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Three Things You Should Know When Crafting A Writing Process

Whether you’re just starting out or returning to the game, keep these three things in mind for an easy transition.

 No journey is more mystifying than that of the creative writer, and it would be silly of me to deny myself of its magic. 

I wanted nothing more than to immerse myself in the world of creative writing, in all “its perils, joys, [and] vicissitudes (Norman Mailer, The Spooky Art)”. Aside from the tangibles (the degree, the certificate), I wanted to acquire the skills to call myself a writer confidently. Also, I needed a writer’s community. Receiving constructive feedback from other creatives was critical for me, as I always wanted to be mindful of my audience’s perception of my work. I trusted that my writer’s community would have the insight I needed to make my work better. 

Above all, I needed a writing routine. I understood a routine wasn’t “one size fits all,” so I customized one that would work for me! The Daily Habits of 12 Famous Writers outlines three overarching themes that I have found useful in developing a writing strategy. 

• Pushing yourself physically prepares you to work hard mentally. My former cross-country coach used to say, “Your body will give out ten times faster than your mind.” I like to do light exercises to get my blood flowing in the morning, even if it is just for fifteen minutes. As a former dancer, I am no stranger to discipline – it is just a matter of reintroducing that level of physicality to my body. The mental strength will come naturally. 

• Do the most important thing first. I will admit that I am not a morning person, but I am not opposed to becoming one. Perhaps after my morning workout, I can start by jotting down a few ideas. That way, even if the rest of my day does not go as planned, at least I got some writing done. 

• Embrace the struggle and do hard work. I heard that it takes fifteen days to form a new habit. And old habits die hard. However, I have never been more excited to struggle! There have already been days (like today) that I have deviated away from the goals I set for myself. I recognized this, learned my lesson, and am ready to try again tomorrow. 

Making writing my primary focus always sounded like a fairytale to me. The fact that is it now becoming a reality both excites and scares me. I feel like I must be just as afraid as I am excited to keep myself somewhat balanced. Maintain chaos and order. I am sure my concerns mirror those of any writer. Is it a case of the what-ifs? What if I cannot get a job? What if I lose my inspiration again? What if I cannot find a set routine? What if personal obligations do not allow me to write? I ask myself these things often, only to realize that nothing worth having comes easily. If it is something you are passionate about, then it should be worth the fight.

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The Quarter (Life Crisis)

Admittedly, I never took the time to see how things could come full circle. I viewed moments as balloons – I’d breathe life into them, entertain them, then watch them float away. Foolishly, I allowed my passion for writing to become one of those balloons, when it should have been a boomerang – always coming back to me, reciprocating the effort I gave it. But here’s the kicker: if you don’t catch that boomerang, it’ll eventually hit you, and it will hurt.

Kala: Childhood

Last night, I sat, legs crossed, on the hard, yet comfortable floor in my mother’s bedroom. I’d come to visit, and we sifted through faded pictures of my former self, wrinkled homemade Mother’s Day cards, and yellowing short stories I’d written in years passed. “Jayde Spooner wrote this in the second grade” (engraved in my then “boxy” calligraphy), concluded a few of my finished “novels.” Alongside that? A hand-drawn caricature of myself (which I now call a “gourmet stick figure.”) Although rough and crispy in nature, my makeshift stories held up well over ten years of tumult. Queue the reminiscence.

Little Jayde would find the nearest corner to curl up in (a 49 cent notebook and BIC pen in hand) and let her imagination run wild. Writing to her was as instinctive as breathing – everything inspired a story. From Sara to Evaneg to Mona and Gustame, Little Jayde’s characters were an ode to the vast array of personalities she’d encountered throughout her girlhood. Her demure demeanor diminished when she was under the influence of the pen. She was in control, the autonomy all hers. And she was magical.

Tukulu: Adulthood

I’m a few weeks shy of my 25th birthday, and I can already tell you how I’ll be celebrating: (one global pandemic + quarantine + racial tensions on tilt + pursuing my Master’s degree) = I’ll be in my damn house with a cold glass of Stella Rosa. Quarantined or not, this is probably how I would have celebrated “The Quarter” anyway. The time inside (and my untimely exit from the corporate world) has given me a chance to redirect my energy. Though I worked in Marketing, I hadn’t written anything of substance in almost two years. Every attempt I made to write a short story or draft an article became overshadowed by the demands of a full-time position, personal matters, the works. I told myself if I really loved creative writing, I would make time for it – but no matter how magical this Black woman was, I couldn’t add a twenty-fifth hour to my day. By the time I would get home from the office (usually around eight p.m.), I just wanted to shower, eat, and hit the hay.

Insert the boomerang. No, I didn’t catch it. Yes, it hit me and hurt…at first.

With pandemics come job losses, and I was no exception. I logged into my laptop for my weekly one-on-one; by the time it was over, my account had been deactivated. I took that weekend to say my goodbyes and unpack almost two years’ worth of triumphs and traumas. Truth be told, I’m still unpacking. The following week, however, I finished my application for grad school. I had already been planning to go back, and this “hit” motivated me to complete the process. While my passion for marketing has definitely taken a backseat, my love for writing propels me forward. Life’s brief and unpredictable- but your legacy? Your legacy bellows from generation to generation, seeping into the minds and hearts of many. I’ve been fortunate enough to work on mine – don’t forget to work on yours.

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Yes, I have an English degree. Please don’t faint.

I’ll never forget the moment that made me proud to be a writer.

While sitting in the back of an Uber driver’s 2005 four-door sedan, I’d begun to nod off as we made our way north of Atlanta to drop me off for a work event.

It was 7:30 a.m., yet the Sun had barely crept up over the horizon. Though still a bit lethargic from last night’s lack of sleep, due to studying for my dreaded accounting exam, and my tumultuous love affair with procrastination in studying for that accounting exam, I didn’t mind the early rising.

There was something mysterious, yet pure about the darkness of that crisp Atlanta morning that sent my mind into creative overdrive. Maybe it was the way the frost from the cold appeared as bright slivers on my window. Or perhaps how the lights that glistened out of the windows of the buildings we passed, mimicked the menagerie of golden plaques hanging on the walls of the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville.

But, it wasn’t this magic that made me proud to be a writer.

No, no. It’s what had occurred right before this moment.

Enter the other Uber passenger we picked up before heading to drop me off.

Let’s call her Volta.

She struck up a casual conversation with the Uber driver and myself. She was new to Atlanta, Nigerian, and majored in Biology at the same university I attended.

“So, what’s your major?” she asked, seeming genuinely curious.

I smiled, “I’m an English major, with a concentration in Creative Writing.”

Suddenly, her gaze of genuine curiosity turned to that of disgust and disappointment. You know that look you have after you watch a terrible cinematic portrayal of your favorite book? Yes, that was the one. It’s a look nearly anyone who studies any liberal art is more than likely familiar with.

Sensing the turn in her demeanor, I quickly mentioned that I was also a Marketing minor. Her expression, still somewhat twisted, showed some signs of relief.

“Oh, good. You have a business minor,” she replied.

I shook my head.

There were so many ways I could have replied to this:

Like how a liberal arts major probably edited that expensive microbiology book sitting on her lap.

Or how a liberal arts major is probably facilitating that mandatory company workshop she had been going on about.

Or how majoring in English taught me how to think, not what to think.

Or that the very art she was condemning was the same one she had to understand so that could study Biology. My art is the gateway to your art: have some loyalty.

Or how of course, Business was important, but it wasn’t something I was passionate about.

But at that moment, unfortunately, this “Master of English” was speechless.

We’d dropped her off, and I knew I’d never see her again, but I did know it wouldn’t be the last time my major of choice would be called into question.

From that day forth, a few things changed:

  • I dropped the minor. It was nothing more than a flotation device that saved me when I found myself drowning in the condescending remarks from “The Vocationals.” I’d had some experience in Marketing already, and there was (and still is) a wealth of free/inexpensive resources, including workshops and courses I could utilize if it were a skill I wanted to grow (I was in the FinTech capital of the South, after all)!
  • I started to surround myself with mentors. I couldn’t be told it was “impossible” if there were people who’d done it (I had a whole department of them, for crying out loud)!
  • I found my niche. I started to put my creative mind to work. As English majors, we’re taught to be detailed-oriented, to think critically, to edit, and always be willing to grow – these are all valuable, transferable skills that you’re learning while doing what you love.
  • I started to believe in myself. It is imperative that you’re confident in what you know and vocal about what you don’t. You will always be a student to something or someone. Take the opportunity to acquire knowledge and perfect your craft seriously. You’ve got this!