Writing

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

 

 

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!

gmp-total-views

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?!

 

 

Be. Do. Live. Love.

Therapy means different things for different people at different times in their lives. I’ve opened up about my brokenness in therapy. It wasn’t easy. Although, there’s a feeling of release that comes with sharing what broke you when you know it won’t be met with judgement.

My latest guest post on Abernathy Magazine scratched the surface of what happened in that session a few months ago.

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That being said – this will be my last post on WordPress for awhile.

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The Stages Of Preparing Guest Posts

When I wrote down some writing goals in my year end post, I said that I wanted to be more active in cross-promoting. As writers we sometimes hoard our best ideas in our workspace. Although one of the most important steps a writer can do to get his/her name out there is to guest post.

It doesn’t matter how many unique visitors you get on your personal site, seeing your post get shine on a major site is like those guys who find out they aren’t the father. But before you submit, there’s a lot of this

giveup

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2 Years In, Am I Doing This Right?

Still amazed at myself

Still amazed at myself

A few weeks ago, I wrote about how becoming an Examiner created an opportunity for me to discover a talent I didn’t even know I had.

I had no idea that writing regularly was something that I’d be able to maintain because my day job is so demanding. Op/ed writing is quite laborious. You have to find a topic, create a sound thesis, have either a good anecdote or 2-3 arguments to back up your thesis, and then close with a question or resolution that engages readers. On my Examiner page, I was only able to do 2-3 articles per month. An article on average would take me at least 2 hours. And with a day job that’s around-the-clock, you can imagine how rare it was for me to put in that much time consistently into something that wasn’t necessilary paying much. But then I realized it wasn’t about the money. I’m just a guy with an opinion who’s been through some crazy experiences and made it out with my sanity.

Writing is something that you have to have a passion for. It’s no different than the hours I put in at the gym or shooting 3 pointers. I wanted to get better at it so I had to carve out the appropriate time to perfect my craft. To not do that was to cheat my regular readers and to rob myself of gaining new readership. My commitment for 2013 is to do at least 2 articles a week. With that demand means that 30 and Beyond will shift its focus. For starters, I decided to change the layout and begin the streamlining schedule. I’ll continue to do a lot of sports posts and features because that’s my 1st love. But don’t be surprised if a week goes by and you don’t get an update to your inbox.

What I really wanted to update you guys about is my story. Back in August, I wrote an original piece entitled “Love’s Lost”. It was something that started off as a fun little exploratory project. But now, it’s becoming a full fledged short book. I say “becoming” because it’s still a work in progress. I’ve changed the title to When It Hurts. The original short short that I posted in August has now become the prologue to a bigger plot. So if you haven’t read that already, you can read it HERE.

The perfectionist in me has stressed over every sentence, verb, and dialogue exchange. I’ve also had to familiar myself with formatting. In a short, writing a short story is hard f*ckin work! I’m so excited to be able to share this experience with y’all though.

In the meantime, I’d like to get some feedback from those of you who are also writers or bloggers: What’s your writing process? How long does an average post take you to write? How do you balance your writing and your regular job? Do you ever feel like you don’t write or post enough? Be honest, do you have any posts right now that are in draft mode because you’re just not ready to finish them? 

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