Not going to lie, this week my Medium stats pulled a Titanic.
All my posts received only a handful of views combined and even fewer fans—and that’s with being curated across five categories. In other words, despite looking like they’d sail into the sunset, my stories snapped in two and sunk.
In the past, I’d have launched into an inner monologue about how I wasn’t good enough and should crawl back under the rock I came from. These days, I sigh, brew another coffee and remind myself why I write in the first place. It’s what keeps me moving forward, and it’s what keeps my productivity consistently high.
But as ever, it’s not just about me. I suspect most of us feel like this from time to time. As such, I’ve tried to come up with every motivation for writing on Medium I can possibly think of.
Look at it as bingo for the temporarily disenfranchised and highlight the motivations that keep you writing when you’ve hit rock-bottom. I’m dying to know why you pour your souls out every single day.
For the thrill
One of my favourite writers on here, Helen Cassidy Page, once referred to her earnings on Medium as “winnings”, and it’s made me laugh ever since. It’s also what made me realise why I’ll be a Medium writer until the end of time.
Never knowing how widely a story will be read, how much it will resonate or even how much I’ll ultimately earn from it is mesmerising to me. As a natural optimist and a lover of suspense, I’m like the proverbial moth to the flame.
For the money
I keep reading posts that suggest money is a bad motivation and you should write only for the pleasure of the process. Please. Sometimes the process is like running a marathon on the hottest day of the year, with a hangover.
So long as you don’t tether it to your self-worth, money is a brilliant motivation because most people are inherently results-oriented. As with anything in life, shoot for the freaking moon—just don’t think any less of yourself if you don’t get past the ozone layer.
Zulie Rane has a wonderfully transparent piece on her money-making journey—a reminder that even the brightest stars started at zero. Earning even a tiny amount is still an achievement. Be consistent and patient: your earnings will surely inch up over time.
To feel known
This is especially important for the chronically shy. I sometimes wonder if I’m not more myself when I write than when I actually meet people. My friends certainly complain that I don’t tell them about my problems until I’ve solved them. They say that in doing so I don’t give them a chance to really know me.
And yet I do want to be known. For me, writing is the one place where it’s easy to open up and allow this to happen. I don’t write under a pen name, so clearly this is nonsensical; all the same, it’s true. I wonder how many others feel the same?
For the community
Many Medium writers are unapologetic about their inability to respond to every single comment, and I completely respect that. Many have too many followers and too little time, and they should never be guilted into responding to every single thing.
For me, though, the chance of a community actually drives my output. I’m a freelancer and spend all my time with two smug tabby cats; excellent company though they undoubtedly are, I crave human interaction too. In some ways, this also makes me grateful that my following is small. There’s very little chance I’ll lose track of anyone.
To hone your craft (and even get published elsewhere)
Lord knows I have a lot to thank the Medium curators for. If it weren’t for them passing over some of my stories, I wouldn’t have improved so dramatically. It’s sort of like having inbuilt tutors marking your work. Where else do get that amazing privilege?
Other writers on here feel like my unofficial tutors too because I read them voraciously to uncover what makes their work so effective. Bridget Webber and Jessica Wildfire are just two examples. They combine poetry and prose in some kind of glorious witchcraft. We can all learn from that.
I’ve also received constructive feedback and kind words of encouragement. Both spur me on to write more—and writing more nearly always leads to writing better. Gradually, I’m building the confidence to think that maybe, maybe I could start pitching to magazines. Perhaps you’re one step ahead of me and already have?
To inspire others
I can barely find my way around my local supermarket, so I’d be alarmed if I could inspire anyone to do anything at all. If it happens, it’ll be a pleasant but unexpected side-effect; it’s certainly not a motivation for me…
Or at least not yet. Other authors on here inspire others left, right and centre, so I’m starting to think it could be a motivation writers grow into over time.
As a form of therapy
I’m deeply envious of those for whom writing is a form of therapy. For me, it’s more like having a clutch of fireworks lit under my bum: the more I write, I more I need to write and the less I feel soothed. I think it’s probably because I’m a highly unrelaxing person.
Luckily, most people aren’t me. For many writers, Medium is a safe space to explore and express their feelings and to let them go. They write to feel a sense of calm and relief. And I think that’s wonderful.
I was brought up to believe that doing was more important than thinking, but these days I’m not so sure. In fact, I’m now convinced that thinking clearly leads to doing more effectively. In other words, identifying our “why” always matters.
If we can be honest with ourselves about what we really want from Medium, we’ll always have a reason to keep on writing, and sharing, our stories. And for this reason, knowing our “why” gives us a much higher chance of longterm success.