mother of two, but some very unladylike words wanted to spew out of my mouth.

My fellow writers, if you haven’t learned this yet, only you define your limitations. A full time job doesn’t. Being a parent doesn’t. Having a full-time college course load doesn’t. And don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

It may involve planning and organization. You may have to get up earlier or stay up later. You may have to forego a few hours sitting in front of the television after work or enlist the help of friends from time to time. But never doubt you can succeed.

The New York Public Library reports that Arthur Conan Doyle, Sherlock Holmes’s creator, worked as a surgeon while he was writing. Kurt Vonnegut, the author of Slaughterhouse 5, was a car salesman. Margaret Atwood, the famed author of The Handmaid’s Tale, worked as a barista. I’d say they managed to juggle their responsibilities successfully, wouldn’t you? They are, after all, some of the most famous writers in all of literature.

So if writing is what you genuinely want to do, you can do it successfully alongside other things. You just have to make the most of the time you have.

All you have to do is write more to succeed

In my personal opinion, this is the biggest lie told to all writers. And I should know because I’ve taught writing for over two decades. I’ve also written over three hundred articles, and recently I had the chance to look over my old ones. This activity made me both extraordinarily embarrassed and extremely happy at the same time.

At the beginning of my career, I had paragraphs that took up a third of the page. I capitalized subtitles just as if they were headlines. The flowery metaphors I thought were so beautiful clouded the clarity of my writing. There were words that were repetitive, sentences that were repetitive, little to no formatting, and tons of long, long sentences that I now realize would weary any reader. And though I mentally scolded myself for these errors, I was extremely pleased with how much my writing had improved over the years.

And it didn’t get better by writing. It got better by learning. I read books on writing. I watched interviews with successful writers. I discussed my craft with others in my field. Because of this, I learned the power of a headline and a subtitle. I learned ways to engage my reader with compelling introductions and ways to provide value to my readers with actionable advice.
And the more I learned about the art of writing, the more my mind threw up mental alerts when I caught myself reverting to my old bad habits. Some examples of those alerts?

That’s repetitive. Delete it. That word is unnecessary. Leave it out. That paragraph is too long. Break it up. That’s passive voice. Make it active. Without these mental alerts, not only does your writing not get better, it cements the bad habits you already have.

Now, this is not to say you shouldn’t write a lot. Just make as much time as you can to do some reading or research on the art of good writing. Then, focus on one of those skills and practice it in your next article.

When I teach writing, I instruct my students on one thing and then have them focus solely on developing that skill. For example, if they are learning to write a good introduction, we practice ten introductions, not ten essays. So, you may find it helpful to write and edit with one particular skill or weakness in the forefront of your mind or make a list of do’s and don’ts from your learning and check your writing for these things paragraph by paragraph after your first draft.

The road to improvement should not look like write, write, write and write. It should look like learn, write, learn, write, learn and write.

Good writing is all about creativity

You’ve probably heard Nobel Prize winner Robert W. Sperry’s theory relating to the differences between the brain’s two different hemispheres. This theory centers around the idea that one hemisphere of the brain is more dominant than the other. For example, people’s brains dominated by the left hemisphere are more adept at logic, analysis, and reasoning. People who are “right-brained” are stronger at creative thought, emotional expressiveness, and imagination.

Many writers describe themselves as right-brained because writing is an exercise in emotion and creativity. However, writers who only focus on channeling their imaginative powers do themselves and their work a great disservice. The best writers use both right and left brain “skill sets” to produce great work.

Great writers often choose to invoke the right brain when they are composing their first drafts. Then, using left-brain skills, they critically analyze their writing to make it more coherent and accessible to all readers. Others prefer to start with the left brain skills, creating a template or outline of main ideas, filling in the already formatted structure, and harnessing their creativity to make the sentences and images more emotionally compelling.

Regardless of the strategy, the critical thing is writers use both hemispheres of the brain in the writing process. For example, here’s how the different hemispheres work together to produce a great headline and sub-heading.

• The Title: (Left Brain) Use logic to create a straightforward headline to let your reader know the specific topic you are writing on.

• The Subtitle: (Right Brain) Use imagination to arouse curiosity about what exactly you will specifically say in the article itself.

Spanish painter Joan Miró explains the importance of embracing both creativity and logic in artistic endeavors best by stating that “works must be conceived with fire in the soul but executed with clinical coolness.”

The bottom line:

Author Kurt Vonnegut expresses an excellent metaphor on how to be successful in writing (and life): “We have to continually be jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down.”
In other words, a writer must work hard, believe in himself, and have a lot of practice runs under his belt to take to the skies successfully. However, without learning how to use his wings to their max potential, the landing may not be a pretty one.

Many writers will try to tell you which cliff to jump off and how to best use your wings. Listen politely, but don’t automatically take their words to heart. Your wings are unique, and so is your writing journey.

And my sincerest hope for you? A gorgeous flight and a safe landing.

FIVE SIGNS OF A HIGHLY INTELLIGENT PERSON

Accurately sizing up someone’s mental acuity is a valuable life skill – by Sean Kernan

There are significant reasons to size up a person’s mental acuity. For example, if you are taking advice, interviewing, or communicating, it helps to know what you are working with. Many of the best managers are excellent at reading their audience.

If you are looking for a one-shot way to determine brilliance, stop reading now. If you are looking for exceptions to the following points, you’ll be able to find them. The following are correlative, not causal. This is an exercise in nuance. Because within nuance, you find most answers.

They Practice Intellectual Humility
I worked in finance and mostly hated it. However, one of the few perks was the people. The industry attracts and needs intelligent people. Consequently, hiring successful candidates mandated we get a quick read on them. Interviewing is tricky because everyone is putting their best foot forward and trying to sound smart, as perhaps they should.

A manager taught us a trick: ask a question the candidate won’t know the answer to. Then, observe how they act. A very good sign was when they could simply admit they didn’t know, rather than fake it and force-feed an answer.

This admission is a sign of intellectual humility, which is correlated to better decision-making. This is particularly useful in an industry plagued by arrogance. Intellectually humble people challenge their conclusions based on evidence and feedback from others. As a simplistic example, you’ll see this when people say, “From what I’ve seen, it could be true.” Rather than, “It’s definitely true.” They frame their observations as open to critique. They prize truth over ego.

Obvious Signs are Often a Valid Data Point
For example, people who refuse to social distance tend to be less intelligent. People who read in their free time skew smarter than those who don’t. Things that smart people tend to do, tend to be done by smarter people.

Many years ago, I was working retail at a used sports equipment store. A 10-year-old kid came in to buy a baseball helmet. I gave him the price. He held the helmet up, looked it over, then looked back at me, “Can you knock a few bucks off? I mean, look at these dents.” He pointed at the dents. I smiled and gave him a discount.

When he left, I thought, “That kid is going to do just fine.” Being crafty, demonstrating street smarts, and quick thinking is correlated to intelligence. In fact, Yale scientists found that street smarts are just as important for employees as their academic smarts. More plainly, you can be a mediocre student, with great street smarts, and go on to be very successful.

They are Meta, Literally
There is a newly popular phrase, “That is so meta.” Meta means something is self-referential. For example, a Medium article that is about Medium articles is meta. A video game where you play a character playing a video game is meta. The Onion famously did this with “World of World of Warcraft.”

Related to this, intelligent people often demonstrate metacognition. They talk about and analyze their own thought process. They are objective and critique their nature. They know when and how they perform best. A simple example of meta behavior is when someone says, “I need to put this on my calendar, or I won’t hold myself accountable.” Unsurprisingly, people with high metacognition are often great students and employees. They leverage their self-awareness to their advantage.

They Know what Killed the Cat
Intelligent people tend to be curious. They have an itch to know more, to drill down on details, just for the sake of knowing. After all, that’s how we learn, right?

Curiosity is an indicator of intelligence in other animals too. For example, there was a study involving three language-trained chimps. Their job was to use a keyboard to name what food was in an unreachable container. The prize was, you guessed it, food. When the test food was visible, they just hit the correct button and got the food. When the food was hidden amongst various containers, the smarter chimps inspected and tried to peek inside the containers before giving their answers. They knew the odds of winning were higher if they learned more.

This chimp study is a basic example but reveals the power of information seeking (curiosity). And don’t forget, we share 98.8% of our DNA with chimps. The smartest chimps are measured by their ability to patiently learn and troubleshoot problems. Sound familiar?

The Strongest Indicator of Intelligence
My dad was an engineering major at the Naval Academy decades ago. He doesn’t brag very often about other men. It takes a lot to impress him. But one of his roommates, Charlie was a special classmate.

They were both in an industrial engineering class. It was the hardest class he’d ever taken. Dad said they’d come back to the room. He’d study for hours while Charlie only studied 20 minutes and then fiddled with his guitar. That roommate still got better grades than my dad, who is fairly bright, and it ticked him off to no end. That roommate went on to become a college professor.

At the pulsing core of intelligence is the ability to simplify complex problems and solve them, as Charlie did. Often, that skill is genetic. The people themselves don’t know how they do it. You can develop the skill as well. A physics professor once told me that, “A big problem is just a bunch of small problems combined. Learn to separate them out.” It’s all a matter of approach.

Conclusion and Takeaway
Society has placed a massive priority on intelligence. We often feel pressure to be smart and value those who are. Never forget the value of kindness and respect. Each person has their own combination of skills and gifts and should be respected as such.

Remember, outside of a psychologist-provided test, there’s no real way to gauge intelligence in one data-point.

But if they do these five things, there is a very good chance they are quite smart.

They demonstrate a curiosity to learn more information.

They can openly admit when they don’t know something. They know and operate within their limits.

They can break down complex problems and cut straight to a solution.

They have an acute awareness of their own thought process. They critique and understand it.
They use that knowledge to their advantage.

They display obvious signs of intelligence. They think quickly on their feet and have situational awareness.

THEY WEAR A MASK DURING A PANDEMIC.

HOW TO WRITE SIX-FIGURE ARTICLES?

Scan viral content sites for new topics to instantly earn six figures…

Kiran Yasmin
Following
Feb 22 · 4 min read


In the freelance writing industry, money is considered motivation to work harder and better. Various aspiring writers feel shame about what they are earning every month. In an urge to make more than enough, they take writing courses and often copy the content or ideas of top writers. They are not ashamed of their skills and hard work. They are probably ashamed of confessing that they are making pennies. This may not be the case of every single writer, but it is obviously the situation of those who are writing solely for money or have families to take care of.


The good news is that anybody can write six-figure articles. The Internet is full of viral content sites to get ideas from. Here are a couple of examples for you.

Get $200 To $500 Per Article
Manage your own time and make enough money…
medium.com

This Website Pays Content Writers $100 Per Post
Feel free to write as much as you want…
medium.com

  1. BUZZFEED.COM
    Unique Visitors: 220000000
    BuzzFeed is one of the best independent digital media companies in the world. It is known to leverage data and innovation to reach millions of people every month. The website has loads of topics. You may choose a category of your choice and read a few articles to create similar stuff. However, you are not permitted to copy anything. Some of the main options are given below.
    ORIGINALS
    You can create videos, quizzes, lists, and plain yet informative articles.
    BRANDS
    Like BuzzFeed, you can write portfolios of top personalities or talk about different brands that are trending on the Internet.
    STUDIOS
    If you are able to produce original content for cable, film, and digital platforms, you will be paid heavily and your articles may go viral, making you millions of dollars.
    NEWS
    World-class reporting and investigation stories can be written to get more and more visibility.
  2. VOX.COM
    Unique Visitors: 25700000
    Vox covers everything from culture and science to technology, politics, history, and health. Like BuzzFeed, this website has plenty of viral content ideas. You can write topics similar to Vox, and if you copy several lines or photos, please don’t forget to cite the original author. Here is what its writers love to write.
    THE HIGHLIGHT
    Vox has a separate section for big and major stories outside of the news cycle. You can go to this section to get some inspiration for your next viral story.
    FUTURE PREDICTIONS
    The site has various professional writers trying to predict the future of humanity. These kinds of stories get lots of views.
    THE GOODS
    This section is devoted to the things people buy on a daily basis.
  3. MASHABLE.COM
    Unique Visitors: 20900000
    Mashable is popular culture, science, technology, and entertainment platform of the United States. It publishes hundreds of news stories every day and was founded in 2005 by Pete Cashmore. If you are scanning Mashable for viral content, you may like the following sections.
    CORONAVIRUS
    These days, everybody is talking about coronavirus and such stories instantly get millions of views. Go to this section to know what is happening in the health sector and start writing something good.
    PODCAST
    If possible, you can create an episodic series of spoken word digital audio files that can be downloaded and listened to by the world’s users.
    ENTERTAINMENT
    Who wouldn’t like entertainment? The world is full of problems, and if you write entertaining stories, people will definitely want to read them. You can create lists or write news stories on celebrities.
  4. BOREDPANDA.COM
    Unique Visitors: 9150000
    Bored Panda is popular art, design, and photography community for creative content creators. Every story published here goes viral, and this is probably the reason why so many people use Bored Panda to get backlinks. You can scan this site to obtain useful information.
    FEATURED
    In the Featured section, you will find some of the best and finest stories. These articles have received hundreds of comments and keep generating more views.
    TRENDING
    In this section, you will find stories that have never been told. You can find various information and photos here.
    LATEST
    Last but not least, this section contains the current or latest information on almost everything. It is good for writers who are looking for fresh and unique content ideas.
    After checking these sites, you will surely get various topics to write about. The more you write, the higher will be your earnings.

12 THINGS TO DO RATHER THAN PICK UP YOUR PHONE

This is the year to de-center your smartphone

by Paul Greenberg

For the sake of yourself and your country, it is time to get off your phone.

Yes, I know you needed to see the latest from the Capitol storming, the impeachment hearings, the Republican backlash, and then you’ll need to know how it’s all going down with the new administration in the first 100 days, and then perhaps you’ll want to check in on the stalled Covid-19 vaccination effort. And then poof, before you know it, midterm elections will be ramping up and you’ll need to scroll and scroll and scroll.

But there’s a good reason to balance a civic duty to stay informed with a personal responsibility to protect yourself. According to the online survey company Chartbeat, Americans burned 173 million hours reading about Trump (and other stuff) on their phones over the last four years — more than twice as much time as they spent reading about him on their laptops or desktops. Those same 173 million hours would have been enough time to clean all of our beaches of plastic debris, or tackle any of our myriad personal goals.

But what’s really significant about all the doomscrolling time is how it has affected our minds. Phone-based news reading tends to be done in spurts, with scant attention paid to nuance or substantiation of argument. It is, in short, the perfect cave for Trumpian thoughts and conspiracy theories to dwell. We need to move our attention away from Twitter and TikTok and focus instead on fact-checked and fact-based arguments.An Easy 3-Step System for Reclaiming Your Time from the News CycleRaise your hand if you’ve come up for air after a doomscrolling session only to discover that you forked over an hour…forge.medium.com

How to do this? As I write in my book Goodbye Phone, Hello World, changing your relationship to your phone requires a change in your relationship with your daily life. De-centering your phone won’t cause you to lose money, friendships, “connectedness,” or opportunity. Rather it will be an opportunity for you to take your life back from Big Tech’s agenda and start making rational, sound plans with you in control of your time.

Here are 12 steps you can take right now to begin the process:

Get an alarm clock

The moments between sleeping and waking are the times when we are most in touch with our subconscious, and thus precious for creativity. Protect those tender morning minutes. Have an alarm clock wake you up, so that first thing you are focused on something other than your phone.

Engage with your dreams

Dreams are your window into what Carl Jung called “the night-sea journey,” the pathway to the inner workings of your being. Start a dream journal that you keep next to your bed. Record your dreams in words and images every morning the moment you wake before they dissipate in the morning light.

Choose something other than your phone as a morning practice

In the ancient Sanskrit sacred text The Bhagavad Gita, the God Krishna, incarnated as a charioteer, instructs the young warrior Arjuna on how to live a fulfilling life. He tells Arjuna that the divided mind is an unhappy mind but that “[w]hen a person is devoted to something with complete faith, I unify his faith in that form.” Mastery through practice is faith. By replacing some of your device-divided time with unified time, you begin to lay down your own path.

Take a month to experiment with different practices that could be sustained over time. Is it the piano you once played? The watercolors you’ve always wanted to paint? Try taking 15 minutes of what was your smartphone time and dedicating it to that practice. Evaluate your feelings after each short session. At the end of a month, choose the practice you want to follow and pursue it consistently throughout the next month, increasing the time you spend on that practice by one-minute increments each day as time allows.

Do your morning reading from a physical magazine with in-depth, fact-checked reporting

Reading on paper can be good for you. A 2016 study published in the journal Social Science and Medicine found that individuals who read on paper increased their life-span by an average of 23 months. Spend some time reading serious journalism — or a favorite book.

Make at least one meal a day tech-free

Research has shown that even the presence of an inert phone on the table serves to make conversations shallower.

Have an unedited conversation

Many people say they text or email rather than talk because they have come to fear the spontaneity of actual conversation. They fear an awkward silence. But “[i]t is often in the moments when we stumble and hesitate and fall silent that we reveal ourselves to each other,” Sherry Turkle writes in her book Reclaiming Conversation. Choose to be revealed.

Use your phone with intention

Before texting, posting, or making any other public statement, remember Gandhi’s helpful saying: “Speak only if it improves upon silence.”

Call a friend you’re about text

Use texting just for logistical purposes, saving emotional information for more direct communication.

Focus on real friends

The social media use of the word friend is an appropriation that downplays the critical roles actual friends play in our lives. Most psychologists agree that humans can only effectively maintain a relatively small number of truly intimate friendships — usually around 15. By this standard, having 1,000 “friends” is absurd. Take a long, hard look at your list of digital friends and cull the list to those with whom you have meaningful communication.

Curate curation

One of the things that distorts our exercise regimen and attitudes toward our own bodies is an obsessive curating of self-image. Editing images of yourself and posting them online creates unrealizable expectations, especially for young adults.

Limit your self-curation both for your own sake and for the sake of the younger people in your life who are particularly susceptible. Try to go for a given period of time without editing photos of yourself or your loved ones. Examine how you feel after this “self-curation” diet.

Stick with your plans

Smartphones make it easy to waffle; you can always text an apology when you’re running late or bailing on plans entirely. Try to honor your commitments to your intimates. Make a plan and stick to it. Be respectful of the agreed upon time you and your loved one have set aside to be together. Keeping commitments with your intimates is another bedrock of trustworthy relationships.

Protect the night

You’ll get a better night’s sleep if you avoid looking at screens beginning two hours before bed. In your last moments before sleep, write in a journal, meditate, read some lines of poetry, or have an exchange with your partner: a look in the eye, some words. Close your eyes with the expectation of exploring the wealth of your own mind in the morning.

Remember, breaking a phone addiction isn’t easy. Be gentle with yourself. Understand that when you stare into your phone 10,000 programmers’ eyes are staring back at you, monitoring your move, adapting the on-screen environment so that you’ll keep looking and scrolling. Let’s make 2021 the year when we stopped doing that mindlessly.

Let’s take back control of our country, our time, and our minds.