Don’t Let Anyone Convince You That Your Motivation For Writing Is Bad

Curation, Stats, Money, Love— And More — Should Matter To You

We know good people by their deeds. You can talk about being humble, or nice, or being a good person all you want, but your deeds tell the truth.

We all write for various reasons. For each of these reasons, we derive personal satisfaction to various degrees.

Some write for the money. Some for the validation. Some to clear their minds. Some to seek a community. Some to escape a community. Some for all of these. Some for neither.

If you don’t want to be read, you won’t publish.

If you publish on Medium you allow the platform to use its rules to provide you with feedback on your writing. Claps, comments, highlights, pay, curations, top writer — these are all Medium’s rules.

By publishing on the platform, you agree to them. Whether you understand them or not is another story.

There have been two sides to this argument: whether or not one should care about stats, money, views, shares, followers, fans, how the MPP works, how Lord Williams is going ‘against the promise’ to the people of Earth 2 Version Medium.

I’ve been on both sides. I’m still on both sides.

Some days, I don’t give a bird’s poop about anything — even writing itself. Other days, I’m fired, hunting down comments, responding with glee and watching numbers rise as I sacrifice to the altar of attenti — er — Medium.

If you don’t want a reaction to your words, why are you here?

If you don’t want to make money, why are you here?

If you don’t believe your words mean something, to someone, especially if that someone is you, why on Earth’s beautiful moon are you here?

‘Don’t care about top writer status, it’s just an algorithm!’

Well, this algorithm is based on how many people view and interact with each story I write on a topic I love writing about. If the algorithm says I’m doing a good job of attracting the attention of the people who respond to my writing, then yes, I’m going to celebrate each and every top writer status I get.

Yes, I’m going to dig deeper to find out why people loved what I wrote and what I can learn from it to better my craft.

‘Don’t write for the money, it will interfere with your art!’

What if I need to pay bills and this is all I’ve got?

What’s wrong with writing to make money?

Why is it okay for a medical student to spend years to become a neurosurgeon and say — without fear — that they went to med school for the money?

Oh, so, because they’re the top 1% who can do what they do, it’s okay for them to do it for the money (and the lives they save), but it’s not okay for me to love my characters, love telling stories AND want to make money with it?

Why can’t I have both? Why can’t I love writing and making money?

‘Don’t care about your followers, our culture is attention driven and people will forget you the minute they turn their screens off! ‘

Here’s how I know when someone is paying attention during a conversation:

They often turn towards me. If they’re the average American they’ll look in my eyes. If they’re the average Cameroonian, they’ll look in my general direction. They’ll ask questions and make non-verbal cues I can respond to.

I’ll know you’ve read this line on Medium if and only if you highlight it (or leave a note or message me and copy the line or some other form of feedback).

On the internet, just like in life, feedback is how we communicate. When I choose to follow you, I’m giving you feedback. When I choose to unfollow you, feedback. If I highlight, feedback.

If I block you, feedback.

Feedback from social media is how you measure something — anything — you decide to measure. Example: you can gamify your growth by juxtaposing whatever piece of data you want in an excel sheet and map your course over however long you want.

Fans vs posts? Follows vs time of day? Comments vs fans?

Feedback.

If you tell me not to worry about stats or followers, you’re telling me not to worry about feedback.

If we were having a conversation and I was — as I am now — on my phone, writing this, not even providing verbal acknowledgment of the fact that you were talking to me, how would you feel about the encounter?

Feedback.

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Photo by Sarah Arista on Unsplash

Writers, write. They don’t want to be writers forever. Sure, most of us start there — I’ve talked about writing more than I’ve written. Some don’t even want to write — they just happen to be pretty good at it, derive meaning from it, or do it to pay bills.

We all have different stories. We all do different things for different reasons.

If I write for money, and you write for followers, does it make any of us bad people?

If I write for therapy and you write for love, does it make any of us needy?

If I write to tell my truth and you write to establish your vision of the world, does it make any of us right?

Taking everything into consideration: top writer, money, fickle platforms, followers, curation, writer’s block, imposter syndrome, the slew of factors on this creative journey, is it possible that we can still be kind to each other as we write for our own personal reasons?

Could we imagine our reader as an attentive friend in a small coffee shop, listening to you as you shyly (or brazenly— if that’s your jam) read your piece, describe your art and talk about why these words mean a lot to you?

Can we imagine ourselves on a stage, sharing our hearts, pitching our book idea, not in the hope that someone will buy, but with conviction that our story is worth more than whatever they’d pay and that we’ll be all better off, happier, kinder, more connected, after sharing these words?

Can we bring our stories to the table with kindness and allow each other to live as independently as humanly acceptable?

Whether it’s on Medium or in your journal, in class or at the family dinner, your motivations for sharing your words are yours to decide. The feedback you get from the world should inform you of that motivation.

You can edit that motivation as much as you want.

It’s called change.

But no one gets to tell you when, how, where. They can inspire you with their deeds, but you get to decide what works for you.

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Photo by Janko Ferlič on Unsplash

The world is already full of uncertainty. Money is hard to come by for a majority of people.

Money runs the physical world no matter how meta we want to be about life.

We are all going through personal storms; we are all dealing with stuff no one else can fathom especially with how we’ve been pavloved to carry smiles through all.

We all have stories that could hurt feelings, save lives, inspire action and even cure ailments.

Tell your story. And if someone doesn’t like it, give them feedback — kindly.

We do not have to agree to be kind to each other.

Written by

Cameroonian writer and video creator. Featured in LEVEL and P.S. I Love You. I write about building relationships and personal transformation.

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