How Not to Write a Medium Article

5 ways to stop listing 5 ways to do things and not use words like ‘gaslight’

Credit: siam.pukkato on Shutterstock

I know, I know. Not all Medium articles are listicles, but they have a happy home here simply because lists work. They’re quickly digestible bite-sized nuggets of wisdom. 70% of my articles are lists and I love writing them, but the other day I realized I had a problem.

I realized I couldn’t stop writing listicles or using trending words. I knew it was out of control when I looked at my latest draft title:

3 Ways To Take 7 Steps to Find 5 Types of Happiness

Without gaslighting yourself

I knew then that I needed help. I’d gone too far. I’d lost control.

I put down my pen and typed “how to stop writing listicles.”

And I’m happy to say I’ve found a listicle to help me!

In 5 different ways! Thank goodness.

Here’s how:

#1. First, I stopped numbering subheadings and started spelling numbers out in the body of paragraphs.

I resolved that very day to never put any more numbers on any of my subheadings, ever again.

I’m proud to say this is 1 promise to myself I’ve been able to keep.

#2. I stopped sprinkling in quotes from famous people.

This method only lent false credibility to my writing. It was like sprinkling diamonds on dog poop for some of my earlier work.

My article If It Weren’t For My Mailman, I’d Have No Bills….He’s Gaslighting Me sprinkled with quotes from Shakespeare just wasn’t working.

He wrapped himself in quotations — as a beggar would enfold himself in the purple of Emperors. ~Rudyard Kipling

#3. I stopped putting words in articles to make editors of certain Medium publications more willing to publish me.

Instead, I let my writing speak for itself. I Forged ahead with a Slacked Jaw. The Human Parts of me wanted to Level with myself though. So I thought Better Marketing may help my work be successful in this Writing Cooperative we call Medium.

And I made sure to never write specifically about Medium in any story as I knew if I did then it would never be chosen for further distribution (except in rare circumstances where it’s really funny and the author is sexy).

P.S. If you’ve read this far I Love You.

#4. I stopped making subheadings so long because it’s just too hard to read stuff that long especially when there are run-on sentences involved and I also stopped leaving tons of whitespace in my articles as that is a hack for more pleasant reading to the listicle reader’s eye.


(white space)

(nothing written here)

(Pleasing to your eye so keep reading.)

#5. I stopped feeling like I always had to end on the most powerful point to motivate people to share my articles.

With these methods I learned I could not only change myself but I could change the world…and now you can too!

Conclusion of my final thoughts about takeaways.

I stopped announcing to the readers that my article was about to end or has ended. I gave them the benefit of the doubt that they were likely smart enough to realize it was over when the words stopped.

This is the end.

Family Man. Top Writer in Leadership. MBA Strategy and Management. Marine Corps Veteran. Winemaker.

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