#StopTheCliche – These phrases just have to go

image

Do you know that just like words, phrases can also become boring and weak? Using them all the time can do more harm than good to your work.

Let’s discuss some phrases that creep into your work without your notice and how to manage them:
1. As in. This is meant to give more information or make something clear. The only problem here is that we are beginning to hear this too many times. Aren’t there any other ways of making things clearer?

For example I like tea, as in I drink it every day. This is correct but there are other ways of saying this. You can say “I like tea, I even drink it every day.

2. At the end of the day. This is something that you say before you say what you believe to be the most important fact of a situation. Just like the first phrase this is not wrong but shouldn’t be used all the time.

Look at this exampleWe interviewed many people for the job, but at the end of the day, we didn’t think any of them could handle it. Although this is not wrong you could say, “We interviewed many people for the job, however, we didn’t think any of them could handle it.

Advertisements

#WriterSpotlight- “Success wouldn’t feel so good without the pain”- Peace

IMG_20160329_123931_edit1_edit

Every Thursday we celebrate fine writers across Africa who are doing amazing things with their writing talent. Today is not an exception. We hope you love this one!

Hello, please introduce yourself

My name is Peace Ekhibirobo. I am from Edo state and I was born on the 3rd of October in the late 80s. I am also a graduate of the University of Benin where I studied Health Education.

What do you do?

I am a Corporate and Customer Service Representative by day and a writer every other time.

Why did you choose to write or what led you to writing?

I love creativity and I am passionate about writing. I found a way to truly express myself through writing.

Can you tell us your most rewarding moment as a writer?

Hmmm, there are several. It’s a continuous thing for me. When people read my work and respond because they can connect and relate, that’s a rewarding moment.

Have you ever been rejected as a writer and how did you handle it?

Yes and that’s not the end of the world. Being a writer requires a certain connection with your readers or supporters and you won’t have that with everyone.

Will you ever retire from writing?

No!

If you could change one thing about yourself what would it be?

Absolutely nothing. I am happy to go through the process of improving my flaws. Success wouldn’t feel so good without the pain.

What do you do in your leisure time?

I spend time with loved ones, write, read, learn new things.

What would you pick

Continental Food or African Delicacy? Hmm, I’ll go with African delicacy

R&B or Hip/hop? R & B

Fiction or poetry? Fiction

Fashion or music? That’s a little hard to decide because these are truly forms of art. Well…if I have to choose, it will be music.

Do you consider writing as work or pleasure and why?

Pleasure because my passion for writing is what makes me continue to do it.

Your best article or story so far?

Hmmm, I would prefer for you be the judge of that.

Any last words for upcoming writers?

Keep writing. Stay focused and don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do it.

 

 

Hey Sparkle Writers…She Leads Africa is hiring!

blog_sheleads6-600x400

Are you an amazing writer passionate about helping African women in business and career? Can you work independently and deliver on tasks without being supervised? She Leads Africa, a top destination for smart and ambitious African women, is looking for an Editorial Lead with strong written and verbal communication skills.

13092381_1786875948198945_1291430472_n

If you know you’re the right person for the job, send your cover letter and resume to info@sheleadsafrica.org with the subject line Editorial Lead Application: First Name and Last name. In your email, include an example of the type of work you would do working with She Leads Africa or something you think they can implement.

For more information, visit the SLA website.

#ChroniclesOfAWriter – Getting published was a big mountain for me to overcome

10931484_10155320342110727_2637473918656499469_n

Hello Sparkle Writers! How is your week going? Thank you all for your comments and feedback since we started this series. If you have any questions about what you need to do to kick-start your writing career or you’re not getting the results you want, please send an email to thesparklewritershub@gmail.com with the subject ‘Chronicles of a Writer’. I’ll personally respond to every email.

Let’s continue with today’s story shall we? My first day at YNaija was rather bland. After being introduced to the rest of the staff, I was told to read through articles and posts on the YNaija site. I was also asked my area of speciality. I didn’t have an answer to that. I just wanted to write. That was all that was on my mind.

I don’t know why but the Sub-Editor asked me to start a beauty column. “Thought I mentioned that I did not want to write about fashion,” I wondered to myself. Even though I wasn’t exactly sure what my speciality was I knew without a doubt that I didn’t want to be a fashion or beauty writer. At the time, I used read fashion magazines a lot and I knew the technicalities involved in writing about fashion or beauty. Anyway since I had no choice, I went on to write my first beauty article. It didn’t get published on the site. My heart sank because I gave it my best shot.

The Sub-Editor gave me feedback and told me why it wasn’t published. That is one thing I will forever be grateful to Tolu Orekoya (the Sub-Editor) for. She always gave me feedback. Good or bad, she gave feedback on every article I wrote. If you want to grow as a writer, you must be able to take constructive criticism and implement the feedback given. Later on as I was promoted in YNaija, I came across writers who would object to their work being edited because they felt their writing was word-class meanwhile that really wasn’t the case.

Anyway Tolu told me my writing was too sweet and it wasn’t engaging. She taught me how to write in a conversational manner to attract the attention of readers. She told me to think like a reader and incorporate their thoughts in my writing. That’s something I still do today. If you want to find out how to do this, get in touch with the Sparkle Writers.

I was given another task to write news report. Essentially back then, most of the content on YNaija was news so I had to be able to write stories about trending news and events. This was very difficult for me. I can’t count the number of stories I wrote but most of them were not published. The few that were published were heavily edited! I was determined to succeed at this. So I implemented all Tolu’s feedback and she gave me a list of magazines to read and writers too. I read their work like I was preparing for an exam.

The story I wrote after I finished reading all the magazines and work from the recommended writers was published. I was happy. No. I was ecstatic – to see my name written as the byline. I could now officially call myself a published writer. That confidence spread to the other stories I wrote. More and more of them got published. But I was bored. I was learning a lot  but there was something missing.

Something happened, I cannot remember what, and I was asked to shadow the editor of Y! Magazine as she worked on a new edition of the magazine. Little did I know that this was the beginning of my journey to become the team lead of the magazine arm of YNaija. I will tell you what it was like to shadow the editor of Y! Magazine next week.

#WordOfTheDay – Can you guess what mulish means?

 

WHATS-THE-WORD
It’s time for another #WordOfTheDay episode. We hope you have been using the new words we learn here.

Today’s word is mulish. Can you guess what part of speech it is and what it means?
Mulish is an adjective that means stubborn, obstinate, unwilling to cooperate or listen to suggestions.

Mulish also means resembling or likened to a mule in being stubborn. Other words that could be used in its place are: Difficult, head strong, inflexible, obstinate, self-willed, stiff-necked, stubborn, unbending, willful.

Look at these examples
The contractor is downright mulish I don’t want him around me.
I believe I was a little mulish when my mom tried to convince me.

#GrammarSeries – What you should know about a dangling modifier

good-grammar

Welcome to another #GrammarSeries. Today’s class is going to be so much fun!
Last week we learnt what a misplaced modifier is and how to identify one. Today we will be discussing what a dangling modifier is.

A modifier is a word, phrase or clause that gives descriptions. When properly used you can clearly identify what word they are modifying. However when you use a modifier and there is no word for it to modifier in a sentence then we call that a dangling modifier.

Look at these examples
1. Shocked by the gravity of the situation, something had to be done.
‘Shocked’ is the modifier in this sentence but there is nothing for it to modify. As it is, the sentence is saying ‘something’ was shocked by the gravity of the situation. The correct sentence would be;
Shocked by the gravity of the situation, the government knew something had to be done.

2. Hungry, the leftover snacks was devoured
Again the modifier hunger is ‘dangling’ in this sentence. The correct sentence should look like this;
Hungry, Seun devoured the leftover snacks.

Now that you have learnt about dangling modifiers, try correcting these sentences:

  • With a sigh of disappointment the expensive dress was returned to the rack.
  • To complete the survey properly, the form must be signed and sealed in the provided envelope.
  • Looking towards the west a funnel shaped crowd stirred up dust.

You can leave your answers in the comment box.

Have issues with writing consistently? You need to read this

writer_writing

 I’ve learned from experience that if you work harder at it, and apply more energy and time to it, and more consistency, you get a better result. It comes from the work.”-Louis C. K.

We have heard it several times that writers need to be consistent. If you have not, where have you been hiding? Popular writer Jeff Goins encourages writers to keep writing no matter what. According to him, the process is more important especially when you are trying to build your writing muscle.

Writing consistently is not as easy as it sounds but here are three ways you can achieve it with ease.

1. Think of the Long Term

It is very common for a new writer to start off being really excited, and then weeks after, the fire dies down. There are many reasons why this could happen; you are not getting the feedback that you expected, writing doesn’t seem to yield any fruit because the rejection mails keep coming in or nobody is reading your posts or articles. You must think beyond the present if you want to have staying power as a writer. Remember that things will pay off in the long run if you write consistently and you constantly improve yourself.

2. Be disciplined

A professional writer is a disciplined writer. You have to make decisions and consciously follow through with those decisions. Situations will not always make things comfortable for you to write but you have to put in the effort. It is not enough to start a task you must also finish it. Commit to writing a minimum number of words per day to start with.

3. Make sure you are passionate

i-love10

 

If you are not excited about what you do it won’t be long before you become discouraged. Passion keeps you going when things are not going as they should. You should be excited about the idea of weaving stories, learning new words and being a writer. Don’t go into writing for the wrong reasons else it won’t be long before you get out.

 

 

Travelbay’s Top 9 Holiday Destinations for Writers

Zanzibar

Inspiration is something a writer should never be short of. In fact a high dose of inspiration is needed to keep the creative juice flowing – whether it stems from people, food, music, fashion, nature, among other things.

That’s why we’ve put together a list of destinations every writer has to visit. Not to worry, with Travelbay you will be able to visit all of these places as convenience and pocket friendliness is guaranteed with you having the option to saving towards holidays in these destinations.

With no further ado, here is a list of 9 destinations made for Writers as recommended by Travelbay:

Seychelles

Ever wondered if those beach photos in a new picture frame are real? No doubt it gets you doubting while hoping it is real. Well, that’s the same effect you’d have in Seychelles. This is one islands where reality surpasses dreams and so a perfect destination for writers.

seychelles

There are jungle and coastal walks, boat excursions, and diving and snorkelling to keep you buzzing. Ecotourism is big – there are marine parks and natural reserves filled with endemic species that are easy to approach.

Banjul

Banjul is the the capital city of Gambia and it is popular for many attractions including its architecture, grand markets, national museum, outdoor activities such as bird watching and sports fishing, not to talk of a wide range of restaurant choices and night life.

banjul

Interesting to note that Banjul is a coastal city. This means you’re never far away from the Atlantic Ocean with another range of activities to indulge yourself in such as hiking, swimming, surfing, fishing, either a sun rise run or sun set walk. All of these are guaranteed to be sources of inspiration.

South Africa

Every country in the world displays some diversity, but South Africa takes it to the next level. From wild life in water, on land and up in the air, there is more than enough to feast the eye, only if you learn not to blink. As writer you can take all this in and get your jungle juice flowing to enhance creativity.

cape-town-south-africa-points-of-interest

If you’re interested in another kind of wildlife, hit the nightclubs on Cape Town’s jumping Long St or try African home brew in a local pub. Seafood delicacies on the Garden Route, curry in Durban’s Indian Area, a sizzling Cape Malay dish, or a braai (barbecue) in the wilderness are a few cuisines to keep you staying a happy explorer. All of this to spark up one form of inspiration or another.

Ghana

Not up for going too far for an adventure? Then look no further as Ghana is always welcoming especially the cities of Accra and Cape Coast. Once known as the Gold Coast, Ghana became the first democratic sub-Sahara country in colonial Africa to gain its independence in 1957. No doubt, Ghana will satisfy the thirst of writers looking for history.

Ghana

Here you will see the remarkable combination of ancient castles, learn of ancient kingdoms, speak to artisans who continue traditional works in carvings, cloth weaving, and more. Ghana combines unique architecture, food and history. Explore UNESCO World Heritage Sites like Elmina’s slave castle, visit Kaumasii’s vast markets where artists from around West Africa come to sell their wares and share trade secrets, then finish with time at leisure walk on Kakum’s canopy through the rainforest.

Mauritius

Harmony is a state every writer is always in search of. While some find it in the most quiet of places, others are lucky to find it even in the midst of life’s busy noise. What if we tell you that there is a place where you can always experience harmony whenever you want?

Mauritius

Welcome to Mauritius. The Island takes harmony to a whole new level and is never short of inspiring writers with its culture – food, music, people, and fashion. Visitors can also engage in an amazing selection activities, attractions and places of interested all waiting to be discovered. From more traditional museums, parks and reserves, to extreme activities, sea cruises, island trips and many more.  

Nairobi

The safari’s call is one that cannot be easily ignored, not even by the most prolific of writers. Nairobi is Kenya’s bustling capital city, and is popularly known as a jumping-off point for the safari experience. In addition to its urban core, the city has Nairobi National Park, a large game reserve known for breeding endangered black rhinos and home to giraffes, zebras and lions.

kenya

Don’t forget about the elephants and the National museum, all contributing a little bit of magic to the Safari experience that awaits you in Nairobi. It’d be awesome to catch up with Magunga Williams too – the Kenyan writer who is using the internet to get others to read African fiction.

Dubai

The Arabian Nights is one book that comes close to describing Dubai. The capital city of the United Arab Emirates is known for luxury shopping, ultramodern architecture and a lively nightlife scene. Burj Khalifa, an 830m-tall tower, dominates the skyscraper-filled skyline. At its foot lies Dubai Fountain, with jets and lights choreographed to music. That said, the city still finds ways to keep its ancient cultures and traditions.

dubai

On man-made islands just offshore is Atlantis, the Palm, a resort with water and marine-animal parks. After dark, Dubai sometimes seems like a city filled with lotus eaters, forever on the lookout for a good time. Its shape-shifting party spectrum caters for just about every taste and budget – writers included.

Maldives

Sunny all year long, waves like nowhere else, underwater beauty like paradise! These are some of the description for the Maldives Island. As a writer you never want a rainy day that kill those vibes once you get into the zone. You’re definitely in luck as Maldives is as consistent as it gets.

maldives

It’s a place where the sands are white as the smiles of the locals, where fish swim happily in the warm waters of the Indian Ocean, where the weather is a dream, and the deep rays of the sun waits to engulf you in their arms. Can you get a glimpse between the lines?

Zanzibar

Known to be home to Africa’s best coral beaches, Zanzibar is the archipelago’s main island. At its centre is Stone Town with its quasi-medieval medina, and a drive out of town through the avenue of mango trees – said to be planted over the bodies of past lovers of a 19th-century sultan’s daughter.

Zanzibar

This is dream land for writers who like a fine mix of history and mystery. Be ready to play with the dolphin, flanked by long, sandy beaches, restaurants, bars and dance-till-dawn full-moon parties, picturesque beauty and more.

Know of any other destinations worth recommending to writers? Please do share in the comments.

 _____

About Travelbay

Travelbay is an online travel agency that offers you convenient and pocket friendly holidays, allowing you buy or save towards travel packages featuring amazing destinations such as the ones listed above.

For more information, visit travelbay.co

#StopTheCliche – Enough of this word

SONY DSC

Dear Sparkle Writer how has your week been?

We have discovered another word that has to go and we are so excited to share it with you.
Have you noticed how many times you hear the word ‘seriously’ in a day?

Look at these examples:
• Seriously I am tired.
• His dog is seriously injured.

59694872
It’s almost like if people don’t use ‘very’, the only option available is seriously. All that is about to change. We will give other words, apart from ‘very’ that can aptly describe what you mean. Here they are – Acutely, badly, completely, contemplatively, critically, dangerously, dourly, earnestly, extremely, genuinely, gravely, grimly, humorlessly, meditatively, pensively, ruminatively, sincerely, soberly, solemnly somberly, sternly thoughtfully, totally, truly, utterly.

What other words can be used in place of seriously?

Leave your answers in the comment box.

#WriterSpotlight -“I got my first job because I wrote a wonderful essay” – Oluseye

seye ashiru

It’s time for another #WriterSpotlight feature. Our guest today is Oluseye Ashiru. We love the fact that her dad encouraged her to write while she was still very little. Today, not only does have her own blog, she also writes for Huffington Post. Enjoy her interview with us.

Hello, please introduce yourself
My name is Oluseye Ashiru. I am a wife, mom of three lovely children, passionate about Jesus, women, children and purposeful parenting.

What do you do?
I am a business owner. I have an online store for bed and bath linen items. Then I also blog and speak to inspire women, especially mothers.

Why did you choose to write or what led you to writing?
I won’t say I chose to write really. Writing is something that has always been a part of me. I see it as a way of expressing myself, of communicating my thoughts to people. I find that it’s easier for me to write than to speak. I articulate my thoughts better with writing than speaking. If I would speak publicly, I usually write it all out first before I speak, except it is impromptu. I remember my dad always encouraged us all to write. He’d always give us holiday projects to write a book, a journal, our experiences and so on. At that time, I would just write because he asked us to write. I didn’t even realize it was a gift. I just assumed everyone could write. It wasn’t until I got older that I realized that not everyone could write! I got my first job because I wrote a wonderful essay about my upbringing. The examiner was wowed – I actually got all the marks allotted.

Can you tell us your most rewarding moment as a writer?
Whenever anyone gives a feedback of how any of my posts blessed them or made them take a certain decision or touched them in any way, I get my reward. I write because I want to pass across a message I feel God has put in my heart. Once that’s done, I’m cool. It doesn’t matter if it’s just one person, my mission has been accomplished.

Have you ever been rejected as a writer and how did you handle it?
I’ve never been rejected. I have only written for people who have invited me to do so. Only recently have I thought of taking my writing to platforms where I need to request to be accepted, and I haven’t been turned down by anyone of them yet. And really, I have my blog. I will keep my voice heard through that platform, so rejection isn’t something I’m so bothered about.

Will you ever retire from writing?
Do people really retire from writing? Except I have a reason not to be able to use my hands anymore – God forbid. In that case though, I’d dictate it to some Speech-to-Text App (laugh). I can’t stop writing! It’s who I am.

If you could change one thing about yourself what would it be?
Maybe I’d ask God to make me a calmer person. But then, life would be boring!

What do you do in your leisure time?
Read – everything. Paper backs, e-books, online articles, always looking for information.

What would you pick;
Continental Food or African Delicacy? Continental. African is too predictable.
R&B or Hip/hop? R & B
Fiction or poetry? Fiction.
Fashion or music? Must I Choose? Both(Oliver Twist)

Do you consider writing as work or pleasure and why?
Writing is pleasure for me. It’s something I love to do, every time.

Your best article or story so far?
There are so many of them. I guess I’ll let the readers be the judge of that.

Any last words for upcoming writers?
Upcoming? I am also upcoming. We all are. The day you stop growing is the day you start to die. That notwithstanding, I’d say, write from your heart. No need to copy another person’s style. Your style is who you are. The pieces I have written that have resonated the most with people have been the ones I’ve written totally and unapologetically from my heart.