If you have been writing on Medium for very long and your writing hasn’t improved, you’re not paying attention.
I’ve been writing for over 15 years and have sold hundreds of articles, mostly non-fiction, on various online work-for-hire and content mills. For the most part, my income was commensurate with my skill, although I was frequently amazed at what people would pay you to write a simple article.
Then almost seven months ago, I joined up with Medium. To begin with, I wrote the same way I always had. That didn’t work very well here. Then, I spent some time reading what others have noted, including the many articles that discuss how to be successful here. If you want the unvarnished truth, check out Ayodeji Awosika.
So, I began to follow some of that advice, and my readership increased. But for me, more importantly, my writing evolved. It’s like I was competing in a different league. I used to be a competitive runner. I won or finished at the top of almost every race I ran. Then, I would find myself in a race with national and international class runners. It wasn’t the same. I had to up my game or go home.
At Medium, I upped my game. Here are six reasons how and why my writing has improved since starting at Medium
It Let’s Me Be Me
When you are writing for clients, your voice doesn’t matter. They may say they want you to tell it in your own words, but for the most part, that is a lie. They want you to write in their voice, in their tone, and send their message.
Interestingly, that’s very easy to do. Step outside yourself and speak for someone else. No risk, no fear.
But at Medium, I began to get traction when I wrote for myself, from my heart. I won’t say I’ve exposed myself or opened myself up, but at least, I have pulled back the curtain.
I can go back and look at the stats for my first month and see them rise and fall according to how much of myself went into the piece. And every time I have put myself in the article, it has been cathartic. It’s almost like when I write fiction, the writing just flows along, and when it’s done, it’s done. And I feel as if I have accomplished something.
So, allowing me to write what and how I want has raised the bar in my writing more than anything else.
It Gave Me Confidence
Writing about me and exposing myself was a big step. But the acceptance I gained from it gave me the confidence to go longer and deeper. Again, it was similar to writing fiction, but this stuff wasn’t made up. It was real. It was me.
And not only the stats on some of those articles gave me confidence, but the tremendous amount of support via responses and private notes. Also, I soon had publications coming to me wanting to publish my work. That was a huge confidence builder, which only served to fuel the flame.
Writing here gave me the confidence to become a better writer, which increased my following, which increased my confidence. Circle of life stuff, people. I can’t stress that enough.
It Taught Me How to Create a Sustainable Rhythm
I have spoken on this before. As I said, I have written hundreds of articles, but they were done haphazardly. A hundred one month and then none for six months. Medium made me want to keep coming back. That, plus the way the pricing model works, consistency seemed to be a key factor. So I created this sustainable rhythm. It not only made me a better writer but a more prolific one.
This is because I only worked on one factor at a time. Right now, I am doing a rough draft of this article. I am getting my thoughts and words out. Letting things flow. Tomorrow, I will proofread it. Not only for errors but how the thing moves. That first paragraph probably wasn’t here when I wrote it. The title certainly wasn’t.
The next day, I will do what I call polish the piece. Something I never did before. In some ways, it’s another proof, but it takes it further. How can I make each sentence, paragraph, and the whole article better? How should I format it, break it up, and what headers, if any, does it need? This is when I choose the main image, plus additional ones if I want.
That is when I am trying to take it from a good article to a great piece.
Before Medium, good enough was good enough.
I Now Take Pride in Each Article
I like writing. I’ve always liked to write. But for years, it was about making money. People will give me money to do what I enjoy? That’s a no-brainer. (I wonder if I will polish out that obvious cliche?)
But now, I take pride in what I produce. I have actual, gulp, fans. I’m not talking about followers. I have a lot of those. I am always amazed at just how many. And I am grateful for every one. No, I’m talking about fans.
That handful of readers that reads everything I produce and comments on most of them. There have been times in the last few months when I was on the edge of burnout. When I felt like I could spend my time doing something more productive. Like alpaca farming.
But the fans keep me coming back. And pride in my work keeps the fans coming back. Circle of life, people, circle of life.
Medium Has Made Me Think About What I Write
And think about my writing. Whenever my brain is in neutral, I am thinking about writing, coming up with new ideas, and fleshing out old ones. I ‘wrote’ most of this piece on my morning walk. I’m glad Bluetooth technology has grown so that I can make notes without people thinking I’m crazier than they already do.
But it goes beyond that. I think about every article, every sentence. When I was writing copy about bumper pool tables, I did most of my writing while watching TV. There was no thought. And if someone paid me for it, I didn’t really care about quality. Not quality of grammar, but quality of spirit. Now, I want my writing to resonate. At least with one person. If I touch one person with this piece and they let me know that via the comments, then I have met my objective.
And so, now I think.
I write about maybe half the ideas I come up with. Ideas are easy. I have written about those here. But taking that seed of an idea and cultivating it into a full-grown tree, that takes active thought. And I’m not talking oak tree here, I’m talking bonsai. Every limb and leaf carefully trimmed to produce exactly what I had in mind when I virtually scribbled down that original idea.
And Most Important of All, The Audience.
There isn’t much more to say about that than I already have, but I do this for you. Yes, you. You have taken the time to read this, and you have read almost to the end. And that is the most gratifying thing of all.
You are who I wrote this for. I have written almost 300 articles now on Medium. Many of them have been for you. The rest were for someone else, but they were all for the audience. In some rare cases, that audience was me. An audience of one. I wrote something because I had to say it, and writing is how I speak.
But, as it turns out, even those pieces had an audience. I learned a long time ago that, even though we are all unique, each of our individual attributes is not. No matter what you think or how you feel, there are people out there that think exactly the same thing.
And so, each piece I write has an audience. Each word I write is for someone out there.
Apparently, this one was for you.
And I thank you for reading.
You. You have made me a better writer.