The other day, I wrote that every writer here should at least try to get into a Medium-owned publication. And I say so because I believe it’s good for writers to work with editors. Even indie writers.
Working with a thoughtful editor can help make your writing better. The best editors don’t just make changes or suggestions about what you “got wrong.” They look at your writing as a reader, and ask questions you might have never even considered.
Recently, I have had the pleasure of working with editors in Forge and Human Parts, and each one was great. They never treated me like less than a professional, and their questions were enormously helpful.
But one point I now see I failed to bring home is the fact that I’m not talking about writing like a journalist. Several folks have mentioned this idea that Medium wants independent writers to write like journalists, and it’s killing creativity.
I understand this concern as more independent Medium writers feel “pushed out” by the big pubs. And it’s not like I never have my own fears or frustration about my future with Medium, but the truth is that I am not a journalist and I never will be.
Furthermore, when I work with Medium editors, I never feel like that’s what they want from me.
There are many different types of writers.
Some writers identify more as bloggers. Others write humor, satire, or deep-dives. Some write advice, others write articles, and some write memoirs.
None of these are right or wrong. Nothing is better than the other. There are writers of every stripe and the reality is that nobody is ever always going to be the top dog.
I’ve heard it said that Medium doesn’t know what to do with its independent writers and I’m inclined to agree. Many of us here are a different breed: self-taught and making our own writing our careers. It isn’t always easy, but we refuse to give up.
If I was going to write a book or start a publication about my personal writing philosophies, it would probably be called The Self-Made Writer. And a large piece of my message would be to preserve your unique voice.
Don’t feel like you must cater to a journalistic style that doesn’t sound like you. That’s not what I mean when I say that working with an editor can make you better.
I hope you hang onto your writer’s roots.
Maybe your roots are in journalism. I know several writers on Medium who began or later moved to newspapers. Others are more or less rooted in social media, like me. Some are published novelists while others are experts in mental health.
Wherever you started and wherever you want to wind up, I hope that you hold onto your uniqueness. That voice that makes your writing identifiable.
Learning how to write for different editorial standards doesn’t have to change your heart or your voice. And I’m sorry I wasn’t clear about that earlier when I wrote about getting into those Medium-owned publications.
The goal isn’t to change who you are as a writer. The goal is simply to get better. And there are many ways to do that.