THOU SHALT READ OTHER WRITERS.
If not, I can’t expect others to read my writing.
The pressure is on. The fun is gone. So many ideas and half-written drafts haunting me.
This is a real dilemma on Medium, and you’re brave for pointing it out, Ida. I, too, read way more than I probably should on Medium, very often to the detriment of my own writing time. Nothing like Medium has existed before (to my knowledge), directly combining long-form writing (unlike Twitter with it’s 280 character max) with social media. And to compound the issue, Medium (unlike Facebook) is mostly populated by writers. It adds up to an environment where everybody wants readers, but since all the readers here are also writers, it’s expected you’ll read the work of everyone who reads yours. Which seems fair. Like a writers group. But instead of 5–10 people in the standard writers group, you might have hundreds who read your work. So for every one story you post, in theory you should read, clap for, and respond to 100 or more. That’s daunting!
I’m hoping this will be a short term thing on Medium (short term as in a year or two, tops). For Medium to succeed financially in the long term, it’s going to have to draw many times more readers than writers. Ev Williams is going to have to convince a disproportionately large group of people to pay their $5 a month to read the great stories here, and not just so they can write on Medium and cash in on the partner program themselves. Only then will this become sustainable. When most of your fans on Medium read your work but never post their own, it will be more like writing for a magazine than for a social media website. Until then, this frustration will remain.
“I read you, you read me” is a perfectly reasonable expectation. It’s polite, and it shows that we care about each other. That’s a natural good. But it’s the sheer SCALE of Medium that creates the problem. When your writers group jumps from 10 fellows to 100, 1000, or 1,000,000 (someday), how will this writing + social media thing work? I shudder to think…