Today marks my 1-month anniversary of signing up to the Medium platform.
Having been a freelance writer for the last 19 months, I realised I had been focusing most of my attention on writing for my clients, whether it was in the form of blogs, website copywriting or other forms of content marketing, and I wasn’t spending enough time writing for myself, or about topics I genuinely cared about.
As a brief insight into where I am right now; I’m 24, worked in a retail management role since leaving education at 16, went travelling for six months, got horribly into debt, returned home, fell into a miserable factory job working ridiculous hours and found myself thinking there must be a better life than this.
I then fell into freelance writing and went full time after a year of grinding two jobs to work from home. Although I received top grades in English in Upper (High) school, I rarely wrote. Freelancing helped me to discover that I adore writing.
It quickly became a passion.
When I discovered Medium, I read through 3–4 stories which I fell in love with instantly. I signed up for a membership there and then.
I uploaded my first post, Why Failure is My Best Friend, on the 5th March; nine days after registering.
‘Failure’ was a topic I had spoken in depth about with friends. A huge percentage of people I know are scared of failing, so much so that it becomes overwhelming; holding them back from their dreams.
It was my aim to inspire and motivate the readers of the piece, all 19 of them of them to date.
Typically when I wake up in the morning, I enjoy reading through the homepage, which usually consists of self-help guides and political opinions.
Since I was aiming to get my content out to the largest possible audience — because come on, which writer doesn’t? — I planned to cater my next couple of posts to this self-help niche.
This resulted in me writing and posting How I Power-Start My Morning, Every Morning (7th March) and Taking Back Control of Your Digital Smartphone Diet (18th March).
Collectively, these articles have amassed around 50 views.
One evening, I sat on the floor to meditate, which used to be consistent, now 0–4 times a week, and my brain exploded into thought.
Four deep inhales. Four deep exhales.
Okay, those two niche articles are based on topics I’m passionate about, the information and stories within them are genuine, but upon reading them back to myself, they still read like generic articles.
I list out questions to help connect the reader, I offer advice that’s backed by my personal experience, but I’m still not personally happy with the content I’m producing.
I need to write from my heart.
I instantly dropped everything and wrote Entering the Present Moment at 70mph (15th March), a recollection of a night last year where I was involved in a suicide accident in which an individual ran onto a dual carriageway in front of my car after an airport run.
This was by far the most challenging, yet enlightening, piece I have ever written. Of course, the experience was tragic and reliving the details was unsettling, but I wrote it from start to finish in a single sitting.
Every single word flowed into the Word document as though my heart was in my very fingertips. Every sentence has meaning, passion, perspective and my own personal insight. I was telling my story from the heart, rather than a calculated format or online copywriting guide.
Those goddamn guides.
I had no incentive to change anybody’s life. It wasn’t the goal to inspire, motivation or make someone stop and question everything they ever knew; I was sharing my story, and people could take anything they wanted away from it.
I was writing about something I truly wanted to write about.
I published the piece, and it skyrocketed to over 200 views in just 24 hours. The feedback I have received has been incredible. After Tweeting a link to the story on my relatively inactive Twitter account, I woke up to messages on both platforms like;
I was speechless. I was writing from my heart for the first time, and the consequent message was far more impactful than anything I had written before. I was overflowing with passion, excitement and drive.
It was as though I had fallen in love with the art of writing.
Not two days later, I was in the shower, and a random thought popped into my head.
As soon as I got out, I sat down at my laptop and wrote You Have 30,000 Opportunities to Live Your Life, which was then uploaded 3 days later (21st March). On a whim, and after reading a guide on using Medium, I decided to submit it to The Startup publication.
After all, the worst thing to happen would be a ‘no’, and I could just publish it on my own page. It was accepted within an hour of submitting it. Currently sitting around 450 reads, the feedback from this piece is mind-boggling.
I have received over a dozen Tweets and direct messages about how my perspective on life has changed the lives of the readers and how they feel motivated to live their life with a new and refreshed mindset.
This felt unreal. People were starting to engage with my messages. They were listening to me. This is the aspiration I had always sought for and responsible for me to become a writer in the first place, a dream that’s beginning to turn into a reality.
This feels me with a new sense of purpose and drive to write with passion. I never knew writing was going to be the thing I fell in love with. I think I’ve always romanticised the idea of being a writer but never sought to pursue it.
A writer’s desire to connect and communicate with other human beings with open, honest and meaningful conversation is a powerful aspiration, but we all have our own crafts to master.
Your story can only be told by you.
Over the last 30 days, I have learned a lot about what it means to be a writer, and by that, I mean an absolute tonne.
Whereas I signed up the site while planning to write articles that could help people using data and information and facts, I have instead found a way to connect with other humans in a way that we seem to be losing to alternatives like texting and Tweets.
Of course, I will continue with my content marketing job for now, but I will also invest time in doing what I love.
This new form of writing has altered what I believe writing means to me. In addition to enjoying the art of crafting each word to create an image in the reader’s head, to give them a clear insight into my perspective; my content was making an impact.
I’ve always believed myself to be conscious and engaged in the world but found that the problems — such as climate change, world poverty, or war — were so big, so global, one person couldn’t make a difference. I felt lost and utter despair.
However, by writing from your heart about the things you know and care about, instead of trying to fulfil a niche or write for a target reader you know nothing about, you can feel complete.
Instead of trying to tackle the problems we face in the world head-on, whether that stems from massive corporations, global affairs or even our own relationships, levels of motivation or financial issues, share your genuine experiences with the world and the insight you learnt from them.
It’s so easy to be generic and list off eight ways someone can eat healthier or boost their productivity or the benefits of travelling the world — the Internet is literally overflowing — but what about taking a trip to some of the darkest times in your life where you felt as though your heart was broken so badly — so intensely — that, at the time, you never thought you were going to be able to move forward?
Whether you’re posting on a platform like Medium or sharing your masterpieces on your social media pages, you never know who is going to read your content.
You never know who is going to find the message they needed to hear at that exact moment in their life, giving them the opportunity to use your own raw experiences to potentially change their life forever.
Of course, you don’t always have to write about the worst times in your life. You might be happier now than you’ve ever been.
But instead of writing a listicle of nine ways to be successful, convert your bullet points into a story of why you believe people should be taking your advice based on your experiences, the hardships and brightest days of your adventure to get to where you are today.
My month of Medium has flown by, and it’s safe to say that it’s been an insanely enlightening and positive experience.
If I’m to give one piece of advice from the time I’ve spent on this platform, it’s this;
Don’t aim for views.
Don’t aim for the number of reads.
Don’t aim for the most claps or likes.
Write with the aim to explore the very rawest depths of your being and allow your words to carry your emotions, messages and thoughts into the heart and souls of others.
Originally published at theascent.pub