I began writing back when I was in grad school — largely because the job I wanted (a professor) would require that I write a lot. I grew to love it, and the internet made it easy to do it and quickly get feedback and support from people you’d never be able to get it from quickly before.
Back then, I mostly wrote about my political obsessions. It was somewhat ill-informed, quite controversial, and very partisan. I moved on quickly to the academic subject I was pursuing: philosophy. There wasn’t a big audience for that. I continued to write simply because it made me feel good.
When Medium came along, it allowed me to gain an audience — something I had not had before then. It was slow-going at first, but the encouragement and recognition filtered in at a rate that was enough to keep me going, but not enough to overwhelm me with a feeling that I needed to somehow stay relevant.
Yesterday, I hit 10,000 followers on Medium. I was excited, but again, it seemed to happen on a long enough timeline that I felt it was just another step.
Now, I make a modest amount of money writing on Medium. Let me clarify: I make a modest amount writing the same stuff I have been writing back when I was doing it for free, with little expectation on a return on my investment of time and energy. I get to write what I love to write, and people who really like it get to ensure I get monetary support for it by clapping. I’m actually pretty emotional about that.
I really think that this is the future of writing on the web — this new model that Medium has dreamed up. I now make it a point to seek out members-only pieces on Medium and clap for them — knowing that my claps give money to good writing by good people (you guys!). Wow, I think this just turned into a stump speech. I’ll calm down now.
The point is, I think everyone wants their voice to be heard, writers just spend a ton of time and energy working on what that voice is. I am still working on my voice. I probably won’t ever stop. And that’s fine by me.