There is a wonderful blend of people who have been with me on this writing journey since its beginning on Medium in 2017 and those I’ve found through community since. Here is a piece I wrote on Medium and all the things I’ve been up to in the last three years.
I threw quite a tantrum about quitting Medium in 2018. I mildly regret it (don’t bite the hand that feeds you) but in hindsight, I was burned out and frustrated by the time that was poured into so many challenges and projects and still unpublished drafts and community engagement. I took a necessary hiatus but watched from a distance as Medium implemented several new changes. I posted a few times, but nothing gained traction without consistency. I focused on building my author website instead and pitching to various publications.
This week, I returned to Medium to find most of the people I followed stopped posting around the same time, if not a few months later. A lot of my favorite publications have reached a dead-end or gone radio silent. Some thousands of hours poured into this platform and I can genuinely say it’s unrecognizable.
Frankly, I am unrecognizable, too.
Stepping away from Medium is the best decision I made. Here is a list of accomplishments since 2018 that came from that decision.
- Medium became a writing portfolio before I had the skills to launch my author website, and landed me my first editing job. I worked for three years at a travel publication helping dozens of international writers bring their stories and their photography to a global audience.
- I lost my best friend to a drowning accident in June 2018 and took off traveling to make sense of what my life had become. I ended my marriage in January, packed up our lives in Ireland in a matter of days, sold everything I owned in California, and in May 2019 walked the Camino del Norte in Spain to make peace with the ocean for stealing Jimmy’s last breaths.
- Taught creative writing at an eco-lodge in Morocco.
- Held my first writing retreat in Indonesia, cohosted with my high school English teacher, who I found serendipitously through a blog and reconnected with on social media after Jimmy’s passing.
- In November 2019, I self-published my first collection of poetry, held an intimate book launch, and distributed 150 copies across 12 states and 14 countries.
- Published my first photo essay, People of the Forest, with Hidden Compass the same month.
- The story went on to win Silver for Best Adventure Travel Writing in the 15th Annual Solas Awards and received Notable Mention in the Best American Travel Writing 2020.
- Found poetry community in San Diego and spent every week in one of the most intimate and supportive poetry spaces.
- Qualified for Finals in the San Diego Poetry Slam, competing against incredible talents, Rudy Francisco, Anita D, Yaw, and Neiel. Quite literally top three moments of my life.
- At the beginning of the pandemic, I designed and self-published an interactive guided journaling workbook to help people suddenly forced into isolation find stillness and reflection.
- Worked for a literary nonprofit and soaked in as much knowledge about the craft from instructors as I could.
- Finished my memoir and pitched it to an agent (with both success and a slight setback).
- Accepted a position on the Board of Members for the San Diego Memoir Writers Association.
- Held a weekly creative accountability group which evolved into a Read & Critique and helped birth four completed manuscripts in 16 months.
- Edited and designed three books (print and ePub) for clients, leading me to develop a business plan for a self-publishing support company.
- I ran tech for the San Diego Writers Festival in 2020 and again this summer which featured the incredible minds of Tayari Jones, James Patterson, Lisa See, and Lee Child.
The reason I’m sharing all of this is not to brag.
It’s to show that the greatest lesson Medium taught me is that my energy matters.
Showing up to the computer every day and writing, even if it is still sitting on my computer as a draft, helped me shape my voice and hone in on my niche. I found some insanely talented people here on Medium and in doing so, I was able to establish goals of who I wanted to become as an author. I also developed a sense of community through writing, which I never had in my 30 years of life.
When I reached the point where the energy I was putting into Medium was causing stagnancy and a bit of resentment, stepping away was the best thing I could have done. In doing so, I was given two things: the gift of time and confidence in my abilities. The combination of both propelled my writing journey forwards in ways I never imagined publishing here on Medium could.
All of this to say… Medium isn’t the end all be all.
It is an incredible platform with a built-in audience. With genuine engagement and consistent publishing, it is possible to develop a following.
I encourage you to use this time to get clear on your “why.” Take an honest inventory of how your energy is being used and set goals for where you would like to be in one, three, and five years’ time. There is power in writing these dreams down and gives you a roadmap of sorts on how to get there. For example, I wrote these down for 2018 and accomplished every single one.
Always remember this: No matter the likes or engagement, your story matters.
Your voice and your journey are wildly unique and there are so many avenues to share your writing and your experience. If you’re not gaining traction here, I urge you to look beyond Medium.
Take a few writing classes. Find a mentor or two. Utilize virtual meetups or writing groups. Join a read and critique. Launch your author website. Find what platforms you thoroughly enjoy using and pour your energy there.
Most importantly, despite writing being isolating and lonely, you are not alone. You’ll find your place and your purpose with time. Today, you showed up, and that’s the part that counts.
Today is a step forward in your journey.