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Medium Writers Newsletter: Writing tips, updates, and spotlights

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Illustration: Kawandeep Virdee

September is for new beginnings. Getting organized. Starting fresh, coming out of the brief lull of August. This year, August was different. Instead of traveling for weddings or vacations, it was staycations, maybe moving, and if possible, taking a break or at least slowing down to reflect and recharge. Perhaps in that time, you came up with new creative ideas to get started on this month.

To kick off the newsletter, we’re sharing a few highlights from Morgan Jerkins’ interview in Forge by Kelli María Korducki. Jerkins, senior editor at ZORA, recently published Wandering in Strange Lands. There are numerous insights in the interview on the process of writing, managing time, checking in on yourself.

On balancing work and writing, Jerkins found the social support of a team at work valuable “I’m talking about just having people have your back: somebody to bounce ideas off, some people to go to lunch with, some people to network with, and to feel like you have a team behind you.”

For some creative projects and planning, it’s helpful to actually write it out: “There’s something more visceral about putting your hands to a pen and paper than typing on a keyboard. I’m definitely very tech-heavy, but sometimes when I’m really trying to get to the grit of a project, I need to put my actual hands on the page.”

Read the full interview in ForgeHow Author Morgan Jerkins Gets it All Done (While Having a Day Job).”

Updates from Medium

“We’ve had a busy summer,” writes Ev Williams, CEO at Medium, before highlighting recent product updates and sharing upcoming features including custom domains and new profiles. Looking at the bigger picture, it’s about sharing compelling ideas and deepening our understanding of the world: “[Medium] is perhaps the only place where someone with no industry connections, no investment, no social followers, and no technical or marketing expertise can show up and offer a story or idea to the world that finds an audience of thousands or even millions of people.” Read the full story at “What’s Around the Corner for Medium.”

“We know how important newsletters are as a tool to build and engage your audience,” writes Abby Aker, senior product designer at Medium, in an update on Newsletters. The new email editor focuses on the writing (similar to the Medium story editor), you can now schedule when to send your next newsletter, and you can customize the subject line and preview text of the email. Read the full update in “Write Here, Right Now.”

The new Medium app experience strengthens the connection between you and your audience. “It’s completely reoriented around following,” writes Group PM Russ d'Sa, “so that readers can be sure they’re not missing anything from writers they love, and those writers and publications can more actively engage and grow their audience.” Read more about the updates, and find a link to join the beta in “A New Medium on Mobile.”

Ev expands on the vision of this new app experience for writers: “Our goal is to create the best of both worlds: An open and simple platform where anyone can publish — once or occasionally — that also allows for deeper connections between readers and regular writers.”

You own all the content you post on Medium

We recently updated our Terms of Service on Medium. We published a post clarifying what it means to you, but the simple language is:

  • You own all the content you post on Medium, and we make no claims to it, nor will we ever in the future.
  • We do not, and will not, sell your content or information. Ever.

For more details, see the full update in “Clarifying Medium’s new Terms of Service.”

New topics announcement: Nonfiction and Astrology

The topics on Medium are regularly reviewed and updated, based on a variety of factors including what we’re seeing published across the platform and what we see readers interested in. A couple new topics were introduced this past month.

Literary journalism, personal narrative, memoir, and your truth-is-stranger-than-fiction tales have a new home on Medium: the Nonfiction topic. True story!

Stories about the zodiac in all its forms, be it forecasting or understanding our deeper selves, can be found in the Astrology topic. “Astrology is an ancient, symbolic language and an interpretative art; a study in cycles and a tool for self-awareness and healing,” shares Stephanie Georgopulos, editor in chief at Human Parts. “In other words, it’s much more complex and nuanced than its detractors — and even its fans — tend to realize. I hope this dedicated space helps spark the interest of curious people, or drives them deeper into study — of astrology, but also of themselves, and the world around, before, and after them.”

How should I edit my own writing?

A crucial step to improve the quality of your writing is editing your story. Slackjaw Editor Alex Baia shares a series of questions to facilitate your story self-editing in a Q&A with The Writing Cooperative. Take the questions and go deep on a story, paragraph, and sentence level. “Self-editing is a tough but necessary skill,” Baia notes, “But that doesn’t mean you can always hit a home run on your own. I have made my writing immeasurably better with the feedback of writing buddies, writing groups, teachers and mentors, and even random people sitting next to me in a coffee shop.” Check out the story to see the full set of questions to guide your edits in “Editors Explain: What Should I Look for When Editing My Own Writing?” and check out the full Ask the Editors series.

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. 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.

A Supercomputer’s Covid-19 Analysis Yields a New Way to Understand the Virus” by Thomas Smith

In the midst of a devastating pandemic and the unfolding story of a confounding, deadly virus, there is rarely cause for excitement. This story was an exception. Tom has written for OneZero and once previously for Elemental — but this was our first opportunity to work together. The piece details a new theory (which emerged as a result of a supercomputer’s analysis of patient data) about how Covid-19 impacts the body. To responsibly tell the story of a promising new framework for understanding the coronavirus of course requires extreme caution — so as to guarantee that we’re not forwarding unfounded assumptions or promising solutions to the world’s most acute problem. Thomas delivered on that while also putting enthusiasm, time, and energy into spreading the fascinating news. The story invited a huge tide of readers — which is always fun to see.

Kate Green Tripp, senior platform editor at Elemental

August earnings payouts

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

  • 66.4% of writers or publications who wrote at least one story for members earned money.
  • 6.2% of active writers earned over $100.
  • $49,581.31 was the most earned by a writer, and $9,958.82 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

Last month we included a feature of LEVEL’s 40 over 40 in hip-hop series. If you scrolled through to the #1, you’ll find Jay-Z. In this month’s writing inspiration, Genius Turner looks at what we can learn from Jay-Z in “How Jay-Z Can Help to Improve Your Writing.”

These hip bards that hop around the stage in the latest fashion belie the fact that, beneath the gaudy costumes and personas, there lies some of the finest writers the world has ever produced.

Check out the stories in the Writing topic, and follow Medium Writers for more inspiration and advice on writing. Follow Medium Writers on Twitter, where we’ve been sharing tips, advice, and stories from across the platform — as we do here, just on a more regular basis. Feel free to share this newsletter with friends who might be interested in writing.

Keep at it,

Kawandeep, Creator Success

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