ILLUMINATION
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ILLUMINATION

To See More Clearly Why I Write on Medium

A Mission Statement is in Order

Photo by Edi Libedinsky on Unsplash

What brings me to Medium? What brings you here?

Let’s be honest. I think most of us are in the same boat. We’ve been lifelong readers, recreational writers and did not pursue writing as a career. But as lifelong readers, we developed a deep love for words put together well.

A pivotal experience for me as a reader was how an especially well-written passage would make me feel. I called this floaty, otherworldly feeling the stepping-off point. You’re reading along, riding the flow of words when suddenly what you’re reading pushes you out into thin air and you are aloft, elevated, placed by virtue of word upon word, somewhere extraordinary.

I have to admit, I aspire to that. Might as well shoot for the moon, right? But to get to the moon, I need to learn how to build a rocket ship to take me there. Write a lot, edit a lot, read a lot, and especially read to see how exceptional writers are doing what they’re doing. Learning the magic tricks.

As I browse through Medium I find that there are many competing articles telling us what we should be doing here, how we can do it better, how to increase our readership, number of followers. In order to make the most of the opportunity this website provides, I think it is imperative to honestly ask yourself, “What exactly am I trying to do here?” Otherwise, how will you measure your progress?

Primarily, the reason I’m here is to become a better writer. In order to do that I have to keep at it. The idea that someone might read what I write is a massive motivational tool for me. It will keep me writing even though it’s excruciating to have to face that annoying, blank page with the tiny blinking cursor at the top that says, “Well? . . . Well? . . . ANYTHING?”

The idea that money could come of it is also enticing, however this is a sticky wicket I believe. What a lot of successful Medium writers will tell you is that in order to be successful like them, you must not write blogs or personal essays. Stop using the word ‘I’. They say that most people want to read something that helps them. The how-to articles. Motivation to Write kind of articles. Everything About Writing in a Nutshell articles. I have to admit that in the beginning that is exactly what I would read. How To Be Successful on Medium and Make Money kind of articles. At first, I did take the advice and wrote two how-to articles. That was the limit of my desire to write how-to’s. Maybe I’m doomed but the personal essay has long been, and probably will forever be, my jam.

There are writers who are insistent that no one wants to read about you, the nobody. I do believe that to be true to a certain extent from observing my own reading choices on Medium. I will take the time, however, to read an unknown person’s thoughts if they can catch my attention with the quality of their thoughts and their writing. If they are unique, distinctive, compelling, I’m in. (Kudo points for being funny).

Even though there is such a wide range of skills displayed on the website, from the professional to people like me, I assume we have a relatively equal chance at catching people with our words. Aren’t there millions of people here on Medium? For people like me who remain unknown to probably all of them, that means the headline and picture selection are crucial. I’m no expert in headline creation, and, to be honest, I write them in my own fashion which is probably why I only have 56 followers. Nevertheless, I’m in this to hone my skills so if it’s a slow build, so be it. Once I can lure people in with good enough bait, hopefully what I write about and how I write it will capture their attention long enough to read it to the end.

Although success on Medium can be measured for some by a big readership and the money that comes from it, I have the good fortune of being retired with a good enough income from Social Security and savings. Money isn’t my primary motivation. I’m not saying it wouldn’t be a nice accompaniment, but it isn’t the goal.

So, what is the goal? To make crystal clear to myself what the goal is, here is my mission statement:

I desire to reproduce as clearly and skillfully as I can something that arouses my curiosity, my wonderment, my response to something. Then spin the tale that this quiet inducement to thinking creates.

Most of the time when I write I don’t really know the end from the beginning. I kind of like it that way. I suppose this means that the reader has to trust that my intuition is leading me somewhere worthwhile. At the very least, I have to trust myself that once I begin typing it will, in the end, be worth the time and effort. This method, if you can call it that, is simply a noticing, then a gesturing to follow its lead. Once I respond and put words to it, hopefully it has its say.

Anais Nin once wrote that, “the personal life deeply lived always expands into truths beyond itself.” I believe that in the writing of the personal essay is the desire to see where your mind can take you if you give it time, attention and a careful choosing of words. To do this to the very best of my ability is why I am here on Medium.

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Sharon Pillai

Sharon Pillai

Learning how to live. Writing helps.