A Medium Experiment

Practice makes perfect?

Benoit St-André
Mar 26, 2015 · 4 min read

I was in the process of finding out what to write about.

I always loved writing, that’s why I started a blog years ago. As many of you already know, the problem with blogging is not starting a blog, it’s posting something on it. Regularly.

And the problem is not limited to just posting something, it’s actually finishing what you started writing. Finding some punch line. Making sure with your inner self that what you are writing is relevant.

You know what? I don’t care anymore. I need to write and I wondered too long why I didn’t.

(and reading this last sentence again, after this text has been sitting up too long as a draft, only proves my point)

This text is about how this text came about. That’s my Medium Experiment. Why did I wait so long?

The Fear of Letting Go

I think it’s every writer’s torment to let a text go, to release it in the wild. Every writer must want their texts to be good, well I hope mine are at least not too bad. But at some point, you either publish something shorter and get it out there or you keep a draft forever and it doesn’t get out.

If you have a story to tell, then tell it, size doesn’t matter.

And as I move back and forth in my draft-that-is-becoming-a-post, I think that the platform and the habit of writing are both contributing to ease off my fear of letting go.

The Platform and the Habit of Writing

What I attracted me to Medium was that idea that you could leverage the technology and the interface to make publishing ideas and texts as frictionless as possible. Drop the barriers to publishing so you can focus on the content. Make the writers happy by helping them sharing drafts and comments, and co-constructs texts if they would like it. Make readers happy because the reading experience is so much better than what you get on most of the blogging platforms (at least, in my opinion).

I think the Medium platform gave me the kick I needed to start sharing substance again in more than 140 characters. To try out this Medium Experiment.

But as I write this, I also realize that the habit of writing and reading oneself is like a muscle that you need to flex regularly. Spending too much time waiting and just changing a sentence back and forth because it doesn’t exactly convey what you want to say (like this one — must be the 6th version I write) can lead a text like this one to a slow dead draft state. Hopefully if you read this, it hasn’t been the case (or your comments brought it back from the dead!).

But then something more subtle was still slowing me down from just sharing this first post.

Why being a Quebec French Canadian matters?

Being a Quebecer (whose main language is French, like the majority of people in the province) defines who I am as a person, but also adds to that fear of letting go. There is a strong cultural backstory to how we perceive English as a language in Quebec, and this probably contributed to slowing down my writing process.

Being a French Province in a North American ocean of English is challenging for language and culture. The vast majority of people in Quebec live their life and work in French since France settlers outnumbered Native people in Nouvelle France. For years, using English was choosing the “conqueror’s language”, the language of the economic ruling majority in Quebec before the 1960's. This changed afterwards and the French speaking people started being part of the economy as business owners, but still, that feeling that learning English could lead you to the “dark side” of assimilation is always latent. And although more than fifty years ago, bilingualism in Canada was introduced as a policy, more than 40% of people in Quebec are bilingual, as opposed to under 10% of people in the rest of Canada. Bilingualism, although an interesting institutional idea, is mostly a myth even now.

Even if I personally don’t feel threatened by English, writing long, non work-related reflections like this one always brought back that little tiny feeling of guilt about not writing in French.

I have interiorized this fact and now, I consider that just using a language is also part of the story I want to tell. Doing this piece in English has also been part of the experiment, and this section wouldn’t make any sense in French for me to express.

It doesn’t mean I won’t write French posts in Medium. But it’s interesting to see that the readers and discussions might be different in other context and language. Different languages bring different crowds and different ways of expressing ourselves, and I think starting the conversation, maybe with non native English writers, is an interesting point.

It’s Descartes who said “Je pense, donc je suis” — I think, therefore I am.

Now, I write. Therefore, I’m back. And I will certainly write again. En français, in English, comme ça me plaira.

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade