I finally figured out why I write on Medium and I made all but one of five mistakes to do it.
In my time here on Medium I’ve read a lot of articles by some really great writers. I mean, some really awesome writers. Most of these articles, if not all of them, resonate with me in some fashion or another.
I often take away multiple perspectives and ways of looking at things, even if the writers are speaking on the same topic.
And so it was this past Sunday when I read an article by Zulie Rane:
When It Comes to Writing, You Need to Forget About the Money
The psychological reason your driving force can’t be financial gain.
The interesting thing is today’s Thursday and I’m still thinking about this piece. Thinking about it so much I decided to put what I’ve written over the past three months under the microscope.
It ain’t pretty folks. Here’s a list of my top five mistakes I’ve made on Medium. Hope you don’t make the same ones.
First Mistake — Not Writing
I’ve been a “Mediumite” since 2017.
You like that term? Feel free to use it.
Medium was created in 2012, which should put me on the bottom rung of the “middle” category of the spectrum right? Well, with respect to my membership it may, but here’s the truth.
In the beginning I didn’t see any practical benefit.
Paying fifty bucks a year to read articles? I could do that on the internet for free.
Then I discovered the Medium paywall and I thought booyah, here we go.
But, it wasn’t until March of 2019 I decided to write on this platform in earnest. If my books didn’t make any money (they haven’t made much so far) I could make some dough on Medium right?
I knew it wouldn’t be easy. I’d already read several articles about needing to get your work out there a lot. I’m not talking about posting one article a month or once every other week. I’m talking daily.
A fresh article every day.
Second Mistake — Writing For Curation
So off I went, burning down the house with my stories. I told myself the only way to make some serious change on Medium was to get my stories, all my stories, curated.
And I told myself I had a damned good chance right out of the gate. I mean, I already had three books under my belt right? I knew how to put words together.
Piece of freaking cake.
So I wrote emotional shit about my life I thought would make the Curators take notice. Now mind you, it was all true. After reading so many articles about honesty in one’s writing I knew I needed to write pieces which resonated clear and true. Which I did.
But for some reason the pieces weren’t getting curated.
Then I tried humor. I mean, come on, everybody likes a good laugh. Even the Medium curators right?
That didn’t work either.
I decided to shake things up a bit, started casting my net all over the freaking place. I fished around with several articles of pathos and poignancy (at least I thought they were) guaranteed to make the curators weep and blow their noses into snot rags. I spiced things up with splashes of satirical witticism. As my net got bigger, I even tossed in recommendations on how to become a better writer.
Never got so much as a nibble.
Didn’t take me long to realize my lure’s weren’t working.
So what does a fisher person do when they’re not catching fish?
You got it sports fans. I changed fishing holes and I changed lures.
I decided fuck that, I’m done with trying to get curated. I can do this money thing another way.
Third Mistake — Catering to the money market
My new tactic to break the bank was to read all my favorites and study the topics of the pieces they wrote about, then mirror what they’d done to get humongous reads and even higher numbers of claps.
No not copy, not plagiarize for God’s sake, but take the same topic they were getting rave reviews on and offer my own opinions on it.
Surely my articles would start getting the traffic I needed to make some big money.
Forth Mistake — Writing with rage, because you’re pissed off you’re not making any money on Medium
After almost three months of day after day articles and getting nowhere I got pissy big time. I started ranting that the Curation Gods sucked. Started writing sensationalism pieces where my anger spewed out like water from a broken fire hydrant.
I so mistook anger for passion.
I was ranting with the misguided thought everyone would read my articles and go — wow, what a passionate dude. Let’s read more.
I told myself that’s what I needed to start making money. Anger/passion should do the trick.
And again, nope.
Fifth Mistake — Giving up
I’m glad to report I have not made this mistake. I’m either too stupid, or way too fucking stubborn to make this mistake.
But that doesn’t mean I didn’t think about it.
I came dangerously close to making mistake number five folks. Then I met Henry James.
Henry James helped me understand finally, thank you Jesus finally, why I write each and every day.
No, the guy’s not a Medium apostle or anything like that. In fact, Henry James only exists within the hallowed halls of Medium stories.
Because Henry James, writer for Dark Sides of the Truth Magazine, is a figment of my imagination.
I know, weird huh? It’s a given, and I’ve said it in the past, we writers are a neurotic bunch. My neurosis probably isn’t that much different from all the rest.
Or maybe it is. Who knows?
Maybe a bevy of psychiatrists are slugging it out to be the first one to get me on their patient list.
But my lunacy aside, Henry James is more than a fictional character to me.
I was at the end game of my writing. I’d tried a ton of slick tricks and hooyah bullshits to make money on Medium and nothing was working. Even worse, my inspiration well ran dry. I was struggling to come up with anything to write about, and what I did write could only be categorized as, well, shit.
Then Henry stepped in and vi-o-la, out came the first Henry James story:
Please don’t take this as blatant self-indulgence or me trying to hype a story.
*disclaimer — However, if you by chance stumble across (ahem, the link above works. I’ve tried it) a Henry James story, please have yourself a read.
I’m telling you when Henry James became a reality I realized what I’d been trying to do on Medium all these months was so totally fucked up. I’d been writing the articles with the intent of getting curated, getting more fans and reads, and making money. It was all about the money.
IT WAS ALL ABOUT MAKING MONEY.
These days, with Henry James stories I so totally don’t give a shit if I make money with them. Don’t get me wrong. I’d love to make some serious pocket change in the future. I’m not altruistic to the point I’m willing to put in all this hard work for free.
Yes, it’s work. Damned hard work, but when I write a Henry James story I’m doing what I love to do.
I’m going to say that again.
I’m, Doing, What, I, Love, To, Do.
It took almost two damned years and a stellar article by Zulie Rane for me to realize why I signed up on this platform in the first place.
Think about it lads and lasses. Where in the hell else can some old turd like me sit in front of a computer, drink coffee, make shit up and have some of the most memorable times of his life?
In my mind, nowhere but Medium folks. Right here with my old bud Henry James.
So, If you’re here on Medium and you’re making all the mistakes I did, then stop it, just stop it.
Remember why you signed up in the first place.
If you have a point to make, make it. If you have a story to tell, tell it. If you have a poem to share, then by all means share it.
Just keep writing.
Forget about the money. You shouldn’t be writing solely with the intent to make tons of money.
You should be writing because you love to write.
Let’s keep in touch: email@example.com