I Haven’t Hit My Writing Goals
My writing goal this month was simple: earn $100 here on Medium.
The reason for that specific number? It would put me in the top 7% of writers here, a statistic Medium puts out every month in an email.
I broke it down to roughly how many claps I’d need in a day. I posted frequently. Yet every week, my earnings trended under $25. Some weeks were way under that. I didn’t end up hitting $100 this month. What happened?
I realized that I was ignoring one of the fundamentals of writing:
I can’t control the results, just my output.
I can set a goal to, say, write 25 stories. But I can’t control whether or not I make a specific amount of money.
This can be discouraging when I try hard and think that’s enough to succeed. I felt like I was due. I’ve been posting here for over a year; shouldn’t I be more successful? Other people are.
It reminded me of what Anne Lamott wrote in Bird by Bird:
“I told myself that historically when people do too well too quickly, they are a Greek tragedy waiting to happen. I, who did not do too well too quickly and who was in fact not doing too well over time, was actually in the catbird seat.” (p. 128)
Anne Lamott, of course, went on to become a bestselling author.
There are a few reasons why my performance in May slumped. I got sick with a virus for a few weeks, which tanked my productivity.
I also believe that April was my best month ever (I hit $95) because I released several articles thatI had been researching and rewriting for months. I have several more “big” stories like that in the pipeline, but they’re not complete yet.
I try to stay positive about my writing. There’s a proverb that I like to remind myself of:
“Turn your face to the sun and the shadows fall behind you.”
So, “look on the bright side.” I had a lot of stories curated this month. One was curated in three categories! (No, that didn’t unlock a secret writers’ lounge.) I also got two Top Writer tags. Clearly, my writing is improving and I’m reaching more readers.
But there are a lot of writers hustling to make money here. When people write full time and can release one or two high-quality posts every day, it can be hard to compete. But a wide variety of writers is good for readers.
Really, I can’t complain too much. I pay my electric bill every month based on my writing earnings. Not too shabby, considering I do most of the posting from my phone.
Most apps, on the other hand, take my money. (I’m looking at you, thredUP.) Most writing jobs have deadlines and set topics. I have freedom here. I’ve blogged for 10 years and never had anywhere near the readership I’ve had here.
Even though I didn’t get what I wanted, I’m not going anywhere. I have a lot of stories I’m working on for June. Stories that only I can tell. I have to let go of my need for perfection, and just write.
I don’t have any goals set for June, because I know I’ll be busy with work and household tasks. I just want to see where my writing takes me. That $100 month is on the horizon, but I can’t control when it gets here.