2020 writing goals, intentions, and motivation
The Writers Newsletter: Story tips, spotlights, and earnings
New year, new decade! Now’s a good time to pause, check in, and set an intention. Let’s settle in that space of creative reflection and resolution setting. Looking into this next year, what are your goals around writing for 2020? For some it’s developing a publishing cadence, be it once a week or once a month. For others it’s to start writing again, after taking a break for a few years. Maybe there are certain topics you’ve been interested in investigating, certain pieces that you want to begin researching. Perhaps you’ve already made progress over the past year and want to continue that momentum. Or there was a piece you wanted to get started on that you weren’t able to, and now is your chance. Consider a few possibilities, and let yourself gravitate toward the pursuits that energize you most.
Wherever you are with your writing goals, we’re here to support your process. In this month’s update, you’ll find writing advice around habits, ideation, revisions, and care. It’s a time for starting something new, and a time for reenergizing your purpose.
How to hear what your story is actually saying
An effective exercise to improve the quality of your writing is to see it from the point of view of your readers. When you write the story, you’re aware of all of the decisions you made to get this specific piece out. While each decision is reasonable, it can cloud your awareness of how the piece is received. We’ve outlined a couple exercises here on seeing your piece from the point of view of a reader. The first is to read your story out loud. You’ll intuitively notice when the flow is off, and where improvements are necessary. The second technique is to share your story with a writing peer. Instead of asking for improvements, ask what they heard. When you have your piece played back, you’ll see what changes will need to be made to convey what you intended.
Read more about these exercises to improve your writing in “How to Hear What Your Story Is Actually Saying.”
Medium editors are on the lookout for great stories published on the platform and work with the authors to edit and produce the stories. Just like last month, we’ll spotlight a few stories that Medium editors found and brought into their publications. What makes a story resonate? There’s a variety of reasons — read more to learn what the platform editors found compelling about these stories in particular.
“How It Feels To Lose Your Native Language” by Li Charmaine Anne
Li Charmaine Anne was ashamed of her Chinese heritage as a child. But after growing up and realizing she no longer understood the language, she began to feel ashamed of herself. In “How It Feels To Lose Your Native Language,” she writes about her journey to reclaim her superpower of being bilingual and how she’s learning to love and appreciate her complex and rich Chinese heritage. “I have begun to accept that coming from an immigrant culture of color is a gift, not a setback,” she writes. “Knowing another language really is a superpower.” — Jolie A. Doggett, platform editor at ZORA
“A Guide to Meditation for People Who Hate Meditating” by Leslie Brooks
I’ve probably downloaded seven different meditation apps over the years. I’ve listened to all sorts of podcast episodes on the benefits of the practice. I have a watch that tells me, at various intervals throughout the day, to breathe. And yet I still suck at meditating. I was beginning to think I was too jittery, too impatient, and too strapped for time to ever fully embrace meditation until I came across Leslie Brooks’ piece “A Guide to Meditation for People Who Hate Meditating.” It dispels the many myths people have about meditation, and gets to the heart of what it really is — “the continual practice of returning your attention to one thing.” There’s a great meditation tip at the end, too. — Michelle Woo, senior platform editor at Forge
“Self-Care Is For UX” by Vivianne Castillo
The stories in Vivianne Castillo’s three-part series on self-care for UX designers are some of the most thoughtful and reflective pieces we’ve published in Modus. UX designers not only have to tap into a deep well of empathy to do their jobs well, but they also have to deal with a host of other stressors like imposter syndrome and the drive for perfection. Vivianne shines a light on how designers can take better care of themselves, which in turn helps them take better care of their users. — Killian Piraro, design editor at Modus
“The Zeuser Interface: How to Retake Control From Tech” by Yancey Strickler
Remember The Clapper? Yancey Strickler does. Co-founder of Kickstarter and author of This Could Be Our Future: A Manifesto for a More Generous World, Strickler wrote this story about a simpler time when we could control our smart home technology with a clap on and a clap off instead of giving away all of our private information in the process. — Megan Morrone, platform editor at OneZero
Keeping a journal
Daily journaling can help with your writing practice as well as with your general well-being. There’s some great inspiration around journaling in Genevieve Field’s profile of founder Shivani Siroya in Marker. Journaling helps Siroya let go of the problems and anxieties of the day. “It’s something that you can always go back to, something that’s constantly supporting you and showing you: Yes, there’s something here. I believe in you.” She’s used journaling to work through company problems, strategize, and look at the bigger picture. At the end of the day, she reflects on her day to see where she spent her time, and what she could do better. “The practice of daily journaling is actually about connecting with something much deeper in yourself,” says Siroya. “The thing that’s going to keep you on this journey.”
Advice from The Draft
The Draft is a biweekly column in Human Parts where former MFA director Eileen Pollack answers your questions about writing. In “Want to Write About Your Life? Start Here.” Pollack addresses the pressure that can mount in advance of starting to share your remarkable personal story. “You need to free yourself of the obligation to get everything you have ever experienced down on paper, all at once,” Pollack advises. She suggests a strategy of listing out events, people, and places that have shaped you. From there, you can write a series of essays. Read more from the response here.
You can submit your questions on creative writing here.
Tax forms for the Partner Program
Before the end of this month, you’ll receive an email with your electronic tax forms through Track1099.com. This includes the 1099-MISC for domestic. Update (1/29/20) If you are an international Partner by the middle of March, you’ll receive an email with your electronic tax forms through a Tax Partner platform. This is the 1042s.
Please accept the electronic form via email, otherwise, we will have to snail mail you a copy. Accepting the electronic form will help reduce the use of paper. You can find more information about tax forms for Partner Program earners here.
A note on originality
Medium is a place where the world’s most insightful writers, thinkers, and storytellers bring you the smartest takes on topics that matter. We value fresh thinking and unique perspectives. To ensure that quality, please review the plagiarism policy in the Help Center.
December earnings payouts
By the 8th of each month (so in this case January 8), we initiate the payments for the prior month’s earnings. Please allow 3–7 business days to receive the December earnings payouts in your Stripe account. Based on member engagement from this period:
- 68% of writers or publications who wrote at least one story for members earned money.
- 8% of active writers earned over $100.
- $21,650.88 was the most earned by a writer, and $8,855.73 was the most earned for a single story.
Words to write by
In “Writing Workshops Will Give You the Best Advice,” Leigh Fisher describes the power of gathering together in writing workshops. In writing a story there are areas where we may focus and other areas where we don’t pay much attention. A writing workshop helps identify areas of opportunity for a piece of writing. When several readers notice an area of improvement, it becomes more compelling to take time to examine and revise.
While we all make mistakes and have weaknesses in some areas of writing, getting feedback from others can help us fix them. Taking part in an organized writing workshop and finding out what multiple readers clue into is incredibly helpful in finding out what you need to fix.
Keep at it,
Kawandeep, Writer Advocate