Back in October when I started writing on Medium, I was full of myself. I thought from my lifetime of writing in journals and blogs, and all the freelancing, that I was a good writer.
I thought it would be easy for me to make thousands on Medium because, why wouldn’t everyone love me?
I had a very rude awakening.
As I read more and more, I saw very good writers publishing their work. It was so much better that mine. I know it’s not a good idea to compare ourselves to others, but for me, it was a learning experience. I got to see the divide between what a good writer was — and me.
It was eye-opening.
If I look back now at work I published in October — I have to admit that it was bad. I know we all have to start somewhere, but I feel like everything I did was subpar.
I know I’m improving.
Because I publish several times a day, my work has gotten better. I have focus and I put more effort into each piece I write. I’m still a pantser when it comes to planning what to post, but I concentrate more on the editing and revision. I have more quality-control steps to ensure that my spelling and grammar are excellent.
I’ve implemented and trashed many different processes to get to this point. I experimented until I found a system that allows me to be creative but still allows my work to be more polished.
What do I do?
I spend about 2–3 hours on each piece. I’ve been avoiding publishing anything that takes too much research. I like to write about what I know.
I think of ideas throughout the day, so I always have a tab open with a new story ready so that I can save ideas as drafts. If I am scrolling on the phone, I switch over to the app and type in my ideas before saving the draft.
As many ideas as I come up with, I tend to use up the best ones daily. I have about 100 bad ideas floating around in my drafts. I haven’t figured out why I save them. I guess I’m hoping they will magically turn into good ideas one day.
Sometimes I wake up with a good idea fresh in my mind. I love it when that happens. If it does, I’ll spend breakfast ruminating over it until I have a good idea about what I want to bang onto the page.
Writing my first draft doesn’t take very long. Even though I only type with my index fingers, I’ve become very fast. But I tend to hit the keys with more force than I should. I know I’ll have to replace my keyboard on my laptop before long.
My wife can be in the next room and hear the banging of the keys. I am so focused and so in the zone that my passion comes out with force. I’ve tried going easier on my laptop. But when I am excited about something I’m writing, I will be back to banging away before too long.
I tend to edit while I work. I don’t vomit on the page and go back to figure what the hell I was trying to say. I make sure that I complete every thought before I move on to another.
This process I describe may take a bit longer, but it’s the way I like to approach the writing part of my work.
After I finish the first draft, I go back and read and try to find places where the words do not flow. I also look for places where I didn’t flesh out a thought properly and fix it.
I spend about 15 minutes on this part because the structure of a piece often changes when I am proofreading.
I tend to make a lot of mistakes, so this part takes a bit longer. I run my work through two different spelling and grammar checkers, but even then there are errors.
The first step is to check it with Grammarly. Grammarly picks out most of the spelling and usage problems. It will even notify me when I may be using a word improperly. It isn’t flawless, so I don’t rely on it completely.
After Grammarly, I copy from Word over to the Hemingway Editor. I started using Hemingway again because I’ve noticed that it increases the readability of my work.
Hemingway checks the document in five ways:
- It checks if you are using too many adverbs
- It warns you if you are using the passive voice
- It highlights words that have simpler alternatives
- It notifies you of sentences that are hard to read
- Finally, it lets you know if you have sentences that are VERY hard to read
Hemingway is a great tool, and at $20 for a lifetime license, you can’t beat it.
While the document is still in the Hemingway Editor, I read it out loud. This is something recent I started doing. I used only to read silently, but when I read it aloud I find many more issues. It also helps me find places in my writing where it doesn’t flow.
Of everything that I do, reading aloud has improved my work the most.
The next thing about the Hemingway Editor is that you can publish directly to Medium with one click. It saves it as a draft and allows you to edit it.
The final thing I do is create any special formatting and add images. After, I read it aloud one more time and publish.
Has my work improved?
In a few short months, my writing has improved 100%!
I can see the progression of improvement. I’ve even started going back and rewriting some of my older pieces that still get views and fans.
And now that I have been writing so much more, I have more opportunities to improve every day. Sometimes I write up to 5000 words!
I know if I keep up this pace I will be a great writer.
I no longer try to assume that my shit doesn’t stink. I know I have a long way to go to be a truly great writer. But I have confidence in myself that I will get there, and I have the will and motivation to keep improving every day.
I don’t blame the curators if my work doesn’t get read. I don’t become envious of other writer’s progress on Medium. I know I have to go at my own pace.
But I will get there one day soon.
Everyone should have a different attitude when it comes to their writing. Stop worrying about curation and start improving. One day you will get to the point where you will be so good that people can’t ignore you!
I hope it’s very soon for you!
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Jason Weiland is a writer, blogger, vlogger, and mental health advocate living a dream life in far-away destinations he only dreamed of as a kid. He talks about difficult issues but has never lost his sense of humor or willingness to understand others and help when he can.
He would love to connect with you on social media.