Stats are a powerful motivator.

I cop to being obsessive about my stats on Medium. I’ve bathed in the glow of big (for me) numbers and fretted with crickets.

In a cathartic piece I hoped to cure, or at least curb, my preoccupation with Medium’s holy grail: views, reads, and claps.

It didn’t cure anything. But I gained some insight and I now take issue with one definitive point made in that post. It’s this:

2. Stat-checking won’t make you a better writer

Like coffee-drinking, social media grazing and online banking, stat-checking has no impact on your writing. Here’s a blinding glimpse of the obvious, noted above: Only writing makes you a better writer.

Stats help you analyze posts.

Let’s start with the stats that Medium provides: Views, Reads, Reader Ratio, Claps

Is the number of Views are disappointing? Is your headline compelling enough to draw in readers? Check it out against Co-schedule’s FREE headline analyzer to gauge. If your headline doesn’t register at least 70.

Make sure your feature photo is strong and inviting, too.

Look at Reads, the number of people who actually read your story. Not satisfied?

 Remember, content IS king.

Look closely at the structure, length, and flow of your writing. Run your work through Grammarly or the Hemingway Editor (or both) before you publish. They are invaluable resources.

And here’s another, from much-admired Nicole Bianchi:

Back to stats: The “Reads” number is a telling analytic because it leads to reader engagement, the ultimate brass ring.

Engagement is a mixed bag: responses, shares, highlights. It’s not measured by Medium per se, but believe me, engagement is what drives the train.

Claps derive from Reads, so do what you can to pump up those Reads. They won’t clap if they haven’t read your piece.

Riddle: Is it better to have one person giving 50 claps or 50 people giving 1 clap? Definitely the latter; reaching and affecting more people even modestly so. Besides, that single 50-clapper could be your loyal friend or devoted mother.

Don’t forget to look for the rays of sunshine in what may appear to be dismal crickets in views, reads, claps.

For example, do you have a respectable “Read Ratio”? Even with a small number of Views, a good Read Ratio tells you are connecting with your audience. At the very least, you are capturing their attention before moving on. It’s an important metric on its own.

Stats help you take the long view.

You’ve seen this advice time and again, but it’s true: this is a marathon, not a sprint. Your writing, and the response to it, will improve over time.

One way to track this progress is to use the “Prev 30 days” arrow just below the stats graph.

By default, Medium will graph your Views. But it is helpful to see where your successes lie over time by clicking the “Reads” or “Claps” titles, which sort accordingly. It’s a quick way to note your progression over time, rather than scrolling through the list of articles.

Stats give you insights to test, test, and test again.

For those of us who didn’t enter the Medium arena as professional writers/bloggers, we’ve got a long learning curve.

 The information you glean from Stats will help shape you as a writer. Are you a better writer in the short form or long narrative? Stats will tell you. Do your listicles sing? Stats will tell you. Are personal stories or investigative pieces your thing? Which topics seem to work for you?

Stats are not the Magic 8 Ball. But they do provide directional evidence, a divining rod of sorts to lead you to be the best writer you can be.

And, for my money, that’s worth a lot.