There's a great Stephen King quote that goes:
If you don't have time to read, you don't have time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.
I can't agree more.
As much as we should all be writing, we have to make the time to read, too. And as important as it is to read the classics, I think it's just as (even more?) important to read what real people are writing in 2015.
You can study theory and Hemingway all you want; I'm not sure anything teaches you more than reading an article or essay written by a modern writer, in the modern publishing climate, that had a big impact on modern readers.
So here are, in my opinion, a few of the best places to read great articles and essays online. These are skewed toward personal writing and essays, because that's what I like -- but I also think that's one of the very best ways to learn about storytelling in writing for the web.
Medium has a collection for everything -- tech writing, startup talk, humor, politics, and whatever else you can think of. Human Parts, in their own words, "explores the patchwork of the human condition through experimental and traditional personal writing."
Simply put, there is nothing like Human Parts online right now. It's like a grown up and extremely high-quality version of Thought Catalog; filled with highly raw, ultra personal pieces. Some are experimental -- odd layouts and stark imagery. Others are traditional -- short stories, snapshots in time. The essays here cover everything from abuse, to addiction, to love, to death, and everything in between.
It's a beautiful place filled with great writing and brave storytellers.
Read This To Get a Taste: The Internal Monologue of the Beagle
This one isn't exactly an under the radar selection, but I think it's surprisingly overlooked.
People recognize Huffington Post for their news, primarly, They also recognize it for clickbait, lists, cheesy lifehacks, and fluff pieces.
If you to go the Huffington Post Blog, you'll surely find a lot of that. But I really encourage you to dig deeper under a sub-topic that interests you. If you have a little patience, you're bound to find some truly amazing short essays.
Read This To Get a Taste: Saying Goodbye to My Imaginary Ex-Boyfriend
Salon is another enormously popular publication that's very easy to overlook for its creative writing.
Head over to Salon's Life section and you'll find a smattering of news and hot takes on pop culture, American issues, and the like. But a few times a week, or even less, they'll publish a truly mind blowing first-person essay.
We're talking hard-hitting, emotional stuff -- typically, it gently ties in to some sort of broader cultural concern. Obesity and bullying. LGBT issues. Cancer.
You have to seek out these essays. They really are the best of the best. Thoughtfully written, extremely well-crafted, and well-worth your time.
Read This To Get a Taste: White Pride in My Classroom
The Rumpus occupies a very odd little corner of the Internet.
It's kind of hard to get a bead on exactly what it is at first. It's definitely an artsy place -- teeming with poetry and book reviews and interviews with notable writers. They also talk music. And comics. And film.
But the reason The Rumpus is such a great place to read essays? They seemingly have no rules. No sponsors to appease. No marketing team banging the table for more pageviews.
The writing you'll find on The Rumpis is raw and unshackled. Here, you'll find lengthy person essays and winding, experimental stories.
It's a wonderful place to explore if you have a little bit of time and an open mind.
Read This To Get a Taste: Litany for My Mother's Body
Okay, I know what you're thinking: you really DON'T have time to read.
Believe me, I know how hard it is to find the time. Which is why I'm so glad I discovered Snap Judgment.
Simply put, Snap is a storytelling podcast that features amazing (and usually true) stories around a certain theme each week. Sometimes the stories are narrated by the teller or writer. Other times, they're told in interview format by a host or narrator.
But the stories themselves are incredible.
On Snap, I've heard tales about history's worst opera singer, a haunted house prop that turned out to be a real corpse, and a man convinced his biological father was the Zodiac killer. Amazing stories you never would have heard about otherwise. Sometimes they captivate me. Other times the subject matter isn't my cup of tea. But they're always interesting and extremely well-told.
Snap Judgment is definitely worth a listen when you're driving, working out, or dozing off.
Listen to This To Get a Taste: Spooked IV: Lost Boys