What’s Your Story?

A lot of people want to read it!

You know What It’s Like to… do something that isn’t already in the WiLt* lineup (see below for plans). “It” doesn’t have to be heroic, strange, or unique. But you do need to have done it so you can describe What It’s Like.

How to Submit Stories

There are two ways to submit a story. One is a little more complicated, but it means you can get paid for your story:

The Easy Method:

  • Finish reading this page! Be sure to skim through the topic list below to get an idea of the sorts of stories in the queue, especially those that are looking for writers. Use those as a way to spark your ideas. You can pick one of the ideas marked with an asterisk, suggest a twist on it, or use your own idea. Then click to Pitch Your Idea.
  • You understand that if you go this route you will not be paid for your story, no matter how popular it might become, and that it’s impossible to retroactively “register” as the author of the story on Medium if WiLt published it for you.

The Paid Method:

To be paid you must have an account on Medium, which is a “magazine” style platform for writers. You do not have to have a paid account to write there (but you do — $5/month or $50/year — for unlimited reading; you can read a limited number of stories there each month with a free account).

Once registered there, you must also proactively join the Medium Partner Program to indicate you wish to be paid for your writing.

Briefly, when those who do pay read your stories there, you get a little bit of their fee added to your account. Yes, even if you don’t pay. Interesting, isn’t it? The site has more than 170 million readers.

How much? Anywhere from nothing to thousands: it all depends on how popular your particular story is on Medium, particularly with the paying members. The more popular the stories and the WiLt publication itself are, the more readers who will see the WiLt stories in general. Obviously, then, I can’t possibly give you an accurate estimate. Any payment comes directly from Medium, not WiLt or ThisIsTrue.Inc, and we cannot advocate to Medium on your behalf.

Then…

  • Finish reading this page! Be sure to skim through the topic list below to get an idea of the sorts of stories in the queue, especially those that are looking for writers. Use those as a way to spark your ideas. You can pick one of the ideas marked with an asterisk, suggest a twist on it, or use your own idea. Then click to Pitch Your Idea.

Either Way:

Illustration: adapted from mohamed_hassan on Pixabay.

Stories are published on our Medium page and here at roughly the same time. If you’re submitting through Medium, rather than directly, wait for the go-ahead: you will be sent specific instructions on how.

Why both? Because writers on Medium can “unpublish” from a publication there, even move it to a different publication (and that’s OK). But you agree that by submitting your story there or here, it can also be published here so that there’s a place where readers can find all the stories: it will be a very rare occurrence that a story is “unpublished” here.

Why Medium at All? Because this project is all about helping people learn about what we do, and this is the best way to gain a larger audience for these stories. Plus, you might make a few bucks over time.

Copyright Grant

Specifically, by submitting a story to What It’s Like to…, you agree you are granting ThisIsTrue.Inc (WiLt’s publisher) non-exclusive rights to your story under U.S. copyright law to publish it on this site and on Medium, and in any book compilations ThisIsTrue.Inc or its assigns may publish, and/or adapt it to and for any other medium (such as podcasts). “Non-exclusive” means you retain the right to also publish it elsewhere.

Once you grant these rights, the grant cannot be revoked.

ThisIsTrue.Inc does not guarantee books will be published, nor that any particular story will be included in any particular book, but the more popular the stories are, the more likely it is that books will be published.

Story Guidelines

  1. Be sure to check this site first to see what stories are already published: you can’t write on the exact same topic. Have a different take? That’s great! But you’ll have to come up with a variation on the title.
  2. Pitch your idea using the form linked above.
  3. Wait for the topic go-ahead from me before you write (unless you want to do it for fun anyway!) You will then send the story to me for editing and, once approved, I’ll assign a publication slot (date) and let you know.
  4. You should shoot for about 500-600 words: get to the point quickly. Ideally go a bit over 500 words,  up to a bit over 600 words, since it is typical that we do a little trimming during editing. If you get way over 600 words, it’s better if you do the trimming and get down to 600ish, and we’ll take it from there.
  5. Your story must start with “In Short:” and a one- to three-word summary of the main feeling you get when you do the “It” (Note: humility is much better than braggy — it brings more readers.)
  6. You need to supply a photo or graphic illustration to go with your story. If you don’t have one that you’ve taken or made yourself, you can find great quality free photos and illustrations at Pixabay, Unsplash, or Pexals. They must be horizontal and look good when trimmed to 1200 pixels wide x 630 tall: that’s what fits our layout. If you use one of those free photo sites, just send the URL, not the photo. If you are supplying your own photo, just email it with the story. No idea on photos? I can find one for you, especially for writers that really need the help (e.g., blind).
  7. You warrant (guarantee) that your story is essentially true, and that you’ve done the “It” you are describing, that you are writing the story yourself, and that you have the right to submit it.
  8. You understand and agree that I, and/or other editors who work with me, will edit your story, including perhaps changing your title. If you choose to exercise your right to publish it elsewhere, you can do so with your original non-edited version, and under your original title as you wish.
  9. Start thinking about a brief bio to include with your story (one or two sentences). If you have one, you are allowed to include a link to your blog or web site in your bio.
  10. To grant the non-exclusive copyright discussed above, identify the exact source of the illustration, provide your bio, and to approve your story for publication, you’ll have to fill in a short form before the story can be published. With that you will find instructions on how to send your story.

Q&A

Q: Do I have to have experienced the topic myself to write about it?
A: Yes: that’s how you’ll be able to describe What It’s Like to do it!

Q: Can the experience be illegal?
A: Yes, but the story must include what happened (arrested? etc.), and can’t promote illegal activity.

Q: Can I be anonymous or use a pen name?
A: Yes. If you submit your story through Medium, you are responsible for how your name displays: they pick it up from your account info.

Q: Is it possible to write for WiLt and not register on Medium?
A: Yes, I will post it for you there — but then you will not be paid.

Q: Can you give me a vague idea about how much I might be paid by Medium?
A: Not really. Some writers there do it as their full-time job, making thousands per month — but they’re essentially posting stories there 5 times a week or more. The month this site was created (February 2021), I was paid $5.98 by Medium for my stories — but then, since I was busy creating this site I only published 2 stories there, in early February. For August 2020, Medium reported that 6.2% of active writers earned over $100 that month, $49,581.31 was the most earned by a writer that month, and $9,958.82 was the most earned for a single story that month. That obviously means, then, that 93.8% of “active writers” earned $100 or less. See what I mean by it’s impossible to say?

Q: What if I have more questions?
A: Use the Contact link and ask. Those with wide applicability will be added here.

Pending Topics

*Those marked with an asterisk are looking for a writer! (Exact titles subject to change, including by you: choose to be more specific, use a more-preferred term, etc. For instance, “Receive a Donated Organ” should probably be “Receive a Donated [specific organ name: eye, kidney, liver, heart….]”, or you may prefer “Have a Heart Transplant” or whatever.)

What It’s Like to…

  • Adopt a Child*
  • Be Arrested*
  • Be Autistic*
  • Be Dyslexic*
  • Be Mugged*
  • Be a Professional Writer
  • Be a Rural Medic
  • Be a Surrogate Mother*
  • Be a Widow*
  • Be a Widower*
  • Be in a Coma*
  • Be on a Civil Trial Jury*
  • Be on a Felony Trial Jury*
  • Be on a Murder Trial Jury*
  • Be on a Pandemic Planning Committee
  • Be on a Ventilator*
  • Be the First Person to ________*
  • Become Paraplegic*
  • Become Tetra/Quadraplegic*
  • Command a Rescue
  • Diagnose a Life-Threatening Condition
  • Discover Your Birth Family
  • Donate an Organ*
  • Drive Code 3
  • Drive a Fire Truck*
  • Drive an Ambulance
  • Have ADHD/ADD
  • Have Anxiety*
  • Have Covid-19*
  • Have PTSD*
  • Have a Baby at Home*
  • Have a Baby in a Taxi*
  • Have a Baby in an Ambulance*
  • Have a Baby*
  • Have a Cop as a Patient
  • Have a Friend as a Patient
  • Have a Heart Attack*
  • Have a Stroke*
  • Immigrate to the U.S.*
  • Land a Medical Chopper
  • Launch Into Space*
  • Live in [Name Your Place!]*
  • Lose ### Pounds*
  • Lose a Child*
  • Own Your Own Business*
  • Pass Out
  • Put a Corpse into a Body Bag
  • Receive a Donated [Name the Organ]*
  • Renounce Citizenship*
  • Run for Office*
  • Serve Time in Jail*
  • Serve Time in Prison*
  • Sit with a Friend as He Dies
  • Start an I.V.
  • Stutter*
  • Survive Cancer*
  • Survive Suicide*
  • Win the Lottery*
  • Work at [Name Your Place!]*

As you can see, pretty much anything could work if it’s something others would wonder about. Again, those marked with * in that list are looking for a writer.

Thanks much for sharing your story!

*Wilt: “A second person singular present tense of will.” —American Heritage. (Yeah, I know it’s a stretch, but writing is nothing if not creative!)