Soon another year will begin. Another year filled with exciting book releases and new, compelling voices emerging from the different depths of the writing world. I asked my friends, co-workers, and random people on the internet to let me know which articles and essays stood out to them this year. I wanted to know what moved them, inspired them, or compelled them to think about their life, opinions, and relationships. What were the pieces they read that they absolutely had to share with at least one person? So they told me and here I have this list of 18 articles and essays published in 2014 from many incredible writers. Check it out and take a look back at some thought-provoking moments in writing this year.
1. My Grandma the Poisoner – John Reed
“You don’t want to believe your grandmother is poisoning you. You know that she loves you—there’s no doubt of that—and she’s so marvelously grandmotherly and charming. And you know that she would never want to poison you. So despite your better judgment, you eat the food until you’ve passed out so many times that you can’t keep doubting yourself.”
2. A Tale Of Two Hipsters – Dale Beran
“This essay is an effort to use critical analysis to unravel the term “hipster” into a lattice of ideas that is clear, makes plain sense, and so therefore explains things which before to us seemed hopelessly tangled. Most articles on this topic claim the term is unknowable. This is because the word, like the entire notion of indefinable rhizomic culture movements, is ideology. It is the means by which an outside group has defined, divided, and de-legitimized the radical in our present generation.”
3. Bad Victims – Roxane Gay
“People who have been sexually assaulted know there are good victims and bad victims. Good victims, of course, do not exist but they are an elaborate ideal. They are assaulted in a dark alley by a known criminal who has a knife or a gun. They are modestly dressed. They report their assault immediately to law enforcement and submit, willingly, to a rape exam. They answer all questions about their assault lucidly and completely as many times as is necessary. They are adequately prepared for trial. They don’t pester the prosecutor as he or she prepares for trial. When they testify, they are modestly dressed. They are the girl or boy next door. They deserve justice because they are so righteous in their victimhood.”
4. Naked, Covered in Ram’s Blood, Drinking a Coke, and Feeling Pretty Good – Andrew Solomon
“And then when I had finished the Coke, they said, “Okay, now we have the final parts of the ritual. First you have to put your hands by your sides and stand very straight and very erect.” And I said, “Okay,” and then they tied me up with the intestines of the ram. In the meanwhile its body was hanging from a nearby tree, and someone was doing some butchering of it, and they took various little bits of it out. And then I had to kind of shuffle over, all tied up in intestines, which most of you probably haven’t done, but it’s hard.”
5. I Don’t Want To Be Right – Maria Konnikova
“Normally, self-affirmation is reserved for instances in which identity is threatened in direct ways: race, gender, age, weight, and the like. Here, Nyhan decided to apply it in an unrelated context: Could recalling a time when you felt good about yourself make you more broad-minded about highly politicized issues, like the Iraq surge or global warming? As it turns out, it would. On all issues, attitudes became more accurate with self-affirmation, and remained just as inaccurate without. That effect held even when no additional information was presented—that is, when people were simply asked the same questions twice, before and after the self-affirmation.”
6. The Year I Grew Wildly, While Men Looked On – Ashley Ford
“Instinctively, I wrapped my arms around myself. My clothes weren’t small. They were a little tight. That was only because my body kept growing, but only in certain places. I did my best to cover myself, to hide it, to keep looking like someone’s little girl, but I was visibly losing the battle, and had been for some time. It wasn’t just me. We were all changing. I enjoyed watching the other girls in the locker room undress, and I kept track of their growth. But I didn’t want to make them feel like I felt. I didn’t want to make them feel ogled. Did they hate this too?”
7. Snackwave: A Comprehensive Guide To The Internet’s Saltiest Meme – Hazel Cills and Gabby Noone
“It’s important to note that snackwave is different from, say, a bunch of girls eating snacks and tweeting about them. Snackwave is defined by exaggeration and extremism. You don’t just eat cheeseburgers. You wear a shirt covered in them. You don’t just eat pizza. You run a blog devoted to collecting pictures of celebrities eating pizza. In a world of Women Laughing Alone With Salad, snackwave is our saviour.”
8. All My Exes Live in Texts: Why the Social Media Generation Never Really Breaks Up – Maureen O’Connor
“All my exes live online, and so do their exes, and so do their exes, too. I carry the population of a metaphorical Texas in a cell phone on my person at all times. Etiquette can’t keep up with us—not that we would honor it anyway—so ex relationships run on lust and impulse and nosiness and envy alternating with fantasy. It’s a dozen soap operas playing at the same time on a dozen different screens, and you are the star of them all. It’s both as thrilling and as sickening as it sounds.”
9. “Everything Is Problematic” – My journey into the centre of a dark political world, and how I escaped – Aurora Dagny
“I’ll be graduating soon, and I’ve been thinking about my years in Montreal with both nostalgia and regret. Something has been nagging at me for a long time. There’s something I need to say out loud, to everyone before I leave. It’s something that I’ve wanted to say for a long time, but I’ve struggled to find the right words. I need to tell people what was wrong with the activism I was engaged in, and why I bailed out. I have many fond memories from that time, but all in all, it was the darkest chapter of my life.”
10. I Don’t Know What To Do With Good White People – Brit Bennett
“Over the past two weeks, I’ve seen good white people congratulate themselves for deleting racist friends or debating family members or performing small acts of kindness to Black people. Sometimes I think I’d prefer racist trolling to this grade of self-aggrandizement. A racist troll is easy to dismiss. He does not think decency is enough. Sometimes I think good white people expect to be rewarded for their decency. We are not like those other white people. See how enlightened and aware we are? See how we are good?”
11. Toward An Entish Civic Ideology – James Barnes
“Stop affiliating with a party, even as simple shorthand. We have to quit demonizing entire groups of people we don’t know. Discuss ideas—not people, not regions, not backgrounds—but ideas. It is ideas that matter in formulating plans and solving problems, not fears. Refuse to do what you’re told only because someone says “time is short.”
12. The Night A Corndog Basket in Tennessee Saved My Life – Cock D.
“I made my way up a steep hill to Drifter’s BBQ. I walked in to find a pretty young girl behind the bar. She glowed with the spirit and naivety of a gaggle of orphaned boys playing an impromptu game of baseball in the middle of a dirt road. She was beauty, and if I had the ability to feel the basic human emotion of love in that moment, I might have fallen for her. She didn’t offer much for conversation, most likely ‘cause I smelled of my own shit, but her presence was warming and reminded me of a better man’s childhood, free of responsibility or molestation. She filled a hole in me, and was at least nice enough to let a scoundrel stay for lunch.”
13. Ask Polly: Would He Love Me If I Were Prettier, Skinnier, And Sweeter? – Heather Havrilesky
“But you also sum up so many wasted hours of so many women’s lives with this: “Clearly he has the capacity to care, just not about me. And I don’t understand why.” This is something stupid that smart women do regularly: They believe that they can understand anything if they just think about it hard enough. “Why? Why not me?” they ask, certain that the answer will reveal itself. “Can it really be that I’m not good enough to MAGICALLY CHANGE A NARCISSISTIC, AIMLESS, DRUNK FROG INTO A PRINCE?” None of the equations add up or make even the slightest bit of sense, but we just keep on writing them down, scribbling out numbers until our wrists ache. It’s like A Beautiful Mind except instead of winning a Nobel Prize you win a weekend of weeping on your bathroom floor.”
14. Shame and Survival – Monica Lewinsky
“It may surprise you to learn that I’m actually a person.”
15. Dear Straight Women Everywhere: In Relationships, You Always Have The Upper Hand – Rachel Hodin
“Present in all of these men’s words is evidence that, for a man, there is nothing more forceful or intoxicating than the initial sight of a beautifully captivating woman. It will lead them to disloyalty, to lose concentration on their work, and even to insanity.”
16. Fuck Yes or No – Mark Manson
“Why would you ever be excited to be with someone who is not excited to be with you? If they’re not happy with you now, what makes you think they’ll be happy to be with you later? Why do you make an effort to convince someone to date you when they make no effort to convince you?”
17. Girlfriend – Wendy C. Ortiz
“I was dying to get out of my life, the one where I was a girlfriend, a really bad girlfriend, a girlfriend who cheated and got drunk a lot and threw up on her boyfriend’s floor which was really his mom and dad’s floor, and my boyfriend who was just this guy, really, a nice decent guy, the most decent of his friends but all my friends knew that we did not have fuck all in common, leaving me with this guy and his friends who I felt some weird kinship with, and why? Just why?”
18. My Receipt Was Not Good Enough – Roxane Gay
“I paid for everything with a friendly salesperson in the video game area because that’s what you have to do with certain items. Then I went to the bathroom and then I headed for the front of the store. Now, the game was still in its security case. When I got to the front, I showed my receipt for the case to be removed. The young man studied my receipt like it was the most important document he had ever seen. My skin started prickling because I knew something really frustrating was about to happen. I just knew. Anyone who has been racially profiled knows that feeling.”
Worries, problems, fears and thoughts of strange things are constantly spinning around inside your head, and you just can’t seem to stop them.
Does this sound familiar? More often than not, when I can’t write, it is because I am blocking myself. I’ve got a schedule to abide by here, and sometimes I’m in a crunch. I need to write, but nothing comes out.
The best way to get my writing done is if I do it well before my post goes live. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen, and I need to have a few tricks up my sleeve of how I can dip my toes in my own secret pool of inspiration.
What you are about to read is one of those sleeve tricks that I use. It’s highly effective, it makes you feel at peace, and it even improves your health (no, I’m not talking about exercising).
The (Toe Dipping) Process
What you’re about to do is sit perfectly still and observe yourself. It is sometimes called meditation, but in this case, I like to call it idea generation.
This will help calm you down and give your ideas room to make themselves heard. What I want you to do is set an intention, or a goal if you wish.
For example, I used it today to write an article that I already knew the headline for. I knew the topic I wanted to cover. My intention was to clear my mind and get the content flowing.
I sat myself cross-legged on my couch. I took a few deep breaths to get started, and I started focusing on my breath going in and out.
You can also focus on your body. I personally like to vary between feeling my whole body and my breath. When I feel my whole body, I can literally feel the energy in my body come alive.
When you first start doing this, you will have a lot of thoughts coming in. Here are a few examples:
- This is ridiculous, why am I doing this again?
- Hey, what should I have for dinner?
- Did I remember to feed the dog?
- Oh no, I have to pay the bills on Friday.
- My leg itches.
- This isn’t helping me at all. Ideas, hello?
When it happens, just observe them without getting attached. This will become easier and easier with time.
In the beginning, you may feel resistance, because if you’ve never done this, you probably have a few lingering emotions and tensions hanging out in your body. As soon as you put your awareness on them, they disappear.
As I did this for less than 10 minutes, I felt clear, at peace and inspired to write. I opened my eyes, picked up my external keyboard (I don’t like to write on laptops), and I started writing, while feeling my body and being anchored in the now.
I don’t worry about editing at this point. My focus is on getting the inspiration down on paper.
The 5-Step Process Summarized
1. Quietude. Find a place where you know you won’t be disturbed. This doesn’t work for me at all if I know that anyone can come into the room at any time, so make sure you find a place where you can relax.
2. Intention.Set your intention or goal. It could be anything. Brainstorming a topic, clearing something you’ve been stuck on, or even feeling out what steps you should take next in your life. This process is about tapping into your core.
3. Breathe. Once your intention is set, sit down in any way you like, and close your eyes. On a chair, cross-legged or lotus, it doesn’t matter, as long as you are comfortable. Start with a few deep breaths, and then put all of your focus on your breath.
4. Observe. When thoughts and feelings start arising, just observe and accept them as they are. You will get caught up in them from time to time. When that happens, bring your focus back to your breath and keep going.
5. Write. Once you’ve done this for a few minutes, you will feel a sense of calm and clarity. Open your eyes, keep breathing, and start writing. If nothing happens, I usually close my eyes and go back to breathing. You will know when you’ve done this enough, because you will feel a sense of calm, peace and joy.
And that’s that. You no longer have an excuse not to write.
Hate me, love me, It’s all good.
Ready to Do What You Love?
Join the exclusive newsletter and grab your free report: 5 Steps to Finding and Following Your Passion.