After binge-watching Ozark at the height of the pandemic and eating all the snacks, I decided to subscribe to MasterClass. Shonda Rhimes’ lessons on writing were the first classes I registered for; the typewriter’s sound in the background immediately grabbed my attention. Lesson 11 sealed the deal for me, Writing a Script: Effective Habits, treat the creative process like a muscle. Shonda compared writing to being a runner with being a writer; her description hooked me as a marathoner and aspiring writer.
Running is something I adopted later in life. My first run around the Cititrust Building downtown Bridgeport Connecticut seemed like a marathon. Shonda said: “A lot of what writing is very much like being a runner, you know if you don’t run every day, running is incredibly hard. Those muscles do not know what they’re doing; if you exercise those muscles, those muscles have muscle memory. So, if you run, everyday running becomes a lot easier.”
As an aspiring writer, I am determined to get better by sitting down behind my car’s wheel during a shift and think about you, the reader. What is the purpose of this post? How can I add value to the reader? Where do I want to take the reader on this journey?
Set your intentions
Do you remember the movie Collateral? It started Tom Cruise, Jamie Fox, and Jada Pickett Smith. During the opening scene Max, Jamie Foxx’s character meticulously sanitizes his car, checks the signal lights, inserts his taxi permit, and places a photo of an island in the sun visor. Max set his intentions at the start of his shift.
As an Uber driver, I have a similar routine to set my intentions before I hit the road. I remind myself of my “WHY,” I bring a book, snacks, water, a notebook, and something for my ears, either a podcast or an audiobook-Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg was on tap today. Overdrive is a cool app that allows you to download books to your phone for FREE; all you need is a library card.
I made a pit stop at the gas station for gas and snacks. The Grandma vanilla filled cookies tempted me, but I opted instead for the peanuts. I had 15 minutes to spare before, so I went to Marshalls for additional healthy snacks and ended up snagging two books: Nothing is worth more than this day by Kathryn & Ross Petras and How To Make It: 25 Makers Share The Secrets to Building a Creative Business.
Voice notes are your friend
Recently I set a series of alarms on my phone with several reminders; they serve as my Executive Administrative Assistant. Among the list, there’s one labeled “Gratitude Sunrise,” and I attached automation to send out a tweet if I hit the snooze button; my reptilian brain quickly figured out a workaround-don’t hit the snooze button. On Friday 23 of October, I hit the snooze button, and like clockwork, the automation announced it to my Twitter followers.
The automation feature is the latest shiny feature I enjoy playing with, but the Notes app is one of my top 5 mostly used preinstalled iPhone apps. I used the Notes app to write 104 songs over two years. Notes’ dictate feature comes in while I’m driving and inspiration strikes.
Pen and pad are your BFF’s
My late mother would send me beautifully handwritten letters, which she took painstaking care and precision to write out each letter; it’s a practice I’m going to implement with my children. When I fulfill orders for my fashion mask, I include handwritten notes-it adds a personalized touch. Yesterday I accumulated three pages of notes while I was sitting in traffic on the highway or stuck in traffic at a light.
Speak4me comes in handy
The New York Road Runner Association recently came under fire for alleged racial discrimination, intimidation, misogyny, wage inequality, and creating a toxic work environment. REBUILDNYRR is a group of current and former NYRR employees who made the allegations, I wanted to interview a representative from the organization for BTW Podcast, but they were concerned about retaliation from NYRR. I felt like a reporter wearing a Stetson fedora working undercover to protect my source.
REBUILDNYRR and I never spoke over the phone or via Zoom, we communicated through an encrypted email server. I prepared a list of questions for REBUILDNYRR in advance and used Speak4Me to convert the text into audio for the BTW Podcast. You can utilize the app to proofread your articles or blog post.
Divide up your shift
Most marathon training plans are 16 to 18 weeks in length, with various workouts during the week. During the marathon training season, my training sessions are a priority, each session serves a specific purpose. Setting my intentions before hitting start on my Garmin primes my mind for the work ahead, instead of zoning out. I’m working on a piece about “pride and her” kissing cousin’s guilt and shame, but I was stuck identifying a title and subtitle. Determined not to experience writer’s block, I took a different approach to write this piece; instead of writing out the post in its entirety first, I decided to use the notes app to dictate the heading subheading subcategories and focus on each section throughout the shift.
Search for references
They say writing a book positions you as an authority in your field. The thought of writing a book has crossed my mind on more than one occasion. I’ve tried dictating a post and reasoned I could write a novel while driving. How hard could it be? Tiffany Haddish used the Scribe Method to write her book: The Last Black Unicorn.
The dictation is the first in a series of steps in the book-writing process. Trying to make sense of a transcribed random recording will drive you crazy. Sribe suggests interviewing yourself with a list of prepared questions in advance; this helps to provide structure. I’ve become skeptical, just because it’s in a book, I don’t immediately believe it; a wise man once told me to read two books and then make up your mind. Reliable references can help to prop up your argument.
Stay open to receiving ideas
When you’re clear on your “why,” you can stay open to entertain new opportunities, it doesn’t mean you have to jump at every new shinny opportunity. I was fascinated with a rectangle box when I was a boy; voices came out. How did they do that? My curiosity with audio led me to check out two new social media audio apps Stereo and Riffr. Stereo partners you with random people, or you can partner with a friend and schedule time and invite friends to tune into the conversation. If you like uploading your profile picture, you’ll be disappointed; you’ll have to settle for a Memoji. Stereo incentivizes you to stay on the app by offering prize money. Riffr has been around since 2019, think mini-podcast, 3-minute shareable clips.
Let the idea simmer
Time and reflection can add flavor to your writing. Sitting on idea mulling it over in your head is a common practice many writers utilize. Creators in every discipline use a similar approach before they start working. Shawn Carter and the late Christopher Wallace are known for not writing their lyrics. During an interview, Jay-Z said he’d write the verses in his head.
Thinking and rest are part of the writing process; don’t feel pressed to meet an arbitrary word count.
Write the article in your head
Before sitting down to press a single key, I thought of three questions:
Is the story written for the reader?
Will this be a good reading experience from the beginning, middle, and end?
Will it meet a high editorial standard?
I used Stephan Covey’s First Things First principle, Begin With The End in Mind, when I approached this piece. What did I want the reader to come away learning and feeling?
By asking these questions in advance, the answers provided the necessary coordinates for my internal guidance system. You don’t have to be an Uber, Lyft, Grubhub, FedEx, Amazon, USPS, DHL, or UPS driver to benefit from these principles. If you’re a Mobil professional or working from home with blocks of free time, you might find some of these guidelines helpful.
Your current work may not be glamorous, but that doesn’t mean you don’t take pride in what you do. I’m a diamond level driver with a 4.92 rating that qualifies me for FREE tuition at Arizona State University, I’m currently pursuing a journalism degree. While I grow my podcast and now my medium portfolio I take pride in delivering UberEats, I’m learning to embrace all the parts of my being.
You only find your voice by using it, I spend a lot of time reading the work of a some amazing writers, who consistently pump out material and I’ve learned a ton, but at some point I’ve got to get to the gym and put in some reps if I want to see results. By setting my intentions at the start of my day helps to keep me remain focused on the big picture. Expand your reading your listening a reading library it will make you a better writer.
Finally, use a hands free device when you’re on the road. Be the first in line to receive a copy of Write Outta Hell: “Write Outta Hell!” Is the story of a man who wrote 104 short stories over a two years by only using the notes app on his phone and a microphone. In the process he delivered inspirational messages of hope to thousands of people all over the world, discovered his voice and found peace.