P / P Master Class Lesson One: Time Management and Discipline – It’s Not What You Think

P / P Master Class is a series of writing advice for aspiring writers.

Read tips below on how to sculpt your freelance writing routine

I’ve had a string of emails from young students and aspiring writers asking questions about how I broke into the writing industry. Before I can explain how to become a full time professional independent writer, author and journalist, I have to talk about time management and discipline. Since it’s the holidays and it’s too busy a time to give in person workshops, I’m going to be sharing professional advice on Publikprivate.org.

People who know me now think of me as a “morning person,” but the fact that I consistently get up early was totally circumstantial.

I’ve lived bi-coastalally for at least a decade. I would spend a 2-3 years in California (Los Angeles or the Bay Area) or on the East Coast (New York or Baltimore/DC) working, lecturing and writing. I learned how to wake up early by living in California which is three hours behind/earlier than New York. If my NYC or east coast deadline was noon, my deadline was 9am in California. Back then, there were times when I didn’t write my first draft until the morning of, so I would have to get up between 5am and 7am to write and hand in my article on time.

After a couple of years of having 9am deadlines, I naturally learned to get up early. The process wasn’t forced, it was motivated by the fact that I wanted to keep my job. It wasn’t something I was actively training myself to do. So, when I arrived back on the east coast, I’d get up between 8 and 10 am every morning and was able to focus on my work while living alone.

Now that I live in a family environment with a partner and have access to a larger kitchen and home in general, I began to really focus ro create a disciplined and consistent morning routine that started between 7:30am and 8 am every morning.

Time Management & Discipline – It’s Not What You Think


Don’t just go with the flow in the morning – even if it is working well, you can always do better.

I started shaping a strict discipline though household management. I’d get up around 8am and immediately make a pot of coffee, clean my kitchen (and sometimes bathroom) and cook breakfast. I know this seems simple and old-fashioned, but if you want to be a freelance writer, you’re most likely going to be working from some form of home office. So, essentially you’ll be going from your bed straight to work without a commute.

I personally started looking at preparing breakfast and cleaning my home almost like a military discipline. Since I don’t jog in the morning or have a formal exercise routine, cleaning is my way of staying in shape, getting my heart pumping while providing a healthy, clean environment for myself and the other members of my home.

By the time I’ve made coffee, cleaned, cooked and took out the trash, my mind is sharp, my body had been active for 30 minutes to an hour, and I am ready to sit down and work on a tedious work project.

Your home IS your office.

If you don’t have a designated place to write and work at home, create one. Buy or attain a desk, and keep it organized. An office with papers, files and mail all over the place is not going to make you feel prepared to truly focus on what you have to do. It’s ok to work in your bed if you enjoy doing that, but make sure you make the bed before you get back in, maybe take a shower. Try not to work in your pajamas. Have accessible, comfy clothes you can change into before you get to work.

Getting up early is essential.

I am very aware of the “night writer” and the “day writer”. Some people are naturally nocturnal, but it is very likely as a freelancer, your editor or project leader works in a newsroom or is active and available to answer emails between 9am-5pm. It’s very important to have your first emails and replies in to your boss between 9:30am and 11am. That’s when they’ve had time to get their coffee and finish their own routines. Continue reading


P / P Poetry: Three Poems from Alice Walker’s Once

Once by Alice Walker

I like to ask questions. Many times, I like to request suggestions when it comes to what I read. The suggestions don’t have to be super informed, like a reader knowing the history of a book or the understanding of the way it influenced culture and society. Sometimes, I just want to hear a reader’s pure personal opinion, no matter how simplistic.

I bought this book because a young writer and bookstore staffer responded to my question of which of two poetry collections I should purchase (I won’t reveal what the other book I was considering was because I deeply respect both poets), by simply expressing that she loved Alice Walker. That was good enough for me in that instance. I trusted her admiration. Many people admire Alice Walker, but I knew this person was an avid reader and a good writer, whose work I am a fan of. I began to read the book and was glad I trusted her opinion.

Without further ado, here are three poems I enjoy from Alice Walker’s Once:


To love a man wholly

love him

feet first

head down

eyes cold


in depression.


It is too easy to love

a suffer

white eyes

godliness &


in the bright sun. – p. 68



Very proud

he barely asked directions

to a nearby


but no


little village chief

should spend his

first night

in chilly London

alone. – p. 69

Continue reading

P / P Books: Two Books On Women’s Suffrage & The Ascent of Patriarchy Every Thinker Should Read

Left: Anarchy and the Sex Question: Essays on Women and Emancipation, 1896-1926 by Emma Goldman (PM Press). Right: The Chalice and the Blade: Our History, Our Future by Riane Eisler (HarperCollins)

There are times when I read nearly a dozen books at one time. Recently, after a long pause from reading profusely, I decided to stock up on several books I wanted to delve into, reading many of them for a few chapters at a time, then moving on to another. I would sit and do this for three to four hours at a time. I have been this way since I can remember. This is not a declaration to incite others to become impressed or even inspired. It’s just what I tend to do.

But there are two books that have stood out for me amidst the myriad of classics, new and contemporary releases, poetry books and informative non-fiction manuscripts I’ve been reading: Anarchy and the Sex Question: Essays on Women and Emancipation, 1896-1926 by Emma Goldman and The Chalice and the Blade: Our History, Our Future by Riane Eisler. While reading them back to back, I realized the books compliment each other very well they exhibit starkly realistic examinations of the history of women (Emma was living the history while she was writing her essays), and a genuine concern for the well-being of women’s lives – anthropologically, socially, politically, sexually and psychologically.

They seem to flow together for me and I want to share my observation for anyone who, not just women and female identified intellectuals, but anyone who wants to learn more about the ascent of patriarchy and how it affects women’s experiences; existentially, tangibly and in several other different ways. I’d like to express that I believe these books will be satisfying.

You can find inexpensive used versions of both books. Anarchy and the Sex Question was published in 2016 as a pocket sized book by the independent publisher, PM Press. The book is sold new for 14.95 USD and can be found used for as little as 6 USD at any independent bookstore that carries Marxist, leftist and anarchist literature. The Chalice and the Blade’s first paperback edition was published by HarperCollins in 1988 and has since been published in 26 foreign editions. It was originally sold for 14 USD and can be found used for as little as 4 USD online or in independent bookstores that sell historical and vintage political science books. Both books are usually filed in the Political Science sections of bookstores.

In conclusion, these books aren’t hard to find, nor are they expensive by any means. I humbly suggest you read these books in unison and learn all you can about the history of women and the brilliant authors who shared their thoughts, research and empathy for the advancement of equality of women and humankind.


Publik / Private 2018 Fall & Winter Reading List



Hunger: A Memoir of Body by Roxane Gay

It’s been at least a year since I’ve compiled a reading list. To be frank, it is because I haven’t been reading as much as I would have liked earlier this year. The beginning of 2018 has been filled with work, travel, family and dealing with my own health issues. I have to admit that I am a bit embarrassed with the fact that I began to read Roxane Gay’s Hunger this month (October), even though it was released in June of 2017.

When I was made aware of the release of Hunger, all I could do was think, “I’m glad she waited to tell her story and address her body on her own terms.” As a writer who understands marketing, demographic targeting and the pressure of the publishing industry, I was so happy Gay wasn’t convinced to make her memoir her debut release. She wasn’t pushed to give everything she had, only to end up emptied and reconnecting with her trauma before her sophomore book. It goes without saying that Roxane Gay’s body is her own, and in waiting to get to a point where her career was mature she had the creative control that gave her the opportunity to reveal her private life only when she was ready.

And when I finally read the book, I was relieved, inspired and comforted. Stylistically, she wrote in a way that I have been criticized for – writing with vulnerability and sensitivity. Many times her sentences were redundant, which showed her how she emotionally struggled to get through every word. Her structure was human, not sterilized and overly polished. I needed to read this book at the time I read it. I would not have been able to sit with it and understand it months ago, before I came to peace with my own body.

Along with Roxane Gay’s Hunger: A Memoir of Body, here are other books I have been reading and will be completing this winter. I highly recommend them. They’re feeding me.

Loose Canons: Notes on the Culture Wars by Henry Louis Gates Jr. Continue reading

Publik / Private An Evening w/ Jordannah Elizabeth & Special Guests


Publik / Private and Publik / Private Small Press Presents:
An Evening with Author Jordannah Elizabeth & Special Guests

November 6, 2018
The Motor House
7:00-8:30 pm

Local author and widely published journalist, Jordannah Elizabeth (O Magazine, Cosmopolitan, BmoreArt, Village Voice, Ms. Magazine and more) will be presenting never before read works from her upcoming chapbook, “The Warmest Low Reader: The Deep Blue Sea” along with poems and selections from her published books, “Don’t Lose Track Volume 1” (Zero Books) and “The Warmest Low (Chapbook One) Limited Edition Two,” and her favorite poets and authors.

Jordannah has taught at Maryland Institute College of Art, Creative Alliance and lectured at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York, De Montfort University in Leicester, UK, and was a guest journalist at Harvard University’s Black Lives Matter: Music, Race and Justice Conference.

Her unique existential ode to Baltimore City will be presented in full at The Motor House!

There will be an audience Q&A at the end of the evening.

Special Guest Readers will include local poets and writers:
Amorous Ebony
Cierra Lione
Lauren H. Smith
Theresa Columbus
Tracy Dimond

Publik / Private 2017 Reading List

I used to think I was good at writing introductions. Now as the years go by, including this one, I cannot announce that I doubt my choices, cadence and intuition when it comes to my writing, but after writing so many introductions, so many lead sentences, so many year-end pieces, I find it important to reflect on exactly what it is I mean to say…every single day.

Some say to become a better writer, you need to read. I agree with that and more times that not, I like to read more than I write. Reading helps me form my thoughts. Books help me expand my theories and learn about history. They help me speak with vigor and knowledge on topics I’m called to lecture on…but more importantly, they help me slow down.

When I read I can escape the fast paced culture of American urban living. I can take time and head to a library or a bookstore and not have to talk. I don’t have to answer and retort, I don’t have to smile or become angry due to an engaging conversation. I don’t have to explain myself. Continue reading

Publik / Private at Baltimore Book Festival 2017

Publik / Private will be hosting two panels at Baltimore Book Festival 2017

Black Existentialism Lends to Dystopian Afrofuturism
Friday, September 22, at 5:00pm
At the CityLit Stage

With so much emphasis on the Black body – police brutality, photographically dense explorations of the inner city, stories of reformed criminals, death and loss within plot lines of Empire inundating American culture, the exploration of Black consciousness, and the navigation of the Black perception of life has been nearly nonexistent in media.

Authors Jordannah Elizabeth, Jason Harris, and Olufunmike Woods (Olu Butterfly) will speak about Black consciousness and existentialism in writing and how it lends to dystopian stories and plot lines in Afrofuturism. The discussion will explore why Black consciousness, perception and relationship with the Western world should always be relevant in conversations in literature.


Black Voices in Music Criticism Are Essential w/ Greg Tate
Sunday, September 24, at 4:45pm
At Red Emma’s Radical Book Fair Pavilion

The panel would consist of renowned authors and music critics/scholars, Greg Tate, Laina Dawes and Rashida Braggs, who will share their perspective on commentary on Black music criticism, how they were able to succeed and create space for themselves, Black music in mainstream and alternative white media and how their work navigates the segregation of Western Contemporary music history. Jordannah Elizabeth will serve as moderator.

“Many prominent Black music critics and editors tend to go nearly anonymous to their general readership. If you do choose to pursue this career path — which, to be very honest, is arduous and full of rejection — share your entire being with your readers: Use your image, your thoughts, and your craft to inspire and equip other Black writers and readers to embrace literary and cultural criticism. This will ensure that Black voices will be expected — not just yearned for — in white alternative and mainstream music media.” -jordannah elizabeth, Black Voices Are Essential In Music Criticism Continue reading

Trauma and Fluidity

Image by: Miguel A. García

Being different is a reality that I’ve lived for as long as I can remember. I’ve always waded through my vivid imagination, my mind full of stories of rockstars, fairy tales, travel and poetic adventures. Because I had such an engrossing inner life, I never really thought to much about my outer appearance. Of course, I dressed and bathed, and interacted in school, but ideas of my gender in regards to the way I dressed and behaved was not a prominent concern. By the time, I was 19 years old, my friends began to call me “queer”, not because of my sexual preference, but because I was unique and couldn’t be put into a box. My LGTBQ friends and I were like peas in a pod, and for the first time in my life, because queer seemed to fit so well with my free flowing – and what I later learned was genderfluid experience, I accepted who I was by being aligned with those terms.

All in all, no term can define one’s experience in full, and of course, a gender assignment cannot define my story of survival, but being queer, gender fluid, and more importantly, “Jordannah” has helped me understand that my work in life is to live without limitations and rigid definition.

Nonetheless, what should be understand as I write as survivor or sexual abuse is that even though my body survived, my identity struggles with how deeply I want to be entangled with my survivorhood. My brain is permanently damaged due to trauma and nearly a decade after the abuse, I still work to train it how to proportionately react to emotional stressors, conflict and intimate relationships. How does a fluid gender identity cohabit with the brain of a survivor?

Continue reading