6 Ways to Give a Little Love on Medium
Writing is a weird profession.
Picture this: an individual sits alone, pouring her inner-most thoughts onto white space — maybe paper, maybe screen. Perhaps she’s writing fiction, or poetry, or an essay; the genre doesn’t matter. The intent is the same: for her words to somehow, through time and space, reach you. She wants your eyes, your brain, your attention. She wants to convey a message, tell a story, make a connection.
She wants to know she’s not alone.
“Writing is a form of therapy; sometimes I wonder how all those who do not write, compose, or paint can manage to escape the madness, the melancholia, the panic fear which is inherent in a human situation.” — Graham Greene
She finishes her piece. She reads, rereads, edits, then reads again. Her heart pounding and stomach fluttering, she decides to share her work with the world. Maybe she sends it to an agent. Maybe she submits it to a literary journal. Maybe she hits “Publish” on Medium. Regardless, when she does this she feels a sense of accomplishment, tinged with excitement and fear. Her words — HER words — are out there, open to ridicule, praise, or even worse: crickets.
But, she had to do it. Even if she never receives a dime for her piece, even if no awards are bestowed upon her, all the hard work was worth it. The words were in her. They needed to come out. Now she just hopes someone out there will receive them.
See? A weird profession.
Why It’s Important to Give a Little Love
When I began publishing on Medium a month ago, I didn’t know what to expect. I figured I’d get a few reads from family (hi, Mom!) and close friends. Beyond that, I wasn’t sure that my work would get any attention.
And initially, I was right. The comments and claps on my first two posts were primarily from people I know personally. (Which, don’t get me wrong, is great — the fact that anyone would take time out of their day to read my writing is flattering — but there’s a difference between people you know reading your work because they know you, and strangers reading your work because they value your writing.)
(No offense, Mom.)
But then, something happened with my third post.
My words were highlighted. Strangers commented and clapped. I started to gain followers and fans. It was the most incredible feeling.
I cannot tell you how exciting it is for a writer to know their words have impacted another person in some small way.
How to Give a Little Love
Now, if you’ve read this far, you’re clearly a fan of the written word. (Or you’re my mom. Hi, Mom!)
You should know that, as a reader, you have the ability to contribute to a writer’s success. It won’t take hours of your day or cost much, if anything. But you can give a little love to your favorite writers that will resonate long after you’ve switched to a different tab on your browser or powered down your phone.
1. Pay for the Work You Like
When I first began reading Medium I refused to join as a member. I work for a nonprofit, part-time. I’m not making big bucks by any means, and it’ll be a long while before my own writing brings in anything more than a paltry sum. I can’t afford it, I argued. Until I get paid for my own writing I can’t justify spending money on other writers’ work.
But then I realized:
I’ll spend nearly $5 to get a cup of tea from Starbucks, only for it to be gone within 20 minutes.
I’ll spend $5 on a single magazine from the drugstore. I’ll read it, then toss it. By the time it’s in the trash, I’ve forgotten what the articles were about.
I’ll spend well over $5 to buy my kid a LEGO set that will soon end up in pieces on the rug, forgotten, until I step on one of them while barefoot.
Given all the crap I waste my money on, why would I not spend $5 a month to support my fellow writers? I read Medium every day. I’ve found posts on this site that inspire me, encourage me, even enrage me — but they all make me feel something, and that is why I continue coming back.
2. Give a Standing O
Go to Medium and find a post you like, then look around the page. See that hand that looks like it’s waving? Click it. Cool, right? That’s known as “clapping.” Now keep clicking. You can clap up to 50 times for any individual post.
If you’re a Medium member and you clap for posts, you’re contributing to that writer’s ability to make a little bit of money off her work. But more than that, claps give an incredible ego boost. There’s nothing cooler than logging into Medium to see that you’ve received applause for your work. (And nothing worse than logging in and seeing no one has clapped at all.)
3. Highlight Words that Matter
If there’s a piece of text — a phrase, a sentence, a paragraph—that jumps out at you, highlight it. Drag your mouse across the text on the screen and click the little highlighter icon that pops up. As a writer, it’s enormously gratifying to know something you’ve written has caught someone’s eye. It makes you want to write more. It also gives a good indication as to what type of writing is resonating with readers, and what might be falling flat.
4. Follow Your Favorites
Once you’ve been on Medium for a bit you may start to notice you’re drawn to certain writers. Follow them. Just click the “Follow” button at the top of the page. As a result, their posts and recommendations will be used to build the feed on your Medium home page. You’ll get more content you enjoy, and the writer will have a new follower with whom to share her work. Win-win!
5. Add to the Discussion
When you’re done reading a post, write a response. Tell the writer what you liked, or didn’t like (respectfully, of course). Ask questions. Give input. Engage in a conversation. Writing can be a lonely profession, but it’s easier to navigate when you know there are real humans on the other end who are responding to your work.
6. Love It? Share It
If you like something you’ve read, share it with others. Use the Facebook or Twitter logo further down on the page to post a link to social media. Help get the work of your favorite writers out there. Maybe they’ll attract new readers in the process!
“Reading — the best state yet to keep absolute loneliness at bay.” — William Styron
It may not seem like much but consider taking just a few extra moments to clap or highlight or share the next time you read something you like. Those tiny gestures can make all the difference to someone partaking in this weird profession.