The Michael Scott Rules of Writing
Real lessons that Medium writers should take away from NBC’s The Office — while you still can
There’s nothing more rewarding than a lesson learned from a hilarious TV show, and when it comes to hilarious TV shows; nothing beats The Office.
The dedicated fanbase for The Office has only grown since the show left the air 6 years ago.
The top rated comedy series found a very comfy home on Netflix, where it has comfortably reigned supreme for several years. However its turn as ruler is about to end.
NBCUniversal wants their prize-winning hog back, so you’ve only got a limited amount of time left before yet another company starts gouging you for subscription money.
So this time when you return to re-watch The Office yet again, don’t just watch it for the yucks.
Watch it for the business, entrepreneurship, and writing lessons we can learn from star salesman and regional manager of the year, Michael Scott.
Life & Business Lessons I took away from Michael Scott
“Make friends first, make sales second, make love third. In no particular order.”
Michael taught us the importance of setting priorities.
He loved Dunder Mifflin more than anything, but he never sacrificed the wellbeing of his staff in favour of earning more money or satisfying a client. He actively pissed off clients while trying to protect his staff.
In the end he left the company to be with his true love, but even in that moment he invited his entire staff to move with him to Colorado.
While it’s tempting to put life and love on the back-burner for our jobs and even for Medium, we can’t lose sight of whats truly important. We can’t forget the relationships that truly matter, especially the ones that will be there for us when Medium is inevitably shut down and sold off for parts.
Grab those tin-foil hats folks.
“You need to play to win, but… you also have to win to play.”
Medium is positively knee-deep in dead bones.
I’ve personally stumbled across literally dozens of dead publications in my search to find more places to submit my stories.
Between the abandoned accounts and forgotten publications, there is more than enough evidence to see the truth. If you don’t make money sooner or later you’re going to abandon this platform. If you don’t win (however that looks in your eyes) you’re going to stop playing.
As far as I can see, there seems to be a time limit to victory.
There seems to be a finite amount of time we’ll all hustle before we need to see some payoff.
Michael teaches us that we need to win — so that we can continue to play long term.
The trick to this platform seems to be learning the skills we need as fast as possible to succeed in the time frame necessary.
It’s not that we need to become a millionaire overnight, we just need to feel like we’re making progress week over week. Without that feeling we’re heading to the point of abandonment when we stop opening the site and try something else.
For some people it may take years to reach this point, for others it takes months. When will yours be?
“You know what they say, fool me once, strike one… but fool me twice.. strike three.”
Learn from your mistakes, and learn quickly.
We’re all doomed to be buried if we rush our stories to publication full of errors and smelling of plagiarism.
I say this to myself especially, we need to do more to ensure that our work is released at the highest standard possible. This means not publishing your story the second your speedy fingers leave the keyboard.
We need to put the laptop down, let the smoke clear from the barrel, and come back tomorrow with fresh eyes. Maybe even give it a re-write if you have the stones for it.
Publishing content for the world to see is a huge privilege. We need to do more to treat it like one and spend more time making it magical. People don’t owe us their eyes, and they don’t owe us their claps.
Earn your dinner and work that little bit harder, while also keeping sight of your priorities and learning hard lessons fast. These are mantras I’m telling myself every day.
“Don’t ever, for any reason, do anything, to anyone, for any reason, ever, not matter what, no matter where, or who, or who you are with, or where you are going, or where you’ve been, ever, for any reason whatsoever.”
My takeaway from Michael here is that we need to take better care how we treat our fellow writers.
I’m a big supporter of people checking themselves before they write anything to anyone on the internet.
A mate of mine finds that his initial reaction to reading Medium articles is to fight the author and lash out at their opinions.
He’s a nice enough guy, he just tends to overreact when he doesn’t agree with whats been written and published online most of the time.
To combat this tendency he’s attached a sticker to the corner of his laptop that reads -
“Stop. Think it over.”
This gives him a second to collect his thoughts, and really make sure he means what he’s saying before he puts it out there. Wouldn’t it be nice if everyone did that?
So before you lash out at that writer who thinks we all evolved from aliens, or theorises that Trump has never been to Russia — stop for a moment.
Think it over.
Try to contemplate what you’re about to accomplish, and be sure that this comment is going to lead to the conclusion you’re hoping for.
Wrapping it up.
Michael didn’t always get it right, in fact for the most part he got it wrong.
He made a lot of mistakes, but I genuinely believe that he tried to do right by people and by his company.
We can do a lot worse than to follow Michael Scott’s example. Somehow I think the honest intentions of a straight-up man like him might provide some relief in today’s messed up political climate.
Without more people like him, the next few years may prove longer and harder than we may be able to handle.