Woman Unscripted

I walked around for most of 2018 with a shiny pair of invisible handcuffs tying my wrists together. I couldn’t write. I didn’t write. I wouldn’t write. I stopped knowing what the pitter patter of laptop keys beneath my fingertips sounded like. I flew across the world for work and prayed that I would unearth some stroke of inspiration in Adelaide, South Australia. Instead I sat on the couch most nights watching Masterchef as my eyelids grew heavy. Somewhere along the line, the adrenaline rush ceased. I stopped believing in magic, the allure that accompanies tossing words into the ether and watching them stick with someone you’ve never even met. I fell out of love with the cross-country race of writing online. I craved the quiet blessing of savoring some experiences for myself.

But, I also grew up.

I tapped into other dimensions of myself. My full-time career kicked into high gear. I left the country for the first time alone and got lost wandering through the streets of Sydney. I found solace and joy in new, different arenas of my life. And at times it felt like my writing relegated itself to the margins. I now know this happened because I needed to make space. I needed to clear the way. I needed some air and elbowroom so I could evolve and transform and fall in love. I needed to stop writing and start living. It’s hard to do any of those things when you’re chained to a laptop giving the Internet the best of what you’ve got.

I stopped wanting to pen essays lamenting love I’d lost because I was preoccupied with nurturing the love I’d found. I could no longer be that girl on the Internet who relayed tales of being jilted and left somewhere in the wilderness. I had to find another MO. Another approach. A new angle that would resonate and ring true. Because at some point I stopped being that lovelorn girl. And I became a woman who was in love with her feet on solid ground.

The early, angst-ridden years. They faded both quickly and at a glacial pace. I do not miss the time when it felt like there was never much to see in my life, whether I looked behind or looked ahead. And, yet, that limited vision, that inability to see much in each either direction, became the bedrock for this blog. That course without a reliable compass became my content. Day in. Day out. A twenty-something living in Texas, and later back on the East Coast, needed to scribble her way through. She also needed to be able to trace her steps back. So she wrote. And wrote. And wrote some more.

Even now, I still need to write. And write. And write some more.

But, there is a new home for me to build. New doors to open. New windows to crack. There is somewhere else where my words and the woman I am becoming will feel more right and make more sense.

That place will be Woman Unscripted.

I finally said goodbye to this blog around 9 p.m. on a Tuesday night. I poured a glass of red wine, lit a candle and stared at the screen waiting for the words to come until I felt the tears arrive first. First in my chest, a burning sensation. Then in my eyes. Finally on my face. Somewhere in my gut, I knew that I would never be able to write a final post until or unless I let my heart break just a little. Because this place has been home. It has given me purpose, a village and a way out. It has been a channel for my hunger and ambition and boundless list of ideas. It has given me waters to swim in and dry land to stand on. It has led me to women and men who have changed my life and rearranged my perspective. Twenties Unscripted is the reason I have a goddaughter, in addition to many of the other good things in my life. This blog has taken me to California and New York and Philadelphia and Atlanta and that one incredible stop in Illinois. This thing steered every turn of my twenties, and saying goodbye still shakes me a bit.

We’ve been together for six years. But I knew during the last two of them that I had grown up, and it was time to move on. I have been stalling and waiting for some perfect moment, knowing somewhere in the recesses of my mind that such a moment would never arrive. So, I had to unearth a snippet from the email Alida sent me two years ago when I first thought about bidding this blog farewell:

“You know when you hit the wall. We stand at the wall for a while, hoping it’s not real, but we know when we’re done. And although it’s scary, you also have to think beyond—the idea of bringing more people in, more reward, more satisfying posts and experiences and writing and movement. I don’t know where it’ll go, but if I don’t do it, then I’ll be swimming in the shallow end until everything I have just fades away.” -Alida Nugent

I always promised that I would not wait until the clock struck 12 on my 30th birthday to stop penning in a space reserved for a “sincere, sassy and sometimes smart-assy take on growing up.” That’s why I purchased a new domain a few years back. I would know when the time was right to pack up the boxes of my beloved Internet home.

Now is the right time. And Woman Unscripted is the right place.

Thank you for six incredible years. There is no use rehashing it all because I believe there is still so much more to come. But suffice it to say that I did not do any of this alone, and I am forever grateful for what we created here, together. I hope that whomever you are, wherever you are, you will stick around for the next leg of this journey.

I’ll see you in October. A new space and new stories.

Thank you for everything.

Xoxo,
Tyece

Reader Question: Authenticity, Audience And Other Things

Question: I want to know how you gained your following. How did you promote your blog? I understand it is important to promote on your own blog, but what sort methods did you use to draw in people? How did you make sure you were reaching out to your target audience? How did you deal with not so constructive criticism? In starting, did you find that it was difficult to publish posts on a consistent basis? How did you make your posts visually appealing without worrying about legal issues? What I mean by that last question is how did you find visual aids via Internet or wherever without worrying about getting in trouble for using those images on your site. –Sadi

(Very long) Answer: More and more when I’m asked about the early roots of my blog, I think about the quote from Madame C.J. Walker: “I got my start by giving myself a start.” I find that sometimes people expect a lofty and purpose-driven answer when asking about how I started my blog, but in the interest of full disclosure, my start is something I did not think about until it was in retrospect. I did not set out hoping to set the Internet world on fire. But, now, you can bet your ass I’m trying to set the Internet world on fire.

You’ve asked quite a few questions and I am going to do my best to answer them all in a cohesive and honest way. I’ve divided out my answers based on the top three things you asked about–audience/promotion, branding and consistency.

Audience and Promotion

The short answer to how I gained an audience and following was by being completely and utterly myself. People can smell bullshit on the Internet from 100 miles away. If you are a fraud or a try-hard, those flaws will reveal themselves early and often. I don’t bullshit my readers because my readers are my people; if I am not real with them, there is zero point in doing what I do. There is nothing gimmicky about drawing people in. If the content is well-written and resonates with them, they will read it. And, it has to be both of those things–well-written and affecting. Say something that has not been said or say something that has been said in a completely different way. And, after you say it, go proofread to make sure you said it flawlessly. I say that I am a writer first and a blogger second because the words matter. Of course, I make mistakes, but there is nothing that destroys a blogger’s credibility more than egregious and avoidable errors.

The long answer to how I promoted and gained an audience was Twitter. (I know, that’s such a long answer, right?) When it comes to social media promotion, Twitter is where I devote at least 85% of my time because it is immediate, dynamic and easy. Twitter makes it simple to share people’s work and I am grateful to my Twitter tribe for doing such a wonderful job of sharing mine. For my type of blog (heavy on the writing) and my audience (twenty-somethings), Instagram is too visual and Facebook is a bit too obsolete.

There is not any foolproof way to know you are reaching your target audience. Perhaps I would say when it comes to a target audience, measure success based on quality and not quantity. Of course I am not blind to my numbers, but I am more focused on the women I am lucky enough to engage with every day. I am constantly wowed and humbled by how intelligent, driven, engaged, well-rounded and authentic my readers are. No one does it quite like the Twenties Unscripted tribe.

Branding

I’m going to skip around your question a bit and respond to the piece about images. My blog is not a visual blog. It is not supposed to be a visual blog. I side step all of the legalities surrounding image usage by making sure my blog is about the words first and the visuals second. Many of my posts do not include visuals and when they do, they are usually shots I’ve taken on my iPhone or quotes I’ve highlighted using a free app.

I do not care how wide open the Internet is. If you use images that you do not explicitly own, you run the risk of getting sued and I am way too broke for that shit. If visuals are important to you, invest in a paid stock photo account. Otherwise, shoot your own stuff.

Plus, I just don’t buy the absurdity that people don’t read anymore. I do not buy this whole “an-article-must-be-a-Buzzfeed-listicle-for-people-to-read-it” nonsense. I write entire paragraphs because I still believe that people read entire fucking paragraphs. My blog is not for people who do not want to read in long-form. The end.

Consistency 

I preach about consistency a lot when it comes to blogging. I wrote a whole blog post about it here. When I started, I did not have a hard time publishing on a consistent basis because no one really cared. People weren’t tripping over themselves to read my blog. But, once it picked up a bit and I more or less started writing four times a week, I stuck to that schedule. Decide what consistency means for you and stick to it. Take advantage of the time early on when you have the space and freedom to figure things out, experiment and change your posting schedule. I find people are often anxious to have the whole world watching them; they forget how beautiful it is to have absolutely no one paying attention. That is the time when you will most find your voice and establish your brand.

(And a final note about the hate that you so eloquently referred to as “not so constructive criticism”)

I’ve been fortunate to have an amazing support system, both in my readers and also in my friends and fellow bloggers. Through these people, I have received a lot of constructive criticism–write less about dating/relationships, get a mobile-compatible version of your site, quit writing with a tone of gross self-deprecation. I call each of those examples constructive criticism because of what was said, how it was said and who said it. Always consider the source. What you referred to as not so constructive criticism comes from people who do not want the best for you but instead want to tear down what you are trying to build.

I am learning the best way to deal with not so constructive criticism is to just completely disengage. Do not feed the trolls. Do not throw energy to the haters. Do not even think you need to kill them with kindness. Just disengage. Never, ever give them what they want. Because every bit of energy you give to those things is one less second, minute, hour, day, week or month you get to devote to building your brand and celebrating your success.

Xoxo,

Tyece

Married To The Writing: Past The Honeymoon Phase

I’ve always vehemently boycotted social media management tools, the kind of things that send a phantom Internet robot to automate your status updates and tweets. Up until now, I’ve been known for my signature “NEW POST, FOOL” tweet every night, Monday through Thursday, followed by a stream of tweets from that night’s blog post. That signature promotion has always been manual–me finding some sort of device, whether it was a laptop or iPhone, to litter Twitter with bits of that day’s post. There is something I love about the immediacy of hopping fresh off the adrenaline rush of a newly-published post, promoting it and interacting with people right then and there.

But, yesterday, I opted to change that routine and it scared the holy shit out of me.

I wrote most of my BlogHer14 recap post at the airport on Sunday morning and, still riding the high of the conference, opted to publish it first thing Monday morning. My wheels started turning and I did an informal poll asking people if they prefer to read blogs in the morning or evening; morning won by a landslide. It occurred to me that I had not been giving my blog posts enough of a lifespan by posting them somewhere around 7 p.m., promoting them right after and only promoting them once more the following morning. I wasn’t giving pieces that I’ve poured my heart and soul into enough visibility. But, because I am still a slave to corporate America and cannot afford to risk my day job promoting blog posts at 11a.m., I needed a solution. I had to give in to the demon of social media management tools.

My friend Yetti advocated for one called “CoSchedule” in our group chat, saying it has made her life and the maintenance of her blog a lot easier. I typically trust Yetti, so I downloaded it.

Signature promotion tweet; fool is a term of endearment
Signature promotion tweet; fool is a term of endearment

I played around with CoSchedule and instantly deemed it the best thing since sliced bread. And then I freaked the fuck out. I worried that my Internet phantom would not publish the posts at the right time or at all. I worried that people would not read the posts if I changed when and how I promoted them. I worried that I was selling out, preparing myself to lose the intimacy and conversation I covet with my Twenties Unscripted kin.

It took awhile for me to quell the anxiety (it’s still slightly brewing), and realize that I no longer need to spam people’s timelines with 7-10 quotes from a post in order to believe in the power of my voice. I have an amazing community of readers. I have people who come to this blog on their own without being prompted. I do not need to rely on the intoxicating yet ephemeral high of a bunch of people retweeting a lot of shit I wrote. What I considered a signature style was just a way of begging people to read work that now speaks for itself. I am currently in a phase that is less about building and more about expanding.

As I relayed my anxiety to a coworker this morning, he reassured me that starting to use a social media management tool was not at all selling out; instead, it was freeing me up to think more about the writing as the brain trust of this operation. Earlier this year, I wrote “Married To The Writing“. This is the sequel because now I realize the honeymoon phase is completely over. The love is still there more than ever and the union is still unbreakable. But, now I am in the phase of thinking about finances, budgeting, outsourcing, maintenance, branding and a lot of other shit that writers really avoid thinking about. I am in the phase of ferociously protecting my space from trolls who try their hardest to piss all over it and invalidate my truth. These things are not romantic. They are not pretty or fun. But, they are important as hell for the trajectory of this blog.

And, as I considered all of this today, as I thought about my new CoSchedule baby and peak publishing times and a mobile compatible site and getting people to subscribe to my upcoming newsletter, a little dose of nostalgia crept in. Suddenly I longed for the days I had two years ago, when only 20 people consistently read my work and I knew all of them by name. I worried that maybe I did not cherish those days as much as I should have or could have. But, all I know is now they are gone and I can embrace them in retrospect because they got me here. All I know is I now built something that I must take care of and guard with my motherfucking life. All I know is that I am still so in love with the writing, with the art, with the opportunity to share my voice and my stories with the world, and that is what carries me through. All I know is that I have to keep the Epicurus quote close to my heart: “Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.”

Xoxo,

Tyece

Happy 2nd Birthday, Twenties Unscripted!

The story goes a little something like this: two years ago, I had nothing more than advice from Melinda Emerson that I needed to purchase a dot com for my blog coupled with an insatiable hunger to write. That was it. July 5, 2012 was the day I bought the domain name for www.twentiesunscripted.com and it has been a wild, unpredictable and life-affirming ride ever since then.

In some ways, the blog’s “birthday” has become bigger than my own. Perhaps it’s a bit strange to celebrate the birth of an inanimate object, but this blog is my lifeblood. It gives me meaning and purpose to have a place to share my truth and connect with people who receive that truth. It’s a tough thing to explain without turning into a half-crazy zealot the way I did a few nights ago when a friend of mine mocked me about a blog post. (I may have set the Guinness World Record for number of times “go fuck yourself” was uttered in a conversation, but that’s neither here nor there.)

I’m reserving this entire month to writing specific posts about this journey, the people I’ve met, the lessons I’ve learned and the gratitude I have. So, I will not squeeze all of those heavy things into a few paragraphs here. Instead, on the blog’s birthday, I want to honor the one thing that has kept this blog afloat–the writing. I’ve written a lot. Like A LOT. Like A LOT, A LOT. I’ve done my best to re-read my work and pull the bits from the past year that I think most reflect this space, my evolution as a writer and my propensity to say really ridiculous shit. Hope you enjoy this Twenties Unscripted trip down memory lane.

“Well, I started the blog because I didn’t hear my voice anywhere else. I wasn’t Lena Dunham. I wasn’t your Black Queen. I wasn’t Carrie Bradshaw. Oh, wait, Carrie Bradshaw isn’t real. Either way, I was some misfit of a writer with all of those influences projected on me, but none of them entirely emblematic of my life experience.” “I Rant, I Roar, But Mostly, I Write: 2013 Twenties Unscripted Mantra” July 10, 2013

“The primary way I’ve made an ounce of sense out of the past few years of my life is to write about them. Observe it. Experience it. Write it. Do not sugar coat it; life does not come to us complete with preservatives. It is raw, rare and uncooked. Sometimes it is ugly, unusual and unfortunate. But, that is what it is. So, you write through it.” The Rise Of The Woman Confessional Writer July 23, 2013

“Twenties Unscripted is about getting women to own our lives, relationships and mistakes.” Quit Fantasizing About Other People’s Lives And Go Live Yours August 13, 2013

“Writing is a lot of thinking and a lot of drinking.” Writing Is Crawling Out Of The Belly Of The Beast With A Story To Tell” August 14, 2013

“I hope that by the time I’m 30, Twenties Unscripted became something. That if nothing else, it drove people to figure their shit out and make mistakes while doing it.” When Twenties Unscripted Is All Said And Done August 15, 2013

 

Black Weblog Awards, Houston, November 2013
Black Weblog Awards, Houston, November 2013

“When someone has only one foot in your life, their partial residence is more agonizing than their absence. Sure, at first you believe you are saving yourself the eternal sting of their vacancy, so you comply with the scant texts, the “let me hit you up” later and the invitations you initiate that they never seem to fully accept or outright deny. They are a master of diplomacy, saying things that do not blatantly make them an asshole but also not saying things that would undoubtedly persuade you of their feelings. Every text becomes a game, every conversation becomes a ball of nerves, every night ends in you sitting up in bed picking apart their sentences until you are down to their syllables.” Either Be In My Life Completely Or Not At All August 19, 2013

“You learn that the world is small, but it is now pint-sized thanks to social media.” Social Media Is Filled With Land Mines From Your Past September 3, 2013

“You are the only person who signs the receipts on your life’s decisions.” Can We Agree To End The “90 Day Rule” Conversation? September 9, 2013

“Don’t chill out. Speak up. Think. Feel. Care about something. Be excitable and be excited. Let things ignite you. Be a pistol. Be a thunderbolt. Be someone at a dinner table with something thought-provoking to say.” You Don’t Need To Be A Chill Girl; Feelings Are Allowed September 18, 2013

“That’s why I think we have to dismantle this mantra of ‘keeping it real.’ It’s as though people can be outright douchebags and hide it under the guise of ‘just being honest’.No. It’s not honesty. It’s assholery at its finest and you need to learn and implement some tact in your life.” There’s A Difference Between Keeping It Real And Being An Asshole September 24, 2013

“Do not surrender your twenties to being a fraud. Stop faking friendships, stop faking relationships, stop faking happiness, stop faking your interests, stop faking orgasms. Just quit. And, learn how to get yourself on a path to the real thing. Learn how to chop down the weeds, cut through the bullshit and find the authentic thing. It’s there.” Do Not Surrender Your Twenties Pt. 2 October 7, 2013

“It never ceases to blow my mind when women know how many carats they want on an engagement ring and they don’t even have, um, I don’t know…a boyfriend? Wouldn’t that be the first step? It’s amazing that you can know you want a princess cut diamond and you don’t even have a fucking 401K.” The Silly Obsession With Engagement Rings October 23, 2013

“Rip up the sketch. Eradicate the image. Let go of the expectations others set for you, or worse, the ones you set for yourself.” Let Go Of How It Should Be October 30, 2013

“I sometimes doubt myself and my work. Not too long ago, I changed the title of a post about

NYC Bloggers Brunch, November 2013
NYC Bloggers Brunch, November 2013

ten times before I clicked publish. I worry about teetering the fine line between using my life as my material and keeping enough of myself private. I try not to drop a plethora of f-bombs per my parents’ suggestion. (Hey, Mom and Dad.) I work hard not to exploit my friendships or relationships. But, I also try to give enough of myself so that people, especially women, connect and see themselves. Because I know that no matter how tired I get, every day I work at this, I am doing something I adore. Few things in life can replace a feeling like that.” Writing, Goals And General Musings About WTF I’m Doing With My Life November 20, 2013

“Don’t let people tell you your twenties are 10 years of the same shit. And, if they tell you that, don’t listen to them. Don’t let that happen. Don’t believe them. Let yourself evolve and grow and change and let go. If you are the same person at 24 who you were at 21, you’re not doing this thing right.” The Difference Between 21 And 24 January 13, 2013

“Feed your passion. Get that check. And, if the rubber finally meets the road and you find a way to do those both simultaneously, well, that’s fucking amazing and some celestial being has looked out for you. But, do not sit idle waiting for that to happen. The rubber does not meet the road without you being on a relentless grind. Move. Work. Bust your ass. Then bust your ass some more.” Passion And Paychecks February 5, 2013

“Writing as a discipline, writing as an art form, writing as an outlet is so much better than what the Internet has made it out to be.” I’m Really Tired Of People Writing For Hits And Shock Value February 19, 2014

 

Twenties Unscripted Presents "See. Speak. Feel." March 2014
Twenties Unscripted Presents “See. Speak. Feel.” March 2014

“Blogging is about consistency. Blogging is about consistency. ONE MORE TIME, BLOGGING IS ABOUT CONSISTENCY.” The Blogging Game: Stop Waiting For Inspiration February 21, 2014

“Some days, I am in the quicksand. And, as I stand there feeling as though I’m about to go under, I force myself to remember that things happen for a reason.” When It Feels Like You’re Drowning In Quicksand March 1, 2014

“Create meaning. Bring meaning. Add value. Seek to become a person who adds substance, not just sugar.” Do It With Passion Or Not At All March 3, 2014

“I don’t want part. I want the whole. The entire fucking whole. I want the stories and the passion and the scars. I want the lust and the love and yes, the attention. I want someone to have my back the way I have theirs. I want someone to hold my dreams close and hold my secrets closer. I want someone to give of themselves fully the way I believe in giving of myself to others. The way I believe in giving of myself to everything in this world that I do. Every relationship I take on, every friendship I value, every goal I chase after. I do not want part. I want the whole.” Settling For Part When You Can’t Have The Whole March 4, 2014

“But, know that passivity is a decision. Keeping him around is a decision. Turning a blind eye to

Twenties Unscripted Presents "Brunch, Blogs and Books" May 2014
Twenties Unscripted Presents “Brunch, Blogs and Books” May 2014

what happened is a decision. People are quick to mistake doing nothing as indecisiveness. Doing nothing is a decision. Inertia is a decision.” Doing Nothing Is A Decision April 30, 2014

“Writing is not how I make my living; writing is how I make my life.” Writing Isn’t How I Make My Living, It’s How I Make My Life” May 29, 2014

 

“Pay the least attention to what he texts, less to what he says and most to what he does.” What I Know About Life Three Years After Graduation May 20, 2014

“Lifting someone else up never, ever lessens you. If anything, it elevates you.” We Need To Show Each Other Authentic Support June 23, 2014

Happy 2nd Birthday, Twenties Unscripted. It’s probably completely inappropriate to cheers to a toddler, but here’s to many more years of wine, writing, women and wisdom.

Xoxo,

Tyece

Married To The Writing

It hit me last night that I was tired. Nights of staying up until 1 a.m. to send emails or finalize new designs on behalf of Twenties Unscripted had caught up to me. My mind got really fuzzy and I momentarily forgot that it was on my mental to-do list to shoot my graphic designer edits to something. I was exhausted. And, even when you love something with every fiber of your being, it does not mean that it does not tire you.

If I were to get all metaphoric on you, I’d probably say that I’m married to my writing and Twenties Unscripted is the offspring of that union. I love both, but the blog is the screaming infant that requires constant attention. The blog is what I think about if I wake up at 4 a.m. to pee. The blog is what I’m always gushing to my coworkers about. The blog is what sends streams of pride pouring through me as it grows up and learns to stand on its own.

And, in developing this shatterproof connection to my writing, I have often wondered how much room there is for much else. How much room there is for other people, particularly a beau. I’ve wondered if the writing distracts me from dating or if I simply enjoy being distracted, an alibi for why I have not seriously committed to someone in years.

I have started to see all of the maintenance that comes along with tethering yourself to a creative person. All of the tip-toeing and forced silence that person needs in order to create or just how easily everything leaves an imprint on them. I have started to see that I value my space and quiet time a fraction more than the average person. I carve out entire weekends to be alone. I value the routine opportunity to drown everything out except for a Lucy Pearl Pandora station and the pattering of keys while I deposit my thoughts on the screen. Some days, I am completely spent after I write and I ignore phone calls or I’m embarassingly terse with people.  And, I know that extreme level of independence and solitude does not freely lend itself to a relationship. I worry for myself. For my ability to let people in. For my ability to compromise. For my ability to love.

But, still, I don’t stop. At this point, I don’t think I would know how. Somewhere along the line, this became my life. I started building something. I started watching something evolve. And, now, I do not know my life without this space. I never knew my life without writing, but now I have committed to it in a forever kind of way. For years, we were having a casual fling and I would come and go as the inspiration struck. And, then I fell in love, hard and fast. And, then we had a kid, Baby Blog.

So, even when I fret over the potential future of my actual dating life, those worries never outweigh the love. The union. The evolution. Those worries never outweigh the life I have deliberately and carefully created. Dating has a way of taking care of itself; it’s never something I felt I needed to be that intentional about. Or, at least that’s my lazy ass approach. Que sera, sera and all of that shit.

Xoxo,

Tyece