Software, Development, and WordPress

The Tension of Writing on Medium

Of all of the various blogging and/or digital publishing platforms that are available, the one that has intrigued me the most has been Medium.

Last night, I received an invite (though I’ve yet to write my first post), but there are already points of tension that I feel when it comes to writing on Medium.

Writing on Medium

Before I actually get into that, I actually really dig what they are doing with comments, authenticating with Twitter (one less login!), collections, and so on.

But here’s the thing: I feel as if the service looks so good that it invites only the best content that I – or anyone – can write before actually hitting publish.

There’s a lot wrapped up in that.

Writing on Medium

First, and perhaps the most ironic thing about this entire post, is that I’ve yet to actually write anything on Medium just yet.

Sure, like many, I’ve explored, poked around, read other articles, and so on – but I’ve yet to hit the publish button.

There are several reasons for that.

1. It Invites The Best Content

When it comes to building products and services for others, designers, developers, and anyone else who has a hand in building said product or service could only hope that their work is so good looking that it invites only the best from its users.

I believe Medium does that.

Let’s put it another way: If I’m going to write a post on Medium, I don’t want to let Medium down (“It’s not you, it’s me.”).

It sounds silly, I know, but it’s true – there’s this feeling that it invites only the best of the best and knowing that others feel the same way only increases that feeling even more.

2. Content Ownership

This word has become such a buzzword around the Internet that I’m not even sure everyone has the same definition of it. But when it comes to my writing, I’m selfish – I want to write the best content for great service, but why would I not want that content on my blog?

Is Medium making my personal blog a second rate citizen in my own world?

Okay, so I’m speaking in a bit of hyperbole but there’s still some truth to it: I want to make sure that whatever I publish is the best of the best, but I have to recognize that I’m ultimately sacrificing something by leaving it on another service.

Oh, and as far as owning the content is concerned – that is, the literally words, sentences, and images – I’ll just keep that stuff in a Markdown file in Dropbox or something. Backing up your published stuff isn’t as big a deal people make it out to be :).

3. It’s One More Thing

Finally, for those of us who try to make sure that we streamline our workflow and the work that we do, including yet-another-service is adding something else to the mix that demands our attention.

But when it comes to services such as Medium, we ask to be invited, so I feel that we lose the right to complain about having another obligation or the feeling or a burden of responsibility to contribute.

So What’s To Be Done?

At this point, I have every intention on writing on Medium, linking to the posts from here, and simply exploring another publishing system.

It never hurts to see how others are innovating. I think that we can learn best when we break out of the day-to-day routine that we so obviously expect each time we sit down to work (be it writing, coding, designing, etc, etc, etc.). Not only is it refreshing, but it can help us bring something new back to our own work.

But I digress on that. I’m looking for to writing on Medium. I just need to figure out exactly what it is I want to write.


  1. David

    I totally agree, I’ve not yet written on it because I feel my posts aren’t good enough for that “medium”.

    • Tom McFarlin

      Ha! So you’re invited and everything?

      I’m prepping a draft now. Hoping to have it out this week, but we’ll see.

  2. Darius

    You should write the process it took to convince yourself to finally write on Medium… :)

  3. Stephen

    Yeah, it’s like standing up in front of the class in 4th grade and hoping your pants don’t fall down.

    That pressure might just be the death of Medium as a mass platform.

    • Tom McFarlin

      My two cents: it may be better if it’s not a mass platform.

      And here’s why: Look at the drivel that exists in mass platforms.

      • Chris Howard

        Maybe because it’s not a mass platform you feel the pressure. Being invite only (at this stage), adds to the pressure, coz you know you’re competing against the best. :)

        It would be good if it didn’t become a mass platform, but short of keeping it invite only, I can’t see them preventing it if it proves popular. And then you won’t have the pressure to compete and write your best.

        You can’t win. Bugger, eh?

        • Tom McFarlin

          #LOL I think you’ve basically just talked yourself (and/or others) both in and out of Medium at the same time ;).

  4. Austin Lee

    I’m with you…that’s one of the reasons I haven’t posted anything yet. Not sure if my stuff is good enough.

    • Tom McFarlin

      Knowing you, you’ve got plenty of things you could pull from abou which to write.

      FWIW, I spent quite a bit of time going through a lot of posts. Some were tremendous; others were nothing more special than I’d expect to maybe see in a Facebook post.

      I know you’re certainly higher than the latter.

  5. Shawn Hesketh

    Are you spying on me? Seriously, I couldn’t have summed up my own feelings as well, having received my own Medium invite a couple of weeks ago.

    Thanks for sharing. Like you, I will publish something on Medium. Just giving it some serious thought.

    As an aside… that writing interface in just plain gorgeous. It’s inspiring.

    • Tom McFarlin

      Are you spying on me?


      Thanks for sharing. Like you, I will publish something on Medium. Just giving it some serious thought.

      Let me know when you do – I’d love to read it!

      As an aside… that writing interface in just plain gorgeous. It’s inspiring.

      Exactly. It just invites you to write, right? Right. Now write.

  6. John Saddington

    i wrote one epic blog post but i was lucky as it was primed and pumped before i got an invite. i haven’t come back since though for many of the same reasons.

    Stats aren’t that impressive either, to be honest:

    • Tom McFarlin

      Yeah – I remember when your [awesome] post hit.

      I haven’t had a chance to check out the stats yet since my post count is still at 0. But we’ll see.

      I imagine they’d build that out, but at the same time it could be an upsell if they go that route – I’m not sure how detailed people want their stats.

  7. Reid

    I’m with you. I’ve been staring at my Medium invite for a month now, and have yet to start writing. I’m in the middle of trying to build a writing habit, and am worried that I’ll let myself get distracted by shiny new publishing tools and ignore the ones that I already have at my disposal.

    I look at people like you who have a great publishing habit and can see how diversifying that voice on multiple platforms could be a great thing – but for those of us still trying to develop some muscle memory – it’s likely just another blog we’ll neglect.

    • Tom McFarlin

      [I’m] worried that I’ll let myself get distracted by shiny new publishing tools and ignore the ones that I already have at my disposal.

      Yep. That’s why I’m also taking my time as I try to figure out what kind of stuff I’ll post there and, if so, if it’ll be a consistent thing.

      it’s likely just another blog we’ll neglect.

      Habits, muscle memory, or not, believe me: I struggle with the same stuff almost daily. I’m constantly asking myself if I’m adding clutter or simplifying things to my day to day.

      I want the latter, but I’ve got to stay on top of it, you know?

  8. Clifton Rhoad

    Same same same. I’ve been staring at my invite for a week but haven’t summoned the will-power to give it what I feel deserves my best effort!

    • Tom McFarlin

      Seems like this is the same sentiment a lot of people have.

      …and I’m guess we all just need to get to writing and then press publish and see what happens.

  9. Gary Hilson

    Interesting perspective on Medium. As a writer I’ve been underwhelmed my what I have read on the site. I blogged about my thoughts here: which then prompted an invite from Medium to submit. I’ve posted twice since. One was an original article I had planned for my blog but opted to post to Medium instead, and another was a blog post I published more than a year ago.

    Overall, I see a lot of the same voices from other platforms and very little fresh ideas. There are some gems however, but I don’t understand the criteria for who is allowed to publish.

    • Tom McFarlin

      Gary – thanks for sharing a link to your site. I’m eager to read it.

      A couple of my friends have also contributed to Medium. I think it’s a mixed bag. Some people, like you said, have written some tremendous stuff; others are something that I’d expect of the every day blogger.

      There’s no problem is that whatsoever, but there’s something about the site that seems to impute quality content, discussion, and promotion (as editors’ picks). That’s what attracts me to it.

      If/when it goes mass market, it’s hard to judge how the quality will be. My tendency is to say it will go down, but why? Just as many good writers can jump on as poor writers, right?

      Then again, there’s just as many other publishing platforms available for others so we’ll see.

      • Gary Hilson

        I’m finding even the Editor’s Picks are not necessarily that great that’s why I’m intrigued as to what all of the fuss is and whether it will have legs in the long run. I got a lot of reads on my first submission but almost nothing much on the second.

        • Tom McFarlin

          Once I get my first post on there, I plan to do a post mortem here on this site, and then see what happens from there.

          All the fun of experimentation, right? :)

  10. Ollie

    Haha totally the same feelings! A lot of pressure!

    • Tom McFarlin

      Yep – I finally wrote my first post which I’ll be sharing tomorrow :).

  11. Kyler

    No writer ever thinks their work is good enough. It’s part of being a writer. And you should never be too attached to anything you create. That kind of thinking is a sure way to get writers block. A good book to read is Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones. Link below.

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