When Tamika Newhouse started the African Americans on the Move Book Club (AAMBC) in 2008 she had no idea it would eventually lead to her hosting Black Writers Weekend, an annual event that is not to be missed by African American writers and bloggers.
“I stumbled into creating the online community,” Newhouse says. “I wanted to be part of a book club but I was in a new city, I didn’t have any friends, and I thought it would be pretty weird for a grown woman to walk up to other grown women and say ‘Hey, I like to read books. Do you like to read books? Let’s read books together.’”
So she started a MySpace page and created an online book club of her own, one that focused on reading and discussing the work of African American authors. She quickly realized that there were many black writers out there not getting the attention they deserved. So, in 2009 Newhouse launched the AAMBC Literary Awards in San Antonio, Texas to recognize and honor black writers. In the years following awards ceremonies were also held in Chicago and Baltimore. In 2015 the event grew to include a red carpet ceremony and was held in Atlanta. This marked the beginning of Black Writers Weekend.
Time management, or the lack thereof, is the #1 problem faced by most of the writers and bloggers of the See Jane Write community and probably the #1 problem faced by writers and bloggers in every community! The other obstacle that many content creators face is writer’s block. I believe I’ve found a simple solution for both: Write every day. You need to develop a writing ritual.
You need a time, a place, and a plan for each of your daily writing sessions.
Writing is a practice. Just as athletes have to practice to get better at their sport, we writers must practice to get better at our craft.
It was in Natalie Goldberg’s book Writing Down the Bones that I first saw this comparison made and the analogy has moved me ever since, especially because I’m a runner. I’m a very slow runner, but a runner, nonetheless, and whenever I’m running a race or training for one I’m also always thinking about writing. Lately, I’ve decided to dig a little deeper with this analogy between writing and running.
Runner’s train not just to get faster, but also to get stronger. Runners train to prevent injury. So, I started thinking, how can we writer’s train to prevent the injury of writer’s block?
Earlier this week I finally sent my book off to my editor. During the process of writing my book there have been times when I have felt it was literally, physically fighting me. My body was sore. I found bruises and scratches on my body I couldn’t explain and I was always so tired. Jacob wrestled with an angel. I wrestled with words.
One day while taking a walk with my husband Edward he asked, “What is your book about exactly? I’ve been trying to tell people but I can’t. I don’t have an elevator pitch.”
This weekend, for the first time ever, I participated in the Vulcan Run, a 10K race held annually in Birmingham that attracts about 1,000 runners each year.
I have never been more nervous for a race. I couldn’t really figure out why. I’ve run a half-marathon — twice — which is more than twice the number of miles of a 10K. I also trained for this race for a month. Yet, the morning of the Vulcan Run I was so nervous my stomach started to hurt.
I was convinced I’d be too slow to finish the race in the two-hour time limit or that my legs would just stop working around mile five.
Nevertheless, I laced up my Nikes and set off to pound the pavement. This race, like so many others, would not only teach me plenty about running but impart lessons about writing, too.