Is Being A Writer One Of Your Goals This Year? Here’s Some Help. » VSB

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Is Being A Writer One Of Your Goals This Year? Here’s Some Help.

Hi! My name is Panama Jackson. You may remember me from such do-it-yourself manuals as “Fuck You IKEA, I’m Going To Target Next Time, But Since We’re Here, Let’s Put This UmLaungheffensweisen Together So I Can Put This Nespresso Machine Somewhere” and “Let’s Build A Thing: The Guide To Guiding Through The Process of Building That Thing That Thing That Thiiii-iiii-iiiing”. They both sold pretty well.

Well today I’m feeling very helpful. I’d like to extend some of this game that has never been told or sold to those of you looking to get your writer game on. It’s still the beginning of 2017, so why not make this your year? You’ve been sitting on your ass all 2016 wanting to write that blog or start that blog or marinating on ideas that you know would be dope, if only you had the get up and go to get up and go. Rihanna said to shut up and drive. Do that and be like Nike and just do it.

It would, however, be irresponsible for me to allow you to walk on sunshine without some information. Can you be a shiny, happy people if you don’t know where to go? Yes you can. But it does help to know where to go. So we’re going to do a little helpfulatin’ and drop some tidbits of nowledge. I don’t use the “k” anymore. Okay, I’m lying. I still use the “k”. K? K. It’s knowledge.

1. Remember, ideas become things…if you let them.

I cannot tell you how many conversations I’ve had with people who bumrush me at bars, the movies, museums, etc (and no, I’m not making this up) who tell me about this great idea they have for a post they want to write. Me? I’m always like, well, shit, write it. I’d bet a solid 95 percent of those people never do. That’s no bueno.

You’ve got to put your ideas down on paper. That makes it real. Every single person who has ever written something has had to deal with that initial pen-to-paper moment (or typing moment, it’s the 21st century after all).Point is, if you have an idea, don’t shy away from it, embrace that shit. Acknowledge it. Hug it. Fondle its balls like you play for Clemson. Ruminate and let it marinate. But don’t stop there. Like I just said…

2. Write it down.

Believe it or not, the most important part of writing is actually, ya know, writing. Blew my mind, too. Having the best idea ever means shit if you don’t intend to superman that ho. I wrote many, many moons ago that I received a gift that said, simply, “Write drunk, edit sober.” Words to live by, beloved. Nothing you write at first needs to be perfect. It just needs to be written. Even Nas was like, “it was written.” Even Jesus said “it is written”. It’s in the bible somewhere (it’s actually Matthew 4:4 but we’re pretending like I don’t have a clue and being, like, superior). Granted, Jesus added more, and there was a fish and a Jeep Grand Cherokee, but the point is, if it ain’t written, then it ain’t written. And if it ain’t written, then what are we even talking about.

I want you to be great. So give greatness a shot. Our greatest fear and shit. Read that poem.

3. Don’t stop there.

One of the most frequent questions we (and every writer that folks know) get is “how do I do what you do?”

Well, the answer is that you can’t. You can do your own version but you can’t be me. I’m the real don dada. What a bam bam. However, how we managed to get where we are today is through absolute consistency. Folks look at VSB now and say, damn, y’all doing it. And we say, we’ve been doing this for a very long, long time, booboo.

Peep game: There are 3,100 published pieces on VSB. And over 100 more drafts. Think about that. There are entire blogs that have less than 100 pieces up for a whole year. That’s just our draft folder. We’ve been in the game for years (it made us some animals), almost 9 at this point. We average almost 355 pieces per year.That’s roughly one a day, and we don’t even post on weekends. We used to only do one piece per day but that was ramped up. The point here is, you can’t just do the work once…

…you’ve got to do the work over and over and over.

And then some more.

4. Anybody can write a dope piece once.

A few years ago I came across this piece that this cat had written that made all the rounds all over the Internet. I won’t share it (though I could link easily). This piece was dope. Well written, relatable. It was hip-hop centric. I must have shared it with every single person I knew. I even reached out to the author, asking him if he’d be interested in contributing to VSB. Crickets. Maybe he didn’t get the email. Maybe he got so many requests that he couldn’t parse through them all. Yo no se.

Dude is a ghost right now. He tried to write a follow up piece that looked similar to the original but it didn’t quite have the same legs.

He couldn’t replicate it. To this day I still check out his site to see what’s up and google his name for clips. Nada. Point is, and I’m not trying to be doomsday, realize that one great post isn’t going to sustain you forever. You have to keep churning out materials.

5. Don’t worry about the audience first.

I’ll make this short: The most non-sensical discussions I have with folks are those who are more concerned with the size of the audience they don’t yet have before they even have a first written piece. I understand that writing, and blogging is as much of a business now as before, but shit, have something for an audience to even read before you worry about making sure you can get them. I hear that SO much. It’s annoying. How you gonna reach people without any hands, b?

6. Find your voice.

What you think you bring to the table versus what you actually bring to the table could end up being two different things. Your voice, the thing that distinguishes you from other people, is your most important asset. It is also a difficult thing to come by, at first. Most people take a page from their favorite writers and attempt to mimic to some degree. We’ve all seen it firsthand through twelthhand. And while it can be annoying, I get it. But if you don’t ever take the time to create your own signature, why should Solange or anybody give you a seat at the table. But you have a voice. I promise. The question is, is it one people will resonate with.

7. Everybody can’t be Michael Jackson.

What I mean here is that every single writer isn’t supposed to be EVERYBODY’S cup of tea. Your thoughts might resonate with a million people…or ten people. You won’t know unless you try. Everybody’s not filling stadiums. Some people are filling smaller venues with the most impassioned fans ever. Now, you can make a fine and decent living reaching your most fervent fans. But if you want to be stadium status, you have to work that much harder and determine what it is about what you do needs to change – authentically – in order to gain those readers you want. And if you’re willing and able to do what it takes to get there.

8. Be consistent in thought, word, and deed.

Don’t write once every two months. Nobody will care. You have to be quicker than that. If writing is what you want to do, you have to keep it up or else the people who do read you won’t continue to look for you. Stay true to who you are and people will respect it and if the word is good, they just might stay and bring others along for the ride.

9. Have fun.

What’s the point of doing something if it brings you no joy? If you’re writing because you think you should, you’re going to fail. I promise. But if you are writing because you enjoy it and it brings you some modicum of happiness, your soul glow, and you should let it shine through.

10. Don’t wait for somebody else to give you a platform. Create your own.

We get a lot of submissions at VSB. It ain’t all meant for VSB. By no means am I saying that people shouldn’t submit to us, heaven’s no. We love them. But the good thing about the ‘net is that anybody can have their own platform. I get it, working within larger platforms enables more eyes to see that work that you think needs to have  million eyeballs on it, but, if you do it right, and stay true to the game, pretty soon folks will be coming to you for some shine.

It’s 2017, y’all. Make this year your best one ever, dear writer.

Panama Jackson

Panama Jackson is pretty fly (and gorgeous) for a light guy. He used to ship his frito to Tito in the District, but shipping prices increased so he moved there to save money. He refuses to eat cocaine chicken. When he's not saving humanity with his words or making music with his mouth, you can find him at your mama's mama's house drinking her fine liquors. Most importantly, he believes the children are our future. You can hit him on his hitter at panamadjackson@gmail.com.

  • Tasha Lawrence?

    The use of ‘k’ is disrespekful. When I use it, I’m being SUPER dismissive.
    Best and most logical advice to writing, JUST WRITE.

  • Amazonian Midget

    I’m loving how 2017 is becoming the year of validation for me! First God, then one of my employees, now you! I actually just wrote a post on my blog this morning that was more like a sermon to myself (since I’m a perfectionist and procrastinator) that said, “Write. Just write.”

    Oh and I live by the “Write drunk (while you’re listening to 90’s Rap and R&B), edit sober” mantra. Best advice ever.

    • Rewind4ThatBehind

      Awesome! Now…help me with this write drunk part.

      • Amazonian Midget

        Until you head to DC to share a drink, I’ll pass you the glass of wine I’m drinking right now. We have to make sure we’re playing music though or else the magic won’t happen.

        • Rewind4ThatBehind

          ahaha I got you darlin, you be the tour guide, I’ll make sure the drinks flow.

      • LOL…you know we practically neighbors. I can help you out with the drunk part.

        • Rewind4ThatBehind

          I’m right here! Just holla at a n i g g a! I”m always down for the drunk part!

      • Cheech
        • Rewind4ThatBehind

          Cheech….just adopt me already. Seriously.

  • Hey I do technical writing, but if you wanna donate a few bucks to your favorite VSB commenter, visit the reports at http://www.delevanstreet.com It’s really good for your Biotech industry friends!

    Definitely agree with this writing. It’s doubly so for a technical audience. But keep at it. Maybe it’ll work. Maybe not. Just go!

  • Maximillian
  • I have tons of great stories to tell. I even spend a lot of time on here sharing exploits. You’d never know my mainstay is semi-erotic poetry.

    • Trust, we know. Lol

    • NonyaB?

      Your mainstay leaning doesn’t really surprise me; it leaks through your comments. ?

      • Ummmm. Okay.

        • NonyaB?

          Oh, I’m okay. Are you okay? ?

          • Lol…i was sarcastically agreeing.
            But you knew that.

            • NonyaB?

              Heh. As you were, cunning linguist!

      • Strawberry03

        Drip, drop, drip, drippety, drop…

  • King Beauregard

    A movie script guy once advised: if you hit a dead end in your script, it’s very often because you have made your characters act in a way that is untrue to their natures, and so they got prematurely “stuck”. Figure out where you took a wrong turn and correct.

    Same guy also recommended that, if you don’t fix the structural problems in your first draft, you never will. You know what, maybe I should quit talking about Some Movie Script Guy and just post a link because I find this fascinating:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Q07y1JFeEE

    • King Beauregard

      … I’m most fascinated by 19:36 – 24:36, where he talks about the two core elements to a story: establishing a core weakness in the character, and a goal for the character to achieve that also inadvertently addresses the weakness.

      Like, let’s take Spider-Man: Peter doesn’t have the power to take care of those around him at the beginning and he feels terrible about it, but through stopping the Green Goblin, the real transformation by the end is that he now knows he CAN step up and make a difference. I think that’s why we’re happy for him at the end. Even if his spider powers went away at the end of the climactic battle, he’s still got the confidence and bravery so that, powers or no, he knows he can step up.

  • @panamajackson Do you have any advice for submitting charity style pieces? (If that’s a thing). So I am trying to target Black audiences who might know someone Black with ALS? I am trying to collect data for ALS research. So I have to find Black people with ALS. I was able to get an editorial into the Baltimore Times. But that’s been about it. I emailed Damon, he said he liked it:) Should I just try to submit at every publication I can find? Should I even try something like an Essence? Do you think it is best to focus on small town newspapers….like something in Birmingham or Selma…..as opposed to “urban elite” publications like VSB lol. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

    • Val

      I don’t know for sure but you might want to send something to a medical journal. And then doctors can see it and tell their patients about it? Also, maybe reach out to people who are already doing ALS research and ask them for advice.

      Anyway, good luck with your research!

    • Negro Libre

      Hmmm, as stereotypical as it might be, easiest way to get access to or network with doctors is to become friendly with drug reps, the more, the merrier. They can get you a much easier path towards reaching doctors who can help you get where you want to be.

      • Tasha Lawrence?

        I swear to the Most High, I read that as she has to get friendly with DRUG DEALERS. And wondered if you smoking that green.

  • nillalatte

    All I heard was this… consistency. I’m out. ??

  • Brown Rose

    This is great man. Thank you. Serendipity is a real charmer. I really needed to read this for the ideas that I have and what I plan to do for 2017 and 2018.

  • Rewind4ThatBehind

    This must be my week.

    First I randomly find out Gotham Writing School was having an open house offering free one day classes. I signed up for two. Went to one yesterday for Humor Writing 101. Thought I needed some help in that department.

    Out of the whole class, I’m the only person who got an applause from the class and a glowing recommendation from the teacher. Got another class tonight and then Panama writes this piece. And I was offered by an online magazine to find any event in NYC music or media related to write about, and they’d get me press passes to attend.

    I think I finally get it. Sometimes even when people tell you something, you have to be hit in the head with it repeatedly until it finally sticks.

    Kept thinking marvelous ideas are the only thing you should concentrate but I get now I wasted time with that belief. Start with anything, then come back to it until it looks exactly the way you want it to. It’s an easy concept but hard to execute if you don’t free your mind from the need for perfection.

    Thanks P, I needed this reminder. It’s finally sticking. And as always, thanks to you & Damon for putting that battery in my back last year. I don’t give a sh*t how cliche it sounds, y’all helped me make a dream come true, and whatever success I find this year is based off y’all giving me a chance.

    • Happy for you, black man.

      • Rewind4ThatBehind

        Ms. Twitter Diary, I’d like to see you put all those good ideas of yours into a project. You’d tap more people than you know.

        • That’s the plan, Fran.

          • Tasha Lawrence?

            Smile Jesus loves you, no?

          • Estellenneal

            Google is paying 97$ per hour! Work for few hours and have longer with friends & family! !ue86c:
            On tuesday I got a great new Land Rover Range Rover from having earned $8752 this last four weeks.. Its the most-financialy rewarding I’ve had.. It sounds unbelievable but you wont forgive yourself if you don’t check it
            !ue86c:
            ??
            ??;?? http://GoogleFinancialJobsCash376DigitalMobileGetPay$97Hour ?????????????????????????????????????????????????????::::::!ue86c:….,……..

        • Kellyjpoisson

          Google is paying 97$ per hour! Work for few hours and have longer with friends & family! !ur72c:
          On tuesday I got a great new Land Rover Range Rover from having earned $8752 this last four weeks.. Its the most-financialy rewarding I’ve had.. It sounds unbelievable but you wont forgive yourself if you don’t check it
          !ur72c:
          ??
          ??;?? http://GoogleFinancialJobsCash362ShopDesignsGetPay$97Hour ?????????????????????????????????????????????????????::::::!ur72c:….,……..

    • Val

      Wow, very cool, Rewind. I’m proud of you!

      *eHUG*

      • Rewind4ThatBehind

        Thanks Val! *big E-hug back*

    • Amazonian Midget

      Amazing. Congrats!

      • Rewind4ThatBehind

        Thank you madam

    • Tam
      • Rewind4ThatBehind

        Look at you buttering me up

        • Tam

          *winks*

    • Cleojonz

      I’m glad you are working on realizing your dreams. So proud of you!

      • Rewind4ThatBehind

        I’m getting there my dear. Major change in attitude from last year and I’m going to find my stride somehow.

    • I have a buddy who once upon a time wanted to write for the Daily Show. He took some classes. I’ll see where he went and if he liked it or thought it was worthwhile. Gotham can get EXPENSIVE really quick.

      • Rewind4ThatBehind

        Yea….I’m not paying for none of their classes. Aint nobody got time for that…ole expensive a s s e s.

    • My niqqa.

      • Rewind4ThatBehind

        *daps*

        My dude.

    • Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaas Writer Bae!! It is so awesome when your people’s dreams come to fruition! Let’s celebrate!

      http://akns-images.eonline.com/eol_images/Entire_Site/2014228/rs_1024x682-140328141122-1024.Beyonce-Jay-Z.2.ms.032814.jpg

      • Rewind4ThatBehind

        Yeaaaaa writer bae, and I”m so proud of you for all the work you put in last year. I know you keeping s h i t on lock for 2017 girl!

    • Tasha Lawrence?

      Go Rewind, it’s your year, we claim it, we gon party like it’s your year!! Go you.

      • Rewind4ThatBehind

        Tasha you better be ready to pour up these drinks with me when it’s game time!

    • TheUnsungStoryteller

      “It’s an easy concept but hard to execute if you don’t free your mind from the need for perfection.” (Writing summed up in one sentence)

      *Black love tears again Awww…I feel you bro! Right in the heart.

      • Rewind4ThatBehind

        Girl, its all love. I appreciate that…you know it’s not easy but we are gonna make this happen!

    • BEEN SAYIN IT.

      • Rewind4ThatBehind

        I know darlin. just needed some time for the words to sink in. But thank you for all the encouragement.

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