Blogging

Thanks For Reading My Mixtape

I’m a course of miracles with this shit
Nothing real can be threatened, nothing unreal exists
Therein lies the piece of God

-Hov “Drug Dealers Anonymous”

This song was one of my most played according to Spotify. It was the first time Hov got in his bag in a long time. Wordsmiths never fall off, they just pause to get new material. Aside from that particular song, I spent a lot of time exposing myself to a lot of new artists this year. Yo, Alabama Shakes and Brittany Howard are flames!!!! Anyway, while I was going through some of my older posts, I realized how much music has influenced my writing this year.

One of my writing goals in 2016 was to get out of my comfort zone. I wanted to overcome insecurities about if my skills were strong enough for major publications. I wanted to tap into the other things that excite me. In a nutshell, I wanted to detach from devoting so much focus as a personal blogger.

There’s a level of commitment in writing that makes it unbelievably difficult. It’s like going to the gym. When you want to get in shape, you set a goal, develop a routine, and stay consistent.

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3 hours before a deadline

The space between good writing and great writing is pretty huge, especially in specific genres. However, I compare it to the gym because your efforts determining how high and far you can go. When you start to see results, the euphoria is an ego-boost. You want to keep going. You want to add weights or up your reps. You push yourself because you know what you’re capable of. And even if you plateau, your body never really forgets how to get back in gear.

That’s exactly what my process has been with writing this year. I’d spend 2-4 hours writing something. Over-analyzing sentence structure, carefully selecting words, and being deliberate in executing the often jumbled thoughts in my head. Then once it got put out for consumption, I’d obsessively check comment sections and likes and reads – whatever metrics were available. I’d want to top that. I’d want to try to surpass the own bar I set. Sometimes, I was successful.

So here is some of my work that you might have missed.

Colin Kaepernick’s Protest Exposes America’s Selective Memory On Race

What If The Black Community Really Did Want Revenge Against America

The Dangerous Lies We Have To Stop Telling Boys About Sex

I Bought My Own Place and Now I Can’t Afford To Date

For Pro Sports Leagues, Addressing Mental Illness Crucial

Here’s The Thing About Happiness

My Father Couldn’t Hug Me and I Refuse To Repeat History

 

 

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#40Days – The Home Stretch

I had no idea what was going to happen when I embarked on this journey of total submission. All I knew is mentally I was hoping to take a large leap forward. I was having doubts in a few areas and I wanted to set new standards for the people that were  in and would come in my life. When I’d heard the message on that Sunday, it was a necessary instruction to stop and chill.

So that’s what I’ve been doing. Today, is the 30th day.

Yesterday, I woke up feeling “off”. I couldn’t explain why and couldn’t even convey the feeling into words. Physically, I didn’t feel the best either. I’d had a rough boxing session with a client that literally kicked my ass.

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It took a few hours for me to key in on what was up. I’m writing this on my way to Cali, taking a few days for a well-needed vacation. Going through this last month, I noticed how even the smallest decisions can change your life so drastically. And sometimes you have to catch up mentally to where God leads you spiritually.

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The Post About Nothing And Everything

When I sit down to write for the internet to consume – whether it’s 1 reader or 500 – I’m deliberate with word choice and execution. However, today is one of those days where I need to let my heart speak. I have things that I’ve been wanting to share but have been waiting for the right moment or rather, the proper post do so.

I’ve grown a decent readership in the past few years so by all means if you’re expecting eloquence, you might want to ignore this 1 and head over to Medium for my latest piece.

So I’m currently embarking on a 40 day fast where I’m spiritually cleansing my life. It started after my pastor delivered a message where he spoke about reaching the point where you feel like you can’t take it anymore. If you’re interested in checking it out, you can watch it here. (Fast fwd to about the 15:00 mark)

There are parts of my life in need of a hard reset and purging. I don’t want to wait until the new year. I don’t plan on doing a recap or one of those “year of review” style posts so here it goes.

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Photo Post #9: When Hard Work Pays Off

I’ve been at this writing thing going on 5 years. Last year, I wanted to focus on getting my work published in other places. Some of my pitches were turned down. A few sites that I enjoy as a reader weren’t interested in featuring my writing. However, I kept at it. I made sure that whatever I wrote on this site was my best, regardless of the subject matter. It didn’t matter if a post had 10 readers or 100 readers. I wrote because I wanted to be good enough to be accepted. But the thing is, 30s and Beyond is a personal blog. I like that certain things in my life, while immortalized on a public domain, are still relatively private.

As a “professional” writer, my audience has grown. I now have a more diverse readership. I write for well-known publications. Last week, I crossed a writing goal that I didn’t even know was a writing goal. One of my posts ranked #1 for unique views!

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As of now, it has over 40K views. I have great editors who have cultivated my writing process. They’ve given me the freedom to write on the things that matters to me. To have two articles I wrote rank in the top on different sites is both satisfying and motivating.

Writing is hard. Like, unbelievably hard. I second guess myself often because I measure myself up against other writers. However, now I’m secure in my lane. More importantly, I’m only working against meeting my own expectations. This is just the beginning.

January was dope! What’s good February?!

 

 

The Post About Something Good

Last year, I wrote a lot of depressing shit. Because that was where I was. When I read some of those old posts now, I’m kind of embarrassed because it sounds like a person who hated life. (Some days I did)

I also wrote at great lengths about our black men, women, and children being killed. Those were the hardest posts to write. After the first few, it was like beating a dead horse. Last week, I started to write one about what I’d tell my future son about Tamir Rice’s murder. Before I realized it, I was fighting the tears. I decided to delete those words of frustration and disappointment.

I’ve vowed not to write about the subject of black death anymore. I have nothing new to say. It doesn’t mean I don’t care. I think emotionally and collectively, we’re all just tired. The only good that came out of my writing in 2015 is that the more writing I did, the more distracted I was. With deadlines and revisions from editors, I had to maintain focus and appreciate the small victories.

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This year, I plan to focus more on sharing positivity for anyone who has stuck around through the bad periods.

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Figuring Out Why I Was Writing

Disclaimer: This is going to be a longer post that’s primarily a narrative. But I think it could probably help some of my readers who also are writers.

When I initially applied to be a part of the Examiner community, I really wasn’t expecting much to come of it. They go through a background check, personal information to verify you (meaning you can’t use an alias or false info), and a writing sample. I figured man they probably get tons of professional writers, I’m nothing special. However, I like to do what might seem impossible. When it came to the writing sample part, I struggled over what to submit. I had been doing short posts on my Tumblr page but none were fitting for the site’s expectations. I cleaned 1 up anyway, had a grammar-Nazi homey go over it, and clicked “submit”. It took nearly 4 weeks before I received a response that I’d been approved and was now able to set up my profile with a bio and photo. First thing that popped in my mind was “holy shit, what now?” At that point, I had never guest-posted anywhere. I was a reader of a few different blogs, but had never commented. I was used to technical writing, which is very rigid and straight to the point. I also felt apprehensive because I mean once you post an article, it’s there forever. I considered well what would happen if a future employer came across it and got the wrong impression of me? After about a week of wanting to rescind my acceptance, I said F it and started writing. Be careful what you ask for, right?

Fast forward to last year. Here’s the thing about our digital world; everybody with wifi is a blogger. But I think every successful blogger out here, regardless of their genre, started blogging from a personal point of view. They took a topic that they were passionate about it and found their voice. I didn’t want to do that. Yes, I do write about things very personal to me. But I also carefully choose my experiences that I feel like will resonate across gender and color lines. I’ve discussed suicide, dealing with grief, father/son relationships, mens’ health, branding/marketing, sports, and much more. When I created 30 and Beyond, I wanted to work on being a writer. I don’t knock anyone’s hustle, but it’s never been my desire to just be a blogger. While people define that title in a myriad of ways, I don’t put bloggers in the same vein as professional writers or journalists. I developed an aspiration that was much bigger than a wordpress layout.

As the year is coming to a close, I’m falling into the place of thinking about doing a vision board. Last year I did my first 1 and yeahhhhh. I actually accomplished more things not on the board than what was. I moved 3 three times, started a new job, got a new ICD, and acquired an amazing business deal that I’ll be able to talk about at the top of the year. But with all this happening, where did that leave my writing? Well posting schedules definitely slowed up. I got to the point where I didn’t want to force myself to write something for the sake of writing. My daily stats showed me that there were more than enough posts to keep viewers coming back. And then this happened

New motivation

New motivation

To be ranked on a nationally accredited site is 1 of those things that solidified my purpose. Out of 357 relationship writers, I’m ranked 95! I’m averaging 42 views per day. Now that may not seem like a large following. But to a guy who had no experience in writing for mass media, I’m on cloud 9. What’s even more awesome about writing in 2 different styles is that I’m constantly learning and perfecting my voice. I take pride in being able to have a fresh spin on a topic while still writing like “me”. And as a freelancer, I get a little spare change in my account every month. So there’s that.

Writing has been therapeutic and has spawned a path of self-discovery that I wasn’t aware of. I think when you’re writing a post, your goal is to convey a point in as little white space as you can. For example, for tech writers, they’re reviewing products. Readers want a simplified version of specs, pros/cons, and how the product rates against its competitors. Unless you’re a trusted gadget guru, they don’t really care about your personal opinion. But when you’re writing about a subjective (and maybe even sensitive) topic, people want to have facts and a narrative; even if that facts don’t align with your narrative. They want to feel something. Take my sports posts for example. I don’t write them with the purpose of making readers agree with me. I write them from the aspect of breaking down the statistics and telling a story. Well, aside from last year when I predicted the entire NFL postseason. Ahem.

I’d like to close this post with the cliche of whatever your dream is, go for it. But that would be stupid and false. Being a writer was never my dream. I’m not sure that it is now. What I will say is you have to be diligent in any and everything you do. Success starts with a thought and gains its momentum from commitment and repetition. When I would go a few days without posting something, I would notice on my own that I’d get lazy about little things. Hell, I have 4 posts right now that will probably go to the trash because I know I didn’t put my entire self into them. It’s a blessing and a curse to be your own worst critic.

The other thing is the writing community is vast. Most people will be exceptionally resourceful if you seek them out. Twitter has been a great avenue in finding other writers at different levels of their process. For my short story specifically, I had 3 people go over every new draft to make sure I was hitting the marks in terms of pacing, language, and dialogue. And it was 3 people whose writing I respected so I knew they’d be 100 with me. Lastly, the single most important lesson I’ve learned in figuring out my own place with writing is support other writers! I can’t state this enough. So many blogs don’t take off because the authors are selfish. They want you to read, comment, RT, and otherwise share. But when you write something, it’s Pacquaio quiet. Like with any other form of networking, you have to open up your mouth if you want to see some progress. Things aren’t going to happen if you stay attached to your insulated .com or .net