read + write

By Anna from Twitter

Finish the thing

#135・
152

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read + write
hey there.
First off, some cool news. If you have a newsletter at Twitter, people who have shared their email addresses with Twitter can now subscribe with one-click, on web and mobile (keep reading for more). We’ll also have reading recommendations, inspiration, and writing advice from Naima Cochrane and Mary H.K. Choi. Finally, we’ll hear from Lucy Blakiston, who writes the newsletter Shit You Should Care About.
read + recommendations
Each week, a writer will join us to answer some questions about what they like to read.
Our first guest is Naima Cochrane. A music industry veteran, writer, and storyteller, she’s the creator of #MusicSermon, a community of soul music lovers on Twitter. She’s written for Billboard, Vox, Essence, Okayplayer, Vibe, and others.
What’s the thing you’ve bookmarked and are excited to read?  
Frankly, my bookmarked list goes back a good five years so I don’t even know anymore. My goal, every year, is to actually put a dent in bookmarks, books waiting in my kindle, and physical books waiting on my shelf (next up in that category is Isabel Wilkerson’s Caste).
What’s the thing you read when you want to remember how to write? 
My old work. And it never fails to surprise me, like “How did I even THINK of that?” It reminds me of what I can do when the muse strikes.
You’re at the newsstand and have decided you’re leaving with four magazines. What are you picking up? (from any era, be as oddly specific as possible).  
O Magazine (and era) as a reflex, because I religiously bought an O every month for years — I just purged my collection about 2 years ago — and the magazines are great for browsing. 80s or 90s era Vanity Fair, because it was some of the best (and most riveting) longform writing in any publication. 90s Vibe Magazine because it was the pinnacle of urban gloss. And Fast Company, because there’s always something pertinent for creatives of any kind.
What’s your favorite This Is A Great Day On Twitter day (one of those days when you couldn’t stop reading the timeline)? 
Messy Twitter or uplifting Twitter? LOL. The night of the first Verzuz, with Teddy Riley and Babyface, with the technical difficulties. The two or three days that followed were magic. I think I laughed for 72 hours. I do remember my stomach hurt because literally everything was funny, which was much-needed just one month into the pandemic. That Twitter second life was a tipping point for Verzuz; that was when it went from IG Live event to cultural phenomenon, because the Twitter convos created a universe around it.
newsletter time
Every other week, we’ll include an established Revue newsletter (established = at least a year old or 60+ issues). 
Shit You Should Care About
SYSCA has been growing quickly, both in Twitter followers and subscribers, and we asked Lucy to offer some tips for keeping a newsletter going, in 280 characters or less:
I’m a slight freak — I love getting up early and I LOVE reading the news. To make a daily newsletter successful, I reckon the biggest tip I’ve got is that you’ve gotta be genuinely excited about what you’re writing. People can sense it if you’re not!
write + inspiration
Each week, a writer will join us to answer some questions and give their perspective on writing.
Our second guest is Mary H.K. Choi, a writer, editor, talker, and New York Times best-selling author. She’s the host of two podcasts, Hey, Cool Job! and Hey, Cool Life! and has written three YA novels, Emergency Contact, Permanent Record, and Yolk. 
Photo Credit: Hatnim Lee
Photo Credit: Hatnim Lee
What’s a piece of writing advice that’s held true for you?
Finish the thing. Worry about its thingworthiness after.
What’s the thing you read when you want to remember how to write?
Thanksgiving in Mongolia by Ariel Levy for The New Yorker. Sticks by George Saunders. The first chapter of Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata. Pages 42, 43 and 44; 85, 86 and the top of 87 in Trust Exercise by Susan Choi. Any page in How To Write An Autobiographical Novel by Alexander Chee.
What’s a writing strategy you’ve developed that’s worked for you?
Nothing is reliable. Every time is different and it wrecks me. That said, once something is written it doesn’t really count as working until it works when read aloud.
What do you do with all the writing ideas that pop into your head? Where do they go?
They used to go in a note on my phone but since I am wildly disorganized and frightened by my own lack of organization this is actually where ideas go to die. Lately I’ve been creating a new Scrivener file for each idea that I populate with note cards that are separate and then grouped. It’s helpful because you can add pictures too. I used to also have hardcopy analog 3 x 5s that I put into a box but that was exactly the same as the phone. It was like trying to do expenses with the receipts of my mind which is to say that my ADHD won’t allow for it.
What’s your one tip (that doesn’t get discussed enough) for a writer trying to grow their audience in 2022?
This actually is something I can’t consider. I believe this kind of thinking to be corrosive and work-altering. If I sit in my own audience and look at who’s around me and start surmising what motivates this group and supposing how they could enjoy me more, I think I’d poison myself with worry. I am already so uncomfortable and anxious without having specific ambitions for reach. “Who am I writing for?” is one thing. “Who am I writing for and what would I have them do?” is too scary.
What’s your one tip (that doesn’t get discussed enough) for a writer trying to improve in 2022?
I always become fixated on writing enough words every day. And how I need a certain ratio of words that will be preserved in the final thing. And then I start to become wildly precious not only about time but about what I need my words to do and then it sucks all the thrill and experimentation out because of the parsimony that infects the work. Which is to say, I find that doing silly writing doodles is wonderful and fantastic for keeping that miserly joylessness in check. I took Sheila Heti’s writing course that was offered by the Shipman Agency and was so happy that there were sessions for this kind of scribbling. George Saunders’s newsletter is sublime and generous in this way as well. 
Is there a thing you’ve written and have actually enjoyed going back and reading?
How would you describe your relationship with your readers? (especially if it’s evolved)
I love them and interact with them and even if I don’t always respond I read their letters and think of them and try to keep a light on in my heart when I talk to them about difficult things. I hope to honor them even if I can’t always keep them happy. I miss them. I miss book tour. I miss in-person.
#TwitterTime
Each week, in addition to hearing from writers, we’ll also give an update about what we’re doing for readers and writers at Twitter.
It’s super simple — when friction can be removed from the newsletter subscription process, writers get more subscribers. We saw it last October when we built one-click subscribe for newsletters on Twitter. And that was only available for people using Twitter on web. 
Starting this week, it’s available on iOS and Android, too. That means anyone with an email address linked to their Twitter account can subscribe to newsletters shown on a Twitter profile with one click — no need to confirm via email. Others, after clicking, will be routed to subscribe through the writer’s Revue profile page. ✨
wrap up
Thanks for stopping by this week. We’re all about the feedback, so let us know your thoughts at @revue, or use #readpluswrite to reach us. 
See you next time,
Anna
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Anna from Twitter
Anna from Twitter @revue

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