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Go for a walk

read + write
keep reading. this is a good one.
This week, we’ll have reading recommendations, inspiration, and writing advice from Spencer Hall, Joel Anderson, and Angie Jones, who writes New Kid on the Block(chain).
read + recommendations
Each week, a writer will join us to answer some questions about what they like to read.
Our first guest is Spencer Hall. He’s the founder of Every Day Should Be Saturday (EDSBS), a college football site that began in 2005. He’s the co-host of Shutdown Fullcast, a college football podcast and Thinking Out Loud, a television show on ESPN’s SEC Network. Along with writer Holly Anderson, he runs the Internet destination Channel 6
📸: Spencer Hall
📸: Spencer Hall
What’s the thing you’ve bookmarked, you know you need to read, and are excited to read?
I have no bookmarks because they just make me feel guilty. I know I need to read Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, and I know I probably never will. I am excited about reading anything my friends send me in draft, but particularly for Jason Kirk‘s book he’s working on because I have seen an early draft. It’s going to slap. 
What’s the thing you read when you want to remember how to write?
I’d either reread The White Album by Joan Didion or rewatch Nostalgia for the Light. That movie has the structure I’d want to emulate in any essay.
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).
Wired (any era), Car and Driver (any era), National Geographic from the 80s, and a King magazine from 2003. I don’t have to explain any of these and won’t.
What’s the thing you read when you need to feel something?
‘Ulysses’, by Alfred, Lord Tennyson.
What newsletters have you continued to happily subscribe to?
Paul Flannery’s Running Probably, even though I don’t run much. Action Cookbook’s newsletter, Galaxy Brain by Charlie Warzel, and Jane Coaston and Jay Caspian Kang’s newsletters from The New York Times.
What’s the first book you remember reading and loving?
Cars and Trucks and Things That Go by Richard Scarry. I got it for my kids and honestly still a banger.
What’s the best thing you’ve read this month?
Blood, Sweat, and Chrome by Kyle Buchanan. It’s the oral history of the making of Mad Max: Fury Road. George Miller is fully insane.
Who’s the Twitter follow that hasn’t let you down, since the beginning?
@TylerIAm, actual god.
newsletter time
Every other week, we’ll include a new Revue newsletter (new = under 60 days or five or fewer issues).
New Kid on the Block(chain)
Angie used to work at Twitter so we’re super excited to catch up. Our question: In 280 characters or less, what’s your advice for anyone planning on starting a newsletter?
Starting a Revue newsletter allowed me to reach my Twitter audience outside of the platform. I can now deliver curated content directly to their inboxes. The results have been phenomenal, with a 46% open rate (more than double the industry avg). Don’t wait, start yours today!
write + inspiration
Each week, a writer will join us to answer some questions and give their perspective on writing.
Our second guest is Joel Anderson. He’s a Staff Writer at Slate, the co-host of podcast Hang Up and Listen, and the host of Season 3 and 6 of Slow Burn. He’s previously been a reporter at ESPN and Buzzfeed News.
📸: James Tensuan
📸: James Tensuan
What’s a piece of writing advice that’s held true for you?
The best writing is rewriting. As someone who’s been writing professionally for more than 20 years, I’m not exaggerating when I say that there’s not a single rough draft that I’ve written that has met the standard I have for myself and my work. But the beautiful part of the writing process is that submitting a first draft is, or should be, just the start.
Here’s a bonus piece of advice that my friend Saeed Jones hit me with a few years ago, when he saw me agonizing over a draft at my desk: Get up and go for a walk. It really did wonders for getting out of my own way. Just seeing the sun, feeling the breeze, smelling the flowers, whatever. That shit has never failed me. 
What’s the thing you read when you want to remember how to write?
My idol, Ralph Wiley, wrote several essay collections: Why Black People Tend to Shout, What Black People Should Do Now, and Dark Witness: When Black People Should Be Sacrificed (Again). Nothing I write here will do any justice in explaining what those books meant for my personal and professional ambitions, or even the way I saw the world and myself in it. But I’m constantly turning back to these books over and over again when I find myself staring at a blank screen.
Also, it’s not just reading: I occasionally revisit two pieces of music by Kendrick Lamar. The first is ‘Sing of Me/Dying of Thirst,’ which is truly Pulitzer-level storytelling, and then his mixtape cut of ‘The Heart, Pts. 1-3.’ I dare anyone to listen, really listen, to those songs and tell me he’s not as much a professional writer as he is a professional musician.  
What’s a writing strategy you’ve developed that’s worked for you?
I can’t sing the praises of outlines enough. I need to visualize how everything might come together before I get started.
Another piece of this is that, along the way, I’m identifying the anecdotes and quotes (or audio clips) that I really want to use. Then I can plug them into their expected slots, and build a draft around those. For me, at least, the draft ends up coming together quicker and better this way than it does if I try to start with a lede and write strictly linearly. 
What do you do with all the writing ideas that pop into your head? Where do they go?
For roughly a decade, I’ve had a Google Doc titled “Story Ideas” and I drop them into the file in order of urgency and preference. I might occasionally drop in some hyperlinks or notes to update those ideas. Or I might read a story that I really like, drop the link in there along with a short blurb to remind me of an angle I could use to push the story forward or tease out an overlooked angle. 
Keeping that list of story ideas is how the Slow Burn: The L.A. Riots season came together. I first saw Sophia Nahli Allison’s ‘A Love Song for Latasha’ when it was showing on the Pop-Up Magazine tour and added the YouTube link of the documentary to the list. Then I kept adding stories I read about the 1992 uprising over the years and eventually I was able to come up with a pitch for my editors. 
At this point, I suspect the Story Ideas Google doc might outlive my actual writing career lol.
What’s the hardest part about being a writer? What’s the best part?
The hardest part? It’s really lonely. Nobody else can do it for you.
The best part? Being a writer, a journalist, can get you past doors and into rooms that few others are allowed into. It’s been the privilege of my career to be able to talk with almost anyone and have them sit down and tell me their stories.
Who do you think really knows how to do a newsletter?
Tressie McMillan Cottom almost always makes me think differently about any issue she writes about, even if I’m really familiar with it. What a gift that is. Saeed Jones is just a beautiful writer. Reading him is a delight that also fills me with envy. He makes me wish I’d gotten into poetry. 
Matt Brown of Extra Points and Lindsay Gibbs of Power Plays do such a great job of finding stories and angles about sports that I don’t see anywhere else. 
The Channel 6 newsletter is the perfect platform for the screwball genius of Spencer Hall and Holly Anderson. I started following them online more than a decade ago on the Everyday Should be Saturday blog for their, uh, eclectic college football writing. But they are so much more than that and they’re worth every bit of the $100/year it costs to read them. 
How would you describe your relationship with your readers? (especially if it’s evolved)
Ha, do I have readers? I really don’t know. There are a couple of reasons why I say that.
The first is because, honestly, I never think about them. Which isn’t to say that I don’t appreciate the people who follow and support me and my work. I’m truly grateful to them. But when I’m writing, I’m firmly in my own head and writing up to my own expectations for what the story should be.
And second, I don’t think of myself as being someone who’s managed to develop a following. I’m not saying that to denigrate myself, but I’m uncomfortable with writing in the first person (how did y’all get me to do this???) and I’m fundamentally a loner. I’m not part of a writing collective. My writing is for me. If anyone else digs it, that’s great. But I can’t let someone else’s expectations get in the way of what I think I need to do on the page or the podcast.
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.
Back in October, we released a feature that lets people subscribe to Revue newsletters directly from Tweets in their timeline, but only if they were on desktop or mobile web. 
We’ve been working to make this available on the iOS or Android app, and it’s almost here — check the @revue handle for updates. Also, there’s an added bonus: thanks to an update we released a few weeks ago, for people with an email address linked to their Twitter account, all it takes is one click to subscribe.
wrap up
Thanks for reading — we love hearing what you think. You can reach us at @revue, or by using the hashtag #readpluswrite.
See you next time,
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Anna from Twitter
Anna from Twitter @revue

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