That’s nice. How nice for you.
Is it slightly weird that a comical amount of pieces on Medium are written about Medium? Yep. Do I actually mind all that much? Absolutely not. As soon as Medium turned this space into a revenue portal as opposed to just a place we’d come to complain on Saturday mornings, a lot of those Medium pieces about Medium were obviously going to pertain to money. But honestly, good lord. Apart from “be a talented writer” and “have your shit go viral” what exactly are we supposed to glean here?
You’ve seen them, the “64 absolutely essential tasks to complete if you ever want to make enough money to buy even so much as a sesame seed bagel from writing on Medium” that kinda thing. And in general I take these pieces with an absolutely glacial-sized grain of salt. Viral success is really hard to replicate. I mean I’ll burn sage over my laptop and do a sheet mask before sitting down to write but I’m really not codifying my approach into a list of instructions that require an Allen wrench and a translator app to assemble. I really just don’t see the point. I don’t think that was ever the point of Medium. At least it wasn’t for me.
Chasing success that mirrors someone else’s feels like a bummer. I think it comes from a sad place, one that’s glued together with jealousy and the assumption that there’s a limited amount of success out there. It’s the kind of thinking that raises anxieties and assumes everybody better grab some success before they’re left without a chair when the music stops. I think there’s infinite success out there in the ether, and even in here on Medium. But I’m also guessing that watched earnings never boil.
Stop comparing your earnings to the earnings of other writers, if that’s what you’re doing right now. There are other places to put the energy you might otherwise spend chasing the dollars earned by someone else who was both very talented and very lucky. One thought? WRITE SOMETHING. And hey you’re already in the right place for it literally at this moment. You don’t even need another browser tab to occupy yourself right now—looky there. You have blank pages, ideas, hopefully hands, get after it.
I tend to write under two circumstances: One, something inspired me. You’re reading an inspired piece right now. I thought to myself, sweet mother of Hermione Granger there has to be a way to make us all calm the down and just enjoy writing here. Right? WRITE? Help me.
The other circumstance usually involves me getting really angry. I’m an anger-motivated creative and it suits me. But I’m not angry today. I’m a little cold, just ate some disappointing granola, but angry? Nah. Today I’m just here to help. The twenty seven cents this piece will earn me matters not at all if it means I was able to comfort a fellow writer frustrated by countless stories of earnings in the thousands for one piece of work as if by magic. (It kind of was magic. Please don’t stress about this. You’re doing amazing sweetie.)
Look, if you want to spend your time on Medium consumed by financial jealousy and stress over how much coin every sentence that flows from your fingertips is going to make, be my guest — I suppose there are worse ways to spend an afternoon. But I’d rather spend mine writing whatever I’m inspired to write in the moment, knowing that there’s a place I can publish it where I’ve worked hard to build a following over time, a place where feedback is easy to come by, a place that simply lets writers write.
We are here on Medium because it’s a place that lets writers write. I am often torn between being nice-n-happy that I can earn extra income from this space, and deeply concerned that the introduction of money is going to turn this into an alphabet mosh pit real soon. I sold my Doc Martens in the early aughts, guys —I’m not equipped.
While I assess my feelings, I urge us all to spend our time on Medium doing what we love — writing about whatever we want to write about without worrying whether or not some editor is going to like it enough to publish it, change half of what we wrote, or never even write back to the pitch email. We have been given a gift. We’ve been given blank space. The words we fill it with will last much longer than any money they earn. Yes that sounds very Danny Tanner of me but you know what? I’m right. I write. You write. It’s alright. It’s Medium.