Ashley Coleman is a writer, pen toter, and love advocate that explores life, love, and dreaming in color through words. Today, Ashley shares some valuable insight for writers.
When I spoke to young and eager writers earlier this year at a meeting of the Temple Association of Black Journalists, what they all seemed to be looking for was opportunity. Landing the major print publication job after graduation seems a bit far-fetched these days. So what is the new paradigm that awaits blossoming writers looking for their big break?
Branding may be one of the most overused words in our current vernacular, but it doesn’t take away from its importance. Where the publication used to carry the writer, the writers have now begun to make names for themselves outside of the source of their bylines. Bloggers like Demetria Lucas D’Oyley and Luvvie Ajayi, among others have become buzz worthy names. They’ve established books deals, speaking engagements, brand partnerships, TV opportunities, and much more.
So how we position ourselves as writers becomes very important. How do we secure opportunities for our brands as writers? For myself, it started with creating a space of my own. Having your own space to fall back on with only deadlines you set for yourself and the freedom to write whatever it is that you decide, is priceless. As a writer today, you should create your own corner of the internet where your words can live and breathe freely. Investing in yourself is clutch.
You will also want to remain consistent. Inspiration is for amateurs. You say you want to write? Well you should be “writing until your fingers bleed,” to take a note from Bené Viera’s awesome article on advice for aspiring writers. If you want to write for Variety or The New Yorker, then you should be writing that type of stuff in your own space first. It will build you as a writer and give them the opportunity to take notice.
Lastly, be diligent. As writers, we tend to have introverted personalities. But we live in a time where if you are not actively promoting yourself and seeking opportunities you will easily be left behind. I had the opportunity to partner with Mary K. Dougherty & Associates simply because I sent Mary a free copy of my book, Dear Love. I told her I wanted to share it with her and it was in the exact time they were preparing for their February campaign. Keeping a professional site and social media presence has helped me establish opportunities with Essence.com, Philly360.com, and acquire panel and guest lecture opportunities.
Essentially, you, as the writer, have become the pitch. It won’t always be about writing amazing query letters or bumping into a top editor at a networking event. More and more, it’s about doing the work, seeking out your own chances to partner, planning and executing, and aligning with great timing. Don’t be intimidated. Realize that this newer structure gives you so much more control and can ultimately lead to a lot more scalable successes for your writing career. We no longer need permission to be writers.