And why I started writing on Medium at all.
Photo by THERESE REYES
I started writing on Medium straight out of college many years ago.
I had just finished a 100-day challenge where I publicly documented one thing that made me happy each day for 100 days. I gained so much insight from the journey that I felt compelled to share it with everyone.
I decided on Medium because it was then-up-and-coming, and it seemed like the next best place.
I was also making my debut in the Real World, and I needed an outlet to process all the resulting emotions, not unlike Madison Sasser whose boldness reminds me of my own from back then.
I wrote as if no one was reading and looking back, you can tell.
Thankfully, people still had some nice things to say.
That’s when I realized that my stories could build human connections and enable readers to feel seen and heard. This feedback was especially meaningful as it came from people I knew in my real life.
I felt motivated to keep writing, and I published a streak of weekly pieces for 22 weeks in a row.
I wrote in airports at my gate, on my lunch break at work, and in the evenings after dinner foregoing some chances to go out for drinks with friends.
To be honest, I was shocked at how much free time I had outside of my office job. Until then, my lifestyle had me start the day at 7 am with non-stop activities till midnight, if not 2 or 3 am.
Then, someone special walked into my life.
I fell in love, moved to a new city, started a new job, and my focus shifted away from writing.
I’m convinced that the process of improving myself and sharing my journey had attracted the ideal partner because years later, we’re now happily married.
Since then, I would write when inspiration struck or when I felt like I had something to say. I navigated the ups and downs of my 20s in private, and in a way, I’m glad I did.
Fast forward to the public health crisis.
Nothing would be the same.
I left my job and fell back on writing. It seemed like the next best thing. If it led me to my partner, surely, it will lead me to more beautiful things.
As I started to create output shortly after quitting my job, I took a break and studied how to write in this present day and age instead.
After a year of careful study, here’s what expert writers repeatedly recommend on what it takes to get eyeballs on your piece.
#1 — Write for an audience
People are busy and burnt out. They need to know what’s in it for them from the get-go. Respect your reader and keep them front of mind.
We are in the attention economy. Writers compete with TikTok and Instagram reels. Low attention, low focus.
#2 — Write evergreen content.
Evergreen content stays relevant across time and space: relationships, dating, love, work, money, productivity, self-improvement, health, and motivation.
Everyone wants to learn more about how to live a simpler, happier, and healthier life.
#3 — Keep it simple.
Write at a basic 6th-grade level. Big words lose people’s interest. They interrupt the flow of your sentences.
#4 — Aim for publications (at least for Medium)
Publications come with a community. Readers are invested in the topics covered in said publications. Add your voice while engaging with fellow writers and readers, and see how you can build relationships.
If you run your own pub and can get writers to publish with you, even better.
#5 — Lose the desperation
Have fun with it. When you try too hard, it’s obvious. Writing online is not that serious. It’s creative, it’s analytical, it’s expressive, it’s fun. What wants to be said will be said — let it.
#6 — Know your tone
No one wants to be yelled at or condescended upon. Don’t let your name be associated with the thing that leaves people with a bad taste in their mouths.
A writer whose tone I admire is Jessica A. After spending time reading her pieces, I hear her distinct voice, which is kind, welcoming, and honest.
My intent is to leave people feeling inspired and validated. I’ve been told my voice is clear, crisp, and straightforward. I say it how it is.
#7 — Write what you know.
You can’t go wrong with being authentic. Whether it’s listicles, creative non-fiction, humor, advice, or personal essays, write what you know. Be true to yourself. And write what you would want to read.
If I could go back in time, I would tell my younger self these seven tidbits on writing.
- Write for an audience
- Write evergreen content
- Keep it simple
- Aim for publications
- Lose the desperation
- Know your tone
- Write what you know
Lastly, a reminder to myself: stay consistent and stay the course. You never know who’s watching and who you’re inspiring along the way.