“Do this, don’t do that…” — The Five Man Electrical Band.
I have questions.
Three months ago wasn’t the first time I started writing on Medium.
The first story I published was on 12/5/2018. The next one came on 4/21/2019, and then it skips to 11/8/2019. There were a few others, but things didn’t kick into gear until 11/9/2020, with Reasons I Don’t Write.
The reason I could not get started was that I was a trainwreck. Underlying it all was the fact that I was an untreated manic person.
In 2017 I lost a job that I loved. In 2018, my partner of eight years broke up with me. I then moved halfway across the country to a city where I barely knew a soul. Eventually, I started a new job. Finally, in 2019, I lost my son, who died of suicide.
These have been challenging years.
One of these days, I’ll find the courage to read my earliest “work .” I think it will be a discombobulated series of what belongs in a journal. I know I could take them down, but I’ll leave them as a reminder of what a mess I was and how far I’ve come. Well, kinda…
“To create one’s world in any of the arts takes courage”. — Georgia O’Keeffe
When I look back at what I have produced in the last three months, I still think of myself as a so-so writer. But the amount of excellent writing advice I’ve received from others and their stories has been phenomenal.
Things have also improved since I invested in Grammarly. What’s cool about it is that it is there for everything you write when on Google Chrome. It even works on hookup sites! However, no one on those sites cares because most don’t know good writing from bad. While I’m trying to write a short exposé on why we should meet, they’re like, “let’s fuck.” Such eloquent pick-up lines we gays have. But I digress.
The main reason I’m writing this story is that I have read from so many writers that if you’re running out of story ideas, rehash what you’ve written. I’d hardly consider three months “old,” but I’m seeing that it’s not uncommon among my peers. I’m scarcely bereft of story ideas, but I thought I’d try this anyway with a new spin on an old article.
One kind of story I see a lot of is “I Made X Dollars on Medium, and You Can, Too,” or “50 Ways to Make Your Mark on Medium”. I hope to make some meaningful bucks on here at some point, but I know the road is long. I’m still in experimental mode.
I’ve saved 244 stories from Medium to date. Ninety-percent of them are about improving your writing skills or using Medium to your advantage. The comments immediately below are the ones that make the voices in my head scream. Those toward the end are more rhetorical in nature. They make me scream even louder.
- Use the word “you” or “your” in the title of your story.
- Titles that start with a number perform well. But be wary of listicles (which this is becoming).
- Don’t use crutch words (filler words): thanks, Grammarly.
- Don’t use repeating words in a sentence or paragraph. Repeating words are redundant.
- Read your work out loud. Excellent advice. I try to be conversational.
- I keep wanting to add images to my stories. Most say not to. But I’m an advertising major! Headline, image, copy. Maybe it depends on the story. Here’s a totally random image, but it breaks up the copy.
- The first image should bleed from the page left and right. Don’t use any more images. Or use a smaller image. I prefer the latter — it can take a long time to load a larger image. It seems too big to me and may overwhelm the reader, as in, “where’s the story?”
- You have to have a niche. Your niche could cross several publications. Choosing one is hard when you’re a storyteller.
- Leave the reader with advice, or close by solving a problem. Or as some songs end, they just fade out. If one comes to a conclusion, isn’t that enough?
- Write every day/Don’t write every day.
- Most all writers say to read as much or more than you write. Where is everyone finding the time to read?
The funny thing is that, although writing has been my job for several years now, I still seem to have to fight for the time in which to do it. — J.K. Rowling
- Telling your truth: writing stories about yourself that are either embarrassing or have TMI. Some writers have said you’re robbing yourself and the reader if you leave out the details.
- Crank out a story a day (or two) like the prolific Tim Denning. When your stories require research, how is that possible?
- How do you stop the distraction of social media? Though it can be useful in the development of some stories. It’s such a time-waster.
- E-mail lists: how can you charge for a weekly email when everyone complains that they get too many messages already? I do not plan on offering online courses anytime soon! Nor writing an ebook.
- IF I were to use email in some form or fashion, how do I go back and collect addresses from people who are already following me? (Never mind. I just answered my own question.)
- The two areas I am most consternated by are promotion and publications. I think I’ll be able to figure out the promotion piece, but publications stymie me. What is self-publishing on Medium? Is it what I am doing right now? Tom Kuegler, another writer whose work I follow, suggests that you start with your own publication.
- Finally, I have chosen to use a pen name. This question is probably a truism, but do I need to create a new profile/page using my pen name for Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn? How do you pull your contacts from your personal pages to your “professional” page?
Whew. I have a lot to do, and I’m struggling. More than anything, I am just trying to write. This is the first week I’ve been able to publish three stories.
When can I take a break? I promise it won’t be like my first breaks.