Bruised Knees, Scraped Elbows: What I’ve Learned From Cultivating Twenties Unscripted

What a wild ride the past year has been.
What a wild ride the past year has been.

The best lessons come by way of bruised knees and scraped elbows.

There are things people could have told me early on about blogging that wouldn’t have translated at the time. Because there are things that don’t make sense until you creep through the dark tunnels of this Internet writing journey with only a caving head lamp and a heap of faith to see your way through.

It’s hard, nearly impossible, to believe that I’ve now blogged on Twenties Unscripted for the same amount of time I spent earning a college education. I remember who I was when I started school and who I was when I graduated, and it hits me that the ways in which a person can metamorphose in only four years are unending and unexpected. It hits me that who I was when I purchased this domain and who I am now as I pen this post are two very different versions of myself, with Twenties Unscripted as the single most important thread to tie those two women together.

Nonetheless, I’ve managed to keep this little corner of the Internet lit with my fire, despite  extinguishers sometimes blasting my way. I gave birth to something I believed in, nurtured it, helicopter-parented it at times to the point of agony, and finally started trusting in a little bit of what I learned along the way. If my bruised knees and scraped elbows from four years of blogging could grab the mic, here’s what I’m sure they would say.

Don’t be afraid to look back.

We hear a lot about the danger in looking back, the temptation to cover our memories in make up until they become unrecognizable. But a little reflection every now and again never turned anyone into Lot’s wife. Your blog is your evolution, accessible whenever you need a testament to how much you’ve grown and how much grace you needed. So, don’t beat yourself up too much when you read the posts you wish you would have waited to publish. Try not to scoff or cringe at all of the f-bombs you dropped in 2013. Blogging is a here and now kind of sport. It is about game time decisions. Whims of the heart. The audacity to click publish, time and time again.

And don’t spend too much time looking forward.

All of your plans on pretty paper and all of your goals on giant post it notes are no match for the Universe’s magic. Give her the space to pull rabbits out of hats. Resist the urge to litter every single month with some sort of plan in hopes of keeping yourself relevant. There comes a point where the work speaks for itself and no longer requires your megaphone. And that point only arrives when you leave enough space on the page for the Universe to fill in the blanks. The Universe cannot perform magic if you only leave the margins empty.

Don’t get so hungry for the future that you starve yourself of the present.

You’ve got to let life happen. You don’t have to wait for that life to make any sense before you write it down. But, you’ve got to let life happen and you’ve got to be there when it does. You won’t look back and regret the nights you didn’t blog; you’ll regret the nights you didn’t show up, the nights you flaked, the nights you said no to that you’ll never get a chance to say yes to again.

Create boundaries.

As a personal blogger, your mind is your business, so the boundaries teach other people how to mind their damn business. Give yourself permission to go off the grid without summoning guest writers to substitute your space. Say no and mean it. Find polite ways to tell people to go kick rocks. Let go of the need to explain your whereabouts or whys. The people who need to know where you are always will. Consistency matters, yes. So does your sanity. So does your freedom. So does the rhythm of your tiny beating heart.

Choose your tribe wisely. Then show up for them all the way.

Some retweets and likes do not make a tribe. Say it again: some retweets and likes do not make a tribe. Your tribe is a group of creatives dependent on the land of their art to survive. Your tribe is not integrated into the trends of the broader online society. So once you sort through the riff raff and inevitable bullshit of the Internet, you’ll be left with your tribe. Those are the only people you really have to show up for. Those are the people you book bus tickets for, the people you clear a weekend for, the people you root on from your seat in the front row. Don’t let the pervasiveness and ease of social media fool you; there are moments where you simply need to be in the room and show your smiling face.

Remember that there is a pencil thin line between jealousy and admiration, one that gets harder to toe the more social media you consume.

Mute them if you need to, unfollow them if you must. Consume purposefully. Intentionally. Proactively. Deliberately. Go to the online spheres you adore when you are well and ready to taste them, without wanting to snatch their recipes or compare them to whatever’s cooking in your own kitchen.

And, above all else, always say what you need to say before considering what they need to hear.

You are not required to speak to the times or reflect popular culture or go viral. You are required, however, to write your heart out, to tell the truth, to tear down walls, to break chains, and to never give the page any less than you know you have.

Happy 4th birthday, Twenties Unscripted.



Recap: 15 Of My Favorite Quotes From Write Your Ass Off April

Write Your Ass Off October

On the surface, it was a simple call to action: share your most naked, brave, no holds barred writing for 10 days. But, naked, brave, no holds barred writing is no simple task.

See, naked, brave, no holds barred writing means visiting your wounds and digging up the dirt from your dark places. That kind of writing means crying when it spills out of your fingertips and closing your eyes before  you click publish. That kind of writing is tough. Heart-wrenching. Exhausting.

But, it’s the only kind of writing I know. It’s the only kind of writing that leaves me wanting more. It’s the only kind of writing I hope to challenge others to create.

Last month, women (and a few good men) joined me for the Write Your Ass April. What I learned about myself throughout the challenge was one thing. But, the wildfire that raged across the Internet from the other writers was another thing entirely. I am so moved and wowed by each person who committed to this challenge, dumped their hearts out, showed their scars, and shared their stories.

Here are a few of my favorite quotes from some of the Write Your Ass Off April writers.

“But you haven’t truly lived until you’ve been betrayed. Passed over and around, kicked to the side in favor of the pursuit of riches, status, sex, their own interests. And given the opportunity to repay the evil, I didn’t kick back.” –Mia Anika | Love

“And then I paused because the idea of being consumed had turned into a reality. It became a struggle between feeling that good, good and knowing the longer I lived in your flame, the more I would cease to exist. We were becoming a bigger you, not a grander Us.” –Syn | Ignite

“I learned the art of elusiveness from a man I once craved. I knew that I could never really have him because he would always belong to himself. I envied that and have gone to great lengths to be as enticing unto others as he was to me.” RIF | Complicate

“Yes, the weight of the man can spark, but the softness of your own touch will set your body ablaze.” –Minnie | Ignite

“You were the one piece of colored clothing that spilled beautifully into the rest of my whites.” Tassika | Spill

“We’re coming for the stigma. Don’t lump us into a category of businesses and people who don’t believe in the words and actions they’re putting forth, and are barely scraping the surface. Mental Health Awareness, building a young woman’s unbreakable belief system, reprogramming the way a society thinks? That is not a fad.” Yetti | Ignite

“I confess that Tyece created a masterpiece…Each word was chosen to cover my life in a perfect sequence. I doubt the world will ever see me like this again. They probably won’t be able to see me the same after these ten days. This is a one-of-a-kind discovery. It’s borderline a mental breakdown expressed on paper that prompts enlightenment and a new sense of security.” Cicely Rue | Confess 

“But we are no neat little narrative. Our expository moment was a fit of sparks and starts and stops and lingering chemistry and starting again. This tale features neither hero or villain, but two people who’ve played both roles interchangeably. Our dialogue wasn’t linear. Words spilled left and right until we found bits of ourselves in the depths of each other’s hidden, murky places. We’ve shared no single climactic moment. Pardon me, but I’d like a lifetime of those.” –The Skinny Black Girl | Spill

“Once someone told me I was mysterious, and I took it as a compliment. I wasn’t anti-social or mean, my personal business was just my business. Now it almost feels like that mysteriousness is working against me. I have a big head full of secrets. Some of them are my own, some belong to others.” –Acecily | Confess

“He takes me slowly, quietly, methodically. He’s learned our melody and he’s playing it perfectly. He stops to kiss me, to look at me, to kiss the freckles on my face. He’s studying me, as I am him, so he can take this with him when he leaves.” –La | Heal

“Love, I’ve imagined you as safety. I’ve been told that you are more than mere feelings and it takes work to have and keep you but, I’m afraid to say, our paths must have crossed, cut each other off and created confusion where certainty should be known.” –De’Nita | Love

“I invited you closer
I could tell in the way your tongue chased your lips
You enjoyed the twisted straight curated mess that is me
To you
I’ve never been complicated
To you
It all makes sense.” – @Magdalenea | Complicate (Instagram)

“Permit the years of beautiful and bad memories to resurface from the vault.” –Crissi Untangled | Heal

“I am a mess at twenty-two and am all the more beautiful for fixing my fingers to form the truth. I am eye bags, and a weary back, and more tears than my ducts thought were possible.” – Fullamusings | Confess

“I think that’s what eternal love is: not being attracted by ideas or similarities, palms or lips, mouths or genitals, but being magnetized to someone at your core. I think eternal love is a patient witness. It’s not worrying about growing apart, because you know your souls will always find a way to reconnect without interfering. I think eternal love is not wanting to disrupt a person or what they’ve become, but just wanting to watch, to witness, to feel their presence, and to be a part of it somehow.” –Roconia | Love

These quotes don’t even come close to doing the magic of Write Your Ass Off April justice. So, to everyone who touched this challenge in one way or another, thank you. I can’t wait for us to do it again later this year.



Bloggers And The Beat Recap: You Can’t Be Afraid To Fly


(Left to right) Karen Civil, Brandon "Real T@lk" Williams, me and Matcy and Breeze of Tha Shipmates
(Left to right) Karen Civil, Brandon “Real T@lk” Williams, me and Matcy and Breeze of Tha Shipmates

It felt sort of like an out-of-body experience. Sitting at my desk on Tuesday night with a bottle of wine next to me and my hands shaking, I didn’t recognize myself. The apartment was too hot. My bag wasn’t packed. I still had no idea what I was going to wear for the event. I could barely get myself grounded enough to write. That night I didn’t recognize a woman whose confidence, bravado and sometimes pure audacity were her signature trademarks. I felt like a scared puppy, unsure of myself and what I was getting ready to do.

Then I heard about the Illinois plane crash, and I felt myself crumble. The nerves that had been festering for weeks about taking a regional plane for the first time swung into high gear. I transformed into a piping hot mess. So, I called my best friend.

“Don’t think about it for an hour,” she told me. “Don’t pack, don’t prep, don’t do anything related to the trip. Just decompress.”

Surprisingly enough, I took her advice. And while the nerves didn’t fully subside on their own that night, a cosmic signal finally put them to rest. While digging through my disaster of a closet for a tote bag, I found my first tattered notebook. I’m on my third one now. You know, those books writers just carry and keep to capture any and every note so a thought never escapes them. I took the notebook out of an old bag and flipped through it. I saw a page from a coaching session I had with Demetria Lucas D’Oyley–years before she had appended D’Oyley to her name and weeks before I had started Twenties Unscripted.

I looked at the page and realized that the notes from that conversation had come to life. There was this little diagram with my blog as the center and things like events, collateral and speaking engagements as the spokes coming from the middle. There was a bullet that said, “No one is ever going to be as invested as you are.” And the final bullet said, “Don’t judge your start by someone else’s middle or end.”

I packed that notebook and took it with me all the way to Southern Illinois University.

The Universe always has these beautiful and unexpected ways of reminding us we are on the right path. And even though I was still scared shitless to board that tiny regional plane from St. Louis to Marion, IL the next day, I am more scared to think about a life without that opportunity.

IMG_1867I could say a lot about Bloggers and the Beat, a panel discussion I had the chance to speak at, hosted by the Student Programming Council at Southern Illinois University. I could say how refreshing and reaffirming it was to listen to the other panelists recount their early days as artists and entrepreneurs, and drop some powerful words of wisdom. I could say how much I loved the students, from the moment I was greeted by Quiana and Kia at the airport, to the second I sat down at the open mic event prior to the panel, to the post-event meet and greet. I could say how much each of them, full of such life, energy and passion, inspired me to continue on this beautiful and wild ride. But, most of all, I could say that you can’t ever be afraid to fly. And, sure, that goes for tiny and claustrophobia-inducing regional airplanes. But, really, it goes for taking that next step and leaning all the way the fuck in to what you are being called to do.

Witnessing your dreams manifest is an amazing, frightening and surreal sort of thing. Even as recently as January of this year, I was dying to start speaking at events, while simultaneously stomaching the rejection I had gotten after having panel pitches turned down. I was starting to think that maybe it wasn’t in the cards for me and the Twenties Unscripted brand to begin translating my work in that sort of way. And, then, poof. Here we are. And, it’s not really “poof” at all because it’s not magic. No, it is years of work and writing and days dating back to that coaching session with Demetria. It has been a long and trying road just to get here. But now that I’m here, my God, am I ready to fly.


Be sure to check out the work of my fellow panelists, Kia Smith–the amazing young woman who surfaced this opportunity for me–and SIU student Tierra of My Future Is Chic who did a great job recapping the event.

Fellow panelists

Karen Civil | |

Brandon “Real T@lk” Williams |

Tha Shipmates |

Kia Smith

Kia Smith |

Tierra of “My Future Is Chic”

Tierra’s recap | “10 Lessons I Learned from “Bloggers and the Beat

So You Want To Be A Blogger.

Photo credit: @JazzTheNoise Death stare credit: @tyunscripted

This post is an excerpt from Twenties Unscripted: A Journey of Womanhood, Writing, and Relativity. The full essay is available in the book, which is currently available for pre-sale here.

Pour yourself a glass of wine. This journey is not for the faint of heart nor is it for non-alcoholics, unless you have some great substitute for alcohol. I haven’t quite found that. My drink of choice is Cabernet Sauvignon. There is a bottle in my apartment at all times for painstaking moments right before I click publish on stories that will expose my skeletons to friends and Internet strangers alike. Or, just a glass for times like now, when I have watched the clock for a whopping 16 minutes, moved one post to the trash and thought that I need to finish this shit before my 10 p.m. show comes on.

Pour yourself a glass, my love.

And then start writing. Write. Write, write, write, write. Motherfucker, you need to write. And throw a bunch of words and sentences and stories out into what feels like thin air for a long time.

50 Blogs To Take Into 2015: See Jane Write/Writeous Babe

Javacia writes

Today concludes the 50 Blogs To Take Into 2015 feature series with Javacia Harris Bowser of See Jane Write and Writeous Babe. I have followed Javacia for quite some time and had the pleasure of meeting her last summer at BlogHer! During the conference, we had a chance to get away from the crowd and sit outside exchanging stories and asking questions. Her approachability and authenticity made me feel at ease, something that was hard to come by during the two jam-packed and overwhelming days of BlogHer. 

A self-proclaimed “southern fried feminist,” Javacia is a woman who chases her goals, creates spaces of meaning and substance and never considers anything too far from her reach. Her ambition motivates and inspires me in ways I never considered. Meet Javacia.

Name: Javacia Harris Bowser
Location: Birmingham, Alabama

Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get started with writing? How has your writing evolved since you started?
When I was in second grade I wrote a poem for my best friend who was about to move away. I’m sure this poem was horrible and contained the line “Roses are red, violets are blue” but once I started writing I never stopped.

In middle school I started writing short stories and even won a few local contests for young authors.

In high school I became interested in journalism and went on to study journalism in undergrad at the University of Alabama and in graduate school at UC Berkeley.

I worked as a features reporter for a newspaper in Louisville, Kentucky for several years before moving back to my hometown to teach at a fine arts school that’s also my alma mater. (My school is like Fame or like Glee but more angst-filled.)

Over the years the focus of my writing has changed. When I was younger I wrote poetry and short stories but due to my love for journalism and blogging I turned to creative non-fiction. Today I’m fortunate enough to freelance for a number of local and media outlets. I even have my own column in a local magazine and I contribute to my city’s NPR station, too.

You have your personal blog Writeous Babe and you are the founder of See Jane Write. What is the vision for each space? How are the two different and do they ever intersect?That’s a great question! In fact, it’s one I’ve even paid a business coach to help me answer.

I started See Jane Write in March of 2011 to be a writing group for women in Birmingham but it has grown into so much more. Through See Jane Write I host workshops, panel discussions, networking events and conferences to help women who write and blog.

Later that year I started I had already been blogging for years but my husband and I were writing on the same blog and I decided I needed a virtual room of my own.

The mission of both Writeous Babe and See Jane Write is the same – to empower women writers, bloggers, and entrepreneurs; to inspire women to write and live a life worth writing about. Because my blog and See Jane Write have the same mission, I am currently exploring ways to merge the two, so stay tuned!

You recently launched your new e-course “How To Write And Have A Life.” How do you personally maintain that balance?
Well, I won’t say I’ve achieved balance. As one of my favorite bloggers once said at Blogalicious, “Balance is a unicorn.”  But I think it’s possible to pursue your writing dreams, work your 9 to 5 and still have time to take care of your relationships and yourself. The keys to doing so are planning and purpose. You must be very intentional about how you spend your time. I plan out every single hour of my day. Also, eliminate activities that aren’t in line with your purpose, that aren’t moving you toward your vision for your life. My e-course shows women how to do this and more.

Last year you organized and hosted the Bloganista mini-con, so cool! What did you learn from planning a conference and what can we expect from Bloganista this year?
Of all the See Jane Write events I have ever organized and hosted the Bloganista Mini-Con is my favorite! Planning my first conference and having the tickets to that conference sell out gave me the confidence I needed to take See Jane Write to the next level and start treating it like a real business. Along those lines, the theme for this year’s conference is “Blog Like a Boss” and will be all about how to transition from blogger (or bloganista) to businesswoman.

What is the best advice you have received as:

A writer: Stop being a writer who doesn’t write.

A blogger: Stop waiting to be picked. Choose yourself.

A woman: Embrace your femininity and never apologize for it.

What 3-5 posts on Writeous Babe best represent the blog?

The Year of the Writeous Babe

“On the Run” Toward a Real but Fabulous Life

What I Learned by Exercising Every Day for a Year

How to Write Like an Olympian

What’s next for See Jane Write?
See Jane Write is going national!

In 2013 I launched to be an online resource for women writers and bloggers nationwide and while I’m going to continue to build that website this year, I’ve realized that women outside of Birmingham who are interested in See Jane Write want more than online content. They want live events and trainings. So this year I’ll be working on expanding through webinars and teleseminars and hitting the road to do some workshops in other cities.

Javacia Harris Bowser is a teacher, freelance writer, and the founder of See Jane Write, a network created to empower women writers, bloggers and entrepreneurs. Her personal blog can be found at Enrollment for her e-course How to Write and Have a Life is currently open.

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