Lesson from a Year of Writing

What I learned from writing stories on Medium

The Backstory

This is my 25th story. Wow. When I first started this journey of casual writing, I was in the midst of thinking about ways I could implement the advice and tactics I’ve always wanted to deploy.

I needed to publish dynamic content and fit it in with everything else, in order to grow professionally and practice what I preach… like I figured out how to integrate Twitter back in November 2007 or LinkedIn in September 2006.

As I wrote in my pilot story, Lesson from a Keyboard Key, I had the “a-ha moment” when looking at the worn out “c” key on my keyboard… that writing stories fit me better than writing posts.

The Object

I knew it would be tough to establish consistency in publishing and stay motivated. But I did it! Creating the story structure of background, object, lesson (combined with taking my own photos) helped make the writing process manageable… divvying up the work like a production timeline.

The Lesson

While reviewing what worked well would be neat and all, sharing some of what I learned and what didn’t work is more interesting… so here it goes.

Timing of story releases can backfire

I thought my Lesson from a Golf Ball story would be awesome to release during The Masters golf tournament… yea, no. All it did was give me a bunch of clicks but few “reads” — meaning, I created click bait. Not the angle I wanted. Quality over quantity.

The kind of writer you are matters

I am a business writer. I know this. Straight forward. Little fluff. Writing these types of narratives stretches my creative thinking further. Sometimes, I read what I just wrote and thought, “Wow, that’s really boring.” The DELETE button is my friend and my enemy.

Becoming a content creator can suck

A lot of time and effort is put into each story, but if you’re doing it for the praise of others, you’re doing it for the wrong reasons. Be proud of your work no matter how many people see it. Some of my stories don’t break single digits in the number of people who read them. <tear drop>

Writing makes you want to write and read more

So far in writing this story, I have approximately 6–7 hours in it and still have a ways to go. They don’t all take this long (usually 3–4 hours), but hey, this is a recollection story. Oh, and I started reading books.. novels… who would’ve predicted that?! This all takes time, so I make time.

Writing advances the personal brand

There is a direct benefit to sharing these stories on channels like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, this Medium community, and the photo-sharing community of Unsplash (where my story photos are shared). The search engine optimization (SEO) algorithm is extremely complex and ever-changing, but every little bit across the internet helps… even for personal brands.

Have confidence to share stories

Due to writing, I am positioning myself as a thought leader and experience sharer (that’s a thing, right?). I am more comfortable doing that now. But, that’s not how it felt when I started! I was hesitant to post any story on LinkedIn or anywhere else… what if someone read it? What would people think? Turns out… who cares. Just do it.

Key Points from a Year of Stories

  • Know your writing style and learn to appreciate it
  • Figure out how to apply the advice from your mentors
  • Writing provides a sense of achievement and credibility in your craft
  • Find the right combination of tools and channels that fit you

All in all, the “missing c” is STILL here, and, it has lessons to share.

Cover image from my first story on Medium

Written by Shaun Holloway.