Inspired Writer Contest Winner

Consider this is my request to join your lunatic club

Photo by Patrick Tomasso on Unsplash

Writers are lunatics whose nonsense has shaped my dreams.

Who else dares to populate reality with fantasy worlds? Who else prefers the torture of re-reading line after line, adjusting rhyme after rhyme, or trying to decide if it’s a comma or an em dash. Who else hoists a mirror to the faces of the masses? Who else says: “We are right and we are wrong. We are beautiful and ugly. We are absurd.” Dear teachers, consider this my request to join your lunatic club.

The first was Hemingway, who told me that I need to bleed.

So with my progress…

We’re all flawed creatures due to difficult and mysterious circumstances, but if we strive for honest and effective improvement, we can be better.

Two featureless faces look at each other. The left is filled with negative self-descriptions. The right with positive.
Two featureless faces look at each other. The left is filled with negative self-descriptions. The right with positive.
Image via Pixabay

Right about the time that my wife and I had cooled the jets on our first major argument — full of accusations and yells and tears — I realized that something was in order. Two things to be exact:

  • An apology to my wife for my stubborn childishness, which morphed the silly dispute into a beastly war of words.
  • I needed to reflect on my behavior. Why had I acted in such a way? Why couldn’t I just admit that I hadn’t properly cleaned the kitchen, essentially owning the mistake, and promise to do better next time?

Like most people…

I did, and I earned more influence.

Photo by You X Ventures on Unsplash

“Whether you’re the employee or the employer, you can make a difference by being a positive presence in your workplace” — Robyn Whalen

At 2:00 P.M. CET on Friday, March 13th, 2020, I was sitting in a teacher’s meeting with the school directors and other secondary staff.

The first wave of COVID-19 was running rampant throughout Spain, and we were brainstorming plans for unprecedented confinement.

As a private, international school, we needed those tuition payments — no public funding for us. We feared that, if lockdown came, parents would immediately reclaim tuition. The school would go broke. …

The US has dabbled in Pottersville. Now it’s time for citizens to do their part.

Image via Wikimedia Commons

After countless viewings, Frank Capra’s “It’s a Wonderful Life” still strikes my emotional chords every time I watch it. The strange thing is, the most inspirational movie ever isn’t very special at all.

George Bailey, the self-sacrificing protagonist, is an archetype older than the film itself. Bailey’s counter-force takes the form of Henry Potter, the typical toadish banker whose lust for monopoly games exponentially outweighs his humanity. Then there’s Bedford Falls and its weathered small-town ethos. To top it off, the story hinges on deus ex machina in the form of an angel eager to get his wings.

Regardless, there…

A writer’s bio (correction: a fumbled writer’s bio)

Photo by Alex Iby on Unsplash

In the summer of 2008, A Hopi man revealed a tribal custom to me.

He must have been in his late 30s, tanned and leathery skin, taller than my 5'10" frame, thinning black hair, and black beady eyes that scanned me over through wireframe glasses.

He was soft-spoken, respectful, composed, and he considered his words.

I was freshly 22 with long blond locks, a hair-covered chin, and dusty rope-made sandalias on my feet. A university student on an anthropological field study with Southwest Native American tribes, I was idealistic, stupid, confident, and inconsiderate.

Naturally, I had asked him about tribal…

The Style Guy

Learn from Sinem Günel and Niklas Göke

Photo by Road Trip with Raj on Unsplash

Strange as it is, two German speakers are dominating the world of English-language writing.

As a teacher, they give me hope for my students — some more than others. But dream I do.

I’m talking about Sinem Günel and Niklas Göke, of course.

Honestly, no introduction is needed, but in case you’re just arriving to the party, here’s a quick bio for each:

Sinem is the author of wildly popular articles on personal development and entrepreneurship, often found front and center on Mind Cafe, Publishous, The Ascent, and The Entrepreneur’s Handbook. She has more Top Writer tags than I have…

Our strategies for doing the impossible

Photo by Deleece Cook on Unsplash

A torrent of tragedy — that’s our dear year 2020 so far.

Assuming that we survive the perils of existence — those from nature and, even more so, those from our own misguided steps — and humanity’s distant offspring look back on the trials and tribulations of their bumbling ancestors, the narrative of 2020 would be ripe for future historians.

Perhaps even one of those defining years like 1060 and the Battle of Hastings or 1492 and the New World. …

Read, deliberate practice, repeat

Photo by Seven Shooter on Unsplash

Before I started writing—I mean purposefully writing with the goal of producing content that people want to read — I had to teach writing. It was an ass-backwards situation where I needed the job. A former boss of mine would have described it in his Indiana accent like this: “The cart is pulling the horse.” But I had to learn on the fly. Life is like that sometimes.

Read, read, read

I scoured the internet for weeks looking for some help. Pre-made study plans, pre-made exercises, pre-made tests, pre-made anything that would do the work for me. …

The Style Guy

Turn clear but boring into mysterious and compelling

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Think of your writing style like fashion accessories: watches, earrings, necklaces, and the likes. These accessories don’t dominate the outfit. Instead, they accentuate it. They strengthen it. They give it life and flow.

Your style does the same for your writing, and it starts with the opening line.

Today, we’ll look at how great style can transform a clear but boring message into a mysterious yet compelling one. By the end, you should feel confident about turning your dry writing into stylistic, effective writing.

The Dull Drafter

The dull drafter’s writing is very clear and simple. However, their writing is also bland and…

The Style Guy

And two exercises to help you form it

Photo by Pereanu Sebastian on Unsplash

Style can make or break your piece of writing. A sentence, when crafted by a clever hand, transforms an ordinary idea into a memorable piece of wisdom.

The last chapter of “The Elements of Style,” entitled “An Approach to Style,” quotes Thomas Paine as a timeless example:

“These are the times that try men’s souls.”

As the authors note, what happens if we rephrase this idea?

“Times like these try men’s souls.”
“How trying it is to live in these times!”
“These are trying times for men’s souls.”
“Soulwise, these are trying times.”

The differences in style are obvious. The…

Drew Sparkman

Husband, teacher, columnist | The Style Guy at Better Marketing | Sign up at

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store