It seems like forever, but I’ve only been writing on Medium for a little over ten months. At the end of January 2020, I began writing at Medium. The first couple of months were mostly a learning curve, and then March rolled around and dropped a pandemic in our laps. But as a writer, all that did was give me more things to write about and time to focus on my craft.
And focus, I did.
Now, as I look back on most of a year writing on this platform, I can see all the ways that writing for Medium changed my life. I don’t know what 2021 will bring, but I feel confident that I will continue this journey and grow with the platform. If it’s anything like this year, all I can hope for is to continue my growth as a writer. But Medium has changed my life in many other ways besides just improving my writing.
I Am a Better Thinker
I’ve been a writer for a long time. Before that, I programmed computers. Thinking has always been a part of my life. In fact, I wrote once about how the one thing my Dad taught me was how to think.
But since starting with Medium, I can see that my ability to think and the time I spend doing so has increased tremendously. This has partially stemmed from my need to feed my idea pipeline continually. In the past, I rarely needed to think of ideas on which to write. Someone needed some copy about bumper pool tables, and I wrote it. Very little thought involved.
But now, I spend a portion of each day just thinking. Thinking of new ideas. Thinking about how to employ those ideas. As a result, I not only think more; I think better. At least, I think I do. The spark of an idea pops into my head. Before I can get it down on paper, that idea has branched off into three more. And then each of those branches diverges. Sometimes it’s scary how far a single thought will carry me.
I Am a Better Researcher
But, I can’t always write an entire article in my head. Often I can, if it’s a subject I already know. But frequently, it’s not. So I need to research the idea. And because I want my writing to be the best it can, this usually goes beyond a simple Google search. My research will frequently send me much deeper into a subject than I need to write my piece.
More often than that, however, I just need to research a fact or two for something inside an article. Maybe, I just need a quote. Or I need to come up with a quantitative number to illustrate a point. It’s little things like that where Medium has made me a better researcher. Because I want the points to be made with facts. Rather than a short fluff piece, Medium has raised my writing game, which has boosted my researching game.
I Am a Better Reader
Before Medium, I rarely read other writers. I don’t mean I didn’t read. I am always reading fiction. And occasionally, I will read non-fiction. But I didn’t read other writers. People like me that write for the pure joy of writing. Other folks who churn out articles as I do.
It started innocently enough. Well, innocent may be the wrong word because truth be told, I was looking for ideas to steal. But reading other authors on Medium is a deep, dark rabbit hole. I go to the home page to scan some titles or scroll through a couple of articles, and I don’t come up for air for an hour or more. The writers here are phenomenal, and I can’t get enough of them.
I Am Much More Productive
This was an iterative process. Being a writer for Medium made me want to write more and write better, which, in turn, required more time. But retired or not, time is still a precious commodity. I have other pursuits and responsibilities. I can only devote so much time to this craft of writing.
But shortly after joining Medium, I committed to publishing every day. I have missed two days out of 282. Once, I was waiting for feedback from a publisher and simply forgot. The other was this past Thanksgiving. I took a day off. Shoot me.
But increased production in limited time could only be achieved one way. I had to get better at productivity. I needed to develop a process. I wrote about that process a while back , but the process continues to evolve. It gets better. Idea, research, rough draft, proof, polish, publish, rinse, and repeat. Over and over for 280 days.
And there are days when the entire process takes up no more than thirty minutes.
I Am a Better Person
Okay, who does this guy think he is? You don’t get to declare yourself a better person. That accolade has to come from someone else, right? Well, maybe, but I know in my heart that it’s true.
How, you ask?
It’s because of you. I want you to read my work. I want you to be entertained or educated, sometimes both. I want you to tell your friends about me. I want you to come back again and again.
And many of you do. I know who you are; I’m paying attention. And I genuinely appreciate it.
But more than that, I understand it’s a responsibility. I have to meet or exceed your expectations. And that makes me reach higher and dig deeper.
You. You have made me a better person.
But it’s also because of the other writers here. This is a community of people who genuinely care and are passionate about the subjects on which they write. They are smart. They are kind. They are helpful. And I want to hang out with them.
So, I have to be a better person, because they are better people.
And Yes, I Am a Better Writer
I have written thousands of articles in the last twenty years. And before Medium, many of them were crap. I started writing because I love to write. And then one day, some fool gave me some money for my writing.
And that’s when it went to shit.
Because for a long time, I was just chasing the buck. I kid about writing about bumper pool tables. But I actually did — several times. There was no thought, no craft, no art. Just words.
Don’t get me wrong, I still wrote about things I cared about. Mostly photography. I was happy if those sold; I was happy if they didn’t. But I spent a lot of time and minimal effort writing about things I didn’t care about.
And then, one day, I clicked on Medium. And it all changed.
Because this place made me want to write again. To write well. To write often.
And here’s the thing that astounded me when I first signed up. I no longer had to sell my work. I didn’t get paid if they bought it. I got paid if they read it. What? Are you kidding?
But that is a two-edged sword. To get people to buy my words, I just had to give them the words they wanted. But to get people to read them, that’s a whole different ball game. To sell my work is a one-time thing. But reading my work, I need repetition. I want people to come back and read me tomorrow and next week.
So, I had to give them a reason to do so. And I guess I have. I have over 2,000 followers now. My articles get hundreds of views every day. Every day. I’ve had days of over 2,500 views. Two thousand five hundred different people wanted to read my stuff in a single day. That’s heady stuff.
But it’s also heavy stuff. A heavy burden. I feel I need to deliver, to perform, to satisfy.
And that is what Medium has done for me.
Not just made me a better writer, but made me a better person.