For a couple years now, these mediums have been gnawing at me. The newsletter, so humble and easy for people to get. And the magazine app, so trendy, stylish, but isolated. I personally don’t subscribe to many newsletters, and I don’t subscribe to any digital magazines. It’s odd, because I think these mediums have merits, and I want to publish on all of them, but they are so hidden compared to the humble blog that I am left perplexed by them.
With each medium there’s a limit to what can be said and often what is said cannot be updated, tweaked, or edited. WordPress has no such limits, I can post 60,000 words in one post and split that into pages, or just right two words. I can edit, tweak, and adjust everything.
But yet, like any other “does one thing well” solution, newsletters and magazines keep pulling me. It may be a stretch to send a 6,000 word newsletter, or to publish magazine articles that are only 300 words, but the appeal is there.
This site has only been around for four years1 , but even still I don’t feel beholden to WordPress, or the blog/website medium. And yet, for as much as I think newsletters are cool and magazines are gorgeous, I cannot see why I would publish something in either of those mediums instead of right here.
With each of these publishing mediums, I am somehow limiting who can read my writing2 , and where they can read it. The only limitation to reading my current site is that you first need internet access — which is fast becoming such a low bar to entry it is almost irrelevant.
There’s got to be something else causing this pull, both for me and others towards these other two mediums.
Some say it’s about voice, or natural fit. That somehow a digital magazine lends credibility to long form journalism, deep thinking, or just a lot of words on a page. Some, like me, feel that email has an innate knack for the list and other short updates/shares.
That the web is perfect for the short thoughts, and funny ideas.
That the newsletter is perfect for a passing thought, and tidbit.
That the magazine is ideal for the hard-hitting writing.
I cannot help but to wonder why a writer would pigeon-hole themselves by using a limited technology. I am reminded of the clichéd thought, that what matters is not the medium in which the words are published, but the words themselves.
Words Are What Matters
I worry of the consequences of taking newsletters and magazines and sticking them into bucket A of content — I worry of the trickle down that may cause. For shall we next take things written on an iPhone less serious than that which was written on an iPad. And words from an iPad less serious still than that of a proper Mac. And a proper Mac clearly less serious than a pad of paper. And a pad of paper less serious than a mechanical typewriter?
But, words are words, no matter how they came to be, where you share them, and where you come to view them. None of these contexts should change anything.
And yet where you publish changes everything.
So where then does everything fit? Where do I write X, and where do I write Y? What is the best method of sharing.
The only rule I have found in all of this is to be consistent with your work. All too often now I see people with blogs, Tumblrs, newsletters, and Medium posts — all jumbled in this fucking mess that no sane person can rationalize. So instead we wait for them to post about what is new on Twitter, or on their blog — because even if you publish on Medium you are sure to mention it on your blog or Twitter.
If you link blog in a newsletter, photoblog on WordPress, and publish essays on Medium then keep it that way.
If everything is in one place, keep it that way.
There’s no good reason to be inconsistent about it, for that inconsistency is trouble. Just be sure to post about all the new stuff in one spot, otherwise we might never find it, see it, read it, or enjoy it.
I could have a magazine, but what do I decide to publish in the magazine versus here? And when someone asks me to define my rules, and I cannot define them, that’s how and when I know there are no rules and thus no need for two publishing platforms.
That’s why I will keep on clicking away on this site, the singular place, for this is the most accessible medium with which I can easily publish and thus it is likely the best for me. And I recommend that you cull all your work into one place, because unless you are writing for a large publication — your readers are coming to read your writing and the easier it is to find that writing, the better off things are for everyone.
At the very least stay consistent. Stop changing from this service to this service as new ones pop up — worry more about the words.
Newsletters are fancy, and magazine apps fancier still — but both are completely unnecessary limitations on your publishing when compared to the humble blog. This isn’t a slight against those formats — I wouldn’t have Next Draft any other way — but a warning that it is easy to get too caught up in the where, and forget about the words.