Posted in On Writing

The Writing Slump

Ever since I finished my 30-day Medium writing challenge, I’ve been in a writing slump. I think I temporarily burned myself out. I wrote almost every day, and on some days I wrote multiple pieces. The challenge was exclusively for Medium, but there were a handful of pieces written for other writing platforms, which means that I averaged more than 1 piece per day. I’ve never done that before, even with a diary. Although writing in general comes naturally for me, the challenging part was writing Medium-esque pieces every day.

I’m trying to get back into the swing of things and I find that I’m very distracted by my side hustles which are not related to writing. I need them to pay the bills.

My writing needs at this point are to figure out:

  • my writing priorities
  • who my writing voice is, and
  • where I’d like to focus

In my heart I know I would pursue fiction full time. I have multiple notebooks of ideas for both short stories and novels. Yet, that’s what I’m writing the least of.

I never knew there were so many paths for writers. And in attempting to discover and experience them all, I’m getting very distracted. SO distracted that I feel like I’m losing my way. So I’m going to check-in with myself on a more regular basis and course-correct based on my self-assessment. I’ll report back on my progress.

Posted in Vocal (Media)

Writing In the Right Direction

This week I finally wrote a piece of fiction that I feel good about. It was in response to a Vocal challenge.

For those of you who don’t know, Vocal offers a similar blogging platform to Medium, but with slightly different amenities and a very different compensation plan. Regarding compensation, they run regular “challenges” (contests) that both paid and non-paid members can enter, although the rules differ by challenge. These contests come with fantastic cash prizes.

Their challenges completely sucked me in. They happened to be running fiction challenges all summer, so I signed up to force myself to write more fiction.

The money is a nice motivator, but I like writing for Vocal’s Challenges because fiction is where my writing passion truly lies.

This week I entered Vocal’s “Foggy Waters” challenge which asks for a horror short story focused on a body of water between 600-3,000 words. Top prize is $5,000. The horror genre is one of my favorites.

You can enter, too, if you’re a Vocal+ member! There’s plenty of time left!

I did my best to put a unique spin on my story after thinking through a dozen ideas. It passes my current standard of ”does not suck”.

Read it below!

Posted in On Writing

Sustainability for Writers

It’s been an interesting journey this year, and my first one really and truly focused on my writing craft. I’ve written many pieces on my own, both fiction and non-fiction. I’ve also joined a content generation company and have ghost-written non-fiction pieces for various customers in return for money.

In the end, I’m trying to figure out the sustainability game. And it’s a common question for writers.

How do I make money as a writer?

Then, how do I make a living as a writer?

I’ve gone down multiple paths to answer the first question. There are many more and maybe some day I will pursue them all. At this point in my writing career, I’m reminded of Chris Rock’s famous comedy bit when he tells of his roots cleaning shrimp and making shite money. Just trying to survive in this world. This is me cleaning shrimp.

But the second question remains elusive. And I don’t think it’s something I’ll be able to figure out anytime soon. You need lots of experience to be a great writer and no matter how many books or blog posts you read, podcasts you listen to, and classes you take, the knowledge doesn’t just transform your writing overnight. You have to put it into practice. It’s a long, challenging road. But one that I’ve been through before with my previous career.

So while I’m going through my transformation, I’ll be continuing my side hustles to sustain. Cheers to everyone else on this journey!

Posted in Medium, Vocal (Media)

Are Medium and Vocal Becoming the Same Writing Platform?

This week, some pretty big changes were announced to the Medium Partner Program. In an interesting and oddly coincidental move, Vocal and Medium announced one of the exact same changes to their paid writer programs on the exact same day. It might have even been within the same hour of each other.

These are not coincidences.

I just started my Vocal journey. I’ve been writing on Medium seriously for only the past few months, but in total for over a year. I think I’ve somewhat figured it out. But Medium is funny – they keep changing the rules for their writers, and I’m assuming their algorithm for paying writers also keeps changing. It makes it hard to get comfortable when your incentive is a moving target.

I just joined Vocal this month and became a Vocal+ member to enter their challenges (i.e. writer contests). There is a promise of really good money to be made in Vocal’s challenges and it gives me an outlet to exercise my creative fiction writing muscles, which I don’t do on Medium. My strategy right now is to use both platforms, but in very different ways.

At least, that was the case until all these changes popped up.

Before this week, I found Vocal and Medium to be similar in their overall goal as reader platforms, but with different incentives for writers, building your following, and how to get make money. After this week, I’m scratching my head and really starting to wonder if they’ve now converged into the same basic platform. This is good news for all you writers out there who take your Medium stories and then republish them on Vocal to double your chances of payout. But this is not good news for folks like me who had an entirely different strategy planned.

If you’re curious about the changes Medium made to their partner program, read this article written by their staff. Some of the changes are good and some are bad – but it’s all relative to your purpose and approach as a Medium writer. As someone who’s been in the business world for decades and knows a thing or two about a thing or two, I am naturally a skeptic at this age. Some of the changes raise an eyebrow.

Regardless, these platforms keep life interesting. I will adjust once the dust settles.

Posted in Medium

I Finally Got Published in My Favorite Medium Publication

Woohoo! After 3 attempts, I finally got an article published in my favorite Medium publication The Writing Cooperative! It’s also one of the largest remaining publications since Medium. I’ve been trying for months to get accepted and I think I’ve finally cracked the code on the type of content they’re looking for.

This Medium publication is written by writers and is intended for writers. The article accepted is called “The Paris Review Unleashed an Amazing Archive of Writer Interviews” and it’s about a treasure trove of author interviews on The Paris Review’s website.

Progress! 🥳

Posted in Medium

The Frustration of Medium Publications

I’ve lit a fire under my butt and have been dusting off medium drafts that I started last year but never polished and finished. I’ve also done more thorough research into Medium publications with the hope of getting curated. With the recent shake-up at Medium regarding publications, I figured this might be a good opportunity to find new publications.

Luckily, I’ve gotten a couple of things right. I’m now an accepted author for 7 different publications and working on a couple more. It’s hard to say if the process of being a contributor is harder or easier than a year ago. I have several more pieces to submit as examples, plus I’ve been curated by one publication now. I’ve also gotten a better handle on the vast number of publications out there, as well as common rules that I’ve seen across multiple sets of guidelines.

But…I’m also stumbling on curation. I understand that the larger publications are getting an insane amount of submissions every day. I also understand that there are guidelines and rules to help publication articles feel consistent. However, it’s been frustrating when I feel like I’m following the rules and am rejected for subjectivity reasons (“this doesn’t feel right for our publication”). Or, it’s stated that I’ve violated a rule that’s not very black and white, yet other recently published authors are flagrantly violating those same rules (and others).

It’s a conundrum. But I won’t give up. I’m feeling very appreciative that the 2 latest rejections came with feedback. I can’t imagine how many times the reviewers have to send out rejections, so even a few sentences of feedback is amazing. One reviewer even took the time to point out every rule I violated, which I’m super grateful for. Last year I was rejected for curation with zero response, which sucked.

If I’ve learned nothing else by this decade of life, persistence is key. Oh, and to keep writing. There’s always the self-publishing route, too. 😉

Posted in Personal

And…Away We Go!

I currently work 3 jobs. Not because I need the money (and please know that I’m super grateful that I’m privileged in that way), but because I’m in the process of switching careers. I have my day job which takes up a full 40-50 hours per week, then I have my 2 online businesses, one of which is writing for online publications. Sometimes I’m up late (like tonight), working on one of my 2 online jobs. I love it.

The goal is to get to a point where I downsize to only those 2 jobs. I’ll be making way less money, but I’ll also have a career that allows for more freedom when I want or need it. And, as quarantine taught me, I want to work exclusively from home and not have to travel to visit customers and attend industry events. The biggest selling point, however, is to not have a boss to answer to.

The “hustle” is a game of life. It’s a game I’ve been playing my entire career. But I’m redefining it now, and this time, my way. I’m midlife and you’d be surprised to know that I’m restarting my hustle. I’ve invested 20+ years into my day job career. It was a good run. I accomplished everything I wanted to accomplish and rose to the top. I even went to weekend school and earned an MBA along the way. However, once you reach that apex, where do you go from there?

For me, the answer is another career. I want to climb other mountains and live the careers that I’ve always dreamed about. Therefore, I have to hustle from the bottom this time.

So, away we go! I’m finally devoting more time to online writing. In this past week I’ve submitted to be a contributing writer to 4 new publications at Medium and I’ve been accepted to 2 of them so far. I have a long way to go. I can’t wait!