I relate to Ms. Woodson. I read slowly too. I remember when the 6th book of Harry Potter came out, I had the book for a couple of days before one of my friends did. However, she finished several days before I did. I asked her how she did that and she responded that her teachers taught to read for context, so she didn't read every word in the sentence. That blew my mind. Not only did I read every word, but my imagination is also so active that I would pause in my reading to watch it play out. I am a big believer in reading the book before deciding to see a movie or tv adaptation. I choose not to see many adaptations, but on the other hand, I do decide to see them more often than not. The narrator's voice is at it's most authentic self when you read and your interpretation of that voice says a lot about their ability to submerge you into their story and your ability as a reader to create.
I have always been clammy about writing publicly. I am even clammy about sharing personal pictures on Instagram, hence why I am on the third Instagram page. I will get weird, delete it, stay off for a couple of years, and then randomly come back. Pure creative content creation is not my strong point. I need an idea to bounce off of. Even in my day to day life, I don't just walk up to people and create conversations; I let them come to me and then create a vibration with them. It makes me an introvert and I am okay with that, but it also makes sharing myself, unprovoked, daunting.
So this past month has been a big step for me to breaking outside my box.
Vocal's audience let me know from day one they didn't care about what I thought of my abilities. Good or bad. They want honest, down-to-earth content. If I deliver, I will get the reads. If I don't, then I may still get the initial reads but it will be the only time in that month they visit my page.
I knew I wasn't going to make money on the site, that was never my main intention. I came in wanting to flex my writing chops to see if I could compare to the other content the site hosts. Now my mom thinks I am brilliant - thanks for the vote of support Mom, I love you too - but anyone who takes the time to read my stuff knows I struggle.
I do most of my writing at night, and I should take the advice of the many articles I have read, but I don't. I write at night and I submit my material on that same night. Most of my stuff takes me around 2 to 3 hours to write. So it's 4 to 5 am when I am done. Why on earth I keep submitting things after being up all night is just my hard headiness on display. The grammatical errors are enough to make me cringe.
So since I just have to have to hit submit as soon as I am done, I invested in Grammarly. Between Vocal and Grammarly, I have to come to realize several things:
If you're doing this in hopes of getting better, then take it seriously. Write consistently, create a schedule and stick to it as much as possible. Create as much content as you deem necessary. You will find in one month you will have created a habit.
- I write at least four nights a week, about anything that even begins to inspire me. My draft page has at least five unfinished articles in it and I created 13 stories in a month, which is seven more than I intended in the beginning. I enjoy it though, the whole process. Creating content has driven up my happy points immensely.
Pick one thing to become passionate about and develop your voice in it. If you're not sure how to do that, then go to someone's page and look at what they do. You will find that most people can write all day about how to edit pictures, or comedic movies, or about being a chef. The point is to find your niche and dive into it.
- My first month was a test run more than anything. I entered every single challenge offered and jumped around to see where I landed most comfortably. I landed in the political content of The Swap. I quite enjoy myself there. It is my best content and what I feel passionate about, which translates into my writing. While I am happy to try to grow my muscles in many areas, I am going to begin to develop my voice in one area only.
Structure matters because it creates honest engagement with your reader. People need something to look at, even something as simple as bolding a couple of words works. All you need is something to trigger the reader's brain to remain engage with the work. Engagement means they are processing what you are saying instead of just seeing the words on the screen. They might read it but if they can't remember anything from it then the chances of someone coming back to you at a later date or when your name pops up in Staff Picks is drastically cut.
- My first article is nothing but words. No breaks. No pictures besides the required one to post. No music. No headings. Not even a thank you for reading at the bottom. Literally nothing but words. People read it, but that was because my content was half-decent. It could have easily been one of my top reads had I put a little 'umph' in it to make it rememberable. I also found I do get sidetracked easily. I find I try to put too information much in my stories when really I should focus on one thing and flush it out.
I write in the passive voice a lot. I've had people tell me that over the years but I had no idea what it meant until it was directly pointed out to me. Also, I love my adjectives. I can have three adjectives in one sentence at any given time. How? I don't know. I apparently love pointing out that I am very serious at certain times in an ironically as possible way.
Grammarly was a slap in the face. As a new writer who is looking to grow and expand their base, I had to see my faults/weaknesses in front of me. Then I had to look at other people's work to start the learning process of writing outside of my own inner speech pattern. I am learning though.
Grammarly is expensive for someone is doesn't look to profit off writing any time soon but I also found it was a necessary purchase for me to create quality content.
All in All
I am incredibly proud of myself for taking a chance on myself. I am learning to love to share my story and my thought process, no matter how offbeat it is. I came to learn that people will only believe in me if I believe in myself first. My first month resulted in placing 2nd in a challenge, two staff picks, and being part of the Voices For Change curation team list.
So thank you.
I am incredibly appreciative of the people who read anything I have to say. I am also extremely sorry for my grammatical errors and my extraordinary ability to create massive compound sentences that make some of my content hard to read.
I have become a fan of several people this month too. Whether if it is content based or style based I appreciate anyone who can convey their enthusiasm and professionalism through what they share on any platform. As Jacqueline Woodson said in her TED Talk, I respect your narrative. I read your stories. I learn from your stories. I learn how to create better stories from your stories and I will continue to do so.
So what I am trying to say is I am looking forward to many more months with you on this platform.