Tag Archives: How To

5 Imaginary Obstacles I Conquer Every Time I Write

7 Aug

WRITERWhenever people asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I told them, “A writer.” It’s always what I’ve wanted to do, and I’ve never drifted far from that path. And though I truly enjoy it, I often have a difficult time sitting down and actually writing. Since I’m not working on staff for a publication, there’s no one breathing down my neck about deadlines or feeding me any new ideas—it’s something I have to bring myself to do on my own. Yet, there are countless obstacles I notice many writers face whenever they sit down to write.

Here are my top 5:

1. Uninspired Procrastination Mode
If I’m not inspired, then I’ll do it later—I tell myself in order get out of writing. The thing is—if I’m waiting for inspiration, I may be waiting a long while—weeks maybe. Sometimes I have to force myself to sit down and write a few sentences. The rest will come if I sit long enough. Sometimes it won’t- but I might get some good ideas brainstorming.

2. The “Never Good Enough” Fear
My writing professor told our class the most depressing thing for a writer to hear: “All the good stories have already been written.” I often worry he was right. I worry that I won’t be able to say anything better than what my Black feminist predecessors and my favorite fiction writers have already said. I worry that my writing is just “okay,” but not great. But I have to snap out of these worries—otherwise I’ll never get passed the first word on my grad school application essays and I’ll never write that awesome book I plan to write one day.

3. Feeling like a fake
Sometimes I feel like I’m not a real writer. I’m not published in BigNamePublication, I don’t have any books out, and strangers don’t recognize the name of my blog—so I’m not legit. Then I really start to beat myself up: I’ll never be Toni Morrison or even as good as some of my favorite bloggers. But I have to remind myself that even Toni Morrison started somewhere with a pen, paper and dreams similar to my own.

4. Starving Artist Doom
We all have it—those of us who dream of making a career out of writing. We fear that our work will never take off and we’ll end up living on a street corner near the potheads on Venice Beach, or worst—stuck in a job we hate because writing didn’t pay the bills. The fear of failure is the worst and the most difficult obstacle I struggle with.

5. “I Don’t Need It” Syndrome
I didn’t get any of the writing positions I applied for out of college. Instead, I landed a position at a PR firm, which pays well for my first job out of college. Before I was hired, my only income came from freelance writing. I literally needed to publish articles in order to have funds (Thankfully, my mother didn’t kick me out so I had food and shelter). Now that I no longer financially need to publish—I don’t do it as often. I have a comfortable fallback. But the truth is—I do need it. I’ve always needed it. No other job could ever fully satisfy my inner desire to write. Writing is how I make sense of the world, how I process my thoughts, and eventually- how I’ll become more successful. Writing is my passion—and I cannot let imaginary obstacles get in the way.

Fellow writers: Am I missing anything major? What obstacles do you face when you sit down to write?

Writers note: This post was inspired by the article 5 Invisible Obstacles I Conquer Every Time Run

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How to Survive Long-Term Unemployment

26 Mar

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To be honest y’all, I don’t know if I’m completely qualified to write this article. My 5-month job hunt has got me holding on to my sanity by my last pinkie finger. And it’s slipping off quickly.

So this won’t be one of those corny, “Hold on a little longer. You can do it” type articles. Cuz right now I’m going through it.

After sending in tons of applications only to find an empty inbox the next day, and repeating that routine day after day, I find myself constantly frustrated, often frowning, and sometimes on the brink of tears. Unemployment, under-employment, and seemingly never-ending job hunts can really fuck with your self-esteem. So if you’re like me, struggling to keep it together mentally–try a few of these tips:

1. Find comfort in a few good friends. When I’m in the thick of my job hunting for the day, and I’m pissed off because insert-company’s-name-here’s application takes an hour to complete, good conversation is exactly what I need. Talking to them about totally unrelated subjects is quite healing. And friends are always helpful when you need to vent.

2. Vent when you need too. If you’re angry, yell at the wall. Curse as much as you need to. Call a friend and tell them your frustrations. No need to hold it in. But don’t vent too much. If you’re harping on negative things, you’ll be stuck in that feeling the whole day. So when you do need to vent or complain, give yourself a time limit and don’t go over it.

3. Exercise regularly. Trust me–if you’re not doing this, you should. I’ve gotten so bored from filling out applications that I body has has become sluggish 24-7. I feel overslept from just sitting at my desk. It’s quite awful, and I haven’t figured out how to get rid of the feeling (I’m beyond the point of no return…running doesn’t help me). But exercise might save the rest of you from the sluggish doom.

4. If you pray, pray often. (If not, skip over this section. I’m not here to convert you to anything). God and I have had some serious chats about my future. And though I haven’t figured it all out yet, reminding myself that God is supporting me and has big plans is very comforting. And as my preacher always says, “You don’t need to tell God about your big problems, you need to tell your problems about your Big God.” (Oh, and while you’re at it, add me to your prayer list…k, thanks).

5. Find something that’ll make you laugh hard. Modern Family has been my saving grace. Watch some comedians on Youtube. Have a “Best Vines” marathon. Laughing might be exactly what you need.

6. Don’t take it personally. If you’re putting your best foot forward and applying for jobs whenever you can, then it’s not your fault. Don’t blame yourself. Lots of people are in the same position.

7. Take the Naomi Campbell approach. If you ever watch an interview with Naomi Campbell, you can tell that she is very aware that she is Naomi Campbell, supermodel diva with an impressive and long-lasting career. She’s a boss and she knows it.

Sometimes, we have to be confident like Naomi and remind ourselves of how talented we are.

Here’s my reminder for myself when I’m not feeling that great: I’m Ritashae Collins. I’m a talented writer. I’ve been published in 9 different places, print and online. My writing makes people think and change. People tweet at me with quotes from my writing that inspire them. I’m fucking quoteable! I’m highly-qualified for the positions I’ve applied for and any company that passes over my resume (can suck it) has lost out on an awesome candidate.

I suggest you create your own mini speech to remind yourself just how awesome you are.

I even created a pick-me-up meme: UE SHAE @

8. Don’t give up hope. I know I said I wouldn’t be cheezy but this is real: having hope means that you still believe in yourself. Once you give that up, you may never get a job.

Good Luck

You Can Find Me in Da Club—but Don’t Touch Me!

31 Jul

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A few years ago I was with a group of friends at a party, wearing one of my staple going-out pieces: a short, tight, high-waist pencil skirt. Now, I kinda have a big booty (I’ve discussed my prior insecurities about it in a previous post). That night, my favorite skirt and my rear-end got a lot of unwanted attention.

While I was minding my own business and dancing with my friends, some drunken fool walks over, grabs my ass, and then stumbles away.

I was embarrassed—but not nearly as embarrassed as I was after it happened again only a few moments later. I went over to one of the guys I’d come to the party with and told him what had happened. “Well, your ass is nice,” he responded. Then, when I turned my head, he grabbed my booty and walked away laughing.

After that, I stood up against the wall trying to protect my ass from any more attention. In hindsight, I know I shouldn’t have felt the need to do that. Here’s my question: When did my body become public property?

Just because my ass is big doesn’t mean you have license to grab it.

Several people may be quick to blame the guys’ actions on my choice of clothing. However, I shouldn’t have to cover up my curves just because some guy wasn’t taught how to act in public. It’s a free country (kind of). I am allowed to adorn my body (mine—not anyone else’s) however I please. People should know better than to touch others inappropriately—it’s called sexual harassment. My skirt didn’t make them grab me—skirts don’t have magical powers like that; they grabbed me because they wanted to. Don’t blame the victim, blame the offender.

The problem is that our society often embraces Male Sexual Entitlement*, the idea that men are owed sexual attention and that women are expected to “give it up” to them. This entitlement shows up in social interactions at bars, parties, and clubs.

Some of men think that just because a woman is dressed up and at a party, she must be seeking attention. Some women are, some aren’t. I won’t deny it: I like attention. And by attention I mean conversation and polite complements—not touching, hugs, high fives or any of that bullshit. Sometimes this entitlement isn’t as serious as groping, but strangers shouldn’t feel like they have permission to put their hands on a woman they don’t know. If she didn’t grant permission, it’s inappropriate. If you see me at the club—look, wave, say hello, judge me if you must, but don’t touch!

In addition, I, like every other woman and man in the club, reserve the right to be selective. In other words: just because a woman dresses up doesn’t mean she has to acknowledge every guy that approaches her. She can pick and choose based on looks, personality, or whatever she wishes. That’s her decision.

But some idiots are too aggressive, too touchy-feely, and too angry when they get rejected. Am I a bitch because I told you “no”? (Even though I said it politely?) Okay—then you’re an asshole for assuming that you are entitled to my attention. (Perfect example of Male Sexual Entitlement).

So here’s my advice for combating this kind of entitlement at a bar, club, party, or wherever. aka:

How to Get Rid of Assholes at the Club

no-assholes

  • A firm, smileless “No” solves most problems. A decent guy would back away after hearing the word “No” in a serious manner.
  • If he doesn’t back away, you may have to get a little more verbal and embarrass his ass.  Yell as loudly as you can “Excuse me! I do not want to dance with you. Don’t touch me!” That not only humiliates the hell out of him, but also makes him look like a huge creep. And, other people may come to your defense or at least give him dirty looks.
  • Another option is to do like the Plastics on Mean Girls. If he’s being inappropriate (and you’re bold enough) you can yell “Excuse me, I DON’T WANT TO SLEEP WITH YOU!” I’ve never tried that one—but good luck.
  • You may have to get physical (just a little bit) if none of the previous recommendations  work out. Some young women, I’ve noticed, if they are in a situation where there are creepy guys around, they move. Yet, I hate having to change my location or actions just because some idiot doesn’t have manners. So I will sometimes push (lightly yet firmly) a guy away from me. I mean “push” as in soft shove that signifies for him to back the hell up—NOT “push” as in I’m starting an all-out brawl in the bar.

*If you’re interested in reading more on Male Sexual Entitlement, you can read the article that inspired this post.

Related posts: Wanting to be a Big Booty Hoe

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