Writing | Curation
How Medium Taught Me Zen
At first, becoming a member of Medium complicated my life.
There was a lot to learn. I read some really good articles written by other authors here. The Tips and Tricks page helped me figure out how to use the editor.
Just when I started to get the hang of it, the world of Medium shifted. The algorithm changed.
Ok, I thought. I can figure this out.
There are new rules. I’m good at rules. I’ll be fine, once I figure them out. It seemed so simple. But it wasn’t.
I had to learn a few lessons. There were some hard ones.
I was back in High school
You remember, that place where the cool kids got the best seats in the cafeteria and I was stuck at the dorky table in the corner with the other losers.
At first I thought other writers would understand what it was like to be new. I thought they would lend a helping hand. We could lift each other up.
Then I read an article by another writer, T.S. Johnson.
In the article, he said “ Similar to the old clap system when people would read and not clap, people are now likely not finishing articles because they know the longer they spend reading something the more money the writer makes.”
My first reaction was — wait, what? Other writers used to read and not clap for your article because they didn’t want the writer to make money?
Apparently that’s how it works. We are all dogs in one big yard, fighting over a limited number of bones.
Then there was “The Curation Conundrum”
I read that Curation could help out with readership. How did that work ?
My writer friend Shannon Ashley wrote an interesting article exploring the topic:
I found it really helpful to follow her as she sorted through how curation works and what it means to an author.
Then I realized something:
A New Writer’s Confession
I am a new writer to Medium and I’m in jail — curation jail. Wait, whaat?
I’m not sure how I got here. I thought I followed the rules. I read the Content Guidelines. I introduced myself. I’m pretty smart and I have my own opinions. I haven’t advertised or asked for anything in a post and I’m certainly not getting paid to mention products or services. I don’t mention products or services anyhow, except sometimes I do talk about a good book that I’ve read.
I made sure to choose appropriate (credited) images and titles and I am really good at responding to any comments. Just ask my other social media friends. I like their posts, comment when appropriate and share. I always share. My mother taught me good manners, after all. (Thanks Mom).
I published a wide variety of articles when I first joined, trying to find my readership. I also posted poetry, which is another story.
I read the Curation Guidelines carefully and ticked off the boxes. Headlines — check. Proofreading — check. Images — check. You know the drill. Citations — check and Profile — check. (I confess, I just checked my profile to see if it meets the guidelines. I’m good, although I could have used more space to tell you about myself.)
I’ve never managed to get any of my stories curated, but I think I came close, once. When I checked the little “?” after the words Not Distributed In Topics, instead of seeing the usual message:
“Our curators were not able to review this story for distribution in topics due to high volume. This story will still be shared with followers.”
I saw the following:
“Curators did not select this story for distribution, but it will be shared with followers. Read our Curation Guidelines to see what curators look for.”
I was so excited! Someone had actually taken the time to look at my story and even though they didn’t select it for curation, they thought it might be possible for me to improve!
Now I’m careful to review each post before I publish, to ensure I’ve met the guidelines. The result? There’s been some improvement.
Being in curation jail is kind of like being in the doghouse.
You get to go out into the yard and play with the big dogs, but you don’t get the good snacks when the owners hand them out. Sometimes you get barked at.
I posted a lot of different kinds of articles when I first joined, trying to find my readership. I also posted poetry, which is another story. Maybe that was another problem. I had no focus.
I know, that can be irritating. I am that excitable friend, jumping up and down saying ‘pick me, pick me’.
Honestly Medium, I’ve changed!
I used to read AND clap. A lot. I thought it was expected if you liked a writer’s work.
I heard about Medium from a friend who wanted to see if she could actually get paid for her writing. She posted a piece she had written and asked her friends to read it and then give her lots of claps, to see how it worked. Within the first month, she had success! It was a small amount, but it was the first time she had ever been paid for her writing. She was thrilled. (We were all proud of her.)
Someone must have been gaming the clapping system because the powers that be decided to change it. Now writers are paid based on the time spent reading their words. (Yup, Unfortunately, we’re all still dogs in a yard, fighting over the same bones.)
I’m sorry for being such a keener. I promise to do better in the future.
But I’m not going to change who I am. I liked the idea of clapping for another writer’s work. I loved the idea that I might be able to support them that way. I love the idea that they might be encouraged to continue to write.
And for those writers who won’t read my work through to the end because it will cut into their earnings, I say — too bad for you. You’re missing out.
Time off for good behavior.
Things are simpler now. I approach my time on Medium with a Zen-like perspective. I’ve stopped trying to make things work and I’m going with the flow.
We all have limited time. Writing takes up a lot of mine. So does the business of writing. Submissions, promotion, social media posts. All of these are part of what it takes to become what I consider a successful writer. So when I belong to a platform that pays its writers based on readership, I take it seriously.
I only click on a story when I know I have time to sit and ponder the words of the writer. I no longer rush through and try to read as many articles as I can in the time that I have.
I read fewer articles, but I linger longer in each one.
Maybe I’ll get out of jail soon.
If you are a writer and want to join Medium, use this link to join me there.