Kawandeep Virdee

Hub Talk

It’s that time of year for resolutions and I know I’m not alone in making a writing resolution. Most writing goals boil down to developing a regular writing practice — and that’s tough. I’d love to hear your tips and suggestions! Share in the comments, and I’ll include a tip I’ve been trying out, too.


It’s not just a style thing

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The quote feature in the Medium Editor gives you two styles to work with: block quotes and pull quotes. To use the feature, highlight the text you’ve written and the quote option will pop up (you can find more info in the Help Center on this). You can use this feature on any text you’ve written, so there’s a ton of flexibility.

While the tool can be used to offer some style differentiation alone, there are best practices and common use cases to improve readability and hone the writing in your stories.

In “The Definitive Guide to Medium’s Quotation Feature,” K M Brown offers straightforward best practices on using block quotes and pull quotes.

Being & Creativity

Insights from the visionary abstract expressionist Agnes Martin

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“The Islands” by Agnes Martin. Image: WikiArt

Like many, when I first saw a painting by Agnes Martin, I felt a stillness,

a pause,

a presence.

It’s a peaceful feeling you feel in your body. It sits in a striking contrast with other works in the space of abstract expressionism, which instead come with an aggression and loudness.

For Martin, the quality is not only about the art, but of the feeling and perception of the work in the viewer. “We have a tremendous range of abstract feelings,” she says, “but we don’t pay any attention to them.”

In her studio, she cultivated a stillness that allowed her to be able to notice and create works of these feelings. And then through these works, she invites viewers towards this stillness and subtler perception. The shift in perception engendered by the work can remain well after leaving the gallery, casting an aura around otherwise unremarkable everyday things. …

Sonic Wonder

Learning from Jon Gibson’s masterpiece for the alto flute

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Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

When I hear “Untitled” by Jon Gibson, I feel a sense of wandering in place. I love how the flute kind of meanders. It wonders. I don’t feel the same progression I feel in most songs. It’s not about getting from one place to another. It’s always present, it’s here. I feel a sense of being, that I sometimes get from ambient music. Though, this feels more dynamic than ambient. It feels the same anywhere you start in the piece, and yet it’s an energizing and absorbing texture. From liner notes on this recording:

“Untitled” is a lengthy melody for alto flute, where the performer is only required to perform the notes in sequence but may improvise as to repetitions, phrasing, rhythm, etc. Gibson’s flute has a lovely sound, coming a little bit into shakuhachi territory, and the melody is captivating and haunting. The overall sense of serenity combined with the constantly shuffled elements makes this piece a luxurious joy. …

Deep Sit

Inviting a smile within with Tara Brach

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A common way to begin a lovingkindess practice is to repeat phrases that bring a sense of warmth, care, and wellbeing. The sense of wellbeing moves from words, to thoughts, to feelings in the body.

This can be difficult. Getting to the lovingkindess feeling by repeating phrases takes practice. Even by recalling memories or thoughts with this feeling takes some effort and concentration. What other methods might we use to cultivate this feeling, this sense of lovingkindness? Tara Brach shares an approach that begins with a simple and familiar image — that of a smile.

Bring that visual to mind, and imagine it moving across your body, allowing it to bring…

How Might We

Co-creating, exploring, and playfulness at work

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Photo by Xavi Cabrera on Unsplash

Take a moment and think about these three activities and the context in which you do them: learning, being creative, making things. Usually, we dive into each of these individually in separate contexts. When I’m learning, I’m reading, looking through a guide, studying, practicing. When I’m being creative, I have my art supplies out, I’m sketching, I’m dancing. When I’m making things, I’m building, I’m designing, I’m coding. But imagine all of these combined, and throw in a bit of playfulness. From Mitch Resnick, founder of the Lifelong Kindergarten group at the MIT Media Lab:

Think of a traditional kindergarten. Kids are playfully creating things in collaboration with one another. You know, making castles out of wooden blocks, or pictures with finger paint. In the process, they’re learning about the creative process, and developing as creative thinkers. Here at the media lab, the tools and building materials might be somewhat different, but the process is the same. Students are playfully creating things in collaboration with one another, and that helps them develop as creative thinkers.¹ …

Deep Sit

When I notice my mind reaching for things to solve

Recently, my mind goes to various tasks at work. Over and over. I notice myself working on figuring the things out. I notice the feeling of “figuring the things out.” It’s a tightness, grasping, in the back and top of my head. The front of my face narrows. This feeling comes back, across the different things I’m working to solve.

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How often am I in this state of figuring things out? Trying to solve things? Do I spend most of my day like this? When I notice the feeling again, I bring my attention to the grasping.

I let go.

The knot unfurls. My face widens. There is space. There is openness. …

Sonic Wonder

Two insights from the ambient visionary

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Photo by Cameron Durham on Unsplash

An ambient composition is a musical experience. It is designing a space to enter. Use sound to create a space you want to be in.

And I thought, “What do I do with music?” Well, I use it to make the space that I want to live in. What I generally wanted was an atmosphere… Ambient really was a way of saying, “I’m now designing musical experiences.” The emphasis was on saying, “Here is a space, an atmosphere, that you can enter and leave as you wish.”

Avoid painting the whole picture, what you leave out is key.

Music that goes with a film is a different kind of music. It can’t be overspecific. It can’t paint the whole picture. Because it has to make room for the picture! So, it can’t fill in every detail, and film music that tries to do that, that tries to be sort of orchestral music, never works very well for me. …

Deep sit

A quick refresher on this powerful meditation practice that has transformed my outlook and my relationships

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Illustration by Kawandeep Virdee in Feeling Great About My Butt

Try making a plan: set yourself a calendar appointment to go offline and plug into your wellbeing for as long as you can spare. It doesn’t matter much what you do with that time, so long as it’s something that will make you feel good.

Forge’s Daily Tip reminds me to schedule time to take care of myself right now. I do this daily when I meditate. But this morning, I took it further in the direction of wellbeing and feeling good. This morning I moved my practice towards lovingkindess meditation. I’ve felt more stressed, and my thoughts tense. Lovingkindess meditation, also known as metta or maitri, brings feelings of care, warmth, and love towards oneself and everything. …

I absolutely love this book. Everyone writes about the Zinsser book… but this one really does it for me. Sometimes before writing a piece I’ll just open to a random page and start reading. It helps me get into a wonderful mindset. I feel clear and focused. From Harris Sockel in Creators Hub:

Most of all, this book encourages me to listen to what I actually think before trying to shape those thoughts into words. It’s also taught me a lot about rhythm, beginnings, endings, nerdy things like participles, and clarity. These lessons don’t just apply to writing. They also apply to thinking and living.

Thank you Mikeal Rogers for recommending it to me forever ago and to Harris Sockel for writing this wonderful feature.


Kawandeep Virdee

writers at Medium ✨ illustrator & poet, author of “Feeling Great About My Butt”. Read it here: http://shop.whichlight.com.

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