Confession: I frequently dream about my Medium stats. Generally, the dream begins the same way — I’m staring at my monitor and the numbers start going, down, down, WAY DOWN! WE’RE GOING DOWN IN FLAMES! SOMEONE WAKE ME UP SO I CAN STOP DREAMING IN ALL CAPS!!!
Other times, I wake in a cold sweat because I forgot to clap for so-and-so’s awesome poem about sunbathing ladybugs.
I like to think that I’m pretty self-aware, but I’m afraid I got caught up in the prevalent trend here on Medium of posting, clapping, and checking stats with such single-minded dedication that eventually I burnt myself out. Not in epic, cartoon smoke shooting out of my ears fashion— more of a slow decline onto the couch with a pint of mint chocolate chip. And there I stayed, metaphorically speaking, for four enlightening days.
Everyone needs to do what works best for them, but I hope that these takeaways might help you find your own sense of balance here on the wild ride that is Medium.
Take an honest look at your process
If like me, you’re compromised by issues related to anxiety and depression, balance is especially important.
I suffer from OCD so, not surprisingly, I’m particularly prone to obsessing. My obsessions certainly have a darker side, but they also extend to things like social media, productivity, and…checking Medium stats.
We all check our stats, but when that checking takes the place of writing, family time, sleeping, etc., you might have a problem.
Beware shiny object syndrome
You’re chugging away on a mental health article, but happen to look out the window and catch sight of a hummingbird. So you scramble for a notebook and frantically begin penning an epic ode to hummingbirds. In the middle of writing that masterpiece, your kid says something hilarious which sparks an idea for a piece on the astonishing number of ways a person can eat cheese.
You get the idea — focus and follow through are key. It’s great to have ideas and record those ideas to flesh out later, but focusing on the here and now actually helps you get more done and produce quality work.
Indulge in a full stop
I struggle mightily with this one. Again, it comes down to balance. There are certainly talented, dedicated people who are writing machines — those who can produce quality work in epic quantities.
I’m not one of them. Over the past few weeks, I started to feel like a carnival barker.
Right this way, ladies and gents! Step on up and read another mediocre piece!
It was tough for me to admit that I was producing too much. I love to write, but it’s important to let my mind rest, particularly given the mental health issues I struggle with.
So I took the last four days off and didn’t write a thing. Not even a grocery list. As a result, my mind feels clearer, I’m more relaxed, and I’m writing this article without the panicked feeling that true obsession can bring.
Take a step back in order to really look around and get your house in order. Even if you’re not scraping the bottom of the idea barrel, it can be helpful to push pause. Sleep on a story. Give it another edit to avoid publishing before it’s ripe.
I plan to write a bit less over the summer and focus on reading, improving my mind, and spending time with family and friends in the great outdoors.
There will always be another poem around the corner, another story to be told, or another humor piece that needs delivering to the masses. The hardest part, at least for me, is to just rest and let it come.