Reflections on my first year on Medium

For long years I’ve yearned to write. To create, more than I consume. 2019 was the year that happened.

an age where Silicon Valley types design ever more clever ways to grab and keep my attention on things like facebook and Quora; as well as the general distractions in life of being a working dad — it was difficult to overcome the inertia and put pen to paper for the first time.

I wanted to write for a few major reasons:

  • To better formalise, structure and document my thoughts
  • To share my message more broadly, beyond a handful of my like-minded friends — on the rare occasions that our busy lives permitted us to catch up
  • Get used to putting my thoughts out there — in the wild, and be able to take the flack from haters
  • To change the world. To help influence the zeitgeist one person and subject at a time. To educate, or shed light around a topic

I dreamed of writing regularly, building up an audience, and maybe even earning a buck or two along the way.

And so, at the dawn of 2019, I made a pledge. This was the year. This was the year I was going to become a writer.

As it is now 12 months since my first article was published, I am going to take stock and celebrate the growth I’ve had over that time.

I still consider myself a beginner — and have only made the most tentative of forays into being a writer.

Nonetheless, even notch 1 on the ladder of writing is an infinite times further along than not starting at all; and it is important to celebrate successes — even minor ones, wherever one may find them.

Here are 13 observations and lessons I’ve gotten from the last year:

  1. I have published 55 articles in that time. This proved that I could build the habit of writing regularly (despite having a day job and two kids) but also that I had a well of ideas to write about
  2. I have learned what topics I tend to write about. At first, I thought that I’d write about “everything” and that it would be impossible for me to find settle on a specific niche. So I decided to just write…and see what came out. Turns out I tend to write a lot about history, comment on politics and society, and speculate about life in the far future. I also found out what I don’t write about — for instance: jazz music or romantic relationships
  3. I have had to continuously test my motivations for writing. Was it to write clickbait that can get the most clicks (and thus money) possible — or should I stay true to my spirit and let my muse guide me — come what may. My resolve was tested each time I met with success on whether to write more of what I know will “sell” or write more of what I want to
  4. Writing is not about using big flowery words (although that can be fun). For most of the world — English is a second language. If I truly want to write — I need to use simple, clear, and articulate language. I need to focus on being understood rather than trying to show off my vocabulary
  5. I tried a variety of styles for my posts. Not to just see what sticks but simply a way of creative expression. From the usual non-fiction pieces to commentate, educate or speculate to more fictitious ones, personal tales, memes or just plain silly ones. I was fearful that they would tank — being a little bit too offbeat. They didn’t, and am glad I let my muse guide me on those interludes.
  6. I have been curated 19/55 times — so about 36% of the time. I’m pretty happy about that. Curated articles tend to get a greater reach in my view — but not always. This post won’t get curated (as it is about Medium) — and will drag down that stat. Oh well.
  7. I have been fortunate to have been published in a variety of Medium publications — including a few with around 60,000+ subscribers. I learned that it is not the size of the publication that counts but how engaged the readership is (obvious I know but its a lesson I had to learn). My most successful posts were published in smaller topic-focused publications such as Lessons From History or Predict.
  8. I have had Top Writer status on a few topics: History, Science and in Future (twice). It feels nice to have the recognition — but easy come, easy go.
  9. Without Medium — I would have only discussed a handful of these topics…with probably a handful of friends. Thus, I am grateful when I see even one person has viewed my posts. As of today, my posts have had a total of around 70,000 views.
  10. Views aren’t everything. About 40% of people read my articles in their entirety. I don’t know if this is good or bad — but I do know it’s better than 10%
  11. I have earned money. Nothing in the first 5 months but since then — over $1,000. This has been beyond humbling. This has given me the confidence to call myself a writer. I still remember earning my first $1 and sharing that screenshot with my friends
  12. I have found my tribe. Sort of. It’s not one tribe — but many. When I first started — it was really hard for me to find the types of readers, publications, and other writers for whom my content came anywhere near resonating with. Even in those early days when the “beginner’s fog” was all around me — there were a few people who engaged with me which in turn encouraged me to keep going (whether they knew it or not). People like Daniel Goldman who took the time to comment and Eric Martin who was the first to accept one of my articles into his publication.
  13. I have been able to build and strengthen relationships by having a blog as an area around which I can have conversations. I can share my ideas, and engage in conversations both about the subject matter but also the nature of being an online blogger

Much of this would not have been possible of course without the amazing platform that is Medium.

Guidance I received from reading other writers like Tom Kuegler and Christopher OLDCORN helped me get started.

Motivation from those like Alice Vuong and Ayodeji Awosika kept me going as I thought of quitting.

More recently, my compatriot Tim Denning and John P. Weiss have made me want to grow and better my craft.

Then there are the myriad of writers and contributors on the platform that provide me with both insight and entertainment. Who make me not just a creator on the platform but also an avid user of it.

This has been my most creative year. And each of you — reader or writer have contributed greatly to it.

In 2020, I will keep going. I will continue to post regularly, try to engage more with the community — and if possible make friends, venture into some flash fiction on the side, and maybe even self-publish a book based on some of my articles.

Thank you all for your support and I look forward to the year ahead.

An observer of history, human development, geopolitics, society, and the future

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