Medium is Making me Crazy!
Many people feel a little overwhelmed when they first start publishing on Medium. That is in part, due to the awareness that there are a lot of new things to learn about the platform beyond just writing to be successful. But it doesn’t have to be stressful if you pay attention to your own way of doing things.
In the beginning, new Mediumites (yep, I think I coined a new term), focus on their writing. But soon they realize that there is a whole lot of other stuff going on here, though they’re not sure exactly what or how to take part.
Trying not to get overwhelmed they may think, “Slow and steady wins the race. I need to first get in a routine so I can publish an article a week, then maybe I can manage two a week and eventually three.” Only then they run across one of the many articles saying in order to be successful, you need to publish every day or even twice a day.
See my advice about this idea here:
Five suggestions for maintaining a happy writing life while reaching your goals for writing on Medium.medium.com
So they push themselves to come up with ideas, and crank out posts, often failing to meet the daily publishing goal more days than not. But still they toil away. At the same time, they understand that it’s important to support the work of other writers in order to receive their support in return. And they try to read others people’s posts, really they do.
But given the need to publish, publish, publish, they feel they can only read those practical How to Succeed on Medium articles. At least until one of those articles mentions that you need to connect with other writers on the platform through engaging with their posts and interacting online with them. So they add this to their list of “must do’s”.
They remember something about there being publications but figure, “Oh, that’s something I can focus on later.” But then they run across an article talking about the importance of getting into publications for widespread exposure. So they start researching publications and gear new work towards certain topics to be able to submit to some of these. Their writing output slows further since it’s more difficult to come up with specific topics.
By now, these new writers have progressed, if not to getting an article out a day, then at least get two or three out a week and have applied to a few publications. But they don’t seem to be getting many readers, especially compared to the other people whose work they are attempting to emulate. They search for articles on how to increase and find articles on the importance of self promotion and marketing.
You have to be kidding me, they think. There’s more?
These articles go into different types of sites to use for marketing work, the importance of establishing relationships with other writers, commenting, and responding to comments, the need to promote others so they will promote you. Promote others? I can’t even imagine promoting myself and when am I supposed to have the time to promote others? It is at this point they begin to consider whether or not writing on Medium or writing at all for that matter, is for them.
Don’t Lose Site of What is Important
But even given all of this, if you stay true to yourself, you won’t feel like your writing life is determined by others who are hell bent on making you insane and miserable. While there are certain things that can definitely increase your success on Medium, trying to do them all when you first start out, and sometimes even later on, can become overwhelming.
I continue to make the same recommendation in different articles because I see articles and social media posts from Medium writers who aren’t satisfied with their writing life or are down right unhappy and on the verge of giving up. And oftentimes much of this has to do with them comparing themselves to other writers on Medium, and trying and failing to follow the advice presented as fact in many How to Succeed. . . articles. The bottom line I keep returning to is that ultimately, every writer needs to determine for themselves what the best writing path is for them.
You Know What Is Best For You
While you might get ideas from other writers posts, the way you implement the idea or even if you do implement it is up to you. Assuming that because someone who everyone seems to be talking about and following as a writer guru of sorts, doesn’t mean that their writing advice is the end all be all. This is especially important to remember when they have included an account of how their strategy made them a million bucks or got them noticed by big time editors or resulted in an invitation to write for the New Yorker. These types of outcomes make us feel like of course, this is the way to achieve success. Do it like they did and wait by the phone for that call from the New Yorker.
Remember That You Are Unique
Are You A Single Tasker or a Mexican Jumping Bean? The saying different strokes for different folks couldn’t be more applicable to writing on Medium. Some people’’s style makes it easy for them to switch from one activity to another without it being unsettling to them. I am one of those. With a history of ADHD, I find it difficult to focus on any one thing for too long and need to be able to change activities pretty frequently. So going back and forth between writing, reading, commenting, marketing, and researching is actually the way I’m most productive. For others, this kind of jumping around makes them crazy and extremely frustrated.
If you are the latter type, then trying to make yourself go back and forth between a bunch of different things will not improve your success. It will likely do just the opposite, making you less productive, less satisfied with your writing efforts and less happy overall in your writing life. Instead, focus on one thing at a time until you feel you are at a stopping point. If switching back and forth between different activities makes your day feel chaotic, then don’t do it.
Choosing the Order of Activities in Your Writing Day
Base the order of activities you engage in on your natural preferences. If you write best in the afternoon, don’t try to force yourself to write in the morning just to get a new post out early. If becoming involved with self promotion groups is uncomfortable for you or something you really don’t enjoy, maybe try taking care of it in the morning so you get it out of the way and don’t dread it all day.
Or you might do best tackling your writing early since this is what feels most important to you then spending an hour in the afternoon on self promotion and marketing activities. (Remember that it’s important to reciprocate if you expect others to support your writing.)
If you gain inspiration from reading other writers’ articles, decide that you will spend the first hour of the day reading. Then explore your ideas for a new article or work on an article that you haven’t yet finished.
Maybe at the end of your day or in the evening would be a good time to research publications and jot an idea or two down for posts that might fit with a new one you discover. Ask other writers about good publications on certain topics. In fact, ask other Medium writers about whatever you don’t understand or need advice on. This is the best feature of the platform, the support the writer’s here show each other.
A Few Parting Thoughts
Keep in mind your internal clock and arousal pattern will influence when you are at your best for different types of activities. Some tasks might be dictated by your specific style or needs. Some people leap out of bed and can immediately sit down and start writing or working. Others may need time wake up and trying to force themselves to write before that point will only result in useless nonsense, a bunch of obscenities and possibly a coffee mug shattered against the wall. I, myself, need a complete hour and two cups of coffee before I can face my computer or any other human beings for that matter.
Even when I start working I need to first take on tasks that don’t require something from nothing, so I often need another hour of responding to comments, reading and commenting on other people’s work, reading the threads in different Medium related groups I belong to and other similar activities. Some people are at their writing best early in the morning, some in the afternoon and some at night, possibly even late at night. Geer your schedule to your individual clock.
And most importantly, keep in mind that while reading a few articles on how to succeed on Medium can be helpful as an introduction or for logistics, for God’s sake, don’t take every piece of advice as if it’s gospel if it doesn’t work for you! I don’t care how many people follow these writers, or how many comments attest to the wisdom of what they say.
One of the best things about Medium is that it is a positive platform. But this also means that you only see comments from those people for whom the advice in How to Succeed articles worked. When it didn’t work, writer’s assume that it’s their fault and that they failed somehow. Please take the next few statements to heart:
Unless You Really Just Aren’t Trying, No You Didn’t! It Just Isn’t An Effective Strategy For You! It’s Up To You To Find Out What Is!
Keep in mind that many of us are eager to support new writers and their efforts. Like you, we are busy finding our own ways to make everything work, but we will find time to stop and say “Hello and welcome”, or “You’ve made a great start,” or “Don’t give up,’ or “You are valued here.”
And if ever you feel as if you are being led astray, by a Will-o-the-wisp, and are in danger of losing your way just call out. Someone will come find you and lead you out of the mist and back into the light.
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Find a list of my other articles and stories on Medium here.