Writing for Passion, Writing for Liberation

Medium Writers Newsletter: Writing tips, updates, and spotlights

Medium Creators
Creators Hub
Published in
8 min readOct 12, 2020


Typing at a laptop with writing demons all around having tea with a kitten and reminder to vote
Illustration: Kawandeep Virdee

To kick off this month’s Writers Newsletter, Shaq Cheris, editorial assistant at Medium, dives into the backstory of LEVEL’s Abolition for the People: The Movement for a Future Without Policing and Prisons, made in editorial partnership with Kaepernick Publishing. The package encapsulates the ongoing epidemic that is police terrorism, highlighting injustices and demands for liberation while mapping out the groundwork for an abolitionist future.

Writing for passion, writing for liberation

The seeds of the package came together in March when Jermaine Hall and Peter Rubin, the EIC and executive editor at LEVEL, were presented with the opportunity to pitch Colin Kaepernick and his publishing team on what an editorial partnership could look like. What began as a series of lengthy but unrelated stories evolved into an ambitious four-week package of 30 essays from a star-studded lineup of scholars and activists like Angela Davis, Mumia Abu Jamal, Mariame Kaba, and Colin Kaepernick himself.

Why did this evolution happen?

Because every contributor had the opportunity to work on something that they — like Colin — are incredibly passionate about. Each writer believed in the mission’s importance, and having that collective investment motivated thoughtful brainstorming and deeper dives. What results is a collection where each story outlines an action plan that stems from the critical dialogue that came to the forefront after the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and more. Each piece speaks to a single truth — abolition is the only solution to undoing the foundation of racial injustices that plague this nation.

Let this inspire you to speak on things you’re passionate about or what you believe is right; feel liberated by the opportunity to write about your passion and stand up for the things you believe in. In the end, there’s a good chance you’ll be proud of what you accomplished.

Shaq Cheris, editorial assistant at Medium

Growing your publication’s audience

If you’ve recently started a publication on Medium, or are interested in starting one, you may be wondering how to best help your pub and pub writers grow. A recent Q&A with the Writing Cooperative dives into audience growth for publications. Ali Mese, editor of The Startup, decided that the best strategy was to open up the publication to help new and emerging writers instead of focusing on established writers. “Over the last seven years, getting published on The Startup helped so many emerging writers reach an audience they wouldn’t reach otherwise. They also used ‘published on The Startup’ as social proof to unlock their next growth opportunity.” It’s a strategy of scale, and The Startup is one of the biggest publications on Medium.

Sand Farnia expands on this for the Writing Cooperative. In the beginning, the focus was to consistently publish. “As we grew we were able to transition from quantity to quality,” writes Farnia, “whereas now we have strict submission guidelines.”

Check out the story to see additional approaches to growth “Editors Explain: How Do You Actively Grow Your Publication’s Audience?” and check out the full Ask the Editors series.

Story spotlights on the platform

Medium’s platform editors are on the lookout for great stories published anywhere on Medium, and work with the authors to edit and produce the stories. Just like last month, we’ll spotlight a few stories that Medium editors found and brought into their publications. What makes a story resonate? There are a variety of reasons — read more to learn what the platform editors found compelling about these stories in particular.

A Conversation on Breasts, Beards, and Binaries” by Pax Ahimsa Gethen

I’m eternally grateful that Pax Ahimsa Gethen shared their piece on transition on LEVEL. They openly speak about the gender dysmorphia they faced and how they reclaimed the confidence to enjoy a run outdoors. They write: “What it comes down to is I see running outdoors as my birthright as a human being: Moving my body, unrestricted, while feeling the sunlight on my bare skin, getting a natural source of vitamin D and endorphins. Why can’t I have these things without fear and distress? The ‘Free the Nipple’ movement might eventually grant top-freedom to women, but that won’t help my situation. As long as we insist on associating breasts, beards, or other body parts with gender, dysphoria will continue to fester.” It’s important for me to find stories that include all experiences, and I know Pax’s story will inspire many.
Jada Gomez, senior platform editor at LEVEL

The Ring Always Home Drone: A Ridiculous Way for Amazon to Map Your House” by Faine Greenwood

When Amazon announced its new drone that autonomously flies around your home, recording everything in its flight path, people were obviously concerned. Senior Staff Writer Will Oremus wrote about in his newsletter for OneZero, but he also sent me this smart piece that he found on Medium by drone researcher Faine Greenwood. As Greenwood points out, even though Amazon already has a myriad of ways of spying on you, handing over a map of the inside of your house (required to use the drone), isn’t the best idea. “It can then use that information to manipulate you — an already caged pandemic-times animal, bored and frightened — into buying things. That’s dark. And that’s also vintage, classical-era reasoning.” I reached out to Greenwood and was thrilled that they decided to let us feature their Medium story in our Debugger launch week.
Megan Morrone, senior platform editor at Debugger and OneZero

Do You Have ‘Zoom Fatigue’ or Is It Existentially Crushing to Pretend Life Is Normal as the World Burns?” by Devon Price

“Do you have ‘Zoom fatigue,’ or is it emotionally and existentially crushing to have to pretend to be chipper during your company’s strategic planning meeting while hundreds of thousands of people are dying and the sky burns?” If you feel like it’s becoming increasingly difficult to stay focused, to conduct business as usual, to act like life has any semblance of order right now, Devon Price’s powerful list of questions may point to why. After reading it, I exhaled, thinking, “Wow, I feel seen.”
Michelle Woo, senior platform editor at Forge

White Allies Must Confront Their Heritage of Sabotaging Black Movements” by Hal H. Harris

The Pew Research Center released new survey results last month finding Black Lives Matter support among white people has already declined since the start of this summer’s protests and nationwide reckoning over anti-Black racism. And as Hal H. Harris so eloquently explains, this depleted energy is merely a symptom of a larger problem. Harris is the driving force behind Est.1865, a publication he launched on Medium exploring the nuances of Black personhood. And for his GEN debut, Harris describes the disconnect that too often undermines the aims of Black movements. “If racism is seen as a personal defect instead of their political and ancestral inheritance, then these protests will fade into nothing.”
Amanda Sakuma, platform editor at GEN

The Year Without ‘Summertime’” by Chris Rosenthall

“Many years ago, I decided I would no longer subscribe to the standard concept of ‘seasons’ as we know them, choosing instead to simply determine my own,” writes Chris Rosenthall in this ode to DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince’s 1991 banger, “Summertime.” 2020 had a summer, sort of, but it didn’t exactly evoke “time to sit back and unwind” (as the song says). Read this story if you miss any of the following: the ’90s, being that age when summer seems to last forever, barbecues, the Fresh Prince, and maybe even seasons themselves.

Harris Sockel, deputy editor at Human Parts

September earnings payouts

By the 8th of each month (so in this case October 8), we initiate the payments for the prior month’s earnings. Please allow 3–7 business days to receive the August earnings payouts in your Stripe account. Based on member engagement from this period:

  • 68.7% of writers or publications who wrote at least one story for members earned money.
  • 6.4% of active writers earned over $100.
  • $49,705.40 was the most earned by a writer, and $16,685.5 was the most earned for a single story.

Learn more about earning money for your best writing with the Medium Partner Program.

Looking forward, changes ahead

As you saw in the last newsletter and over the past few weeks, there are a lot of changes afoot at Medium. And more to come! We’re especially excited to be focusing more on our community of writers. In the coming weeks, we’ll be launching some new initiatives aimed at helping all writers on Medium become more successful, including a new publication dedicated to creator success. Along with those changes, we’ll be making some updates to the newsletter starting next month. Stay tuned, lots of good stuff ahead!

We are also launching some new features:

  • New profiles! All Medium profiles will be changing over to the new format this upcoming week, which you can see here: Thanks to everyone who participated in our beta and provided feedback. We are excited to roll this out to everyone!
  • New publication tools! If you are a publication owner or editor, you can customize the design of your publication right now, including colors, fonts, formatting, and more. You can learn more here.
  • Newsletters! Publication editors can now show or hide their newsletters on their publication homepage. You can toggle this in your newsletter settings page.
  • New homepage! We’ve redesigned the Medium homepage and added a dedicated “Following” section, where your followers will see a notification when you’ve published — so you can further build that relationship directly with your audience.

Words to write by

This month’s writing inspiration comes from Gavin Lamb, PhD in “Invite Your Writing Demons in for Tea.” Insecurities, worries, anxieties can arrive at any part of the creative process. Instead of trying to solve them or overcome them, approach them with curiosity. When they arrive, make space, and listen. In other words, invite them in for tea.

Listen to what you’re telling yourself in those moments: try to identify the myths informing the negative self-talk about your lack of progress. Don’t be judgmental of the beliefs you discover. Simply notice their presence.

Check out the stories in the Writing topic, and follow Medium Writers for more inspiration and advice on writing. Follow Medium Writers on Twitter, where we’ve been sharing tips, advice, and stories from across the platform — as we do here, just on a more regular basis. Feel free to share this newsletter with friends who might be interested in writing.

Keep at it,

Kawandeep, Creator Success

This monthly newsletter for writers is from Medium Writers. Learn more about how Medium supports great writers through the Medium Partner Program. If you’re in the Partner Program, see your dashboard here. If you would like to join, sign up here.



Medium Creators
Creators Hub

Tips, tricks, and tools for Medium creators