Big Self
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Big Self

How to Write for the Big Self

Our mission, style guide, and types of stories we publish

Burnout and overwhelm.

That’s the experience of the modern world, more intense in 2021 than ever before.

We’re all living through an unprecedented global crisis. But in the middle of the chaos and uncertainty, life goes on. We continue to work, lead, look after our families, and pursue goals.

We aren’t giving up on ourselves and our purpose. Not just yet.

At Big Self, we believe that it’s possible to live a joyful and meaningful life even amidst the pandemic. The way to do it is — and always will be — to live from the inside out.

We want to help people who care to play big without burning out. This requires not just hard work, but tapping into their Big Selves — the embodiment of wisdom, courage and compassion.

Joy and fulfillment aren’t a luxury. Right now, they’re necessary to find our way through — and out of — the crisis. When the world is on fire, our best bet is to look for a place of calm within. That’s the only way we can find solutions to seemingly impossible problems.

We publish writing that helps our readers do exactly that. To paraphrase Parker Palmer, we want to support people in their roles in a way that aligns with their souls.

We’re always on the lookout for talented writers to contribute to this quest. If you want to publish with us, please read the guidelines below.

What we’re looking for

We publish a variety of stories related to leadership, mental health, psychology, creativity, and inner work. All submissions should be error-free, fact-checked and top-quality writing (more on that in a moment).

Although we’re open to other pieces, these are the types of stories we’re most fond of:

  • Psychological education. Self-help space is full of articles that only skim the surface. If you can write about concepts such as “true self,” “ego” or “shadow work” with depth and nuance, we’ll accept your pieces enthusiastically.
  • Leadership advice. Leaders aren’t just CEOs and politicians. They come in all shapes and sizes — and we want to cater to them all. If you have experience leading in a context that allowed you to grow, we’re eager to hear about your story and insights.
  • Personal essays on failure, success, and transformation. We see all three as closely connected — and often, a gateway into the Big Self. We love getting a behind-the-scenes peek of a turning point in your life journey.
  • Cutting edge research. Have you read an interesting study or book related to psychology, social sciences, creativity, or health? Care to write about it and your reflections around it? We love pieces that present academic findings in a relatable way.
  • Practical how-tos. You can write about a new therapy, ritual, habit, or practice that improved your life. Ideally, give the reader applicable steps on how to try it for themselves or where to seek professional help.

Important note: Your piece should offer a clear benefit to the reader. It can be a practical step they can take, an inspirational story, reassurance that they’re not alone — or whatever else they may need to move towards their Big Self.

Whatever it is, make sure they’re better off after reading your article than before.

The best way to get a feel for what we’re looking for is to read what we published. If you aren’t sure where to start, try these:

What we aren’t looking for

In short, we don’t publish surface-level content that already floods the Internet.

What we care about the most is our readers’ trust. We go the extra mile to make sure our content isn’t misleading, manipulative, or overly simplistic.

Please don’t send us:

  • Clickbait — don’t make promises that you can’t fulfill in your writing. This applies to headlines and subheadings, as well as avoiding other tricks writers sometimes use to keep readers engaged without offering value.
  • Absolutist pieces — in the realm of human psychology, few things work the same way for everyone. We don’t publish pieces that claim to have found “one secret trick” to solve the puzzle of life.
  • Lifehacks — again, we’re not interested in surface-level solutions that don’t address deeper, underlying problems. 90% of the time, this means no “lifehacks.” We may make an exception if you can talk about them with nuance and relevant perspective.
  • Unsupported claims — if you cite statistics, numbers, or theories, we want to see the source they’re coming from. We don’t publish generalized claims that are extrapolated from your individual experience.

Our Style Guide

The best way to summarize our style guide is this:

We want your writing to be as simple as possible, without compromising on the depth of your thinking.

Going a bit more into detail, here are a few guidelines we ask you to follow:

  • Support your claims. Whether it’s citing research, referring to your experience, or someone else’s work — make it clear where your claims come from.
  • Check your writing for grammar and spelling errors. While we’re happy to do some light editing for you, we expect you to edit your piece first. The least you can do is run it through Grammarly — even if it’s just the free version.
  • Adjust your voice. We want to sound conversational and relatable. But we’re also not afraid of using big words. Our readers are savvy and can handle diverse language, provided that you’re not just using it to sound smart! 😉
  • Use jargon in moderation. Unlike many self-improvement publications, we don’t ban jargon. We understand that, sometimes, specialized language can be helpful to explain a psychological theory or concept. If you need to use it, please do so in moderation — and explain those less obvious words to the reader!
  • Keep the formatting simple. Bolding and italicizing only make sense if you don’t overuse them. The same goes for bullet points and quotes. For the title and subheadings, use the “big T” formatting in the Medium editor. To capitalize the title correctly, you can use this simple and free tool.

If you include a subtitle, format it with the small “T” — just like we did here:

How your title and subtitle should look.
  • Use five relevant tags. Tags help your story to be seen by the right audience. You can select your tags by clicking on the three dots in the top-right corner of your draft and selecting “Change tags.” If you don’t choose your tags, we will. 😉
  • Keep it on the longer side. We don’t have strict guidelines on the word count of our stories. That said, pieces under 4-minutes reading time are less likely to be accepted, simply because they usually lack depth.
  • We accept both published and unpublished stories. If you already published the piece on your own, we’ll still happy to consider it. You can send it over by email (if you never published with us before) or by adding it to the publication just as you would an unpublished draft (if you’re already added as a Big Self writer).
  • We accept both locked and unlocked stories. As per the recently updated rules, both locked and unlocked stories are now eligible for Medium distribution. The advantage of publishing a locked story is that you can be paid for it through the Medium Partner Program. At the moment, the Big Self isn’t able to pay you for your work upfront.

To publish your work with us, you first need to have your own Medium account. It’s free (unless you want to be a Medium Member) and it only takes a few minutes to set up.

How we’ll edit your story

We expect you to do most of the editing before you submit your story. Once again, Grammarly is your friend.

That said, we may still make the following edits before publishing your piece:

  • Tweak your title, subtitle, and subheadings, as well as change the tags if we believe that this will contribute to the exposure of your story.
  • Change the feature image to better fit our branding.
  • Do some light copy-editing, such as rephrasing a wordy sentence, breaking down a long paragraph, or deleting redundancies.
  • Add a short call to action a the end of your piece (this will not affect your story’s chance for distribution).

Our turnaround time is usually up to 3 working days. We may schedule stories for publishing during the weekend, but we don’t look at new submissions on Saturdays and Sundays. (trying to practice what we preach here by setting boundaries between work and rest!)

How to submit your piece

If it’s your first time submitting to Big Self, send an email to Chad at chad@bigselfschool.com. In the email, please include:

  • “Big Self submission: [the title of your piece]” as the email subject;
  • Your name, link to Medium profile, and a sentence or two about yourself (we like to know at least a little bit about our writers!);
  • Link to the Medium draft you’re submitting + a 1–3 sentence synopsis of the piece;
  • Your portfolio OR 1–2 links to your published work (relevant to the Big Self topics).

Please only send us complete drafts, not article proposals or outlines.

After you’ve been added as a writer and we published your first piece, you can keep sending new ones directly via Medium. There’s no need to email us about each submission.

Simply go to your draft, click on the three dots in the top-right corner and select “Add to publication” → “Big Self.”

Any other questions?

If you have questions or suggestions about publishing with us, we want to hear from you!

Send an email to chad@bigselfschool.com and we’ll reply as soon as we can.

Thanks for your interest and we’re looking forward to your drafts!

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