#StopTheCliche -You should never use these phrases when you write

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Our series will be taking a different turn today. We will identify five over used phrases that weaken your sentences. Look out for them when next you write and replace immediately.

1. I believe, I feel, I think, I know. Writing any of these in your essay makes it redundant. An essay is a compilation of your thoughts, beliefs and feelings. There’s no need to insult your readers intelligence by repeating that. Go straight to the point and explain what you mean clearly.

2. Basically, essentially, totally. These words seldom add anything useful to a sentence. Try the sentence without them and, almost always, you will see the sentence improve.

3. The rest is history. This cliché is equivalent to saying I have no further insight into this matter. People use it to wrap up a story but there are other ways of doing that. You don’t have to always use this phrase every time. You can also try to complete stories instead of looking for the easiest way out.

4. A matter of time. This refers to something that will eventually happen or eventually become clear. But that does not give you the liberty to use it whenever you want to express that idea.

Instead of saying The kidnapped boy will show up in a matter of time’,  you can say ‘The kidnapped boy will eventually show up.

5. What goes around comes around. This cliché teaches the lesson that the way you treat others will eventually be the way you are treated. We are sure everybody knows this already. Look for another expression.

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#WriterSpotlight – As a writer, Yosola stays true to herself

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We have another fantastic writer on #WriterSpotlight today. She is Yosola. Find out more about her as you read her interview.

Hello, please introduce yourself
My name is Yosola Olaleye, and I am a 22-year old, Nigerian-born scholar and writer. I currently reside in London, UK.

What do you do?
I am currently studying for a Master’s degree in Media and Communication Governance at the London School of Economics. Beyond that, I work as an English Language/Literature tutor for students aged 11-18. I also do media and editorial work for various organisations such as the LSE Africa Summit, Skin Deep Magazine, and Ain’t I A Woman Collective.

Why did you choose to write or what led you to writing?
This is a tough question, especially as I am sometimes tempted to say: “I have always written.” That is both true and untrue. I don’t know how, exactly, I was led to writing; but, I do know that I always felt deeply as a child and needed to express these emotional experiences – whether lived or unlived – somehow. I started ‘writing’ by printing song lyrics as love letters to imaginary boyfriends, when I was a child. And then I started writing my own love letters – again, to imaginary boyfriends. I just knew I had feelings, and somebody had to hear them. Poor paper. I remember a love letter my big cousin found hidden in my wardrobe when I was about 10 or 11 years old. I was in a lot of trouble that day, but I regard the memory with fondness. Sometimes, I feel I can’t wait to have kids so that I can tell them about it.

In any case, as I grew older and began to read more, I realised that writing was a means of interacting with the world, as well as documenting moments in time. I once referred to my writing of poetry as an attempt to immortalise otherwise fleeting moments. At that point in time, I was thinking of things like a kiss goodbye on the platform, as your train arrives; a blue feeling that magically goes away in the morning. I was thinking about how to make those things last forever, so that when we re-read the words, we might be able to relive the experience. I don’t know if that sounds weird. I’ve never really had to tell anybody this.

What is your most challenging moment as a writer?
Recently, I realised that I like to stick to my comfort zone – non-fiction writing based on personal stories. As a writer – and this is personal – I feel that it is important to take on projects that challenge my comfort. I am currently working on a play with a group of friends. I have never written a play, and I know I will struggle with it, but I’m trusting that the result will be wonderful in terms of personal and professional development. I want to be able to say that something doesn’t work for me, as a writer, after having tried it, and not because I simply fear that it doesn’t.

I still want to experiment with different styles before I make a decision about the ‘kind’ of writer that I am.

Can you share any lesson you have learnt from writing?
I don’t know. Have I learnt any lessons? If anything, I think it’s important to always tell the truth. What do I mean by this? Always present something as it is. Somebody out there is listening; they want to hear those particular words. Don’t write falsely to make something sound more ‘appropriate’. Who decides what is ‘appropriate’? I still struggle with this. I want to write pretty, evocative words, but I find that I spend a lot of time trying to make things sound like what I have read in a literary magazine, by other African writers who are famous or ‘certified’ by ‘Western’ readers. I think it’s important to write as authentically as it comes to me. You know what they say about finding your own voice? Yeah, that. That’s it, I guess. Write truthfully.

Can you tell us your most rewarding moment as a writer?
Self-publishing my first book and hearing people tell me their favourite poems and how the book moved them. I wrote a lot of poems because I was dealing with personal issues, and some of them were randomly put together in an attempt to be ‘poetic’ or ‘profound’. I wasn’t confident about my poems, and I didn’t think people would enjoy them. I mostly sold the book using the personal essay about my grandfather, because I thought people would connect to that more. But but the response blew my mind. It reaffirmed my belief that writing

If you didn’t become a writer what else would you have done?
Ha. Well, I don’t think I am a ‘writer’ in that it is my profession. I do other things beside writing. It doesn’t feed me or pay any bills. So, I can become anything I want to be. Sometimes I want to be a teacher, sometimes I want to be a consultant. I could be anything at all, as well as a ‘writer’.

Have you ever been rejected as a writer and how did you handle it?
Well, I have had some submissions rejected because they lacked ‘technical credibility’. I still don’t know what that means, but I shrugged it off because I didn’t believe in my ability as a writer at the time. I haven’t really submitted things to serious publications. I just publish things myself. The response of my audience is my affirmation.

Sometimes I wonder what this means about my ‘credibility’ as a writer. It makes me ask: what makes a writer? Is it being published by a big publisher? Am I any less of a writer because I self-published? Do I need to be like Chimamanda before I can claim to be a ‘real’ writer? I still struggle with these questions, but I don’t make them prevent me from doing anything. I just do my own thing. If someone picks up on it, great. If not, oh well. Try again later.

Will you ever retire from writing?
Haha. Read my answer to question 7. It is not a career or profession for me. So, no. I will always write, insofar as I am compelled to tell a story. This is partly why I want to control every process of my writing. I want to do it in my own time, I want to do it when it comes. I don’t want to answer to anybody, and I don’t want to make money from it. I’m getting degrees and doing a lot of other work for the money side of things. Writing will always be a thing that I do, even if I’m only writing a love poem to a boyfriend or a response article to something I’m passionate about.

What do you do in your leisure time?
Ha, do I have leisure time? I’m always doing something that is ‘work’ in some way. If I do anything at all for leisure, it’s probably tweeting. Sad, I know.

What would you pick?
Continental Food or African Delicacy? Does dodo count as African delicacy? If so, African delicacy.
• R&B or Hip/hop? Hmm. R&B I guess.
• Fiction or poetry? Poetry.
• Fashion or music? Music.

Do you have a writing mentor? If yes, why?
No. But I admire – somewhat obsessively, to be honest – Molara Wood, and I would give anything to spend an hour with her, over tea and biscuits, talking about the world, and nature, and the beauty of words.

Your best article or story so far?
I would change that to ‘favourite’. I cannot determine my best. In any case, it is difficult to pick between a 200-word story I wrote titled ‘The Cambridge Tryst’ and the love letter I wrote to my sisters at the end of 2015, titled ‘A Sonorous Love: On the bond sisters share’. I feel like I was very daring with The Cambridge Tryst, which deals with infidelity. I wanted to challenge the idea that ‘love’, pure and untainted, cannot thrive in such a dynamic. I don’t know if I succeeded. It’s much too short to tell.

Words for upcoming writers?
I don’t feel like I have any authority to give upcoming writers words of advice. What do I know? But I will say this: try not to wait for validation from the big names in the industry. I guess it’s nice and it helps in terms of getting into the industry and reaching a wide(r) audience. It also helps if you want to make money from writing. But I’m not really interested in that. Just write. Someone somewhere is listening, waiting to hear those words.

#WordOfTheDay – This is the correct use of ‘Divisive’

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We are excited to teach you another word. We hope you are excited to learn what it is.

Our word for the day is Divisive /dɪˈvaɪ.sɪv/

This word comes from late Latin word divisivus and later from Latin word divider which means divide or separate.

When something is divisive it tends to cause disagreement or hostility between people. It is also used to describe something that causes great and sometimes unfriendly disagreement within a group of people.

For example
The director’s divisive opinion spilt the board into two opposing sides.
• Abortion is a highly divisive issue in medicine.

Synonyms for divisive: disruptive, conflict ridden, contentious.

We hope you use this word soon!

#PickOfTheWeek – 3 trends you just have to follow in 2016

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If you remember our first article of 2016 we mentioned how important it is for you to be aware of the latest trends in writing in order to be a better writer this year. We’ve complied three trends you just have to follow to be on top of your game.

Go mobile or go home. If at this point in the 21st century you are still in doubt whether or not you should use social media to promote yourself and your work, then there’s a serious problem. Social media provides a great opportunity for any writer to build and develop a platform, most of which is free. If you are looking for a way to put your message out there then go mobile. So many people carry smart phones, tablets and other mobile devices so make your material as mobile friendly as possible.

Million dollar pictures. A picture is no longer worth a thousand words; it’s worth a million words. This year do not post small blurry pictures because they won’t attract the right kind of audience. Visually stunning, attention grabbing and relevant pictures would do you a lot of good. The traffic in social media is always large but to get your audience to stop at your posts make sure you use good pictures.

Respond positively or say nothing. On social media people can say anything they want just because they can. You may post an article or story you believe is really good and get negative comments. This does not give you the right to insult back. If you know you don’t have anything positive to say then it’s better to be silent. Don’t soil the image you are building just because of someone’s comment no matter how bad.

What other trends are you planning to adopt this year?

 

 

 

Always going crazy because of a deadline? You can avoid it

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How many times has your heart skipped a beat when you remember that your deadline is close and your manuscript is not anywhere near finished? So many writers become a shadow of themselves and almost go crazy when the deadline is near and the work is far from done.

This should not be. Want to know how to avoid going crazy because of deadlines? Keep reading.

Plan ahead. Schedule your work and make a list of all the things you have to write with the deadlines beside each task. Place this schedule where you can always read it. This is simple trick but it is often ignored.

Avoid procrastination. When you have work to do, do it. Procrastination kills time and stresses you out. You will eventually have to do that work you have put aside at a less convenient time.

Take one day at a time. Break down your projects into smaller tasks. You may not be able to write an entire book in a day but you can start writing the first chapter today. If it is an article you can start by thinking of what you want to write. Once this is done, make an outline and schedule when you want to add flesh to the outline. Take one little step at a time and avoid distractions or getting overwhelmed.

Do all you possibly can not to miss a deadline. Editors do not appreciate writers who always have the finest excuses as to why they couldn’t meet up. If you want to be seen as a professional writer, avoid excuses. .

There are other ways of meeting deadlines, can you share some of yours with us?

#StopTheCliche – This word is dead already

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There is a word that sneaks into your writing and destroys the power of your work. Of all the weak words in English history this has got to be one of the most prominent. This word has been called one of the most useless words ever. Can you guess what it is? It’s ‘Very’

Using this word signifies laziness, weakens the entire sentence and can be a turn off to most editors. Every time you fall into the temptation of writing ‘very’ delete it and your work will still make sense.

If you are not satisfied with that option find a more descriptive word. There is nothing wrong in being as concise as possible.

It is important to avoid being careless with your words and this will require discipline.

Words that can substitute for very include:
Bitterly, chiefly, especially, extremely, exceedingly, fantastically, fully, incredibly, intensely, immeasurable, infinitely, mightily, powerfully, severely, surely, shockingly, truly.

Another option is to change the word entirely so instead of saying
• I am very angry you can say “I am furious.”
• His son is very rude you can write “His son is vulgar.”

Just make sure it expresses your thoughts aptly.

#WriterSpotlight – For the fun of it, Mayowa decided to start writing

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It’s Thursday and we’re featuring someone very exciting on #WriterSpotlight today. Her name is Mayowa and she has an amazing talent.  She has published her first book, ‘It’s your life to lead‘. She blogs at mateyscott.com. Enjoy our interview with her.

Hello, please introduce yourself
My name is Mayowa Depo-Oyedokun. I am the second born of three girls. I love cooking and reading. I talk a lot when I am comfortable around someone.

What do you do?
I am a student, currently studying law at the University of Kent, Canterbury.

Why did you choose to write or what led you to writing?
When I initially starting writing, I did it for the fun of it. so I can’t say something made me start writing although seeing my older sister’s poems then made me think writing was cool and it made me want to start writing, but I wouldn’t say that was what led me to start writing. However, when I became serious about writing, I chose it because it was a way of putting down my many thoughts and also allowing others see what goes on in my mind. In secondary school at Olashore International school, I discovered I loved inspiring and motivating people and I did that a lot through talking. I decided to opt for paper and pen so I could inspire more people who only had to pick up my jotter to read my words.

What is your most challenging moment as a writer?
I think my most challenging moment is letting go of laziness and putting down what I have in my head. The thing is, I think a lot and I get inspiration a lot through simple activities such as walking on the road or having a phone conversation with a friend. Sometimes the will to actually sit down and turn my two line inspiration into a ten page article or a book, that will to put into words the picture I already see in my mind’s eye can be quite challenging.

Can you share any lesson you have learnt from writing?
I have learnt many lessons from writing, but I think the most important one I have learnt is that your writing matters. People that you might never meet will read your words and be touched and inspired it.

Can you tell us your most rewarding moment as a writer?
It’s an amazing feeling when someone messages me and thanks me for writing a particular story or article. That’s an accomplishment to me because it means I am not living a life of self. That is, I’m impacting people through my articles or stories and helping them see the endless pit of possibilities in them. The realization that my words helped or is helping a life is my most rewarding moment as a writer.

If you didn’t become a writer what else would you have done?
I am studying law. So I guess I would have pursued law fully.

Will you ever retire from writing?
I doubt I will. Writing has become a part of me and inasmuch as I write for people, I write for myself as well. So that would never stop.

What do you do in your leisure time?
I talk on the phone and read novels.

What would you pick
Continental Food or African Delicacy? Continental food.
R&B or Hip/hop? R&B
Fiction or poetry? Fiction.

Do you have a writing mentor? If yes why?
Paulo Coelho. I love the way he thinks and writes. Most of his books speak directly to my soul and inspires me in ways beyond the ordinary. I also like his style of writing. He seems to use ancient writing style and he writes in the form of a story which comes off as inspirational.

Your best article or story so far?
My best story so far would be ‘You and I’. It’s not my best work, but I think it’s the one I enjoyed writing the most. And it still makes me smile a lot and feel the emotions of the actors in the story when I read it.

Words for upcoming writers
Believe in the power of your words. It might mean nothing to one person, yet mean almost everything to another person. Don’t let the doubt or fear of whether anyone is reading ever stop you from writing because you matter and so do your words.

 

#WordOfTheDay – The use of berserk

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Welcome to another #WordOfTheDay series. How many new words have you learnt since our last class?

Today’s word we’ll teach you is berserk – /bəˈzəːk/

This word is an adjective and has slight variations in its meanings. Berserk means crazy or out of control with anger or excitement, wild or frenzied

It could also mean:
Destructively or frenetically violent
Mentally or emotionally upset; deranged
Informal Unrestrained, as with enthusiasm or appetite; wild:.

For example:
The policeman arrested a berserk worker who started smashing all the windows.
On hearing that he lost the elections, the politician went berserk.
The already excited audience went berserk when the pop star got on stage.

Want to get your book published? Read these tips

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Today, we’re going to look at something a lot of writers think about – ‘How to get published.’ We know it can be really frustrating to write a book and have no idea how to get it published. This post will make things better.

Here a three tips which will help you get published.

Write a good book. Nobody will be interested in publishing your work if it is bad and that’s the truth. Make your work professional and irresistible. There are so many writers and every day several books are written. You must put in more effort to make sure your work really interests people.

Get a literary agent. A literary agent is someone who represents your interest as an author. His responsibility is to read your work, advise you on the publishing market and find the right publisher for your work while negotiating the best deal for you. A good agent will help you sell your work and provide support for you in your bid to get published. Your literary agent or agency only makes money from the commission received from the sales of your book so they must be convinced that your work is good before agreeing to represent you.

Submit your work to a publisher. If for any reason you do not have an agent, there is still hope! You can submit your manuscript directly to the publisher(s) of your choice. Although publishers receive several unsolicited requests, there is no need to get scared or intimidated. Ensure that you write a good manuscript and submit your work following the guidelines of the publishing house to avoid getting disqualified. Publishers know what their readers want and are constantly searching for unique and exciting story angles.

BONUS TIP: Because publishers get a lot of requests it may take some time before you get a reply. Be patient.

Let us know if you find these tips helpful.

 

 

Finding it difficult to write from the heart? This will help

       by Adedotun Adejoorin

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How many times have you read this sentence; “Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart” and you have no clue how to achieve that. We know how you feel. Today we are going to tell you what you need to do to start writing from the heart.

Writers who communicate from their hearts have a better chance at succeeding than those who write casually without making any connection with the reader. The reason is simple; your reader can detect originality and emotion in articles and once it is missing it will be very hard to connect with them on a deeper level.

You should always strive to write from the heart using your creative power, because what you feel when you write will come through in your articles. Wondering how you can do this? These five points will get you started.

Get a writing space. Apart from when you get ideas in the spur of the moment and you excitedly jot everything down, you need to have a place where you sit down to write. Whether it is by your bed side, in the park, on a desk in your living room or by the window, find somewhere where you’ll calm and you will have room to think without distraction. Over time you’ll begin to see that place as your writing hub.

Carry a notebook with you. Imagine this; an idea pops into your head, something beautiful that made your heart sing immediately you thought of it but there is nowhere to jot it down? That would be quite upsetting, wouldn’t it? Always carry your note pad (with a pen of course) and when a sequence of words comes to you and thrills your heart, write it down. If you prefer, you can type it as a note on your phone.

Embrace your uniqueness. Do not try to be like somebody else. Write from your heart, not somebody else’s. Do not copy Chimamanda Adichie or Wole Soyinka just because you like their style. It is theirs. Find yours and be comfortable with it. Although there is nothing wrong with admiring the works of other writers, be yourself.

Flow without editing. Pour out your heart on that blank page uncensored and without fear. Fear makes you resistant. You will begin to wonder if anyone will give a hoot about your openness. Do not let this conquer you. Write fearlessly and unapologetically. Once you are done with the first draft you can edit it.

Live life. This will give you rich experiences to write about. When you live life you can write about it from a deep sense of view because you know what it is and can explain to your readers.

We challenge you to write something from your heart today. You can send it to us to review it and give you feedback too 🙂