Future Presidential Slogan: Seriously, America? You’ve Done Worse.

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My journey as a writer begins with magic. I was taught how to write by a witch. That is not exaggeration, hyperbole, or a whimsical metaphor.

I grew up in an Evangelical Christian household, and one of our neighbors was a practicing Wiccan. We weren’t allowed to shovel snow on her driveway after storms or mow her lawn for extra cash. …

None of them involve money

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One of my favorite jokes I’ve ever heard was delivered to me by a terminally ill man. He knew I was looking for a serving job, so I could quit as a retirement home night-cook and go back to school.

“I was looking in the classifieds today,” he said. “I saw something that would be perfect for you. The pay isn’t great, but the tips are huge!”

“Oh yeah, Hank? What job?”

“Circumcising elephants at the Denver Zoo!” Hank said, proceeding to cackle until his hacking cough came back. …

Be obsessed with play, not productivity.

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“Pooh! Grown-ups are always thinking up uninteresting explanations!”

-Digory, The Magician’s Nephew.

When I was living in Sydney, on my working holiday, I lived with a writer who had briefly worked as a journalist during the early days of the Iraq war.

One night, I opened up to him about my writing, admitting to him that I was “blocked.” This conversation occurred at 2:00 in the morning, riding a tram back from a night out.

We got off, almost home. He proceeded to show me his “unblocking” technique. He dragged me into the middle of the street and made me lay down. He did the same. It wasn’t long before a car was honking at us to get out of the road. …

Glove up and get in the ring

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Imposter. That’s a harsh word, isn’t it? It makes me imagine an old warty-faced witch, pointing her crooked finger at me and screaming it at the top of her lungs, exposing to everyone present that I do not actually belong at Medium’s masquerade ball.

This summer, I started writing articles to potentially publish. Then the relationship I was in started to go south. I spent four months not writing or publishing anything.

Who am I to give anyone advice? I reasoned. I can’t even fix my own relationship!

I finally started publishing at the beginning of November. Momentum abounded for a while, until this weekend when I fell through a trapdoor into a boiling cauldron of pasta sauce. …

I’m starting a newsletter!

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Dear new/old friends and family,

I’ve started a free Substack Email newsletter, called The Well-Lived Life. I want us to grow together, and this feels like the next step!

Three months ago, I jumped into the world of writing online for the first time. I didn’t know I had so much to say, but it started pouring out of me like hot jam out of a just-bitten donut.

My alarm goes off at 5:30 a.m. every morning now, and I go straight from bed to the writing desk. …

Need motivation? Seek out terrible writing.

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It seems like I run across five posts a day online with titles like this:

Should You Write Every Day?

The Five Life-Changing Benefits of Writing Every Day!

Write Every Day or You’re a Pile of Human Waste.

They’re always backed up by quotes from Stephen King, Margaret Atwood, Gandhi, or the Lord Themselves.

This doesn’t seem like the first thing we should be telling new writers, does it? People who are just starting out need perspective and encouragement, not a potentially impossible standard.

In Tim Ferris’s interview with Cheryl Strayed, she tells the audience that it took her years to come to terms with the fact that she was a “binge writer.” Sometimes she checks herself into hotels to write. Sometimes she writes at writers’ retreats. …

What remains?

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I published Three Life Lessons From a Dying Man on Christmas Eve. Three weeks later, it went supernova. Over the last 2 days, it’s been viewed more than 25,000 times, read by 18,000 people, and shared on websites that I’ve never even heard of (bloglovin.com, anyone?).

I wish I could give you some sort of breakdown of what made it so successful, but I’d be lying if I said that I knew for sure. It’s not broken up into sections. …

Give unto yourself before you give unto others.

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In our negative, information-saturated world, it can be a struggle for those of us who strive to operate at a higher level to find positive, life-changing information. As soon as we find it, (usually about happiness-boosting psychology, or how to change your habits) it’s very tempting to (in my experience) think of all the people in our lives who need this information!

This goes against the golden rule of new information:

Give unto yourself before you give unto others.

You’ve Got To Try Things First

New and helpful information about how to change your life for the better must apply to you before it is applied to anyone else in your life. I see this time and time again with my students, friends, and loved ones. …

Experiments in travel writing

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In the late summer of 2014, I ran as far away from home as possible. I’d been on two planes before. Cross country from Denver to Michigan at age ten, and a small, duct-taped together Cessna I parachuted out of for coming-of-age (Discount skydiving with my best friend).

Author’s note: This is my first-ever attempt at travel writing, written for a creative writing class I took in college. I discovered it in a portfolio of my pieces from the class, and I’m publishing it now, un-changed. I hope you enjoy it!

My (now ex) girlfriend dropped me off, kissed me at security, and started crying. We both knew my trip would be the end of us. …

It wasn’t the Stoics

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Have you ever been blessed with an eccentric philosophy professor? You should consider picking one up on your next round of errands (free-range, the factory-farmed professors aren’t worth listening to).

I was blessed with a delightfully crackpot philosophy professor when I took literary criticism in my junior year of the teaching program.

A chain-smoking, rail-thin, fast-food-gobbling, trench-coat-wearing nutcase who looked like he might fall apart any second.

Listening to him would take you on journeys throughout history, time, and space, to the far reaches of the human mind.

His classes were old-fashioned. None of this newfangled “call and response” or “discussion.” Though it stressed out my type-A classmates, I loved it. (To be fair, I still have no idea what literary criticism is. …


Aaron Nichols

5x top writer, educator, and vagabond. Newsletter: https://aaronjnichols.substack.com/ Email AaronJNichols77@gmail.com or send a raven south to contact him

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