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How to Make the Most of The Writing Advice on Medium

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Chances are, you’re a writer on Medium too. Why else would you click this article? This means this isn’t your first “how to write” article. But this one will be a little different. This one isn’t about the ONLY 5 tips you need to make infinite dollars or the best ways to get curated.

If you’ve read those articles already, then you’ll have found plenty of tips on how to climb to the top of Medium or to begin your full-time writing career. Chances are, a lot of that advice contradicts itself.

For example, Karolina Wilde’s article “The Difference Between a $50/Article writer and a $250/Article Writer” encourages you to stop applying to jobs on Upwork. However, Elle C.’s “Do You Want To Earn $1.00 a Word?” suggests that Upwork is a great place to start your writing career.

Contradictory information isn’t exclusive to Medium. If you pick up two books on writing, they’ll contradict each other multiple times by the end. All this conflicting advice seems confusing for new writers, but there are a few ways you can parse through the information.

Writers are as Varied As Snowflakes

Everybody has a different writing process. Sure, everybody sits at the blank page and coats it in black, but how we arrive there is different. Your process probably looks nothing like mine. I tend to think quite a bit about my writing, building an outline in my head before touching the keyboard.

You might write out a much more in-depth outline. Or you might just leap at the blank page with a passionate idea. Each of these approaches and all the variations I didn’t list is correct if it works for you.

There is no right way to write.

The best starting point is to figure out your process. When do you write best? Is it when you wake up early or is it those quiet hours just before you go to bed. Maybe it’s the 40 minutes of peace and quiet between work ending and the kids coming home from school.

Don’t forget the how, either. Outline or no outline? Do you brainstorm alone or need a partner to bounce ideas off? Perhaps you prefer handwriting the article before you go to the computer for editing and publication. A thorough understanding of your personal process is a great starting point before trying to sort through the writing help articles.

Follow Your Gut

One of the most discouraging things that can happen to you is reading an article that laughs at your process. Maybe you don’t outline, then find an article that says outlining is the only way to write a curated article that goes viral. It rips apart your process of sitting at the blank page and letting the words flow so you can figure out where you’re going.

It hurts to read that article. It makes success look distant, even unachievable because you didn’t follow that one rule and wrote your way instead of how the professional told you to. But your writing process does not have to be theirs, nor should it.

If you read an article that goes against everything you understand about your writing, you need to consider why. If the article feels like it’s just slamming your process and you can’t take anything but a sense of disillusionment and loss of self-worth, then forget it. Seriously.

You’re the only person who understands how your process works. This doesn’t mean it should be concrete and immovable. Be open to change if your process stops working for you, but don’t change it just because somebody said you’ll never find success by doing X; you need to do Y instead. If that’s your approach, then you’ll be changing your process every other week.

Take What Works

Not every article will just have information that doesn’t mesh with you. Maybe you’ll come across a list of writing tips. One doesn’t seem all that useful, but two or three are mind-blowing. This is the most important tip in the article and the one I’ve used to the greatest effect.

Take what works for you.

I’ve read countless books on writing. Much of the information is useful, some of it less so. As long as you understand your process, you’ll have a keen sense of what advice works for you and what won’t. You don’t have to agree with or reject everything in the article. You can hold those two mind-blowing skills close and let the two less helpful ones slip away.

Writing is a complex task. It only becomes harder when you find yourself reading a wealth of information that might be helpful but might tell you to stop writing comfortably or contradicts something you found useful. Understand your process, follow your gut, and take what works.

And above all else, keep writing.

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Andy Walser

Andy Walser

Andrew Walser is a freelancer writer and former barista who edits the Tears In Rain publication and runs its associated YouTube channel.