Writing

Three Terrible Traps That Writers Fall Into When Publishing on Medium

Use your emotions to write a kick-ass essay than just a rant

Photo by Daria Shevtsova from Pexels

When I read an interesting piece is I follow that person and genuinely follow their life story to understand their journey — what is their background, their style of writing and how their career graph has been in general. This helps me understand what works on that platform and what pitfalls to avoid.

Here are my top 3 pitfalls that new writers should avoid.

1. Don’t understand the fine line of difference between a personal essay and a rant

Having read some 1000 odd articles in the last year from hundreds of different authors, I can say there are a lot of them who find Medium as their venting channel or punching bag.

There is nothing wrong if that’s how you want to use it but then let’s set the expectation right, especially with your readers — It’s a rant, and let’s treat it like one.

It’s just like that conversation over a cup of coffee or some after-office goss which is interesting but doesn’t add a lot of value.

Personal anecdotes are not equivalent to rants

There is a difference in quoting a personal anecdote and writing an entire essay on your experiences.

A lot of the top writers write articles on personal topics such as mental health, parenting, sexual encounters and I have loved reading them.

In fact, my article that has the most views and reads starts with a personal story. And that’s how I love to write as well on certain topics to explain where I got the idea from or share my experience to personalise the message further.

But an essay without a message is a rant or at best a conversation with your best friend over a few drinks

2. Being vulnerable in writing comes at the cost of privacy

Another growing trend that I have observed is to write on taboo articles to gain attention.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not against writing on anything taboo.

In fact, I love all things unconventional. Let’s talk about workplace minimalism or vegan fitness or sustainable fashion or those secret Travel escapades. But let’s not make it cringe-worthy — let’s leave that for Buzzfeed.

I am also against the idea of letting out too many personal details for just a few eyeballs. Again some may argue — it’s their story, their followers and their words.

Why does it matter?

Well, I am not policing anyone or advocating anyone. But in the times where we have only begun to understand the meaning of privacy and privacy laws have just been in existence for the last couple decades, it is important we understand the risk of putting all those intimate details out there in public.

Also, be cognizant of the fact that the world is not a kind place and there is always a risk of being brandished in a certain stereotype, get prejudiced and judged all the time and even allowing your frenemies on some very personal details that they can misuse.

Be extra cautious about the very intimate details of that dark episode of your life

In the last week, I saw two articles on two different platforms where two women have spoken out about rape — Kudos to them to openly talk about their personal experiences without any victim mentality.

I solely condemn all acts of rape and feel sorry for both these women to go through something as horrible as that.

While I salute their courage to openly talk about their experiences however, the message and the ‘so-what’ was missing. And so it didn’t connect with the audiences.

Again it’s commendable to speak out and share their stories with the world — be it during a ‘Me Too’ movement or as part of any Rape Protests.

But while it is crucial to develop a conducive environment for all rape victims to talk openly and freely about their experiences, by writing a click-bait headline, the message somewhere gets diluted.

While promoting a culture to let the rape victims talk openly is a welcome move, but the same culture that is not sensitised towards the pain and apathy that the victim goes through is not welcome.

On that same note, we should not use the word ‘rape’ lightly. Again inappropriate touching, groping, masturbating in public is all offensive but rape is a very heinous crime, and it should be referred to with that much seriousness.

Let’s not normalise topics like ‘rape’ by casually referring to it, especially not when we want to normalise and accept the rape victims and treat them with the same dignity and honour as other women.

3. Self-deprecation is as bad as self-aggrandization

Self-deprecation was and probably still is one of the techniques most often used by stand-up comedians.

It’s all fun and laughter for the audience for that one hour, but it has some seriously damaging impact on the comedians.

It dents their self-esteem and it seriously damages their self-confidence.

Hannah Gadsby, an Australian comedian quit while she was performing

“I’ve built a career out of self-deprecating humour, I put myself down in order to speak, in order to seek permission to speak.

And I simply will not do that anymore — not to myself, or anybody who identifies with me.” — Hannah Gadsby

Confidence and Communication are so important to a comedian to perform on the stage in front of an audience that expects more of this humour.

Between being vulnerable and being cocky — where do you draw the line? I have written in greater depth about this in my article here

So what should you do?

Established writers seldom rant. No one is interested in how bad your day was; they already have enough problems of their own to care some more for anyone else.

They might sympathise with you for a few articles but would slowly disappear from your readership base.

So vent out on another writing tool, but use those emotions to your advantage and turn that rant into a piece-of-advice.

Calm down, think through the whole episode, how did it make you feel, what you learnt out of it, what is worth sharing with the world and how that might help them from your personal essay.

I am not against being vulnerable or oversharing personal details of your own life — after all, it’s your life and your decision.

Agreed, it should just be your conscious decision though, and not in the spur of the moment because your data that’s spit-out once is irreversible, and it gets etched into those data servers forever.

So be wise about your privacy, your data and your write-ups.

Lastly, Perception management is as important as your portfolio of work itself. By the stories you write, the content you share, the followers you attract you are creating a certain image for yourself.

Create a powerful image — an image that resonates with your style of writing. An image that people would remember long after you have gone.

Thinker, self-experimenter, and a newbie writer. I write about personal growth, socio-political issues, and career advice.