The State of Writing for Publication Sites: Quantity Over Quality?
I feel like a cow at a dairy farm — That’s the best way I can describe my experience at Medium so far as a story contributor. Grazing on hay in a metal cubicle, each tit hooked up to a pump demanding more and more milk. I feel like I’m being sucked dry of all my creative life force. But it’s not Medium’s fault really. As tired as it sounds and as much as a cop-out as it seems like, I blame capitalism. Lol. The goal is to produce as much content as possible to appease the algorithm gods and keep readers on the site for as long as possible consuming content. No one cares about quality anymore, it’s all about quantity.
And I get it from a business perspective. I may be jaded but I’m not illogical. More clicks = more money. But you’d think a site initially dedicated to ‘creatives’ would have escaped this. They would have seen what became of other sites before them like Youtube. And yet, here we all are. Again. It seems to be the new norm for the majority of artists wanting to beak free from convention and supplement their income to be taken advantage of. Of course, there are a divine few who are able to achieve the dream of living solely off of their artistic endeavors but they’re the exception to the rule. The rest of us are caught in an infinite scroll, our works consumed and then forgotten about as the reader moves on to the next article and the next piece of content.
And so we write. We write for the algorithm. We pledge allegiance to capitalism. We write for attention spans that can’t handle anything more than a listicle or how to make $200 a day through various passive income sources. We write for sites that don’t give a damn about us. That view us as cogs in their money making machine.
But what can we do? It’s not like there are a lot of other options out there. We could try and break free from the system , but that’s easier said than done. For the time being, we’re stuck. Stuck in a system that values quantity over quality. Stuck trying to make a living doing what we love because what else is there? If you’re a writer you’ll write regardless. So logic says that you might as well write in a functional way that has a monetary means to an end. A metaphorical toss of a penny into the Trevi Fountain. Because even though we know that the odds are against us, there’s still that glimmer of hope that we’ll make it. That our writing will be read and appreciated for what it is — a form of art.
However, capitalism has a funny way of crushing dreams. So, safe to say, I’m a bit screwed because my writing style doesn’t work the way that would be the most ideal for me to be successful with the algorithm. It’s not fast paced or attention grabbing. It’s not list and I really couldn’t give a damn if I provide ‘value’ [at least not in the new age sense of the word]. My articles won’t help you generate an upper middle class salary so that you can quit your day job. They won’t give you tips on how to get a six pack in two weeks or how to make your man/ woman chase you. But what they will do is provide a moment of respite. They’ll take you on a journey and for a few minutes, transport you into another world where life moves a little slower. At least I hope so.
But I digress. And If I haven’t repeated myself enough at this point [or you haven’t been paying attention] to summarize, capitalism = bad and it, more or less, has sullied writing. And I for one, am not happy about it.
But more than anything, I’m painfully self-aware. You could almost say I’ve become a bit of a masochist. I know that I’ll keep standing at the table, watching the roulette wheel spin. Waiting.
Hoping and praying that my number will come up. That this time, I’ll be the one who hits the jackpot. But more likely than not, I’ll just be another casualty; shipwrecked and stranded like so many others. Another writer churning out content for a site that couldn’t give two fucks.
I’d love to know your thoughts about the topic since I know for a fact I’m not the only one who feels this way. Happy Friday.
Until next time,