How I Became A Top Writer on Medium in 7 Different Categories
I’ve published some form of written piece every weekday for the last year, give or take a few off days. Here’s how I managed to do it and what I have learned.
Stop Caring What People Think
Counterintuitively people only started caring about what I had to stay once I stopped catering to what I assumed they wanted.
Instead of tailoring stories to my preconceived notions about what other people expected I focused on writing about what fascinated me and the things I wanted to learn about and explore. If people never read an article or didn’t respond positively to it I never let it stop me or slow me down.
I never paid any attention to the analytics or statistics because I didn’t care. If something was widely read and brought value to a wide number of people then great, if it wasn’t consumed by anyone and only enabled me to explore a topic in my mind to me that was equally positive.
Write for yourself and your audience will love the unique insights you are able to provide. Try to be someone else and they will leave the party as soon as the lights come on because they will realise you are a fraud.
I used to agonise over the message I put out there to the world. I whittled away my content destroying my work a single word at a time as I edited away both the intelligent insights and misplaced words.
Obviously any writing has to reach a certain standard or literary correctness to be legible, but anything above that is unnecessary. Instead of wasting time on perfecting the formatting or grammatical perfection of your message just release your writing to the wild and watch how it acts. You can edit on the fly and make any necessary changes other highlight.
My writing is a minimum viable product.
I began to thinking of my writing as a living breathing thing which could evolve and grow forever. We progress through life constantly changing, why can’t our writing do so as well? I would far rather release something that wasn’t perfect, creating a feedback loop and discussion, then destroy a piece of writing by removing too much.
If you remove too much you will never know how great your writing could have been, whereas if you release your work to a platform like medium you can understand which parts reader have an affinity with. This enables you to understand the parts of your writing which you at excel at while identifying weaknesses you would never have discovered.
Editing is the act of precise destruction. Instead of risking eradication of my best work I release a piece and return to the message at a later date. I cannibalise earlier pieces of writing by stealing snippets and expanding on the areas I have acquired new knowledge.
Remember you are improving for you. If other people enjoy what you write as a by product of your own pleasure then perfect, but it shouldn’t be your goal.
Just do it
Unsurprisingly in order to write more I simply wrote more, but the simplicity of that belies the difficulty of finding time to do so. To afford me the time to write I never became precious about any of the pieces I created.
People view their writing as their baby but I never have, I have always felt like the words I write are only borrowed. They are arranged by me but owned in a different way by each individual who consumes them, the message is conveyed within whatever personal context you have deciphered them and ascribed personal meaning.
This frees me from the shackles of paralysis due to worry about people’s perception. Instead of worrying I just write. Instead of editing I just write. Instead of agonising over topics to write I just begin and see where it goes.
So I write a lot. In my opinion only quantity leads to quality. The lesson: in life quantity always trumps quality because only quantity leads to mastery.
Think about Picasso.
It’s important to understand that though he was a genius only a proportion of his work was viewed as such. Let’s assume only 10% of his work was ‘great’. If that strike rate holds true for the rest of humanity the only difference is output. If I produce 1,000 articles and you only produce 10, I would, therefore, produce 100 ‘great writings’ while you only have one.
Stop Being Defensive
I realise I have been wrong a lot. Instead of wasting time trying to rationalise my thought process I move on and expand my thinking. I don’t let my current limitations or the inadequacies prevent my evolution.
Being wrong is a gift, if you can recognise it, because it allows you the opportunity to alter your mind set and grow. If you can’t admit you aren’t always going to be right, you never will be. Your writing will never improve.
To avoid this I play devils advocate with myself a lot.
I expose myself to unfamiliar materials and open my mind to the alternative of the opinions that I hold hold dear. I play devil’s advocate with myself and develop an understanding, if not an empathy, of the contradiction of my own beliefs.
By opening my mind to the antithesis of my thinking I can uncover holes in my reasoning. Only by understanding the problems with my thinking can I improve and develop it. I never become so entrenched in my beliefs that I would defend them blindly, by understanding the reasons against an argument I try to become cognisant of other people’s perceptions and reasons.
When I receive negative comments to my writing I embrace them as learning opportunities. By doing so and not acting defensively, you afford yourself the chance to improve.
I see the platitude that in order to be a great writer you have to read great writing. Ok, maybe, to an extent, but not to the detriment of your own style. In order to be great you have to be you.
Never sacrifice your own voice or you’ll lose authenticity. Be unashamedly you and accept some people won’t like it. You have to be brave and open yourself to the fact that not everyone will love everything you do.
Act first and apologise later, people are more understanding if you post-rationalise what you have said instead of asking for permission. The same is true of writing, write first and apologise later.
Most of all I have had fun, if you’re not enjoying anything in life what is the point in continuing? I write because I love doing it. That accolades come is almost irrelevant. Sure it feels good to be recognised for hard work, but it’s never been my intention.
To succeed all I had to was stop worrying about what people thought about me. All it takes is one moment of bravery.
What do you have to lose?
What I do When I’m not Writing
I’m building Cleeyk; a lifestyle management system alleviating life’s biggest annoyances; wasted time and effort. It removes your need to worry about insurance renewals and monthly subscription services, ensuring you never talk to another call centre or haggle on price again. Your services renew automatically at the most cost efficient price meaning you never have to search or compare.
We also review what you pay for your monthly subscription services in comparison to other users on the platform and negotiate on your behalf to reduce all your costs to the lowest price possible. Let me know what you think.