• Do not end with the phrase “I realized that … ”

 We published an updated version of this list,  as well as a companion piece,

• Tell a small story — an evocative, particular moment.

Traveler’s Tales publishes anthologies of personal essays on travel with a range of themes from humor to best travel writing of the year. Check out the web site for upcoming titles for which they are seeking submissions. One editor says that in reviewing essays she wants to see how the writer changed as a result of the experience in the piece. (See .) There’s no length specified, though the editors suggest you have better chance with a shorter piece (under 3,000 words.) If your essay is selected, you’ll receive an honorarium of $100 and a copy of the book. You may also enter your essay to win a Solas Award. First prize is $1000. Submission guidelines .

• Meaning (or humor, or interestingness) is in specific details, not in broad statements.

• Where, exactly, did it start?

When I am hanging out with my friends, I feel like we are not necessarily hanging out. Most of my friends have smartphones which they can easily play games on or go to Instagram or Twitter. When we sit down at someone’s house, we don’t engage in as much conversation as I would like to. The person conversing is usually projecting their voice into their phone rather than everyone else. I catch myself doing this also. I find myself on my phone instead of engaging in conversation with my peers, which was the reason we decided to get together in the first place. Even though we are together, I feel as if we are all in our own worlds of the little screens on our phones.

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Technology can overtake our social lives, but we have to fix that now or it could be harder to later. We can stop using technology all the time and spend time with others around us. We can pick a book up or actually converse instead of expressing our thoughts through hashtags.. Technology is great, but sometimes we have to put it aside for a little bit and enjoy the world as it is.

• Write a piece in which something actually happens, even if it’s something small.

Oh, and here’s the address for submitting your essay: .

• More action, more details, less rumination. Don’t be afraid of implicitness. And the old Thom Yorke line: “Don’t get sentimental. It always ends up drivel.”


If anything ever published on The Learning Network could be said to have “gone viral,” it is last February’s “,” which we created to help teachers and students participate in our inaugural .

Police, Prisons and Justice System

So scroll through the 301 prompts below that touch on every aspect of contemporary life — from politics to sports, culture, education and technology — and see which ones most inspire you to take a stand. Each question comes from our daily feature, and each provides links to free Times resources for finding more information.

Morality and Personal Responsibility

• Better to start from something very simple that you think is interesting (an incident, a person) and expand upon it, rather than starting from a large idea that you then have to fit into an short essay. For example, start with “the day the Santa Claus in the mall asked me on a date” rather than “the state of affairs that is dating in an older age bracket.”

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has been running in our magazine nearly every week since 1996. For those who don’t know, it is a place for true personal stories, running about 800 words long, and in the print edition, it’s the last bit of editorial content, right inside the back cover. Though we do solicit professional writers, it is open to anyone with a good tale to tell, and we try as best we can to keep up with the steady torrent of submissions. At the risk of making our jobs utterly impossible, I want to encourage even more writers to take the plunge — because the more stories we get, the higher the quality of what ends up on the page. In doing this, it is not our intention to set people up for failure. The truth is, while getting published is a wonderful achievement, the process of writing a story is itself a rewarding experience. You won’t be sorry for having tried.

I would like to see information on Euthanasia.

What issues do you care about most? Find something to write about here, or post a comment if you think we’ve missed a topic you would like to see us cover.