Am I Overthinking my Writing?

Lessons learned from Medium

Photo by Cristofer Jeschke on Unsplash

Since joining the Medium partner program, I’ve discovered the fun rush of getting curated. It’s a nice little boost when that email drops into your inbox.

I don’t write to get curated — curation is never the goal, just a nice bonus. But nonetheless, with a couple of months worth of partner program stories behind me, it’s interesting to look at what was curated and what wasn’t, what was popular and what wasn’t (and those two things aren’t always connected)

What I hoped to find was a pattern: if I write about this subject and publish at this time it will really connect with readers.

But there is no pattern. At least, not yet.

Some of my articles about writing were curated and popular. But others weren’t.

The same hit-and-miss quality goes for my work on disability — and lord knows I can’t write about Game Of Thrones forever.

My fiction writing was published in my pre-partner program days so aren’t curate-able, but those stories were released to tumbleweeds with the exception of one outlier — and to this day I still don’t quite how or why readers clicked on that but nothing else.

If there’s no pattern, what lessons are there?

Okay, so I can’t mine my old stories for the perfect success formula. Sometimes things resonate and…sometimes they don’t.

But I did learn something.

I do better when I don’t overthink

As writers, we can get lost in the weeds. You might have a brilliant lightning bolt of an idea for a story or an article and start writing there and then. But maybe you get into it and then stop, sidetracked by the need to find a particular perfect word or craft the ideal sentence. Or life just gets in the way. And the momentum goes, and that once brilliant idea in stuck in drafts for days or weeks (or forever).

My drafts folder is full of half-finished attempts and snatches of ideas. Some are good ideas I haven’t got around to yet. Some are bad ideas I hope will magically turn into good ones.

Sometimes I finish the abandoned ideas, and those are — I think — the ones that resonate less with readers.

My stories that have done well were ones I wrote fast.

I’m not suggesting swapping quality for speed. Don’t be sloppy. Write well, edit and proofread. But when you get that idea and the initial burst of creativity, keep going. Ride the wave — you can correct errors and format later.

Pieces I write like that tend to do well. Others, from a single idea but formed over different writing sessions on different days, in different moods and slapped together like a Frankenstein’s monster, do not.

A Challenge

Next time you have an idea for a Medium post, write it there and then (or as soon as you can). On your computer, your phone, a notepad, wherever. Write it and don’t stop until it’s done.

Spellcheck, grammar check, proofread, edit and format afterward.

And then publish it. Don’t overthink. See how it does. You might be pleasantly surprised.

Thanks for reading! Keep in touch on Facebook or Twitter, or join the mailing list.

David is an author and freelance writer. He has two short story collections available, and his non-fiction work has appeared on The Mighty, WhatCulture and Just Football, among others.

Navigating parenting with a disability and trying to write a novel. Email:

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