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11 Things We’ve Learned as Black Writers

Eight writers from the Black Writers Workspace share what they’ve learned on their journey to publishing

A writer’s job is to challenge a reader’s imagination and draw them into a new and exciting world that inspires, entertains, engages, and informs. Writers are visionaries, adventurers, and innovators who dedicate their craft to composing unique and exciting experiences on paper.

As writers of color, our mission is heightened. We are not only responsible for engaging readers with dynamic stories and real-world lessons, but we are also responsible for honoring our heritage by weaving cultural experiences into the fabric of our work.

Reaching deep within my treasure chest of experiences after years of owning a public relations firm, authoring three books, and building digital media content for various platforms, I’ve discovered several vital lessons about the power of writing while Black. These lessons may be familiar to some, but for me, they are entrenched in my core beliefs and are essential to help build and sustain diverse writers who struggle to find their path in the publishing industry.

Below are 11 lessons written by seven fellow writers from the Black Writers Workspace and me. This list includes motivational, inspirational, and instructional lessons learned and concepts for writers, readers, and publishers:

Lessons Learned

· Black writers have a gift that empowers the world with beautiful stories entrenched in the Black experience. The Black experience is the American experience. Race does not determine patriotism. This country was built on the creativity and innovation of immigrants; without us, there is no American story. (Michelle D. Jackson)

· Black writers are changemakers. Activism starts with the written word, which evolves into the spoken word and is then translated into action. Movements are built when writers become the voice of the people. (Michelle D. Jackson)

· Storytelling is a talent that starts in the writer’s imagination and ends in the reader’s consciousness. A good writer keeps the reader in mind. Readers are smart. They know by how much time and detail we invest in our work to whether we are writing for ourselves or them. Work written for ourselves is driven by passion. Work written for the reader is driven by passion and professionalism. (Michelle D. Jackson)

· Black writers need community. The writing process can be lonely. Community is important for many reasons, including mental health and morale, but more importantly, we all need a network of support, resources, and connections to be successful. (Tee Price)

· Black writers must be committed to fixing each other’s crown when needed. We must learn to encourage each other when we’re wavering and share information and connections so we all can win. (Tee Price)

· The Black voice is worthy of being heard; there is power and healing in the pen. Writing is therapeutic. It is medicine for the soul. (Tunisia Nelson).

· Black writers should never let detractors steal their voice. There is always an audience for what Black writers want to share because every life experience matters. (Micki Berthelot Morency)

· It is a myth that Black people don’t like to read. We enjoy stories to which we can relate. (David Muse)

· Black writers must know they are enough! Accept that some people aren’t going to like what you write, but never work to be like other writers. (Renea Linsom)

· Black writers no longer have to wait or ask permission from publishing companies to recognize them as authors. The ability to self-publish empowers all writers to share their stories with the world. (Tanell Allen)

· Black writers should never give up. However, they must be smart when deciding who to trust and share their work with. (Gregorystone Vojislav)

There is so much to learn and share. This is just the start.

By Author Michelle D. Jackson

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