Writers Vs. Typists: What I learned from reading countless tedious Medium posts about what some tech bro learned from writing every day…
The secret of writing is… writing. It’s sitting down day after day and lining up words in surprising ways. Do it enough and you’ll get better at it.
There are things that you can do to make it easier on yourself (and others) and bad habits that you can gain that make it harder:
Drinking helps some people, sometimes — it can unlock things when everything feels stuck — but only in moderation.
Drugs make you think you’re writing better but it would probably come out better and more quickly if you weren’t out of your gourd.
Writing for a living is a job. You sit down and you get it done. You hit deadlines because if you don’t, you won’t get paid and you won’t get commissioned again. It is not magic.
On Medium, there is a whole genre of posts — mostly by men, most of those men absolute tech bros — which purport to reveal the secret of making loads of cash by writing every day, lists that promise to unlock your hidden potential as a professional writer.
Medium posts by people writing about how to get rich writing are the same as the countless YouTube videos from again, mostly men, which promise, for a fee, to teach you how to create a course that other people will pay for and bring you inordinate riches.
The snake eats itself; this is an ouroboros of awfulness.
There is a big difference between ‘making content’ — whatever the fuck that really is — and writing. The first is cheap meat, mostly gristle, hammered out to provide something that hits all the SEO keywords, while the second requires wit, intelligence, and original thought.
There’s a famous jibe, credited to Truman Capote — unfairly — describing Kerouac’s work: “That’s not writing, that’s typing.” That’s where we are with Medium writing advice — there’s money to made and clicks to be gained in promising to unlock ‘the system’ for making money from writing.
Writing about writing on Medium is an effective grift. I’ve fallen into the trap by even writing this short piece, but it’s born entirely of frustration. If you want to be a writer rather than a typist and a copyist, simply pumping out content to fill an existing demand is just not it.
If someone tells you that they write thousands of words a week — which is entirely possible, Grammarly tells me I put up about 43k words last week — but sounds entirely devoid of any passion for the act, they’re not a writer. They’re a typist and what they have to say will teach you nothing. Pick up Stephen King’s On Writing, Anne Lamont’s Bird by Bird, and Dreyer’s English by Benjamin Dreyer instead.