As someone who balances a number of roles, which includes digital content creator, writer, editor, author, host and social media manager, Starrene Rhett Rocque was a great person to talk to about balancing the grind.
We spoke to Starrene about juggling her multiple roles, not working on Saturdays as a way to balance, dancing to recharge herself, working in blocks to boost productivity and plenty more.
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1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your background and career?
I’m an author and a freelance digital content producer/journalist. I started my career over ten years ago with the goal of becoming an entertainment journalist.
I succeeded with that goal, having been on staff at magazines like Vibe and XXL, for example, back when they were actually print magazines, but content needs have changed with the digital explosion and social media, so that’s where the term, “digital content producer” comes in.
Not everything I write would be considered “journalism.” I’ve worked with brands for social media content creation and management, and have even scriptwriting and hosting for video.
So, my skill set as a writer is broad plus, I can also write, edit and produce video. My main clients right now are Essence, Hello Beautiful, American Urban Radio Networks (AURN) and MadameNoire where I cover a range of topics from reality TV to motherhood to comic books from the blerd perspective.
With the way media is these days (jobs are shrinking more and more each day), it’s important to diversify content.
As far as my work as an author, I self-published a book entitled, Bloggers Can’t Be Trusted back in 2016 (it’s available on Amazon).
It’s a love story, but also comedic look at the personalities and experiences one would have working in entertainment media. It’s fiction but loosely based on my personal career experiences.
2) What does a typical day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
My days are stable most of the time, but they can be all over the place.
Most of the time, I wake up, check my emails and social media for whatever might be going on.
Then I meditate on pitches and also write content for various outlets. I’m a regular contributor to American Urban Radio Networks, MadameNoire, and Hello Beautiful, which means my content with them is fixed as far as topics go.
I write about the same things weekly so it’s just a matter of coming up with ideas within those realms and pitching my editor(s), which usually happens on Mondays, then I get to work.
So with MadameNoire it’s always interviews, op-eds and product reviews related to motherhood, with Hello Beautiful, it’s TV show recaps with occasional interviews with actors and personalities from certain shows, with Essence, I live tweet TV shows (so that’s nighttime work), and with AURN it’s weekly content for our “Blerdtek” column.
Blerdtek can be a writeup of comic book characters (most recently we featured the Falcon) exploring their backstory, an interview with an app mogul, or even a video of myself galivanting at a comic book convention.
AURN is new to the digital content creation space (though they are solid in the radio world) so Blerdtek is in beta as we are still figuring out what works content-wise, but I’ve enjoyed working in that space, especially the video content that we do.
With the video content, that’s where my days sometimes get interesting because we obviously have to be on location and sometimes that means shooting on the weekends because that’s when comic book conventions happen.
The other thing about my work is that sometimes I have to go to events.
For example, I recently went to a breakfast celebrating the partnership of a turmeric brand and a restaurant here in NYC and next week I have a breakfast celebrating the launch of a new cosmetics line.
There might be a day that’s jam-packed with events and I may have to work while at the event (if there’s a lunch break), in between events, or do no work at all but just stay up later if I’m on deadline.
So, to answer this question most of the time my days are pretty stable but I have to be ready for anything.
The other thing is, I usually leave my house at around 4:30 to pick my daughter up from school so that’s built into my routine.
However, sometimes my husband has to pick her up if it’s an event-heavy day.
3) In between everything you do and all your responsibilities, how do you ensure you find some sort of balance in your life?
I find balance by not working on Saturdays. It’s hard to not work all the time when you’re a freelancer but I make sure that Saturday is a no work day, no computer and very little to no social media.
On Saturday, I go to aerial hoop, Haitian dance, and pole dancing classes to make sure I get out of the house. I’m still working on making room for more decompression time but I look forward to Saturdays.
4) What are some of the things you do to take time out and recharge?
Definitely dance classes.
I like pole dancing, hoop, African dance, Haitian dance, tap, etc. Movement really gets me going.
It’s the endorphins and generally being able to release any stress I have pinned up. Even if I can’t make it to a class, I might just turn on music at home and have a dance break.
I do them solo and now that I have an almost three-year-old daughter, I also do them with her when we get home from her daycare.
As soon as we get in and get settled, I turn some music on while I make us dinner and dance around with her.
It’s never the same genre but she loves it no matter what and will try to sing along even if she doesn’t know the words, or make the sounds of certain instruments in the case of instrumentals.
I come from a musical family and attended a performing arts middle school and high school for vocal (but also studied music theory and piano as part of that education) so I guess she’s got the music gene too.
But even watching her learn her tastes through what I like is refreshing. I also love to travel. There’s nothing better than a getaway to recharge.
It doesn’t even have to be to another country or a long trip. Taking a two-hour drive to get out of the city, or even sitting in the park down the block works wonders too.
5) Are there any gadgets, tools or products can’t you live without?
This is probably going to sound cliche but my phone, my laptop, and Google Docs are life! There is no way I’d be able to do any work without all of the above.
6) Do you have any books that you love and would like to recommend?
The last book I read and really enjoyed was Let Me Hear a Rhyme by TIffany D. Jackson. It’s highly recommended for 90s hip-hop heads or for anyone interested in learning a little 90s hip-hop.
It’s a fictional story about three Brooklyn kids trying to keep their dead friend’s memory alive by pretending he’s still alive. It’s really dope. It’s kinda like the hood meets Weekend at Bernie’s.
7) What is the number one thing you do to make sure you get the most out of your day?
Work in blocks!
I used to try to just do everything straight without any breaks but that took it’s toll and made me feel overwhelmed and hungry because I’d always skip meals.
Working in blocks is more helpful because you actually stop to come up for air and feel much less overwhelmed.
How I do it is, give myself two hours to work straight, then take a breather for about 30 minutes, then get back to work for two hours and so on.
I get a lot more done that way.
Photo Credit: Laylah Amatullah Barrayn
If you’d like to have a conversation with us about how you balance the grind, get in touch with us!