How to Write and be Happy on Medium
Reflections on 3 years of writing on the platform from a “top writer”
I’ve been writing on the Medium platform for over three years now. I’m happy to share a few of the things I have learned about writing happily here.
1. Just Write
You can write about anything on Medium as long as you don’t violate their very reasonable rules.
Write about what you know, what you think, what you imagine, what you feel, or what you have learned. Write for yourself. Write for others. Just write.
Write something meaningful, truthful, beautiful, humorous, something real, otherwise, it’s isn’t writing, it’s typing.
There’s enough noise in the world, seriously, write from the heart, from your heart. You don’t need to be like anyone else, use your own voice.
You can read about almost any topic on Medium. If you want to expand the topics you read, don’t rely on the feed.
While tags have been disfavored on the platform, you can still use them. The tag pages are still there. By using tags, you can bypass the curated topics and the feed.
Here’s the poetry tag and the fiction tag to get you started. Once you arrive at these pages, you can see what’s trending, but you can also click on the “latest” and read what’s just been published under that tag and you can read the archives and see what’s been popular in past years.
How do you find tags? Use the search feature. You’ll see a choice of stories, people, publications, and tags. (You can also find more and more people, publications, and writers to follow.) Or, you can click on a tag at the bottom of a piece you’ve just read.
If you want to be more free-spirited, let one piece take you to another by following the recommendations for other articles at the end of the piece. You can also read more articles by an author by clicking on their profile icon.
There are great independent pieces here. You could spend a lifetime reading at Medium.
* Update, the feature was scaled back shortly after I wrote this so you can no longer access the latest pieces which is too bad. The archive section is kind of buggy.
3. Make Friends
One of the most wonderful things about writing at Medium is getting to know other writers through their writing. I have seen many people grow and expand their talents by writing here regularly over the years.
I have learned to become a better writer, not only by reading books and articles about writing, but by reading the people writing on Medium. I look at their word choices, their construction. I admire their willingness to be inventive, to try new things, and to be vulnerable.
If a writer’s work regularly resonates with you, tell them! If you see someone is reading your work regularly, read their work. You’ll probably find that you have much in common.
Be generous with your praise. Clap with both hands. When you comment, make it more about what the writer has written than yourself. If there’s a typo or an editing issue, send the writer a private note and let them know. Really love something? Share it. Sharing is caring. Tweet and share on Facebook.
Writing can be a lonely endeavor. There’s so much that we do that only another writer can understand, so make friends.
4. Be Kind
This should go without saying, right?
Eschew the transactional relationships of the Lifehacker / self-help crowd. Don’t give to get. Frankly, that whole mindset makes me nauseous. Give without expecting anything in return.
Remember, everyone writing here is human and they have hearts, minds, and their own challenges and wounds that you know nothing about. Be kind, be nice. Avoid drama. Dramas happen. Stay on the sidelines or else it gets amplified and people get turned off and log off.
5. Respect Boundaries
You may meet a kindred spirit on Medium, or you may think you have. Don’t assume they feel the same way. A lot of us get real personal here. We share. We’re vulnerable. We’re writers, that’s what we do. We share our writing. That does not mean that we’ve issued an invitation. This isn’t a dating site.
Do Medium romances happen? Yes. They’re rare. When they happen, it’s a mutual thing. Contact is easier here than with a book or a magazine. Don’t abuse it. Don’t be that person.
6. Make reading and writing a habit
Don’t worry about writing for consecutive days in a row. Do what works for you, but try to read and write a few days a week, or more. Carve out some time for writing. But even if you don’t have time to write, reading will make you a better writer when you do have time.
7. Don’t pay attention to stats
Stats are bullshit.
They’ll make you feel better and worse than you should.
Stats don’t always speak to the quality of your writing.
Stats reflect a few things on Medium. There’s a social media side to Medium. When you interact with other writers, they become aware of you and your writing and read your work. If you don’t interact with other writers, you’re less likely to be followed and read. Medium is a curated platform. Medium selects pieces to elevate and promote. Want to get noticed by the curators? Read their guidelines.
No one reads you when you first start, then all of a sudden they do. It may be because you were curated by Medium or someone shared your piece. Things change here. Things don’t change if you give up and go away.
Here are my reflections on my Medium anniversary from last year.
I’m starting my 3rd year on Medium, I’m still following you and hoping you’ll come back
So I’ve hit the two year mark on Medium and I decided to do the retrospective piece. I remember as if it was only…
Thanks for reading, happy writing.
© 2019, A. Breslin. All Rights Reserved