Thanks for this mini-primer, Lon Shapiro! :) You always bring something to the table that I haven’t considered.
Charlotte Franklin, I wanted to add something that has helped me to “create the community I crave” here on Medium. You may find it helpful, and you may not. It helped me a lot, though.
Well, first let me back up a little. When I first got here, I had a lot of ideas about how things worked, and then a lot of ideas about how I thought things should work, along with a decent dose of frustration at everything that didn’t seem to be working the way I thought it should. It came to a point (maybe like this one for you) where I had to decide to look elsewhere for what I wanted or adapt what I wanted so that it would fit here.
I had connected with a handful of more experienced writers here, and they were (and they remain) an invaluable resource for me. Also, they kick ass in general. So, that was good to start, but people have jobs and kids and lives, so
What changed my experience was reaching out to people newer to the platform than me. ALWAYS with something positive. ALWAYS.
(I met Victoria Easterday this way (though I think she reached out to me first. She’s quick like that). She told me that something I wrote inspired her to tell her story. She will probably never know what that meant to me, but that’s okay. When she’s a household name, I’m going to say I discovered her. HA!!
(Just kidding, Victoria. :) ) Anyway, if you haven’t read her stuff, it’s fabulous. Just. Wow.)
Because there is plenty of time to hand out constructive comments, if that is what someone is looking for. But new writers are nervous, and unsure of themselves, and skittish about the unknown. I know for me it was huge when anyone said something positive about my work in the very beginning (it still is, of course! but now I’m more prepared for honesty, even if it doesn’t sound like “YOU’RE AMAZING!!!” ;)).
A lot of very interesting discussions came about because I introduced myself to someone who was new. And then I FOLLOWED THEM.
That is the other thing I believe in. I think it flipped on me about a month ago, but until then, I followed more than I was followed. I always get a little leery when I see someone has 2K followers and only follows 75 people. It feels like a lack of gratitude for what is given freely to me when someone intentionally clicks that button adding me to their feed, if I don’t give that same gift freely to other writers.
I follow some who follow me, and some who don’t. I don’t use that as a criterion. If I read something that moves me, I follow the writer.
I mean, why wouldn’t I?
This is getting out of hand, it was supposed to be quick. Back to the day job!