GOOD

Back to School: Write a (Really) Short Story #30DaysofGOOD

You don't have to show it to anyone. And it doesn't even have to be "good." Just take a crack at writing a short piece of fiction.

30 Days of GOOD (#30DaysofGOOD) is our monthly attempt to live better. This month we're going "Back to School" and committing to learn something new every day.


You may not think of yourself as a writer, but it's a good bet that you do a bunch of writing throughout the course of the day. A recent report by a technology research firm called the Radicati Group found that the typical corporate email user writes 35 email messages per day (PDF).

Add to that our online chats, text messages, social media interactions, and blog posts, and we're tapping out quite a lot of words. And while plenty of studies suggest negative links between, say, texting and formal writing skills, some argue that all our online communication has helped us by enabling us to master more kinds of writing.

Wherever you stand on the debate, your task for today requires that you admit that you are, indeed, a writer. You prove each and every day that you're able to put words together in ways that are clear and compelling. But since none of us ever aspired to be great writers of work emails, I want you to put your skills to a more fun and creative use: Write a short story.

It can be really short—even just a few paragraphs long. You don't have to show it to anyone. And it doesn't even have to be "good." The point here is to do some thinking about what ingredients go into stories and then take on the exercise of articulating your ideas. As with everything else, great writing takes tons of practice. You've gotta start somewhere, so start here, now, by taking a crack at it and seeing what you can come up with.

There are many excellent resources for writers online. If you're interested in investigating what's out there, take a look at these to start:

Earlier this year, we wrote about Figment, an online community for writers of all levels. It's worth revisiting. The site has a variety of features that make it simple to share your work, read other people's writing, and connect with writers around the world. Figment also publishes writing tips, hosts contests, and offers ways to workshop your stories with other members of the site.

LitLift is online software for writers that helps you create, organize, and store information about your story's characters and scenes. Originally developed to assist people participating in National Novel Writing Month, it's useful for writers of shorter work too.

Brainpickings has collected short story writing tips from some of the masters. The Kurt Vonnegut entry includes some of the greatest writing wisdom I've ever come across: "Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages."

Articles
NASA

Four black women, Engineers Christine Darden and Mary Jackson, mathematician Katherine Johnson, and computer programmer Dorothy Vaughan, worked as "human computers" at NASA during the Space Race, making space travel possible through their complex calculations. Jackson, Johnson, and Vaughn all played a vital role in helping John Glenn become the first American to orbit the Earth.

They worked behind the scenes, but now they're getting the credit they deserve as their accomplishments are brought to the forefront. Their amazing stories were detailed in the book "Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race" by Margot Lee Shetterly, which was later turned into a movie. (Darden was not featured in the movie, but was in the book). Johnson has a building at NASA named after her, and a street in front of NASA's Washington D.C. headquarters was renamed "Hidden Figures Way."

Keep Reading Show less
Science

Between Alexa, Siri, and Google, artificial intelligence is quickly changing us and the way we live. We no longer have to get up to turn on the lights or set the thermostat, we can find the fastest route to work with a click, and, most importantly, tag our friends in pictures. But interacting with the world isn't the only thing AI is making easier – now we can use it save the world, too.

Keep Reading Show less
Good News
Courtesy of John S. Hutton, MD

A report from Common Sense Media found the average child between the ages of 0 and 8 has 2 hours and 19 minutes of screen time a day, and 35% of their screen time is on a mobile device. A new study conducted by the Cincinnati Children's Hospital published in the journal, JAMA Pediatrics, found exactly what all that screen time is doing to your kid, or more specifically, your kid's developing brain. It turns out, more screen time contributes to slower brain development.

First, researchers gave the kids a test to determine how much and what kind of screen time they were getting. Were they watching fighting or educational content? Were they using it alone or with parents? Then, researchers examined the brains of children aged 3 to 5 year olds by using MRI scans. Forty seven brain-healthy children who hadn't started kindergarten yet were used for the study.

They found that kids who had more than one hour of screen time a day without parental supervision had lower levels of development in their brain's white matter, which is important when it comes to developing cognitive skills, language, and literacy.

Keep Reading Show less
Health
via KTVU / YouTube

The 63-year-old Oakland-Alameda Coliseum, currently branded the RingCentral Coliseum, is one of the most decrepit sports venues in America.

The home to the the NFL's Oakland Raiders (until they move to Las Vegas next season) and MLB's A's, is notoriously known as the Black Hole and has made headlines for its frequent flooding and sewage issues.

One of the stadium's few positive aspects is its connection to public transportation.

Keep Reading Show less
Hero Video
via Anadirc / Flickr

We spend roughly one-third of our life asleep, another third at work and the final third trying our best to have a little fun.

But is that the correct balance? Should we spend as much time at the office as we do with our friends and family? One of the greatest regrets people have on their deathbeds is that they spent too much of their time instead of enjoying quality time with friends and family.

Lawmakers in the United Kingdom have made a significant pledge to reevaluate the work-life balance in their country.

Keep Reading Show less
Lifestyle