Happy Medium Birthday to Me
It’s extraordinary what a difference a year can make.
It’s my Medium birthday!
One year ago today I joined the Medium Partner Program, wrote up a silly listicle, hit publish, and then crawled under my desk to hide.
OK, maybe I’m exaggerating about that last part, but I was terrified. After 13 years of writing grant proposals — all submitted under an organization’s name — I was putting my own thoughts, feelings, and experiences out there, with my name attached, for all to read. It was the most vulnerable I’ve ever felt.
Little did I know that silly post would send my career on a new trajectory.
I’d been really, truly, incredibly unhappy in my job for months. I knew I wanted to do something different — I’d dreamed of becoming a Writer for decades — but I didn’t know how to make the change. When you’ve been following one path for so long, the idea of taking a turn is daunting. I’m no longer 25. I have a family to consider. I can’t just upend my career and start over.
Or so I thought.
That first Medium post received kind comments from friends and family. No one laughed at me. No one mocked me. In fact, my loved ones encouraged me to continue sharing my work. So, I did.
I wrote and published. Sometimes I wrote without publishing. But I wrote. And I reclaimed my love of writing. I bought books on freelancing and creativity, listened to podcasts on publishing (like this amazing one by John August), and joined online writing groups. Then, in September, I did it.
I quit my job and dedicated myself to writing full-time (and then some).
None of this would have happened without Medium.
A Medium Timeline
The following is a timeline of my successes and failures over the past year. I wrote it up for myself, really, as a reminder of how far I’ve come…and how much further I have to go.
- June 18: Published my first Medium piece and received my first comments from readers (who all happened to be relatives and friends).
- June 27: Received my first feedback from a stranger! (Thankfully, it was kind.)
- June 29: My website went live! Eek!
- July 1: Joined The Tribe Builder’s Network, the first of many Facebook writing groups, which introduced me to a new community of writers and friends.
- July 9: Celebrity fitness trainer Jillian Michaels retweeted my Medium article about how she inspired my writing.
- July 11: Received my first Top Writer tag in Advice (ironically).
- August 8: Published “A Few Do’s and Don’ts of Blogging,” which would go on to become my most popular Medium piece.
- August 9–12: Attended my first writer’s conference (and later shared a recap of it on Medium.)
- August 23: Shut my laptop down and went on a much-needed vacation…but soon got home and wrote all about it.
- September 10: Quit my job to focus on writing full-time.
- September 18: Published my first piece to reach 1,000 claps (and my first with The Ascent).
- September 23: Received my first snarky comment from a fellow writer. (Unfortunately, it wouldn’t be my last.)
- September 26: Launched my Facebook author page and hoped someone would notice.
- October 16: Sent my first monthly newsletter.
- November 1: Tried NaNoWriMo.
- November 30: Failed NaNoWriMo…but had a personal essay accepted by The Boston Globe Magazine!
- December 13: Blocked a social media follower for the first (but not last!) time.
- December 31: Received a nice profile in the Capital Region Women @ Work Magazine (both print and online).
- January 7: My son told me I was cool. (And if you think that doesn’t deserve to be on a timeline of milestones, you clearly aren’t a parent.)
- January 8: Received the “Top Writer in Parenting” tag. Again, so much irony… (Eventually, this tag would disappear.)
- January 16: Received the elusive “Top Writer in Writing” tag.
- February 10: Got the “Top Writer in Reading” tag…which would also soon quietly disappear. (Oh, Medium.)
- March 6: Readers shared my article “A Thank You to Stephen King’s Assistant” on Reddit and the StephenKing.com message board.
- March 7: The literary journal Brevity published my humorous essay on my internal writer monologue; I later republished it on Medium.
- March 10: Received another Top Writer tag! This time in Social Media! And it would soon go away! (These TW tags are so fickle.)
- March 13: Facebook and Instagram went down; I lost my ever-loving mind.
- March 22: The Boston Globe Magazine published my essay online; it appeared in print two days later. It was my first print byline and happened to be in a paper that means so much to me and my family.
- March 25: Just as I was feeling good about my Globe piece, I had a falling out with a fellow Medium writer, which sent me into a dark hole of anxiety for the next two weeks. (But made some pretty awesome Medium friends in the meantime, like Shannon Ashley, Jun Wu, and Darcy Reeder.)
- May 2: The micro-fiction site 50-Word Stories published my piece “Anger Management” and I finally got to use the Fiction page on my website that had been blank for months.
- May 9: Reached the 1,100 followers mark on Medium!
- June 7: Had an older piece from Medium republished on the parenting site Scary Mommy.
- June 12: Folks, A Pillpack Magazine published my personal essay.
Thank You, Medium
Though I have my fair share of complaints about Medium, I have to admit: this site changed my life. If I hadn’t faced my fears and published that silly listicle, I might still be sitting in a cubicle, hunched over a desk, writing grants-speak and ignoring the pull to do more with my life.
Instead, I have bylines — The Boston Globe, Brevity, Scary Mommy, Folks — with more pieces in the works. I have pitches out to magazines and submissions out to literary journals. I’m getting used to shrugging off rejections (a skill I learned during my grant writing days) and am building a slightly thicker skin when it comes to reader feedback.
I’m slooooooowly building a following here and on social media, and my newsletter subscribers are increasing incrementally each month. According to Medium, though I’m no longer the tops in Parenting, Social Media, or Reading, I’m still a Top Writer in Advice and Writing. I’ll take it.
Point is, for all its flaws, Medium is a pretty incredible place for a new writer to launch a career. I still have a long way to go, but I’m so much closer to achieving my dreams than I was a year ago.
More Importantly: Thank You, Readers and Fellow Writers
To anyone who has ever read one of my essays, blog posts, rants, or listicles, thank you. It still feels surreal that anyone would take the time to pay attention to anything I put online, let alone highlight it or clap for it. I’m enormously grateful for your support. More than you could ever know. ❤
And if you’re a writer, please continue writing. Publish, publish, publish. Get over the fear and put your work out there. Yes, it can be a bummer when a piece doesn’t resonate, but it’s SUCH a high when it goes well. Chase that high. Brush off the naysayers and put your best work into the world. I promise you won’t regret it.
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