If you’re a writer on Medium (or any other platform), especially a new one, you probably have a compulsion with your stats. And why not? It’s how we measure how we’ll we’re doing, how much we’re making, and most importantly, how much strangers on the internet like us this week!
Now, of course it’s good to have goals and metrics, and to track your progress against those measures — in fact, it’s one of the best ways to stay motivated. For me, seeing a story pick up momentum and climb up my personal leaderboard is always exciting (and if I’m being honest, the dopamine rush of views hits me harder than watching the few dollars of of earnings I may draw in).
But like anything, taken to an extreme, it can be harmful to one’s ways. If we focus too much on the stat page, it’s easy to lose sight over the progress of the craft. We all know that views is not the the best indicator of quality — I would argue it’s not even a good measure of quality. Much the same way that a Justin Bieber song is far more likely to top the charts than, say, an Oscar winning composition from Hans Zimmer, many great works can easily go underappreciated while other more “palatable” pieces get the attention.
(No offense to my fellow Canadian, he’s just an easy, known target.)
As a brand new writer — I started on Medium in December, not really having formally written anything since graduating college long ago — I am far more concerned with bettering my craft in these early months than I am my following, income or exposure. How terrible would it be to get wide exposure while I’m still a dreadful writer!?
(Now, of course, like millions of others, I yearn for the day where I have a list of publications in my bio, but I recognize that quality I currently lack is a prerequisite of that moment.)
For that reason, I’m challenging myself — and you, if you’re in a similar spot — to a 30 day challenge where I don’t peek at my stat page. I know, it feels impossible to me too. And I know there will be plenty of moments where the temptation is as much or greater than my alcohol addiction ever was.
But I think I can get through it, and I know I’ll be better for it. For one, I’ll still have access to my Medium notifications. That will let me know if my pieces have been curated — a much better indicator of quality than raw views — as well as interactions coming in on my writings. If I happen to hit a big one, I’ll know, I just won’t know how big. That’s okay.
That will allow me to do something that I’ve kind of lost as I’ve become a more regular Medium contributor — focus on improving my quality. Without being able to compare each new article to my metrics, I’ll have to use my own abilities to judge my progress and improvements. I can spend the time regained from surfing and analyzing my stats to revisit, revise, and grow the actual craft side of the business.
So I commit to writing 15 articles in April, and fully staying out of my stats page until the calendar turns over. (Okay, it’s past midnight and I’ve looked, but that’s the last one, I promise.)
As hard as it will be to avoid that tantalizingly easy click, I know it will be worth it.
Because if I can improve my craft, the numbers are sure to follow.