After my article went “viral” (by my standards), I was nervous about writing the next one. What if it didn’t do as well? What if I couldn’t recreate the secret sauce? I began to publish content frequently enough to increase the odds of another going viral.
Opening my inbox to an email congratulating me for being a top relationship writer felt like an “omen” to keep going.
Alas, none of my articles have gone viral (yet) ever since.
I was left to think long about what the audience wanted against what I was interested in writing about.
Reading through what seemed to be popular or not on the platform, I noticed many articles covering the same topics from the same angles. As someone who was publishing an article a week, I had to ask myself:
Do I want to add value to readers; or contribute to digital clutter?
I’m shifting back to monthly publishing, and you should consider it in order to…
Live a little outside your thoughts.
My best pieces have been relatable, vulnerable, and true. They aren’t thoughts I conjured from sitting in my apartment writing all day. They are stories from a life lived. They are tales of heartbreak, life lessons, gratitude, and evolution.
Writing less frequently sets me free to live a life that inspires new content.
Let your thoughts marinate and simmer.
A mediocre piece of writing feels like the fast food of art and literature, pushed out to feed the masses in quantity, but with no real nutritional value in quality. The writing experience is cheapened when pieces are published for the sake of meeting a deadline. Let thoughts and ideas and edits come to you in the shower, or while working out. Let your ideas be challenged in conversations with others.
Be still, take it in and then let is all out on the page.
Package and present your thoughts better.
What was the X factor in my viral article? Was it the title? The sass? Sheer luck?
“It was the packaging,” my friend told me.
What was in the article was not entirely new information, but how it was delivered made 7 minutes of reading worthwhile. Writing is an art; don’t rush the process of refining and repackaging a piece. Stew on your experiences; reflect, draft, delete, rewrite, and read. Most writers fight an ongoing battle with perfection so sure, have a hard publishing stop, but also don’t rush your process. Remember, Fleming discovered one of the greatest medical discoveries of all time when he left a culture plate on the desk while on vacation.
Sometimes, you, your work, and your creativity just need a little time and space to breathe.
Present new, original thoughts.
Everyone has thoughts and opinions on everything, and these days most of us have access to platforms on which we can vocalize them. That’s a lot of thoughts and opinions. Most of the information floating in our digital space exists without checks for accuracy or plagiarism.
Medium is inundated with recycled and regurgitated ideas.
Every so often, I find a new and different perspective that reminds me of why I started writing here, to begin with: I want to be the source of a fresh perspective for others. I want to be the fresh, organic fruit amidst the processed ones swimming in high fructose corn syrup.
If I stumble across an article that captures my shared thoughts, I happily give my applause and keep it moving. If there’s any slightly different take, I drop it in the comments. This is how writers support writers, and we all win.
You don’t have to be the author of all great ideas.
(Don’t get me wrong, if I believe the piece could’ve been approached differently, I will take on that responsibility.)
Give readers time to digest your thoughts.
One thing I love about reading is going at my own pace and chewing the words as I take them in. Reading isn’t like listening to a podcast (although you can now listen to Medium articles on mobile or desktop!) Give loyal readers time between your pieces to digest your ideas, form opinions around them, witness or experience them out in the world, and give you the opportunity to impact their lives.
It increasingly feels impossible to carve out dedicated time to consume all the content thrown at us every day.
Some days I wake up to 10+ messages in my family WhatsApp chat, 8 memes and gifs in my siblings’ Instagram group thread, and dozens of isolated shares of reels to watch, podcast episodes to listen to, Reddit threads to explore and so much more. Understand that this might be the case for your readers as well.
Like you, your work, and your creativity, your readers need time and space to breathe too.
Thank you for reading! While slowing down my pace with writing, I’m picking up my pace with reading as a fellow writer advised. Of course, if being a Medium writer is your primary source of income, you might not have the luxury of adhering to the aforementioned advice. Use your own discretion.
Use my referral link to join Medium today to get full access to every story on Medium and read every story from me (and thousands of other writers).
This post was previously published on medium.com.
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