Finding New Routines

Medium Writers Newsletter: Writing tips, spotlights, and updates

Medium Creators
The Medium Blog
9 min readMay 11, 2020


A face, a hand, a spiky blob, a sun, and a hole float in the air within a ring of dots
Illustration: Kawandeep Virdee

Over the past weeks you may have found new routines, and new habits that have been helpful. Henry Andrews offers essential advice to keep in mind during this time of adjustment: “It’s not being lazy to give yourself that rest. It’s an investment in being able to do more tomorrow.” If you can’t do all of the things you strive for in your routine, if you don’t have the energy, that’s an important signal to include. Rest is necessary.

Ashley Abramson shares methods to help take a big picture look at our values and priorities. Imagine yourself in the future: “What are you doing, who’s with you, and how do you feel?” This can help clarify what your values are. From there, shift your routines. “There’s no telling when normal life — or some new version of it — will resume. But even in quarantine, you can follow up all that reflection with action.”

As we all adjust in this time of uncertainty and stress, it’s okay to take a break, to pause. The pressure toward productivity can be tough, and pull awareness away from ourselves. ZORA has released a new collection, The Burnout Effect, “that specifically brings into focus the pressures — and peace — of productivity and performance for our current times.” Read the introduction from Christina M. Tapper here. These stories are helpful to reflect on as you build new routines during these times, and include your creative practice.

Have you found routines that have been helpful for yourself and for your creative practice? I invite you to share your stories in the responses here.

On getting started

We’ve put together a quick guide to get started on Medium to help writers who have questions on how publishing works on Medium. There’s an incredible set of articles on Medium itself offering tips and advice. Know any great pubs, stories, or other resources for writing on Medium? You can add them in the responses in the story: “Interested in writing on Medium? Start here.”

It can feel daunting to begin writing a story. Whether you write regularly or you’re just getting started, you may find yourself facing a blank screen, not knowing where to go next. There are a variety of ways to come up with ideas and get them out there. One approach that resonates with me came up in last month’s editor panel. Start with the conversations you’re having with friends. What’s coming up? That can be the seed of a compelling story.

Tomas Pueyo on storytelling

You have likely read the story “Coronavirus: Why You Must Act Now” by Tomas Pueyo. It has been read by millions of people all over the world. Pueyo shares insights on patterns he has noticed in storytelling, and also his experience writing his influential story on Medium. In exploring storytelling, his interest was not in the “recipes” on how to tell a story, rather he wanted to know the underlying reasons for certain patterns. He articulates a theory that stories are problem-solving. Stories can boil down to the sequence of articulating a problem, and guiding the reader toward a solution.

He describes writing the Medium story around 23 minutes into the conversation. The audience for the article is focused: “As a politician, community leader, or business leader, you have the power and the responsibility to prevent this.” He illustrates the severity of the problem, and offers a solution to convince leaders to close offices and allow employees to work from home. His insights in storytelling helped articulate an important message in a compelling way. You can listen to the full conversation on Indie Hackers here.

Medium Writers Twitter

We’ve started a Medium Writers Twitter to showcase some of the variety of stories on the platform, and also to share updates for writers. We’ll share tips, advice, and spotlights as we do here, just on a more regular basis.

Update from Medium Curation

We checked in with Medium Curation to discuss this latest update of Medium’s Curation Guidelines: “‘What we’re looking for in curation’ is not prescriptive — each story is unique and might have a completely different feel from another story in the same topic, and that’s great. We want to leave plenty of room for individual creativity.” Big picture, these updates are to help writers find their audience by writing quality stories: “We value quality content — fresh ideas, unique perspectives, varied voices, smart thinking — and believe readers do, too.” Read more in “What Curators Look for in a Story.”

Covid-diaries: A place to read and share during these uncertain times

Last newsletter we invited writers to share experiences during this challenging time. You can see some of the stories shared in the responses to our last newsletter, and in the Covid-diaries tag. We invite you to share yours — the mundane, the difficult, the unusual, and the joyful, and publish using the tag Covid-diaries.

Eileen Pollack’s recent story offers some words of inspiration: “No matter how little time you find for writing now, you are growing as a writer. Being creative doesn’t mean making stuff up; it means being sensitive and alive to what is going on around you, acutely aware of what you and your neighbors are experiencing. If you can, keep track of the minutiae of your daily life in quarantine, the emotions you are surprised to notice.”

On this subject, we’re spotlighting StirCrazy!, a publication to share stories about food, cooking, and community in the time of the coronavirus pandemic. You can find more information on submitting to the publication here.

As a reminder, you can find real-time updates for Covid-19 news, advice, and commentary on the Medium Coronavirus Blog.

Story spotlights on the platform

Medium editors are on the lookout for great stories published on the platform and work with the authors to edit and produce the stories. Just like last month, we’ll spotlight a few stories that Medium editors found and brought into their publications. What makes a story resonate? There’s a variety of reasons — read more to learn what the platform editors found compelling about these stories in particular.

Things We Don’t Need Right Now: DMs From Our Exes” by Shenequa Golding

There’s another virus sweeping the nation: ex-boyfriends. Many former boos are using the current pandemic as an excuse to “check in” with their old flames and take advantage of the loneliness of self-isolation. Writer Shanequa Golding warns readers not to fall for the okie doke and to remember that setting firm boundaries and keeping a safe distance from toxic relationships is the most important thing we can do right now. — Jolie A. Doggett, platform editor, ZORA

I Was Quarantined at Home in Hong Kong and Wore a Tracking Wristband” by Natalie Chyi

At the end of March, Natalie Chyi arrived home to Hong Kong from New York City, excited to be home, but also wary of the technology that the HK government would use to track her during her mandatory 14-day coronavirus self-isolation period. A self-professed “privacy nerd,” Chyi describes everything about the process from the test she got at the airport, to the tracking bracelet she was required to wear, and the StayHomeSafe iPhone app that tracked her movements. Chyi published this piece on Medium in the middle of her experience and then updated it throughout the process, publishing the final version on OneZero once she completed her quarantine. — Megan Morrone, platform editor, OneZero

Scientists Make Mistakes. I Made A Big One.” by Julia Strand

As we live through this unprecedented time, so much of what we’re focused on at Elemental is the coronavirus — illness, medicine, fear, uncertainty, distancing, personal experience, you name it. This piece is entirely unrelated to Covid, but it shines light on the humanity and imperfection inherent in scientific research, something we all need even more understanding and awareness of these days. I appreciate Julia’s honesty and willingness to self-expose on the heels of a very profound error in her own published (and funded) research — as well as the deeper questions posed about the nature of academia. — Kate Green Tripp, senior platform editor at Elemental

How We Talk to the Dead” by Sara Benincasa

Before reading this essay, I’d never heard of Forest Lawn Memorial Park — L.A.’s “Disneyland of cemeteries,” where everyone from Elizabeth Taylor to Sammy Davis Jr. is buried. Essayist Sara Benincasa visited a few weekends ago, and came away with a story about who we remember, and how we pay tribute to them. We’re all going to die, and death is always around us, though we’re probably more aware of it now. Sara’s essay is an invitation to reconsider it. — Harris Sockel, deputy editor at Human Parts

Stumbling upon stories that surprise us

See story picks from across the platform in “Our Favorite Stories About Figuring Out Who We Are and Where We Come From” in Medium Rare and “Stories for Befriending Boredom” in Reading Roulette. If you know a piece that should be featured in either, drop it in the responses there.

The Draft: The best thing you can do is keep going

The Draft is a biweekly column in Human Parts where former MFA director Eileen Pollack answers your questions about writing. You can submit your questions on creative writing here.

In “The Best Thing You Can Do Is Keep Going,” a writer asks how to be creative while caring for their kids, supervising schoolwork, and in general amid so many distractions and the heaviness of the news. “Do the best you can,” advises Pollack. “Accomplish what absolutely must be accomplished in a given day. But don’t worry about the rest.” Pollack reminds us of immense challenges in history, and that in our time “this is the chance for all of us to prove our ability to endure hardship in real life, without complaining (too much), without putting our own needs first, and perhaps even by helping others.”

“How We Work Now” call for submissions

GEN is accepting first-person essays from people whose day jobs or careers have fundamentally changed because of the current economic downturn. How are you rethinking what it takes to earn a living? Reopening your business? Entering the service industry for the first time? How are you feeling about it? Afraid, or maybe hopeful? Tell us what you do for work and how it’s changed. We want to hear from people who are reevaluating career paths, putting passion projects on hold, or pivoting to jobs they would have never before considered.

Submissions should look similar to our Life in the Time of Coronavirus series, which included stories from people who are out of work, struggling to get by, and putting their lives on the line. Please keep submissions under 800 words. Email full drafts and published stories to

April earnings payouts

By the 8th of each month (so in this case May 8), we initiate the payments for the prior month’s earnings. Please allow 3–7 business days to receive the April earnings payouts in your Stripe account. Based on member engagement from this period:

  • 61.3% of writers or publications who wrote at least one story for members earned money.
  • 5.4% of active writers earned over $100.
  • $28,622.44 was the most earned by a writer, and $12,797.13 was the most earned for a single story.

Learn more about earning money for your best writing with the Medium Partner Program.

Words to write by

In “When Writing Poetry Write about Anything and Everything,” Florence Wanjiku describes her creative process in finding ideas, and using poetry to explore a variety of topics. Poetry can be a means to embrace spontaneous insights and find new connections.

Write a poem at the most unexpected places, at the most unexpected time and about a topic that matters to you — while remaining open and honest. See what you can come up with. Do not force yourself, allow the idea to come to you.

For more inspiration and advice on writing, check out the stories in the Writing topic, and follow the Medium Writers Team. Feel free to share this newsletter with friends who might be interested in writing.

Keep at it,

Kawandeep, Writer Advocate

This monthly newsletter for writers is from the Medium Writers Team. Learn more about how Medium supports great writers through the Medium Partner Program. If you’re in the Partner Program, see your dashboard here.