Many bloggers dream of one day seeing the personal essays they post on their websites on the pages of a book, a book that their fans and followers can’t wait to read. Tyece Wilkins of the blog Twenties Unscripted recently has that dream come true. Her new book Twenties Unscripted: Womanhood, Writing, and Relativity is a carefully curated collection of her best blog posts and also includes some new content and a behind-the-scenes look into her writing and blogging process.
Tyece, who resides in the Washington, D.C. metro area, begins her collection with a letter to her 20-year-old self. But nearly the whole book could be read as a love letter to all young women struggling to navigate their 20s. She reminds them to believe in themselves, she reminds them to not settle for less, she reminds them to not be assholes. It’s tough love, but love nonetheless.
And I would argue it’s not just for women in their 20s. As a 34-year-old, I found myself inspired and moved page after page and I was captivated by the vivid specificity of her personal stories. And I often had to pause from reading to scribble down a fantastic quote (I’ve included my favorite ones throughout this post).
Tyece tackles what it means to be a woman, what it takes to be a writer, and how it feels to fall in love, always admitting she has more questions than answers when it comes to these things.
I’m excited to be part of the blog tour for Twenties Unscripted and recently had a chat with Tyece about blogging, writing, and more.
Before we get started, when I mentioned a blog tour to some of the women of See Jane Write recently they didn’t quite know what it was. So can you briefly explain what a blog tour is and tell us why you decided to organize one to promote your book?
One of my good friends and writing mentors GG Renee Hill of All The Many Layers is a master of blog tours; she’s where I got the idea from. There are different ways to do them, but you essentially rally several different bloggers around one common theme and have them blog about that particular thing in whatever way they see fit. When GG has done them, she has had different women write about things like beauty or dimensions of their personalities. It’s cool for readers to follow along and see how different bloggers translate that common theme. In my case, I wanted a cost-effective way to promote my book to new readers, as well as provide current readers with the opportunity to learn more about the work and expose them to websites they may not have known about before.
At the beginning of your book you mentioned that a friend of yours advised you not to turn your blog posts into a book. And so, as you said, of course you turned your blog posts into a book. Why did this friend think this would be a bad idea and why did you decide to do it anyway?
My friend (who was one of the first people to buy the book!) gave me that advice as someone who used to report for the books section of a major publication. She knew the book industry inside and out. It was certainly sound and well-intentioned advice. She thought it would be a bad idea to simply repurpose work that readers had already accessed for free. And, I absolutely agree with her. That was why I included previously unpublished work as well as the “Beyond the Essay” snippets. It’s sort of the same way that musicians will release a deluxe album that includes audio from their recording sessions and such. My book gives readers that “behind the scenes” feel.
What advice would you give to other bloggers who hope to publish their first book?
It’s so funny when I’m asked to give advice because I am still very much in a season of learning when it comes to publishing and marketing my book! But, I would say give your blog enough time to really grow its arms and legs. Give yourself enough time to evolve as a writer. Give your work enough time to reach people and bring you potential opportunities. All of those things – a strong platform, voice and network – are crucial to your book’s success.
In one essay you write about being elated to have your work featured on one of your favorite websites only to have the wind taken out of your sails by trolls. What advice would you give on dealing with negative comments?
Ignore them. Don’t engage. But, also be able to delineate between negativity and a difference of opinion. Not everyone is going to be a “Yes” woman and that’s OK.
The third section of your book is all about relationships. Writing about relationships can get tricky because now you’re not only sharing your story but you’re putting other people’s business out there, too! A See Jane Write member recently asked me if she should ask for permission when blogging about other people. How do you handle this?
Relationships are certainly tough territory for bloggers, which is why I write about them a lot less these days. When I was writing about them during the early days of Twenties Unscripted, I didn’t typically provide the other person with a heads up. After all, it was my blog and outlet. If I did not feel like I was writing anything overly specific or damaging, I adhered to the adage to ask for forgiveness, not permission.
Allusions to social media are peppered throughout your book and in one essay you say, “Do not surrender your 20s to Instagram,” but I feel the sentiment behind this is one bloggers of all ages should consider. As a blogger it is easy to get overwhelmed by social media and feel pressured to share everything and basically put on a show. How do you stay active on social media while still staying grounded?
Selectively engaging with social media is what really keeps me sane. And, I was not always like that. I used to live on Twitter day and night, but that sort of non-stop engagement came at a high price. I now believe in having social media values – mine are to always remain gracious and respond to positivity, ignore negativity, only get on when I feel I am mentally and emotionally in a place to digest the thoughts of others, and always protect the vision. In other words, I never release an idea or project prematurely on social media.
In addition to being a blogger and writer, you’re also a poet and spoken word performer and there is definitely a distinct rhythm to your writing. How does your poetry and spoken word influence your prose?
I usually say that I am a writer first and a blogger second. But wedged in between those two identities is definitely a poet. For many of my essays, I see them as potential spoken word pieces; I performed the last essay from the book as a spoken word piece at my book launch party. So, for me, how words blend and sound is important. I’m a sucker for alliteration and repetition.
How do you balance finding time to blog and work on your poetry while also working a full-time job?
I don’t sleep.
Just kidding (sort of).
Like most people who have to balance multiple priorities, I am intentional about scheduling everything from tweets to naps. I have a planner at work for my full-time job priorities, a planner for Twenties Unscripted and a calendar for things like social activities and appointments. Of course, sometimes life happens, things pop up, or I may just want to depart from my schedule and go to happy hour. I give myself the liberty to do that. I have learned after one-too-many burnouts that I have to carve out time that is just for me. As much as I love Twenties Unscripted and the pursuit of my passion, it is still work and I have to nurture other parts of my life.
Tyece Wilkins believes in the power of witty women, wise words and full wine glasses. She is the creator and editor-in-chief of Twenties Unscripted and author of Twenties Unscripted: A Journey of Womanhood, Writing, and Relativity, available for purchase on Amazon now. Visit http://www.twentiesunscripted.com to read more of her work and connect with her on Twitter @tyunscripted.
Javacia Harris Bowser is the founder of See Jane Write, an organization for women writers and bloggers in Birmingham, Ala., and beyond. Her next e-course Lady Blogger to Boss Lady will be released Sept. 12, 2015. She blogs at Javacia.com.