At the beginning of April, I gave myself the task of writing every single day on Medium for a solid three months. I talked about the bold move of this writing challenge here.
Since then, I’ve been consistently posting piece after piece with varying results, but also a lot of personal discovery.
It’s for this particular reason why I’d like to share what exactly I’ve been realizing. Despite the multitude of “What I Learned From Daily Posting On Medium” articles on here, I think mine will be refreshing.
Many people who came before me, posting those articles talk about some of the more technical aspects of Medium. They shared writing tips and maybe a few gimmicks or two.
Those are certainly helpful, but they’ve already been done. They’ve already been explained time and again to the point it doesn’t yield much to those who are looking for success.
It’s very rinse and repeat for those articles.
As a result, they don’t share much insight. Unless of course this is your first time ever reading these types of posts.
Instead, I wish to take a different approach.
The truth is, a lot of the things I’ve realized came from myself and from how I’m writing and presenting things.
Some technical things, yes. But a lot of it is the inner workings of the artist themselves.
Our craft is a reflection of our current reality. Therefore, by writing, we are shifting our views and passing them along to others.
As a result, any kind of personal experiences from these challenges can be considered valuable advice for other writers. Perhaps they can be more effective than the technical advice that is given.
So as I am sharing the technical and personal lessons I’ve learned thus far, I encourage you to take them to heart. Apply them, make some alterations, and make it work for you.
Technical Lesson: Formatting & Editing
As I stated at the very beginning of this challenge, formatting was a thing I kind of did. Editing, however was an even rarer thing.
I’ve written a lot of pieces over the several years I’ve been writing, and one thing is certain:
Those pieces sucked, and I wish I edited them.
This isn’t some regret I’ve been harbouring all these years, no. It’s but a lesson that I needed to learn for myself.
You could certainly put together something and post it, but you don’t know what the results are going to be like.
I remember back in 6th grade when we had to write a short story on anything we liked.
I kept putting it off as I sucked at story telling. Not to mention I wasn’t the best at English either. I can thank the bilingual education system that I was put through for that.
Anyway, it got so bad that my mom had to sit down with me and we finished it together. It took several hours, with me whining and complaining throughout the entire thing.
What the story was about didn’t matter, but what did, was the correction part of it. We were told we needed to mark our corrections on the draft itself.
Needless to say, there were a lot of them.
In fact, the amount of correcting and changes in ideas was so much, that you could make out the first line of the story and not much else. I hated that fucking story and kept arguing with my mom on that.
The thing is though…
That story got me student of the month in Language Arts for that month.
Although my writing isn’t much of a train wreck as it was back then, editing is still important.
I could’ve submitted that draft as is, only to find dozens of errors throughout the story.
But my mom dragged me along, kicking and screaming. And because of my terrible writing, I got recognized.
Maybe for the wrong reasons, but I can’t be certain.
Regardless, devote time to editing, you won’t regret it. Maybe you might get an award some day.
Personal Lesson: Reading Articles
Because I find myself on Medium now every single day, I’ve been finding myself reading more articles.
People like Tim Denning, Jon Westenberg 🌈, Benjamin P. Hardy, and many others have been on my reading list. Although their work varies, what’s helped me is not only the advice but how I’m writing too.
It’s helped me to think of my writing more critically.
This will be reflected in the pieces that I will be sharing with you all moving forward.
As much as it’s important to be contributing to the community, so too is the content. Sure some of the content may be not what you need, but there are still people who enjoy telling stories.
They have a method to how they present articles that make it interesting and informative.
Medium isn’t a high traffic and high reading time site for nothing.
So devote a little bit of time to reading. I devote three articles a day from a combination of articles on my reading list as well as what Medium gives me.
By engaging in the community, we are extending ourselves. Furthermore we are enriching ourselves by being exposed to new ideas and views.
Technical Lesson: Storytelling vs Sharing Facts
Another thing that I learned from reading articles is more on how to present things in written form. For the longest of times I’ve been wrestling over how I should be writing.
It’s kind of why I want to do this writing challenge.
It’s not that I don’t know my voice, but more of answering a question.
How can I present my voice in the best light possible?
Should I opt for telling stories?
Should I focus on the facts?
Should I just say “fuck it” and mix the two together in some weird combination?
….Maybe not the last one.
Instead I think it’s important to pick between storytelling and fact based articles.
For me, I’m leaning more toward storytelling.
If there is one big thing that I’ve realized is I still have a lot of stories that I can tell.
Like that short story that got me student of the month, that’s something I haven’t openly shared before. I had to pull back from the dredges of my memory for that.
I believe the biggest thing that blocked me from telling stories is I downplay them or think they’re not as interesting. My father tells a lot of stories and they’re all pretty funny.
But I’m not my father.
So it’s important for me to not discount my stories and not worry so much about them being funny.
They are my stories, my experiences.
They are not like my fathers.
The same applies to you. Don’t bar yourself because of an old line of thinking.
I think that through these stories comes the facts that we can share.
By all means, I’ll continue to link things and do some research. Editing is part of that process.
But it’s more important for us to share our stories and what we believe in. Through that, we are able to make shifts and explain things in our own way.
Personal Lesson: Going Out
In Jeff Goins book Real Artists Don’t Starve he says this:
The Starving Artist thinks he can be creative anywhere. The Thriving Artist goes where creative work is already happening.
What this means to me is where you work matters significantly.
The starving artist thinks they can work anywhere they like and get results.
However the thriving artist will spend time in creative environments firmly established.
Since I started this writing challenge, I’ve been taking some time to going outside far more often. The nicer weather is certainly a contributing factor, but I can imagine myself going out regardless of the whether by this point.
The thing is is that an artist needs to find a space where they can be creative. Even though my room is adequate enough for this, it’s still comforting to get out and be a human being.
Furthermore being out in public gives us room to get ideas and collaborate with others.
The cafe I found is great as there are people doing school work, planning projects, and having a relaxing conversation. People share ideas or make statements that pique my curiosity.
That doesn’t happen if you sit in your room all day.
Technical Lesson: Mapping The Setup
This writing challenge has also taught me to plan things out ahead.
Barring yesterday (where I posted at 1:30 pm rather than noon sharp), I’ve been consistently posting at the exact same time with no issues.
A lot of that has to do with writing in advance which is a given. You could’ve seen that coming with the fact I’m writing so many things. Not to mention, I have themes and some research behind it.
But taking the time to map out exactly what you want to talk about in advance and having a topic list to pull from is quite helpful. This also depends on what exactly you are writing about.
One thing that I want to do moving forward is to journal a bit. I want to be writing more often on here moving forward.
As such, I think it’s important to jot down a few notes about my day. Things like what I learned and what I did.
It’ll be a different approach to how I’m writing right now and that’s mainly due to my next lesson.
Personal Lesson: Follow Your Own Path To Success
I love Jon’s piece for today, it explains things perfectly when it comes to being successful.
It proves many points, but the biggest point is that the path to success is different for every single person.
Those points to success contradict one another.
I understand people want to be helpful and share what worked for them in the past.
But that’s the thing.
It worked for them. It might work for you, or it might not.
Instead, I think it’s smarter to use peoples words and twist them to make it fit your life. I am all for hustling and I’ve put together a pretty sweet strategy, but I’m not about to wake up at 5am to execute it.
Some might think that’s a sign of failure, but is it really?
I still wake up at 7am in the morning. I’m full of energy and get through everything I want to do with hours to spare.
In the end, we need to follow our own paths and that also means writing as well. Write how you want to write.
I know that contradicts what I said above about storytelling, but that’s kind of the point.
Storytelling is awesome and I know many people who are using it fantastically. But that might not be for you.
Maybe you want to stick with mostly facts and share the personal side through random statements or beliefs.
Perhaps you’ll project your personality through pictures or gifs.
Or you might be like me where you use words with emotions and see pictures as secondary.
Do what works for you.
Personal Lesson: Learn To Adapt
Another thing is to learn to change when necessary.
I will be keeping to the clauses that I presented at the beginning. With those clauses in place, I’ve come to realize all of these things. They’ve helped my writing. But it’s helped my mindset more.
I’ve been exposed to new things that broaden my mind further. I can’t quite explain it, but taking a step back and looking at my work and the other things I’m doing, I have noticed a change.
There’s more consideration and a willingness to adapt and change. I’ve been asking myself more questions, but not getting strung up about it.
It’s this new adaptation that I’m excited about and can only be done when we deviate from our norm.
When we push our level of comfort beyond what we said we would do.
That is where adaptation comes in and we grow in ways we never thought of.
What This Challenge Has Taught Me
What this challenge has taught me has been extensive. This comes from the overall purpose of this writing challenge to me. This challenge isn’t some way to grow my audience and leave it at that.
This challenge has also been about me growing as a writer.
And I have to admit, I’ve been doing a lot that I didn’t even realize. It’s a nice feeling.
What’s more exciting though is that this is only the half way mark. There is a lot more to it than that.
To your growth!
Eric S Burdon