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Create an Atomic Writing Habit

If you’ve ever wanted to write a book but never made it past the first few pages, this article is for you. It's also for you if you write for work but often procrastinate. And this message is for you, if you think writing might help provide meaning and clarity to your life. In other words, when it comes to writing, this article is for the avoiders, the procrastinators, and the dreamers of the world. 
In James Clear’s book Atomic Habits, he explores how simple changes can create profound impact in our lives. The problem, as Clear sees it, is our ambition causes us to shoot for the stars. 
A simple way of understanding Clear's premise is to consider a common goal like wanting to drink more water. Even though you're starting out with an average of drinking less than two glasses per day, you set your mark at 60 ounces of water. Every day.
When you fail, you have all sorts of reasons why it didn’t work—you just don’t like...
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Where Do All the Lost Words Go?

Linguists tell us that language comes from the words people actually use. And while my Southern English teachers scolded us for any sentences that included ‘ain’t’—they seemed to ignore the reality that the word itself could be found in Webster’s. But as new words enter the language and with only so much space in a dictionary, what happens to the words we use less? 
In Brain Pickings article “The Lost Words,” we learn the disheartening news that recent additions to the English language, including modern terms like broadband and cut n paste, have contributed to the loss of a multitude of words that describe nature. Lovely words like fern and starling no longer appear in the pages of the Oxford Children’s Dictionary, and despite complaints from writers and parents, no changes have been accepted. 
If we’ve learned something from our shared history of the world, it’s that there’s more than one way...
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How to Find Meaning in a Detour [A New Year's Story]

On New Years Eve morning, I write to you from the DMV.

Because amidst plans and visions for the future, I am here to re-do something.

I’m here getting my driver’s license because I’ve managed on the cusp of 2020, for the first time in my life, to completely lose my purse.

Amidst tearing my home and car apart, checking my bank and credit card accounts for unusual activity [none], even searching the yard where Jack the dog likes to hide things [he once hid my running shoes], asking the older boys to “look everywhere!”, checking the refrigerator, the recycles, my running partner’s car [even her other car that we didn’t use], my head game was not good.

I reviewed the unfairness, the great injustice.

Remember the old movies where someone slaps the actress on each cheek while she slowly and dramatically come to her senses?

That was me talking to me.

“No! This will totally upend my life!”

“No! I won’t be able to get my...

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Is Listening to Audiobooks Really Reading?

In my last quarter of undergraduate school, I took a final required class: Applied Linguistics. I had no idea what to expect, but proceeded to have my mind blown. From learning how young children can’t use irregular grammar until they've reach a marked developmental milestone [He 'taked' the ball from me] to discovering that linguists had written some of my favorite books [dictionaries], each class was a marvel.
But when Professor Childs taught us that our brains don’t really “see” the words in our mind when we read, I raised my hand. “Professor,” I said. “I alway see the words." He was a very smart and eccentric man. He’d done research all over the world, even documented languages never before written. And he didn’t mind correcting me that ‘no,' I did not see words when I read. Perhaps I imagined I did, he said, but “we” know that people don’t really “see” letters but identify words as...
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Why Writing About Your Life Has the Power to Change It

Have you ever wondered what your life would be like if you could start over? 
Or maybe you’re the kind of person who admits regret but wouldn’t change a thing. 
While each day offers us an opportunity to restart our lives, unfortunately we don’t get do-overs…
Except when it comes to writing. 
In fact, the word revision actually means to see again. And if you pause long enough to consider its meaning, you’ve actually performed the word's intent. Here, you see a familiar word, a word with connotations related to writing [and pain] and next you add another layer of meaning. 
In writing, the capacity to see the stories that make up your life again has enormous implications. What happens when we look at our lives not just critically but with imagination? 
What happens when we say to ourselves “I thought I was headed this way, but I ended up going another way” or...
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Why Your Journal is Not Your Diary

If you were lucky as a child you had one of those fancy diaries, engraved with mysterious symbology, and fastened with a very important feature: a lock. 
And not just anyone could open that diary—only the one who had the key. That way no one else could know your secrets, your sins, your confessions, your hopes, or your dreams. 
Sound dramatic? Welcome to the inner world of a child who one day would grow up to become a writer. 
But back to you. 
If you [this time I really do mean you, not me] ever had or wanted a diary as child, you’ll remember the connotation of secrecy. After all, that was part of the fun. Key information documented about yourself for yourself
It’s tempting to see the daily practice of journal writing as the same as writing in a diary. After all, it is a private place to record your thoughts. And if you’ve ever had a fight or even a misunderstanding, it really is a great place to...
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What Sir Ken Robinson Can Teach You about Thinking and Reading Critically

Despite what we know today about multiple intelligences, dominant learning styles, learning disabilities, attention spans, and neurological and developmental differences, much of education expects students to respond and behave the same way.

From standardized testing to uniform assignments and in-class lessons, sameness is our normal. And it’s not just what and how we teach in school, it’s how we expect students to progress during and after school. In fact, the accepted formula for success in America also resembles a straight line: graduate high school, go to college, get a job. And if you're not the exception to this rule of progression, I bet you know someone who is. 

There the well-known stories, remarkable stories of CEOs, like Steve Jobs, who dropped out of college, athletes, like Lebron James who skip college to play professional sports, and even Nobel Peace Prize winners, like Malala, who change the world before they finish high school.

If you’ve...

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Messy Idea Theory

Messy idea theory is a groundbreaking mind shift about how nebulous ideas are translated into powerful prose.
Now you may have never heard of Messy Idea Theory because, well, I made it up and then gave it a name…but I did that to shake up and help you rethink how to create a great piece of writing. And it just so happens to be the process that’s helped hundreds of the people I've worked with learn to write better and sound smarter.
Alright so Messy Idea Theory goes like this:
Ideas live inside the messy houses of our brains. Even when we try to think of one thing at a time, an idea will wander outside, hop the tracks, or get all tangled up with other ideas. This really isn’t even a bad thing. It’s just a thing about our brains. 
The problem comes from the clash between the natural habitat of our messy ideas and the expectations in a polished piece of writing. If messy ideas live in a world that’s boundless, tangled, and...
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How the New Psychology of Success Speaks to College Students

You’ve heard that money doesn’t buy happiness (or love if you ask the Beatles), but what about achievement? Can achieving your goals provide lasting happiness? 
To receive admission into a great college, students must accomplish, achieve, and execute. So what happens when they finally cross that finish line? Well, if their new school attracted other bright applicants like them, they may transition from excellent to average. For students who’ve derived self-esteem from their scholastic or athletic recognition, or even from university acceptance, starting college can dredge up brand new insecurity or even put their achievement motor into overdrive. While some say the world’s just a rat race, college a ladder you must climb on your way to the next rung of competition, there are others who wonder, “Why doesn’t happiness from accomplishments last? And why must I accomplish more in order to feel good about myself?” 
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