8 People Every Black Woman Writer Needs On Her Team
Writing requires a lot of alone time. That's one thing that becomes very clear when you commit to any type of writing project, whether it's a novel, poetry collection, academic paper, or even a business plan or a blog post ( Monday's booklist post took pretty much the entire weekend!).
Crafting great writing takes lots of solo time because the best writing happens when you know yourself well enough to write about the intricacies that exist in different ways within us all. Yet, as writers, we have to be careful not push away the people who we care about and who care about us away in order to finish a project. The people in our lives actually play very important roles in our writing, so it's important to recognize the unique ways that the people we care about help us to not only complete that project, but stay sane in the process.
The following list describes just a few of the roles that people in your life may play that directly or indirectly help you with writing or having an enjoyable writing life. Make sure that you take some time to let these people know how much they mean to you and your writing process. If you are missing one or a few of these people in your life, set a goal to network and meet new people who can fill these roles.
The Truth Teller
Truth Tellers keep it real. This is a person who tells you what you need to hear about your writing, whether it's that you haven't developed a plot enough or that you need to pay more attention to your grammar and spelling. Sometimes this person may come off as a little harsh, but they only want for you to be your best and for you to create your best work.
The Free Spirit
The free spirit is a person who seems to always be in tune with his or her true self. They reflect this deep self knowledge through the way they dress, who they attract, and the opportunities and projects that they pursue. You need a free spirit on your team to remind you to take chances with your writing and in life. Free spirits keep you from falling into the traps of chasing appropriateness and getting too comfortable with what is practical, which will kill your true voice.
The Fitness Junkie
Not only does writing require lots of alone time, but it also requires lots of sitting and probably lots of sugary and/or savory "treats" to celebrate reached milestones in your project...ok, maybe that's just me. In a similar way that you need a Truth Teller to keep you on top of your grammar and format game, you also need a Fitness Junkie friend who will help you to stay equally as vigilant about your health and workout routines. Writers have to make a special effort to take care of ourselves since it's easy for us to become so laser focused on our writing goals that we forgo everything else. Fitness Junkie friends help us find ways to add health conscious habits to our writing lifestyle so that we are healthy enough to continue to create and share our work with the world.
We all go through times when we doubt that we will ever reach the goals that we set for ourselves. That's when we need someone who sees the good in us even when we are at our lowest point. The Cheerleader knows what to say and how to say it when you need that extra dose of encouragement to get you over a negative hump. Many writers are perfectionists that can be extra hard on themselves, so it helps to have someone around who can bring you to a more positive and realistic place. Pursing a writing career that includes a coveted traditional book deal is a challenge for every writer, but as Black women in the writing and publishing world, we have the added pressure of trying to convince a publishing industry that largely does not look like us to value our stories through publication. We need our Cheerleaders especially during the times when these efforts fall flat, and we decide to self publish, as more black women writers are deciding to do each year. Cheerleaders keep our spirits high and remind us of our passion and purpose.
I've always thought of myself as a closet glamour girl. I love makeup, getting dressed up, and all things girly, but sometimes this side of myself gets lost among the demands of my full time job and trying to stay consistent with all of the things that I'm doing to build my vision of my writing career. The style and beauty element of this blog is one thing that I'm doing to try to stay in touch with my own sense of personal style, but I need other Fashionistas who seem to always exude their own brand of confident style around me to give me inspiration and tips on how to manifest this side of myself more often.
We've all heard that "people don't read anymore", a phrase that is usually coupled with advice to focus on creating more visually appealing content to go along with written words. It's true that in a social media oriented, instant gratification-rich society, it's now mandatory that some sort of image management is built into a writer's author platform. Fashionistas can help you develop your style in a way that highlights your true essence and creates relatability with potential readers.
The Business Maven
Writing may be an art, but publishing, the vehicle through which that art can reach the world, is very much a business. Writers often have a hard time coming to terms with the realities of the business behind the creation of books because the concreteness of it clashes with the abstract world of words that we prefer to live in. Even professional creative writing programs glide over the details of what it takes to navigate the business of publishing literature. Newly published writer Nicole Dennis-Benn highlights in her blog post that her MFA program did not teach her the business side of being a writer. Yet, any writer who experiences financial success from their work has to be just as savvy in business as she is with words. The Business Maven is someone who sees your work as more than just a manuscript, but in that manuscript, they see potential for a lasting brand and a financially rewarding career. She'll give you tips on how to develop email lists, websites, products and services to expand your writing to levels you never thought it could go.
Most writers that I know are bibliophiles themselves, so we already know the value of having bookish friends who get just as excited about new books as they do about new clothes. Your bibliophile friends can expose you to books on topics and by writers you never would pick for yourself, thus new horizons are opened for you that you'd be oblivious to without other bibliophiles who have different tastes than you. Writers must read to stay on top of the wider conversation that all literature is a part of, and nothing keeps you more current than sharing reading lists with other reading enthusiasts.
The Pen Sister
And of course, Black women writers need each other! No one understands what it feels like to put in hours perfecting poems, short stories, novels, essays, and other works like other writers. We share the fear of failure and the fear of success that comes with pursuing publication, be that traditionally or independently. Most of all, we support the work of fellow Pen Sisters because we know that ultimately we are all dedicated to telling the stories of our community as they should be told.
Do you have all 8 of these type of people on your team? Who else is on your list?