“We do not learn, and that what we call learning is only a process of recollection.” — Plato
In September I got an exciting email from Medium:
That’s right, I made a whopping $0.01 in August writing for Medium.
I know you’re probably all dying to know how I managed it.
I mean, exactly $0.01… what are the chances of hitting such a minuscule figure with such grace and dexterity?
All kidding aside, it’s emails like this that often send me into a writer’s tailspin. I start by trying to laugh it off, but soon my head’s running the calculations.
“This means that, assuming you spent 10 hours writing this past month, that your hourly wage was $0.001 cents an hour.”
Before I know it, I’m ready to throw in the towel and the keyboard and walk away. After all, complete inactivity will only cost me $0.01.
Thankfully, more than once while feeling this way I’ve received a note from a friend saying:
“Thank you. I really needed this today.”
Such tender mercies offered up by friends and readers, entirely unaware of how I’m feeling in the moment, remind me of truths I learned (and forget) about success.
It’s is never measured in dollars and sense
I’m horrible at writing for a paycheck, as you can see above. When I’m writing to make money, as opposed to making a difference in one person’s life, I never succeed. I have a little piece of paper taped to my laptop staring at me as I type. It says “I have the power to help someone today.” I need to remember that writing is a power I can’t afford to waste on the world’s definition of success.
It’s never about me
Writing merely for the sake of being applauded as a great writer is a hollow pursuit. The “look at me” articles that I’ve written never fly. I can try and wrap them up nicely, but unless I write with someone else in mind then I’m wasting the talent God has given me.
It’s always about connection
As human beings, we’re wired to connect with one another; to feel each other’s emotional charges. The minute I start to get preachy, worse, put on my marketer’s cap (forgive me, I’m a recovering advertising exec), all feeling goes out the door. I have to remember to make the connection between my heart and my keys hitting the keyboard.
Thanks for reading. My name is David Smurthwaite. I’m a top writer on Medium in Travel, Parenting, Health, & Short Stories. I’m a father of four rapidly-growing boys, and husband to a near-perfect companion, all of whom I’ve enlisted in writing Why We Roam: a book dedicated to helping families have life-changing experiences around the world.
You can follow our family of seven (including our 16-year-old puppy) on Instagram as we live in four countries (Spain, Rwanda, Vietnam, and Colombia) on four continents over the next 12 months.