In what reasonable, sane world does this matter? This isn’t a slam, but a reasonable question. Samuel, I honestly could care less about claps and lot more about highlights and thoughtful comments. Those show a reader’s engagement. I write professionally, and can’t waste my bandwidth wondering who made what, how or why. These folks aren’t me, they live very different lives. We all appeal to different people, different tastes on different days. You and I can spend so much time doing all this math and comparison when we might be better served to simply do. The. Work.
Before the Internet and easily accessed metrics, we writers ( and at 66 I am one of those) toiled in isolation, battling to find our muses. I cannot speak for anyone else but I have to wonder how much more productive we might be if we let go of what some other writers on Medium are doing and focus on what we can directly control: our craft. Our output. Learn to write better. Read more. Learn to see the stories all around us and then translate them for others. Find our muse and develop our gifts.
If we are meant to be writers, that road will open. We will forever be miserable because true writers (as with all callings) have to write. It will never leave us alone, we write at all hours and at all times. It’s not an option. When the muse appears, we must produce. Some of us make money, some don’t. That’s not the primary point. It’s a combination of both art and work. But it’s primarily an act of love.
My distant cousin is a supremely talented artist, having designed the glass for the temple doors for a sultan in Saudi Arabia. I once asked him to develop art that made money. He said it was the wrong question. I tend to agree. My friend Jill, who is a potter, bought a ranch, maintains a herd of forty horses, bought a home on a stream and put two kids through college with her pottery. She balances producing what people buy, which pays the bills, with about 25–30% of pure passionate experimentation. That is her art, which frequently evolves into something people buy. For a lot of money. But here is the kicker: she’s been doing this for more than 50 years.
With respect, I might offer that we become far better writers when we stop focusing on what we’re going to get and put our hearts and souls into what we came here to give. If you are going to call yourself a writer (which involves a certain percentage of art and one hell of a lot of sweat, failure and tears) , then you have a responsibility to find your authentic voice. Other than that, we are basically hacks trying to pry folks away from their wallets, seeing them as claps and eyeballs as opposed to knowing that we can potentially change a life, even many, with our craft.
But that’s just me. My opinion has the weight of a gnat fart in a hurricane, but it’s passionate.