What I’ve Realized About Writing Four Years After Signing Up for Medium
I started out at Medium in 2016. Back then, my days were steered by our two daughters’ daily routines, working two part-time teaching jobs, and trying to keep up with deadlines as a freelance content writer. It was exciting to do all of those things, but to be honest, the dailyness takes its toll.
I needed a good distraction, something comforting to trifle with that cup of coffee in those writable 2-AM-moments when everyone at home was asleep. So, when I stumbled upon Medium I did what felt so right at that time — I signed up not knowing how to do it and where it’ll take me. Turns out, it was a good decision. It got me somewhere and here I am writing about it.
But if you’re expecting a success story of how I gained x number of followers from getting readers’ attention for the thousands of stories I’ve published, let me tell you, I’m not writing about that. My Medium reality is quite the opposite because I only managed to publish five stories in those four years…Yes, five stories (the exasperated inner voice taunts: “Five in four years? Does that mean you’ve been writing just once a year! Come on!”). I admit I have to do better.
My writing journey with Medium is still in its early phase. However, even if five is a small number, each of those stories represents periods of transitions that led to unexpected milestones in my life thus far. When I’d write about them, Medium was that other person who’d listen to what I had to say.
I imagine Medium as a 50-year-old scruffy yet handsome man who you’d see wearing his favorite newsboy hat, wise beyond my years. Everyday, he’d be sitting in the same table by the corner of the cafe I’d get my morning cappuccino. While he reads the morning paper, he’d take a glance at me passing by. Perhaps when he got the chance, he’d say, “Where are you off to again? Why don’t you sit for a while, have some coffee and tell me about your day.” I’d understand what he meant, of course. But even if I knew I needed that conversation, I’d choose to decline the invitation over and over. I always had a reason not to, I always had excuses.
If you find yourself in this same spot, then know that what you are going through is normal. The creative process starts out this way for some people like us. At least I get to make things a bit easier for you by sparing you from that 4-year period of limbo and by sharing some writing takeaways in a four-minute read. These are what I’d like to write about today.
Over time, I realized that there is a huge difference between writing as a job and writing as a passion. It is more difficult to write for yourself and write your own words. I experienced how real this is as a content writer for about three years now. I’ve written 300-word to 4,000-word blogs and articles about anything whether it be about food, travel, pets and pet food, home improvement, plumbing, twin births, Amazon, real estate, social media platform, and everything else. I’d meet my deadlines, receive payment and do it all over again. But when the thoughts in my head ask me to write, I would barely have a thousand words. Most of the time, I’d end up discontent with just another unfinished paragraph. This is not what writing is supposed to be.
To get out of that rut, I made a commitment to write everyday at a specific place and time. I know this sounds basic and everyone who writes keeps saying this. But honestly, I have never taken this piece of advice seriously up until today. I knew that I’ve been writing for other people more than I’d write for myself. So setting aside time everyday to free-write for at least 20 minutes makes me recognize that my writing is important, too. Writing became a priority.
Lesléa Newman, in her book “Writing from the Heart,” explains that freewriting is akin to a musician practicing her scales or an athlete stretching her muscles. Doing this is a good way to begin to understand the inner workings of our minds. To write is to listen. We listen to our own words, the world around us and at times we listen to the inaudible. When I started listening, the words started coming out. I’d write them intently. I became more spontaneous and more more confident in my own voice.
Looking back to when I started, I learned that I struggled with writing because of two things: self-doubt and overconfidence. On one hand, I was too much of a perfectionist so I’d end up questioning myself with the thoughts I type up. On the other hand, I felt I knew how to write well since I’ve been keeping a journal almost all my life and because I wrote content for other people. It took years of uninvolved writing to realize that I needed a totally different perspective when writing my own words that would be of value to myself and for others.
I know that The Muse still has so much to show us as we continue writing. We still have so much to learn. But, as we press on, may the words of Lesléa ring through: “Honor the writer in you with time and space that is conducive to bringing her out. Take yourself seriously.”