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Practical philosophy to guide us through challenging times

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Photo by Lukasz Szmigiel on Unsplash

The urgent issues facing humanity in 2021 require solutions on multiple levels: the transcendental and the personal, the individual and collective, the vast and the precise.

How do we coexist in harmony and create a better world? How do we protect the planet and look after ourselves? How do we work towards individual happiness and togetherness?

Philosophy has the power to illuminate, inspire, and offer solutions, all of which adam dhalla demonstrates in “The Right Philosophy for Our Times.”

Evoking the “crisp autumn air” of Henry David Thoreau’s cabin at Walden Pond, Dhalla explores the nuances of transcendentalism, painting a vivid picture that brings the movement to life. …


Hub Talk

It’s that time of year for resolutions and I know I’m not alone in making a writing resolution. Most writing goals boil down to developing a regular writing practice — and that’s tough. I’d love to hear your tips and suggestions! Share in the comments, and I’ll include a tip I’ve been trying out, too.


Writing

Know your characters, background detail, and story arc

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Photo by Ravi Roshan on Unsplash

Writing a feature story can be intimidating because it’s different than a quick op-ed or personal essay. A feature story usually requires much more time-intensive research, fact-checking, and copyediting. It’s more ambitious in scope and longer in depth. But don’t freak out because I’ll discuss a few of the components here.

What I urge you to do is think about some of your favorite feature stories. Mine are “The Jungle Prince of New Delhi” by Ellen Barry, “Secrets of the South” by Kaitlyn Greenidge, or “The Price of Nice Nails” by Sarah Maslin Nir. As you can probably guess from the titles, all three of these stories are different from each other. But they do have some key similarities. Look at the first few paragraphs of each. They all start with a scene. Think of your favorite books. …


Resources

It’s not just a style thing

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The quote feature in the Medium Editor gives you two styles to work with: block quotes and pull quotes. To use the feature, highlight the text you’ve written and the quote option will pop up (you can find more info in the Help Center on this). You can use this feature on any text you’ve written, so there’s a ton of flexibility.

While the tool can be used to offer some style differentiation alone, there are best practices and common use cases to improve readability and hone the writing in your stories.

In “The Definitive Guide to Medium’s Quotation Feature,” K M Brown offers straightforward best practices on using block quotes and pull quotes.


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photo courtesy of Taylor Grote

How text conversations with my friends have helped develop my most popular pieces

My text messages have inspired my best work over the past decade-plus that I’ve worked as a professional freelance journalist. Yes, roughly 90% of my best stories are birthed from my friends messaging me about how they perceive that I’m going to think about the news. How my daily, off-the-cuff conversations turn into a completed post is a process that requires harnessing raw emotion into carefully selected words. Then I use a combination of logic and research to refine those rash opinions into poignant editorial copy.

If I hadn’t published 10 features a month for the past decade as a full-time freelancer, I’d be arrogant to believe that how I conceptualized facets of daily life worldwide is that important. However, I’m always searching for and discovering news, inventions, social movements, and industrial evolutions everywhere because of this audacious schedule. …


Writing

You have 10 minutes; go!

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Photo by Tristan Gassert on Unsplash

You don’t have all day; really you don’t. You have something you want to say, you want to craft it into an article or a story, and you want it to be done already (most writers — beginning, intermediate, and expert — find writing a painful process). So what’s stopping you?

Probably too much time. Too much time can be the killer of creative impulses. Too much time means you can procrasti-bake every recipe from this season’s Great British Bake Off (and the season before that and the season before that). Too much time means you can finally get to cleaning the yellowing grout in your bathroom, only after you watch a few hours of YouTube tutorials on how to do it, of course. Too much time means you can start that home exercise routine you’ve been meaning to start all quarantine, but first you need to read up on which routines are free to stream, which routines are best for your age, and, wait, you don’t have the right equipment; you now need to scroll Amazon for all your new home gym togs. …


The top stories, growth, and earnings over this past year

As the year comes to a close, we thought it’d be a good opportunity to look back on 2020 by the numbers. Amid the uncertainty and challenges this year, your writing has helped provide clarity. As always, thanks for publishing with Medium.

In the Partner Program in 2020, there was 106% growth, 65,187 writers published their first story, and $11M in total earnings

The top five stories of 2020 (so far) are:

  1. Coronavirus: Why You Must Act Now,” by Tomas Pueyo
  2. Prepare for the Ultimate Gaslighting*,” by Julio Vincent Gambuto
  3. A Supercomputer Analyzed Covid-19 — and an Interesting New Theory Has Emerged,” by Thomas Smith
  4. Coronavirus: The Hammer and the Dance,” by Tomas Pueyo
  5. 103 Things White People Can Do for Racial Justice,” by Corinne Shutack

Learn more about the Medium Partner Program, where Medium Members help support great writers.


Medium staffers highlight their favorite stories of the year

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Photo by Courtney Hedger on Unsplash

Throughout 2020, we’ve read about a bajillion stories all across Medium. Thanks to all who published, for writing stories that inspired us, gave us advice, and in general, helped us get through the year. With 2021 fast approaching, we’re taking a look back and highlighting a few standout stories that we think you’d appreciate too. We asked our peers at Medium for their year-end picks from writers across Medium and put together this 2020 roundup of your amazing stories. Here’s to many, many more in the next year.

“What I Would Have Worn to My Mother’s Funeral,” Elizabeth Hackett

In a year where time has stretched itself beyond meaning and the bigness of loss has burned us all out, I’ve found that a lot of the writing on grief hasn’t always resonated. This year’s grief is universal in many ways, because we’re all experiencing it, but stories of an entire nation in mourning lose the specificity of grief, and that specificity is what makes grief both painful and beautiful. …


Writing

Alexander Chee writes about the ‘destructive fantasies’ we engage in when we’re stuck

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Photo by Ryan Snaadt on Unsplash

We often talk about writer’s block as if it’s some event that descends from the sky, with no origin or purpose. But as novelist and essayist Alexander Chee writes on Medium, often there’s a very real origin indeed: If you stop writing, the work you are trying to write can never humiliate you.

When you stop writing in order to protect yourself… you are imagining that at least you won’t embarrass yourself. You imagine that stopping writing protects you, and you feel a little relief from the danger of whatever your idea is suggesting.

The only problem? Soon enough, you’ll start to feel humiliated that you never managed to write the damn thing. “This,” he writes, “as I have learned, is when it is time to forgive yourself and then to get back to writing.” …


Writing

Drew Magary says you can write as much as 10,000 words a week, as long as you think of writing as a process, not a task

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Illustration: Heeje Min Heo

The prolific Drew Magary has written a lot of stories about a lot of subjects for Forge, Medium’s self-improvement publication, but the subject he’s written about the most? Writing itself. The most popular of those stories is about a lot.

As he writes in “How to Write 10,000 Words a Week,” the key to productivity as a writer is to think of writing as “a matter of sketching and building and arranging and fixing what is in your brain.”

Don’t think of it as art. Think of it as a process.

Drew’s process involves four steps.

Eliminate fear

“Too many writers have been taught to be afraid of writing and have had their voices suppressed as a result… If you treat your work like some impassable wall you have to scale… you’re gonna hate it.” …

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