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I write about writing, ideas, creativity, intuition, spirituality, life lessons. Ex-college teacher Twitter: @paulryburn

2 viewpoints to add to your chef’s cookbook

chef plating food with several different recipe ingredients
chef plating food with several different recipe ingredients
ISORepublic — CC0 License

There are two words that are the most important part of a writer’s idea recipe.

They’re words you probably used when you were 4 years old.

But first, what’s an idea recipe? It’s the combination of sources you use to generate topics to write about. An idea recipe might consist of

  • Books you’ve read
  • Responses you’ve read on Quora, Reddit
  • Favorite quotes
  • Keywords or phrases run through a search engine like Ubersuggest or Answer the Public
  • Past experiences in which you had a strong reaction to what was happening
  • Something interesting you saw on Twitter or Pinterest

If you want…

Give yourself dozens of tiny boosts a day with these 3 simple concepts

Photo credit PenMac on Morguefile

If you’re like me, you plug your phone into the charger about an hour before you leave the office. It’s nice to walk out prepared for what comes next with the battery charged up to 97, 98 percent.

Wouldn’t it be nice to walk out with your own battery charged almost all the way up, as well?

That can be hard to do. It’s called “work” for a reason. Many of us have jobs that involve doing the same thing over and over. It can be draining. It’s no fun to come home sapped of all your energy.

It doesn’t…

And why you shouldn’t care, because it’s a completely irrelevant statistic

fans at a concert
fans at a concert
Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

Every morning I check my stats on Medium. Yeah, yeah, some people tell you that you shouldn’t obsess over stats, but I see this as my business. Why wouldn’t I want to know core data about how my business is doing?

I refer to this process as “unwrapping my Christmas presents.” I take a moment to give gratitude for the abundance that I am about to receive. Then I open my journal notebook and jot down my number of followers, the views and reads my articles received the previous day, and the previous day’s earnings in the Medium Partner Program…

Prior to February 1, almost nothing I wrote got curated. Since then I've had a curation rate of 91%. Even things that are supposedly not eligible for curation, for instance two articles I published over the weekend that were clearly about Medium, got curated.

My earnings have increased steadily since the change. For April I made about 6x what I earned in January, even though I wrote less (20 days as opposed to 31). That 6x doesn't include the member-engagement bonus for April, which I also received.

And 4 reasons why you might not want to what I do

man, on stool, reading a print publication, with more publications on the floor; text “I DID IT MY WAY” to his left
man, on stool, reading a print publication, with more publications on the floor; text “I DID IT MY WAY” to his left
Image created by author using Canva

You may have heard that Medium recently sent out bonuses of $500 to 1000 writers who had high member engagement during the month of April.

I published 20 articles during the month of April. 18 of those 20 were self-published, meaning I did not submit them to publications that operate on the Medium platform.

I got the bonus anyway.

That advice a lot of the top writers (especially those peddling courses) give you — that you HAVE to be in publications to be successful? It’s not universally true. The month I had in April is proof. I’m not to the…

If you’ve ever had to solve one, you feel my pain

distorted, twisted face of a devil-like figure
distorted, twisted face of a devil-like figure
Image by Reimund Bertrams from Pixabay

The Medium Enhanced Stats plugin for Chrome is one of the best things ever for Medium writers. However, sometimes it forces you to deal with one of the worst things ever.

The plugin is what the name suggests — it mines Medium’s data about your articles to enhance the stats on your page. In addition to the standard views, reads (people who read your article all the way through), read ratio (reads/views), and fans (people who clapped at least once) for each article, you also get

  • % of readers who left your article at least 1 clap (fans/reads)
  • Total number…

How you can leverage this human tendency for your benefit

humans imitating swans by riding in a swan-shaped boat alongside actual swans in a lake
humans imitating swans by riding in a swan-shaped boat alongside actual swans in a lake
Image by Jerzy Górecki from Pixabay

Being a keen observer of ourselves is a highly desirable skill. Self-observation allows us to discover our unconscious processes, bring them into consciousness, and determine how we can use them to better our lives.

Last week I was in my office in the law firm where I work part-time, reading and summarizing documents.

The head of the firm, Robert, walked by. “What’s up, Paul,” he said as he passed my door.

“What’s up, Robert,” I replied.

A few minutes later, our office manager, Tina, walked by.

“Hey, Mister Paul,” she said.

“Hey, Miss Tina,” I replied.

Shortly thereafter, Andrew, the…

Use this exercise to learn to think like the pros

writer, deep in thought, pen pressed to mouth, reverse engineering top writers
writer, deep in thought, pen pressed to mouth, reverse engineering top writers
Image by YANETH LOTERO from Pixabay

There are going to be days when you just don’t feel like writing, yet you don’t want to waste the day. You may ask, “Other than writing, what can I do today to further my writing career?”

Studying the work of top writers and attempting to reverse-engineer their methods is something I love to do on my non-writing days. It’s not that I try to copy their writing style itself. Rather, I try to copy their thought processes: How do they draw the reader in? How do they promise incredible value, and then go on to deliver it?

Today I…

Stress can lead to hasty decisions. Don’t make the decision I made.

Photo credit kakisky Morguefile

January 2017 was probably the worst month of my life.

On the 10th, I learned that my mom had fallen in the shower. Four days later, the doctors told her the reason she’d fallen was that she’d unknowingly been battling pneumonia, probably since before Christmas. My mom started telling me where to find her insurance policy and her prepaid funeral papers. I thought she was overreacting. People get pneumonia all the time.

She wasn’t overreacting.

Friday night the 20th I accidentally turned my phone’s ringer off. I woke up to find several calls from the hospital and one from my…

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