blog, Pat Aitcheson writes

Can you feel the love?

dhanelle via pixabay

I’m never sure how many claps to give on Medium.

It seems easy enough. We have up to fifty claps. Express how you felt, whether you were moved, signal which stories stand out. But it’s really not so simple.

I decided to engage more with stories and writers on Medium this month, as part of the Ninja Writers daily challenge for May. Writers thrive on attention, like we all do. It’s wonderful to know that somebody read your words, and was moved to respond in some way. The woman in an online group who posted “please read this but I never have time to look at anyone’s posts, sorry” horrified me. How can you expect to get what you don’t give? Especially when you’re in a group that has reciprocity as a stated principle? No, I will not read your stuff.

So I’ve been thinking much more about claps. As is the way of these things, thinking leads to paralysis.

A centipede was happy — quite!
Until a toad in fun
Said, “Pray, which leg comes after which?”
Which threw her mind in such a pitch,
She laid bewildered in the ditch
Considering how to run.

Katherine Craster

It’s much easier with a binary choice, because more options leads to fear of picking the wrong one. So on Twitter I either like it or not. Simple. Why overthink it?

I don’t want to be mean, and I want to be fair. I know writing takes effort, whether the result is good, bad or boring. But does that translate to five, ten, or fifty claps? What if I gave a piece one clap, is that an insult like under-tipping, or am I rewarding effort while saying, this wasn’t for me?

Fifty is too big. I should divide into multiples of five, but I know other people don’t do the same. Are they clapping in small numbers because it’s bad, or are they just not big clappers? I’ve never given fifty claps, and would be shocked to receive the full number. It’s better we don’t know how many claps individuals give, but as with salary secrecy it’s hard to shake the fear of being undervalued.

I’m being more generous this month, but still the etiquette of clapping eludes me. Perhaps I should just pick random numbers and forget about it. And look forward to the day I am moved to give a piece the full fifty.

blog, writing process

31 day writing challenge 2018


It’s time for another daily writing challenge.

I took part in Shaunta Grimes challenge to Ninja Writers last year, and it changed everything. I learned about Medium, about email lists and services, and just how hard it is to post daily. Even with planning, work and life in general easily derails the best laid plans. I barely made it to the end.

But I found a wonderful community of writers along the way, grew my list of followers, and although none of my posts went viral I was encouraged to keep going. After May 2017 I continued to post weekly, and reached out to publications who accepted my pieces. Gradually I felt more at home on Medium.

This time, I have three aims in mind.


Consistency — posting every day without fail, learning to let go of the less perfect. As Steve Jobs said, real artists ship. I will experiment more widely with style and content. My plan is to post more fiction in serial form, as well as poetry and tips/advice. We’ll see what works.

Community — building a network of readers who enjoy my work, and a network of fellow writers for mutual advice and support is very important to me. One new follower per day is a modest goal. I will also read and comment on at least three posts daily.

Confidence — something that so many writers struggle with, including me. The only way to prove you can do it, is to do it. A positive response is always encouraging, but I’m going to write regardless. That was last year’s big lesson.

Best get to it.