Lessons Learned From Six Months of Writing on Medium
I really didn’t want to write yet another post about “writing a story a day”. Many people have done that before me.
But I decided to write about it this morning because I think my opinion differs from most others, and I give my own pros and cons for doing it.
The idea to write about this topic came from when I read a story by Heide Lindgren:
“There is such a ridiculous amount of information out there to sift through and next to none of it is useful or relevant or sometimes even truthful” — Heide Lindgren
She’s not wrong. At least in my opinion. I’ve been struggling to write anything genuine for the past two weeks.
I initially blamed it on my change of environment and lack of focus on my routine.
But I was wrong.
Writing one genuine story a day is just plain hard, no matter the environment or routine.
In my answer to her story, I mentioned a story I had written a while back:
In the story above, I stipulate that quality, “original” content can be created based on authenticity, which is something I aim for in all my stories.
But even then, it’s hard to be authentic on a daily basis.
What I Learned
Writing Once A Day Drains A Lot Of Your Time
From January to March, I wrote one story a day, but I was limiting myself to 40–60 minutes only. That included finding a topic, writing the headline, finding at least one image and finding relevant quotes (in no particular order).
Even though it took me only 40–60 minutes to write the story every day, I obsessed over looking at the stats and responding to most responses I got. Overall, it ended up taking at least 2 hours of my time every day.
And let me say that writing 750–1,000 words in 40–60 minutes is FAST and HARD! You should aim for something more realistic. I was dumb and lucky at the same time for having made it for three months.
If You Don’t Get Published, You Don’t Get Views
I was lucky enough that The Startup published me after only 5 days of writing here on Medium. And that’s without even reaching out to any publications.
But they don’t always publish my stories. Most of the stories they don’t publish don’t get many views. And it’s not because they’re bad. At least I don’t think they are. The people who stumble upon them like them.
I think I’ve had single story that was not initially published and gained a good amount of traction. They asked to publish it later.
Not All Publications Bring The Same Traffic
When I write things that are more story-based, I usually send to The Ascent, because it’s more catered for that.
I do not get the same amount of traffic.
Top publications really make a difference in bringing more traffic to your stories.
But I personally don’t care. I prefer to get published where my stories will resonate more with the readers of that publication.
Do It For Yourself And Your Audience
If you write one story a day for the sake of it, you’ll end up struggling to find the creativity to write something meaningful.
When I started writing, I wanted to write every day simply to improve my writing skills. It was part of the 3 new skills I learn every month. I never aimed for “fame and fortune” as they say.
The “success” I got from it was a side effect of me really caring about what and how I wrote.
Authenticity in your writing makes all the difference. I see it in my stats.
You Will Write Bad Stories
And please recognize that it’s bad.
There are days when I finish writing my story and re-read, and I know it’s bad. I just want to bury it and either give up or write another piece.
But I always at least self-publish. I’m usually right about my stories being bad. I see it in my stats.
I still self-publish because I need to show that perfection doesn’t exist. Even a good writer writes bad stuff. It’s a lesson to everyone.
I don’t necessarily recommend self-publishing bad stories though. You can leave it as a draft.
The Longer The Story, The Lower The Read Ratio
This is not an original tip/lesson, but I think it’s important to understand, especially for new writers here.
Here’s what the breakdown looks like for my own stories:
- 3 Minute Read: 40–50% read ratio
- 4 Minute Read: 35–45% read ratio
- 5 Minute Read: 30–35% read ratio
- 6+ Minute Read: 20–30% read ratio
The Longer The Story, The Higher The Fan Count Ratio
This is not an actual Medium stat, but I obsess over it. I like it when I write stories that a lot of people clap for. That shows higher impact/engagement.
The Fan Count Ratio is: Read Count / Fan Count.
Some of my top stories have about 2 reads for 1 fan. That is incredible in my opinion. That means that every other person has been impacted by what I wrote.
It’s not rocket science, but if someone fully reads a long story, chances are they were indeed impacted by what you wrote.
People Think That 4 Claps Is Great
I was like that too when I started reading things on Medium.
Whenever I was reading a good story, I would clap once. 2 for really good and 4 for great.
What I didn’t realize back then was that 4 is actually very low when you take into consideration that you can clap 50 times.
When someone takes time to respond to my stories in a genuine way, I give them 50 claps. They deserve it.
The following is strictly my opinion on the subject and is not based on facts. Feel free to leave a comment about your thoughts on the subject.
Why You Should Do It
You Have A Message To The World
That is the top reason to do it. I personally didn’t do it for that reason initially, and I think it shows in my earlier stories.
Write because you have learned things in life that you think other people could benefit from.
If you have not experienced much in life yet, you probably don’t have enough material to work with to write once a day for an extended period of time.
Be authentic and your messages shall be received.
You Want To Improve Your Writing
By writing every day, you’ll increase your vocabulary, make fewer mistakes and become more efficient.
It’s a good reason to want to write every day.
You may not attract thousands of readers, but that’s not the point either. Not everyone needs to be famous here.
Also note that you don’t have to publish stories you think don’t add value to your readers.
You Want To Improve Your Storytelling
By writing every day, you will become a better storyteller.
I wrote about this is in the past. If you’re an introvert like me, words just don’t come out as easily orally and they do on paper.
Writing first improves your storytelling skills and allow you to become better at telling your stories in person after.
Like above, if you feel like your story may not add value to your readers, you don’t have to publish it.
Why You Should Not Do It
You Want To Be Famous
It’s not true that you need to write once a day to become famous.
Take Zdravko Cvijetic for example. He writes at most once every week, but the stuff he writes is really good. It’s valuable to a lot of people.
He is a top writer and has written the story with the most views on Medium.
Writing once a day does help with visibility, but what’s more important is this:
“Be so good they can’t ignore you.” — Steve Martin
You Want To Make Money
Please don’t do that.
One, there’s no money to be made unless you’re great. And if you’re great, you probably don’t need to write once a day anyway.
Write once a day to become great, then start thinking about money, but before that there’s no point.
Because It’s A Fun Challenge
I’m not proud to say that part of the reason I did it was because I liked the challenge.
I’m all for challenging myself, but the stuff you publish on Medium is public. It adds to the noise. If the intention is not to provide value to other people, then it makes it harder for the readers to find content they can care about.
Remember folks, you ultimately write FOR your readers.
No one should write every day.
Most people can’t produce quality content on a daily basis.
I personally think that if you have a message to the world, then write about it, no matter the frequency. If it happens that you’ve got so much to say that you can impact people with your writing every day, then do it.
So I say this to you:
Be authentic. Write content your care about. Write things from your own experience. Don’t hypothesize and call it “truth”. Don’t just write the same thing with different words.
You can do this!
Thanks for reading, clapping and sharing ! :)