A platform. A podium. A stage. A virtual loudspeaker in every corner of the world. A map. A tour guide. A historical document. An ear. A hug. A friend. A translator of every language. A light. A dictionary. A notebook and pen. A portrait on the wall. A wall. A spreadsheet of feeling. A prayer. A song. An instrument. A melody for the broken. A doctor. A midwife. A counselor. A teacher. A healer. Your blog is so much more than a blog. Your blog is a voice.
Be careful what it is you’re speaking over your life. What you say you are is what you become. Words are spiritual and often we invite negative energies into our space simply by speaking it into existence. Many of you stay negative because your speech is negative and your thoughts are negative. Understand that the brain conforms to whatever idea is pressed upon it. Vibrate higher. Speak healing over your life.
This has been my jam this week! I’ve been so inspired and encouraged lately and I am just ready to work. A lot of changes are coming far as my writing is concerned and boy am I ready. Like, I don’t even care about haters, negativity, I’m not concerned with any of it. I got too much to do this year and this summer is gonna be epic. We spend too much time on the negative things. Let’s start being excited about ourselves. Be excited about you! Positive vibes all around. My whole perspective has shifted. “Cause even when I’m a mess, I still put on a vest with an S on my chest!”
Don’t act like these little black letters have no home outside the blank page. Like murder can’t come falling from your mouth. Like lawlessness can’t come ripping through towns like torn flesh from heavy winds. Choose your words as if the next phrase has the potential to destroy. Examine the shape of them as they exit your mouth. Taste the intention one syllable at a time, for corroded speech is too often praised these days and reveals the unpolished stains of the heart. Deception brimming the mind and falling from the mouth. A surge of power tap dancing in the air only to build nothing on the ground. No substance. No foundation. Just emotion all over the place. A melting pot of empty tongues. Be careful what you say least truth reveals the fairy-tale hopscotching around in your mouth. A collection of letters too light to gravity the ground. Too corroded to fly. Dare you pretend the taste of burnt ash that fell from your mouth and consumed a life did not first have a home in the heart. Choose your words but first guard your heart for out of it the mouth speaks. Amazing all this power in the tongue. This tiny member leaving bodies smashed up against the blog; the stench of bereavement emanating from the first sentence of a post. Choose your words as if the next phrase has the potential to destroy. Because it does.
I’ve been gone for a minute and I loved every second of it! Silence is my place of rejuvenation and reflection in a world that never stops talking. If I could, I would never say a word and in that muteness, soak up all the wisdom I could emanating from others. Watching in solitude at their actions, and reading their thoughts. In this time, I’ve had the opportunity to sit back and listen. Listen with my eyes. Watching and reading new year’s resolution posts, plans, goals, and aspirations for the new year. I’ve seen many authors jump for joy over new projects and ideas, and silently I rejoiced with them. I’ve watched my emails and opened to find those I’m subscribed to talking about how to write better for 2017 and to overall be a better version of your author self. I’ve seen everything pretty much except for one thing and let me begin with a little bit about myself before I tell you what that thing is.
I grew up on the south side of Chicago and spent the first nine years of my life growing up in one of the poorest neighborhoods in the Unites States. I’ve been homeless. I’ve been hungry. I’ve had to wipe myself with newspaper and clothing because there was no tissue. I’ve, at times, had to feed myself by stealing candy bars from Walgreen’s, clothe myself by stealing just the same. I’ve been jumped on so badly I had to get staples in my head. I’ve been hit by a car and had to get staples in my leg. I’ve been hospitalized, psychologized and the list goes on.
I tell you this because people often ask me if this is the reason that I write. While every experience has its influence I am sure, it is not the reason that I write because without the overcoming, the struggle is nothing. I did not start writing because I’ve had a not-so-pleasant life. It is not the life itself, it is what has been drawn from that experience. Human thought, emotion, trial, and triumph. It is as Maya Angelou described as facing evil or the good that comes out of evil. Though the rape she suffered as a child drove her to silence it was what came out of that silence that made the difference. The reading of every book in both the black and white libraries and the memorizing of whole plays.
While I too have goals and plans for this year, I decided my first post of 2017 won’t be about any of that. Writing is much more than a series of goals, plans, and even passion. It is the purpose. A written monument of who you are and why your contribution to the world is significant.
Purpose. It is a word that’s been thrown around so much that perhaps it lost its flavor, became tasteless. Maybe we’ve underestimated the power of purpose. That drive that compels you to do something not just because you want to do it but because if you don’t do it then others will suffer. As Will Smith once said, it is when you wake up in the mornings and your life means something to someone other than you. It is when you know in your hearts that your work is special, not for yourself alone but special because of how your influence makes people feel. In that if you didn’t exist or if you gave up today then there are people who will suffer.
I’m not asking about your occupation. You’re not a writer and neither am I. Writing is what we do but it is not who we are. Do not misunderstand me. Who you are drives the writing and thus, it is more important than the writing itself and you will not write until that foundation of self-awareness is solidified, least you crumble under the pen of imitation. Trying to mimic the latest trends, writing what you think a writer should write, and doing what the majority is doing instead of being an individual and doing what the majority are not doing. Before plans and goals, writers need to discover who they are because the energy of who you are and what you put out into the world always comes back to you, drip feeding itself into your relationships and your work.
Who we are drives our writing. Moves it. Pushes it forward. Who you are will dictate what you write and how you write it. Who you are is made up of what you value, what’s important to you. Who you are represent what matters to you. It is that thing that wakes you in the mornings and sends you to the keyboard whether you get paid or not. Who are you? The answer to this question will compel you to push on despite opposition, never allowing your clarity to be fueled by how others respond because trust there will be days. Days where the business of writing will strangle your love for it. Yes, it’s true. You will get tired. You will get overwhelmed, and you will question if you’ve done the right thing, made the right move, or are on the right track. This is when purpose steps in, that thing that far exceeds talent or passion and even skill but reminds you why you do what it is that you do because trust, there are days when you will forget.
Who you are is much deeper than the blank page and your pen will give birth to not a single word until you are first capable of answering this question. Further, the words on the page won’t have a heartbeat until you are first capable of answering this question honestly. For the heart, will determine the direction of your life since out of it is the sources of life. The heart will lead and guide and be there even when we think it is not. The heart is ever present, and yes, even in your writing your heart is there. It speaks and it dictates every single word. It is your purpose for being. Not just for writing, but for being. It is you.
Who you are is important because who you are will always be right. In the words of Maya Angelou, what is right may not be expedient and it may not be profitable but it will save your soul. It is the why in why you write and until you understand exactly what it is (not what you think it is or hope it can be but what it actually is) then writing itself will never make sense.
Yecheilyah Ysrayl is the YA, Historical Fiction author of eight books most notably, The Stella Trilogy, Blogger, and Poet. She is currently working on her next book series “The Nora White Story” about a young black woman writer who dreams of taking part in The Harlem Renaissance movement and her parents struggle to accept their traumatic past in the Jim Crow south. “Renaissance: The Nora White Story (Book One)” is due for release July, 2017. For updates on this project, sneak peeks of other projects, nuggets and tidbits, video tutorials, writing inspiration, and more, be sure to follow this blog and to subscribe to Yecheilyah’s email list HERE.
The most important factor in a writer’s life, at least in my opinion, is not mere talent. Neither is it some mysterious entity floating in the air called luck. It is not how much you blog or how less you blog. It is not how much money you spend or how little money you spend. It is not even your profound research and marketing skills. These elements surely help, but the greatest difference and perhaps the most unique too, between writing and other careers is a writer’s level of discipline and confidence. To keep writing, I often find that I must maintain a proper balance of each of them. Believing enough in your ability to write and having a consistent writing practice is often the difference between aspiring authors and published authors. Of course, it does not stop here but it is a step in the right direction.
The advice we hear from like-minded bloggers, agents, editors, or just authors, in general, have always, and perhaps will continue to be, our focus on writing. Because engaging in any activity of whatever sort on a daily basis naturally makes one more familiar with it, we will always hear how important it is to write and to keep writing. While this is good advice, I think that for many writers finding the time to write and sketching out a daily routine is not always easy and this is often underestimated by those who are not writers or those who consider writing to involve less work than other careers.
“Self-discipline, what many call will-power, refers to the ability to persist at difficult or unpleasant tasks until they are completed. People who possess high self-discipline are able to overcome reluctance to begin tasks and stay on track despite distractions. Those with low self-discipline procrastinate and show poor follow-through, often failing to complete tasks even tasks they want very much to complete.” – Wikipedia
When a writer transitions from the workplace to fulfill a writing career, his initial challenge will be to maintain a certain level of self-discipline. For years he has not had to create his own time sheets, develop his own projects, and schedule his own lunch breaks. All of this has been done for him by the corporation in which he has worked for. It is now that, as a full-time writer, he must put in the necessary time to ensure a proper work day, rest, and vacation time.
He must dig deep into his resourceful mind and find the inspiration to write, in some way, daily. If he is not writing, then he must attempt to focus that energy in the direction of reading, social media marketing, offline marketing, and public speaking events to keep in line with the workflow. As we can see, the full-time writer has a lot to do and it is not always easy finding the discipline to get it done.
Sometimes it is just so hard finding the time. What I have come to invest in, however, is my purpose. As long as I remember my purpose and invest in that it is usually enough to keep me moving. This is because discipline works hand in hand with motivation and drive. It is that ingrained, determined urge to attain a goal or satisfy a need. It is the answer to the question, “Why do you write?” This answer is different for each of us but the result is the same. If every full-time writer kept his primary goal, the answer to the question of why he or she must write, always at the forefront of his mind it can undoubtedly become the catalyst to a more disciplined writing life and as a result more material.
Yet, in all of this, a writer must still believe in his ability to write and speak this into existence.
There’s a lot of criticism out there for writers. It is enough to keep us full for a lifetime. Not only in its relation to the backlash geared at Self-Publishers, but many people also do not see entrepreneurship, specifically writing, as being a “real job”. For this reason, confidence is necessary to be an apart of this movement. It is not to think more highly of yourself than you should think, (*caution: recipe for disaster*) since there is a power greater than you. But confidence is the state of feeling certain about something.
Working for you can feel like a blessing and a curse. There is so much to do, so much to strive for and (wait for it) so much failure. But if you believe in that aged old saying, “hard work pays off”, you will allow self-discipline and experience to train you into the professional you need to become.
One of the greatest ways to maintain just enough confidence to get the work done but at the same time maintain just enough humility is to be of help to others as best and as often as you can. What you do always comes back. How you treat others will almost certainly reflect how you yourself are treated. It’s not always about you, and yet your personal goals are still important.
So there’s a balance between our level of discipline–which will get the work done–and our level of confidence, which will keep us going when a project has failed to meet the goal. In the words of Kevin Nance, “failure curdles into something else… I go down into that failed place, and I think, ‘I’m going to take a look at that failure and make something of it”.
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