Writing for the COIN /Who writes the COIN?
You do. This is a publication forum for your personal stories celebrating sobriety and recovery. We welcome your stories, opinion pieces, learnings, questions, thoughts and ideas.
What is the schedule of topics for the COIN?
The schedule is determined by the months of the year. The first month of the year, January, is always about the first step/first tradition. The second month of the year, February, is always about the second step/second tradition, and so on. Stories about the 12 Concepts for the World Service are also welcome, using this same schedule.
Holidays or historic events may influence a topic. For instance, relationships and romance are typical February subjects because of Valentine’s Day. The November topic is always gratitude because Thanksgiving is in November. June is the month AA was founded. Other special topics may be announced a month or two ahead of time.
When is the COIN deadline?
The deadline varies from month to month depending on holidays and Central Office hours. If you miss the deadline, you may still send materials, but they may be saved for inclusion in a future COIN publication. If you e-mail your story to [email protected] by the 15th of the month, it will usually be in time for the next month’s issue. Exceptions are November and December.
Who produces the COIN?
Your COIN Editor. We edit for consistency, length, following the traditions, and journalistic style. We do not change the message of the author. During the pandemic, the COIN is not printed and mailed. It is only available online.
What should I write about?
Anything related to your personal experience in sobriety is an appropriate topic for a COIN story. Write in the first person (use “I” statements) to avoid a scolding or admonishing tone. You may write about your own beliefs and opinions as long as you don’t insult others for having different beliefs. (For example: “I believe this and anyone who doesn’t believe this is not really sober.”) Please respect the anonymity of other members in your writing. Avoid personally identifying details. (For example, “A woman I know at a noon meeting in San Jose who wears an eye patch and always has a parrot on her shoulder told me….”)
If you hear something at a meeting that makes you see things in a different light, write about it. If you’ve stayed sober through a difficult experience, write about it. If there’s something you really like about a particular meeting, write about it. If you have experience, strength and hope to share, write about it.
How long should my story be?
A good story length is 500 words to start. Stories longer than 900 words will be edited for length. A long story is like a long share at a meeting: it takes up space that could be used to give other people an opportunity to share.
What about sketches, photos, art and flyers?
Yes, please! These are all welcomed and appreciated. We want to give A.A. members a chance to publish their original artwork and photos. We are not a glum lot and love humor, so please send in jokes and cartoons as well. We want the COIN to have a comprehensive listing of all upcoming events and flyers; email your event info as early as possible.
What do I write about?
There are monthly newsletter topics that can be found in the COIN. Each month’s topic is Step X, the Principle behind Step X, and Tradition X, where X is the number of the month. January=1 and December=12. For example, January’s topics are Step One, Honesty, and Tradition One. Stories about a month’s holidays or historic events are also accepted. For example, articles pertaining to a new year/new start in January, relationships and romance in February, stories about the founding of A.A. in June, independence in July, gratitude and giving thanks in November, etc. can all be fitting subject matter. Write your stories in the first person (using “I” statements). Share your sobriety experience, strength, and hope: the wisdom you’ve gleaned, the mistakes you’ve made, the fun, the troubles, and humor you’ve found in recovery. If you hear something at a meeting that makes you see things in a different light, write about it. If you have stayed sober through a difficult experience, write about it. Help us teach and learn from each other. Most importantly, help carry the message of A.A. Stories and art are published at the discretion of the COIN editor and the Central Office executive director.
What are the style guidelines?
We strive for consistency. We accept writings from a variety of authors, then edit them for style, length less than 900 words, correct spelling, fonts, and more. It is challenging to publish each issue in a timely manner. As editors, we do not change the message. If you can follow some style guidelines, that would help us out a lot. Below is a non-exhaustive list of basic style guidelines. 1. Break all articles into several paragraphs, instead of one big paragraph. 2. Avoid long run-on sentences. 3. Use “A.A.” and not “AA.” 4. In referencing A.A. books, please use the full titles for the first reference. Please see the Coin for further guidelines
What about Quality?
Don’t worry about that. There is nothing more powerful than one alcoholic speaking with and supporting another alcoholic. Indeed, most of us never trusted a professional about our drinking. How could they possibly know about our drinking? But I believe other alcoholics. So, we are amateurs by design. So never worry about whether what you write is good enough. Just speak from the heart with honesty.
Yes. Please keep the Twelve Traditions of A.A. in mind as you write. Take special care to respect other members’ anonymity. Have fun!