Achieve your writing goals before the end of 2016 using these 5 tips

The year is almost over and it’s a good time to review the goals you set at the beginning of 2016. 

How any of those goals have you achieved? Did you start your blog? What about your book? Have you started writing it. 

Things could have happened in the course of the year that could have prevented you from achieving your goals. Perhaps, you were limited by fear or procrastination. Or maybe you were just too lazy to follow through. 

Whatever the excuse, these six tips will set you back on track to achieving your writing goals. We do hope you’ll make the commitment and achieve these goals before the end of 2016.

Begin today

It’s almost like stating the obvious but the best way to achieve those goals is to start now. If you want to write a book, begin the process now. Want to start a blog, set it up now. Not tomorrow. Not next week. Begin today. 

Break it down

Telling yourself you want to write a book may seem overwhelming. Why don’t you break it down into little bits and work on those bits first. So create an outline for your book and set a deadline to finish each part of the outline. By the time you are through with that outline, you will have a complete book. 

Be willing to ask for help

If you don’t know what to do to achieve your writing goals or there is something you are not sure about, simply reach out for help. You can talk to us at The Sparkle Writer’s Hub. We can show you how to get started and help you resolve any challenges you may be facing. 

Be accountable

Sometimes, the reason we do not achieve our goals is because we are not accountable for them. Does any one know that you plan to write one article to be published online per week?

Get someone you will be accountable to. It will help you take your goals more seriously. If you don’t know where to find someone to hold you accountable, The Sparkle Writer’s Hub will help out.

Believe in yourself

If you don’t believe you can write an amazing book, you won’t write an amazing book. You have to believe in the power of your words.

Don’t belittle your talent. Your story can change someone’s life. Your book can become a bestseller. It is possible if you believe in yourself. 

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3 tried and tested ways of communicating with your readers

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When it comes to blogging and maintaining high traffic to your blog, communication is key.

There are bloggers who have never replied one comment on their blog while others hardly reply social media comments.  This is wrong.

As a blogger you are communicating with readers and when they send comments you’ve got to reply them. Communication is not one-way. If you won’t reply comments you might as well not choose to blog.

If you’re finding it difficult to connect with your readers, these three tried and tested ways will help;

Comments

When your readers comment on your articles or posts, don’t ignore them. As much as you can, reply the comments and answer questions if they ask any. This is a great way of forming relationships and communicating. Readers value bloggers who communicate with them. Think about it, why will you comment on a blog post if you knew the blogger will never reply you.

The best thing is to reply comments as soon as you get them and if you can’t, make sure you reply the moment you get a chance to.

Emails

This is another great way of communicating with your blog readers. Most bloggers post their email addresses on their site but hardly reply emails sent to them. Readers can ask or say anything in the emails sent and it is you duty to reply them.

If you can’t answer the questions sent, you can direct the reader to someone who can. It is important that your reader doesn’t feel ignored because of your actions.

Answering emails also gives you the opportunity to include a unique ‘signature’ at the bottom of every email. Many bloggers use this as an opportunity to include links to their website and social media profiles. This way, people may be more likely to ‘follow’ you because you spent the time replying to their email.

Social media

Of course we had to add this. Social media is a fantastic way to communicate with your readers. Through social media, they get to see other aspects of you that you may not remember to show on your blog. Instagram for instance is a good way to introduce your readers to the face behind the blog over and over through your various posts.

You can display ‘like’ or ‘follow’ buttons that makes it easier for your readers to connect with you.

In the end it is important to make sure that every opportunity you have to communicate with your reader whether on your blog or outside your blog is properly utilized.

#WriterSpotlight – Iyanu Adebiyi writes knowing that she is the answer to somebody’s prayer

Iyanu Adebiyi

Hello Iyanu, how are you doing?

I’m alive. I can’t believe it. [chuckles]

We googled Iyanu Adebiyi and you are dominating the first page on Google. Your poems are amazing, and you are successfully carving a niche for yourself. Can you please take us through your journey?

I guess you can call it a journey, but the places I’ve been to are the hearts of the people I’ve met. First, it was growing up with my father’s library, then there were two teachers who helped lay a good foundation for me; Ms. Akunna, my very first Literature in English teacher. She took interest in me after giving us an impromptu test on her very first lecture. She gave me friendship and made me fall in love with literature.

Mr. Henry, was a no-nonsense English teacher, who was very kind to me. I can’t explain it, but I found myself writing essays and short stories at the end of every school day for him to grade. When he began to mess up my work with his red ink, I wanted to stop but found that I was hooked already.

I also had friends at that time who nicknamed me ‘Soyinka’ and that sort of stuck. I guess all of these provided a good foundation for a lifetime of writing for me, but the thing that made me conscious of writing the most was heartache. [smiles]

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I’d been rejected by many people, who meant so much to me. I was thinking about suicide and had developed a very low self esteem. One day, I was scrolling through my timeline and saw a post by Michael Ogah. He was writing about how it felt to be depressed and want to commit suicide in a way that resonated deeply with me. As I read on, it suddenly dawned on me that I had talents that I wasn’t using and that, to me, implied suicide. Impulsively, I started to send friend requests to writers on Facebook and that opened a whole new community to me. There I met fine writers like Hymar David, Tj Benson, Ife Olujuyigbe, Akintunde Aiki, Innocence Silas and a host of many others. Innocence’s poems had a great influence on me and because I used to write songs in my childhood, poetry came naturally.

Early this year, I met myself. It was like the experience of Adam and Eve at Eden when their eyes were opened and they saw their nakedness. I wrestled with myself. Sometimes I won, but mostly, I got beaten to a pulp and out of my wounds, poetry gushed out and right there in my pain, I knew the world needed my poems, so I started to post them online. After a few months, I started to do spoken word because I wanted to embody my poems and allow them heal me.

At what age did you write your first poem and can you tell us what you did with it?

I must have been 18 years old, when I wrote “Standing Friend”. I can remember being so scared that I had to shut my eyes when I published it on Facebook.

You recorded the ‘Up Nepa’ poem in celebration of Nigeria’s 56th independence what inspired you?

I am a very patriotic person, and I got inspired by my enthusiasm for Nigeria. Nigerians need to know that if anything good must come out of this country, then it must come out of every single one of us.

I do believe that we are still going to be great, so I wanted to spread hope, to let Nigerians know that we can make it out of these hard times if we come together and put heart and mind to raising our nation from the ashes. As a country, our mentality is marred by the past. We need to unlearn many things, forget about what has happened and strive to reach a common goal.

Spoken word is gradually becoming a thing in Nigeria but some people still don’t know what it is about. Would you be kind enough to explain the concept?

Simply, Spoken Word is poetry when it is performed. For me, Spoken Word is poetry that decides to stand up from the pages of a book. It has the power of breath because it is spoken. I believe that when words are spoken, they have better effect and meaning because the poet has the opportunity to embody the poem and also portray the exact meaning of the poem. A person’s voice is the DNA of his or her spirit, so when a poem is being spoken it allows for a connection with the audience.

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Spoken Word is usually written to address a particular issue that is relevant to the society or audience to which he is performing the poem, there has to be a binding force, a unifying factor and a shared experience so that even though the poet is speaking from his own perspective, the audience is able to enjoy the performance as though it were theirs.

It has strong ties with the hip hop culture, story telling and monologue theatre. Some spoken word pieces require the use of word play, gesticulation, free styling etc. Yes, in Nigeria, spoken word is becoming a thing and that is a welcome development.

What’s the worst thing anyone has said about your poem and what was your reaction?

“It’s too dark, it might trigger depression.” This really hurt, because depression is one of the things I hope to cure with my poetry. I was sad for a few days within which I was feeling useless, but I shrugged it off, knowing that empathy is not darkness. My poems are meant to heal, especially by telling sad people that I know how they feel, that they are not alone. You know, something to take them through that pain and help them really conquer it, not run away from it. If it triggers depression, then it means there was a problem the person didn’t know he or she had before reading my poem.

Different people write for several reasons; fame, fortune, impact. Can you please tell us why you write?

The reason I write is pretty much summarized in Isaiah 61:1-3, which is to bring good news to the hopeless, to heal the brokenhearted, to release souls from their prisons and proclaim freedom, to comfort all who mourn and grieve.

I believe it is a calling and whenever I write. I write knowing that I’m the voice of a people who may never get heard. I write knowing that hey, somebody’s life could take a positive turn because they read my poem, and so that the younger generation can say, “If Iyanu can do it, then I can do it ten times more.”

Iyanu Adebiyi

The other day, someone I don’t know from Adam sent me a message saying that, my poems may be the only reason why she is still alive. So I write, knowing that I am somebody’s answered prayer and a line from my poem could be the mantra that saves a life. It sounds too pompous or ridiculous, but I’m beginning to believe that.

Do you have a writing mentor and why?

Right now, I can’t say I have a mentor. Maybe I’d just feel out of place with a mentor because I’m doing the type of thing I’m doing. Nobody can teach me pain, passion or purpose. These things just spring up on me and how I catch them is my poetry. Also, I am afraid that I might begin to write like someone else. I want to protect my originality, but that doesn’t stop me from learning from others by asking questions and observing.

On the average, how many times do you edit a poem before you say it’s ready?

Who is counting? [laughs] I don’t count. I just write until the picture I have in my hand resembles the picture I have in my heart.

What’s your take on the belief that ‘talk is cheap’?

Talk is not cheap. Talk is expensive. In fact, it takes a huge amount of courage to speak up in these days of social media subs and bullying.

I think the statement was borne out of frustration from hearing people say that they’re going to do this or that without putting any effort, but talk is where change starts from. I do believe that the world is in so much turmoil because of silence. We are not speaking up enough.

Iyanu Adebiyi

When Iyanu is not writing, or performing, Iyanu is…?

Singing. I write songs and sing in the choir. I’m currently teaching myself how to play the piano, in order to further develop my music skills. I also sell poetry inscribed t-shirts.

Complete this statement One day my writing will…

…crown the lips of children. It will be the song they sing to themselves when they are trapped in darkness.

Is there a poet, writer or spoken word artist you would absolutely love to meet and why?

Kahlil Gibran is the poet I’d absolutely love to meet. He’s dead, and I wish I could wake him up from the grave, put my hands on his shoulders, shake him vigorously and ask: “what is your ‘juju’? But the words he requested to be written on his tomb say there’s no need for that; “A word I want to see written on my grave: I am alive like you, and I am standing beside you. Close your eyes and look around, you will see me in front of you.”

What’s your advice to upcoming poets?

What I’ll say to upcoming poets is this; There is no ‘upcoming’ when it comes to poetry. You’re either a poet or not. ‘Upcoming’ is just your excuse for not rising up to your full potential. Cut that crap and own it. Write from your soul. As long as you feel what you write, don’t be afraid to spill the truth of your existence on the world.

 

#ChroniclesofAWriter – Let’s talk about your writing goals for 2016. How many have you achieved?

In a few days, we will enter into the month of November.  About eight weeks later, 2016 will come to an end.

I’ve been very amazed at how quickly the year has gone by and 2016 has been quite an eventful year.

This is a good time to do a review of 2016 and start planning for the next year.  I don’t believe you should wait until December to plan for the next year. It’s good to set your goals early.

Have you achieved all your writing goals for the year?

Did you complete that book? Did you event start?

Did you launch your blog? Did you post consistently?

Did you share the message that has been lingering in your heart through your articles?

What have you achieved with your writing gift this year?

I’ll tell you what I have achieved.

I’ve been able to write to inspire people to do more with their writing gift.

I’ve been able to inspire women around the world to aspire for greatness through my position as the Editor/ Content Manager of Leading Ladies Africa.

I have written articles to help startups and entrepreneurs manage their business better thanks to being a contributor for 234Finance.

I have mastered the art of creating and writing social media content. As a result, I have managed content and social media for awesome brands like Black Opal Nigeria and I was part of the content and social media team for the 22nd Nigerian Economic Summit. I am currently working with the Communications team at WIMBIZ, in preparation for their annual conference next month.

Through The Sparkle Writer’s Hub, I have created and written different types of content to help all writers to master their craft. I have also been privileged to teach a good number of writers how to monetize their writing skill. The icing on top of the cake is that those writers are now flourishing and earning income from writing.

Although it looks like I have done a lot, there is one thing I haven’t done yet.

I haven’t written my book.

This has been a goal for two years now.

I coach people through the book writing process and I have ghostwritten several books so it’s not about not knowing how to write a book or having the time to write one.

You know what’s missing? It’s that ‘eureka’ light bulb inspiration. There’s a lot for me to write about but I want to write what God wants me to write. Writing a book for writing sake isn’t my desire. I want to be led by God as I write my first book.

So let’s come back to you.

Have you achieved your writing goals?

If you haven’t what’s stopping you?

Why haven’t you written your book? Why haven’t you started your blog? Why haven’t your articles been featured on different newspapers and websites?

We have two more months left in 2016. It’s not too late to take action.

You can start today. Don’t end the year wishing you had started your blog earlier.

If you need help getting started, you know you can always get in touch with us at The Sparkle Writer’s Hub.

The Sparkle Writer's Course

On Saturday, I’ll be teaching a group of writers how to express themselves through writing and monetize their writing gift. I invite you to join us. Register today and take advantage of our 25% discount. It will be worth your time. Send an email to thesparklewritershub@gmail.com to be a part of the class.

See you next week!

 

#WordOfTheDay – Stalwart means…?

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Hello Sparkle Writers! We hope you are using the words you learn here as often as possible. That’s the only way you can retain these new words.

Today we are focusing on the word stalwart. Have you heard of this word before? So what does it mean? Is it a noun or a verb? Well you are about to find out.

Stalwart means firm steadfast, loyal, faithful reliable and hardworkingIt can also mean strong and brave. This word can be used as both an adjective or a noun and we’ll show you how today.

Stalwart as an adjective

Smith is a stalwart supporter of the union. He wouldn’t pressure us.

You are a stalwart soldier and that makes us very proud.

Stalwart as a noun

The stalwarts of the Peace Party are holding a meeting.

We hope you’ll use this word in a sentence soon! 

 

#GrammarSeries – This is the difference between ‘compare with’ and ‘compare to’

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It’s Tuesday and time for another #GrammarSeries. Today we are talking about the difference between ‘compare to’ and ‘compare with’.

These phrases are often misused in sentences but we hope that after today’s class you won’t have issues with it anymore.

‘Compare with’ points out the differences between objects of the same order.

Look at this example;

Sola compared her school’s facilities with schools in other areas.  

(This means that Sola was talking about the differences between the two schools)

‘Compare to’ on the other hand can be used to point of similarities between objects that are essentially of a different order.

Life is compared to a pilgrimage.

He compared children to young trees, both still growing and able to be shaped

We hope this helps you write better. Remember to keep your grammar in check!

Enough of those drab headlines. This is how to write a power headline

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Writing is awesome but the feeling you have when you get the perfect headline is nothing short of fulfilling.

Proper headlines serve as the cherry on top of the delicious article you have written but not every writer has the rare privilege of experiencing this. Some writers have probably never written any headline worthy of note.

This is about to change. All you have to do is follow our tips to a T. No matter how beautiful your article is, your headline will determine who reads it and who does not.

Here are a few tips on how you can write the power headline that grabs your readers attention and ensures multiple clicks (if you are writing online);

Your headline should contain a sense of urgency

Your headline should never be laid back. Your readers should desire to read your article ‘now’, not later. One thing that can make them do that is your headline.

Use numbers, facts in your headlines

Numbers and facts serve as irrefutable proof to your readers that you know what you are talking about. Several research studies have shown that headlines with numbers tend to generate 73% more social shares and engagement.

Make an audacious promise

What is your article supposed to fulfill? Tell your readers what they stand to gain by reading the article. If your article is about how to clear dark spots on the skin, tell your readers. Make sure your article can fulfill this promise, though. It will be too bad to make a promise your article cannot fulfill.

Look at this example;

‘Get 30% increase in customers with these tips’

Readers who have been looking for more customers will have more reason to read your work.

Use interesting adjectives

They help to add life to your headlines.

Here are some examples:

  • Effortless
  • Painstaking
  • Fun
  • Free
  • Incredible
  • Strange

You no longer have any excuse for writing boring headlines 🙂 

Do you have a blog? You need these social media tips

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Every blogger needs social media. Yes, we are already using social media to communicate. However when we talk about social media apps like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram some bloggers are confused about what platforms to drive engagement and why.

There are a few tips we have to help you make the best use of social media.

Social media is NOT an option

Social media is not an option for bloggers or writers, especially in today’s world. You need social media to talk about your work. You can’t be passive about it. Don’t start a blog and imagine that somehow people will find it. Use social media to amplify your message.

You do NOT have to be on all platforms

You do not have to be on ALL social media platforms. Some bloggers confuse themselves and get on all social media platforms; Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Youtube, Pinterest and few months later they cannot keep up. If you can’t sustain the momentum, don’t start.

If you are a fashion blogger Instgram or Pinterest is more useful than Twitter to you because it allows you display images easily. You need to know what platform is applicable for you and your blog niche.

Be Consistent

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It’s one thing to start using social media platforms for your blog, it’s another thing to be consistent. Consistency is what will, in the long run, give your blog the exposure you want. Don’t expect to become the most popular blogger in your niche after posting on social media just once.

Use your blog name as your username whenever possible

Promote your personal brand by consistently using your blog’s name for your Twitter handle, Pinterest or Facebook username. This helps your readers link you with your blog.

Display your social media icons prominently on your blog

To grow your social media followers, display the links to all your social media platforms on your blog. This way, your readers can easily connect with you on the various platforms. They shouldn’t have to search tirelessly just to find you.

Remember, as a writer and blogger, social media is your friend. Use it appropriately. 

 

#WriterSpotlight – Samson Egbums uses his books to solve problems

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Hello Sparkle Writers. We have another young writer on today’s #WriterSpotlight series. He is also an author and a speaker. We absolutely love his fighting spirit and you will see that clearly when he tells us his reply to a critique about his stories.

We love the fact that young people are taking charge of the life and career so fearlessly. Enjoy our interview with Samson.

Please tell us about yourself briefly

Speaker Samson Egbums is a writer and a certified young mentor from the Institute of Mentoring and Career Coaching Nigeria (IMCCN) and the International Association of Professions Career College. I also runs the Speak, Write and Earn Community on Facebookwith 3,300 writers and speakers.

How did you discover writing?

In the early days as a science student, I was often selected to represent my department in essay competitions, because my writing style attracted good marks. From there, I started writing my own story book which ended in the waste bin, because no one was ready to finance the publishing.

As soon as I registered on the social media sites, I saw it as an opportunity to start baring my thoughts daily. I started with short stories.

You have written 5 books and you are only 20 years old. Can you take us through this incredible journey?

I am a very different writer, one who doesn’t just wake up and start writing a book. My books are focused on solving a challenge. As soon as I discover a leakage; I utilize my writing skills to get it plastered. The journey of five books isn’t easy. I had tough times when I had to postpone due to power supply and some other unforeseen occurrences, but I feel fulfilled with what I have achieved today.

Here are the titles of my books; Keep it Simple, keep it Smart (Modus Operandi of successful people), Talent is cheaper than salt, How to be a peak performer in 168 hours, The Self help Guide, The 7 mistakes of the young people

What is the best part of writing a book; the writing process or seeing the finished work?

The best part of writing is seeing your thoughts and ideas packaged into products. For instance, raw rice has little beauty until it is cooked and served.

What’s the one thing that can make you quit writing?

Nothing can make me hang my pen like a retired footballer hangs their boot.

What’s the worst thing anyone has said about your article?

When I started, someone said it to my face that the stories I tell are unreal. I had to read more storytelling books.

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Will you ever retire from writing?

Writing has no retirement age, as long as I live, I will keep writing daily.

What are your thoughts about the reading culture in Nigeria?

In Nigeria, educational books are seen as the only books students should read, which affects how they reason and how creative they are.

Tell us two interesting things social media doesn’t know about you.

Social media doesn’t know I have three siblings and I attended a public primary school.

You are also a speaker. How did you develop this skill?

I developed my speaking skills after I won a championship on public speaking and ever since then, constant practice has kept me floating

If you could meet three Nigerian writers who will they be and why?

I would love to meet Prof. Wole Soyinka, Strive Masiyiwa and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

What do you do in your leisure time?

In my leisure time, I listen to highlife music and play soccer games.

What’s your ultimate dream as writer?

My greatest dream as a writer is to write a book that will stand the test of time, bless lives and be read all over the world.

 

#ChroniclesOfAWriter – This is the tried and tested formula for success as a writer

Adedoyin Jaiyesimi

I’m sorry. There is no tried and tested formula for success as a writer.

Anyone that tells you do A, B, C and you will automatically be a famous or rich writer is deceiving you. This is because on this writing journey, there are many paths to take.

A young man recently applied to join The Sparkle Writer’s Network. He has been a silent follower for months and during my telephone interview with him, he was very excited about the possibility of having access to freelance writing opportunities.

I loved his enthusiasm. Less than two days after our telephone conversation, I had an offer that I felt he would be suitable for. I called him to confirm whether we should include his name in our list of recommendations. He was delighted.

Five names were sent for the particular writing job and this young man was chosen. Actually he was the only one interviewed. The client loved him. A few days later there was also an unpaid writing opportunity with a very big platform that came and he was suited for it.

Again I called him to confirm if he would like to be recommended and he replied positively. Right now, he is rising steadily and I won’t be surprised when he begins to make six figures from writing.

We have another writer we’ve been trying to place in a writing job for months. Offers have come that she has been suitable for but something never clicks. It’s either the client isn’t satisfied after meeting with her or she didn’t do well after being interviewed.

I don’t know what it is but I know that this particular writer ticks all the right boxes when it comes to writing talent.

If you write a book and your desire is for it to be a bestseller, you have to do more than just write a great book. There are many great books out there that never saw the light of day.

If you want to inspire people with your words, you have to do more than setting up a blog. As you know, there are thousands of blogs out there.

If you want to earn six figures from your writing gift, you have to do more than writing consistently and sending guests posts here and there.

What is this ‘more’ you may be wondering.

Well, it depends on where you are going, what you want to achieve, you unique talent, the niche you have carved for yourself and so on.

More requires strategy. If you are not thinking strategically about your writing, you are missing out on great opportunities.

Impacting lives or making money from writing doesn’t happen by chance. It takes being intentional about it.

Do you have a plan for what you want to achieve as a writer or you are simply leaving everything to chance?

Whether you are yet to make the decision to write the words burning in your heart or you are already an experienced writer, it is not too early or late to create a strategy for success for yourself and your writing gift.

At The Sparkle Writer’s Hub, our goal is to help people to find expression through writing and monetize their writing gift. We want to help you create your formula for success through our Sparkle Writer’s course. It’s an intensive one-day course that will help you hone your skills and carve out the path of success for you.

The Sparkle Writer's Course

The course costs N10,000 but if you register before Sunday 23rd October, you will enjoy a 25% discount and will only need to pay N7,500 for the course. Awesome right? We think so too. Take advantage of this special offer and send an email to thesparklewritershub@gmail.com to register. Spaces are limited so don’t procrastinate.

See you next week!