#GrammarSeries – How to know when your grammar game is declining

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Hey Sparkle Writers, it’s Tuesday and as you know on The Sparkle Writer’s Hub, it’s time for our #GrammarSeries.

Today, we are talking about how to know when your grammar is declining. If you notice any of the things we will highlight today, please make amends.

Here we go.

When you start writing in double negatives 

Most times you get so carried away that you just write as the idea comes to you. In the process, you may write your sentences in double negatives. Double negatives are a sign of bad grammar.

Look at this example:

  • I can’t hardly believe that my dad is back.

If you start writing sentences like this then your grammar game is really declining, you need to watch it. Can’t and hardly are both negative constructions, they should not be together in a sentence.

When your editor starts complaining frequently. 

If you have an editor or someone who proof reads your work, they would be a good way to know when your grammar is declining. When the complaints and corrections on your work start increasing, then you most definitely need to do something about it. Pay attention to their corrections and make amends.

When you write run-on sentences

A run-on sentence is a sentence in which two or more independent clauses (sentences that could stand on their own) are joined together improperly. It’s usually pretty obvious that this kind of sentence is inappropriate, so if you do not notice it, your grammar may need some touch up.

For example:

  • I went to the store I got milk and cookies.

There are two separate sentences here and both can stand alone. If you find yourself joining sentences like this together, you should check your grammar.

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How to re-start an abandoned writing project

 

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Do you have several blogs abandoned on the internet simply because you got tired? Or are you one of those people who have several uncompleted stories stored on your computer?

Most writers go through this issue. It’s almost like we never get to complete some projects.

You may have a ton of great ideas but your motivation seems to vanish almost immediately you start the project. While there’s nothing wrong with having great ideas, you’ve got to remember that no one will read an uncompleted story or book.  No matter how lofty your writing dreams are you must finish what you start to make them come true.

Let’s show you how.

Stop starting new projects

This may not sound so good but it’s the truth. You already have a lot of unfinished projects why do you want to start something new? It is important to clear the backlog. Adding something new will only make things worse. Say no to new projects (for now).

Review all unfinished projects

Go back and review all your unfinished projects. You probably will discover much more than you thought existed. Once you gather all your unfinished work analyze them. Which ones do you want to continue with and which story should never have begun? Throw out everything you need to.

Decide what you’ll focus on

Now that you’ve analyzed what you want to keep, decide what project you will focus on presently and what has to wait. Don’t try to write your book, continue with your blog, complete your e-book, all at the same time. You may get stuck.

Become accountable

This exercise doesn’t mean you won’t feel like giving up on some of these projects again but the key is to become accountable to yourself. Set timelines to finish projects and follow through with them.

We hope this helps you finish those abandoned projects.

3 reasons you should not give up on your blog

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We’ve received a number of positive comments from our blogging series and we are glad that you love them.

We know there are number of people who are planning to give up on their blog because a thing or two are not working. Today’s post may cause you to have a rethink.

The first reason you shouldn’t give up on your blog is because you love what you do

It doesn’t matter what is not working on the blog right now, if you love blogging, you should reconsider before shutting the blog down. There’s nothing as fulfilling as doing what you enjoy. If you believe the blog is stressing you too much and isn’t bringing any form of reward maybe you should think of monetizing it. But think twice before you shut it down.

You have built a family

There’s something about building a community from scratch. It is a very humbling experience. If you have some kind of followership or blog community you should not be so quick to give up on your blog. What happens to all your loyal followers? Will you just leave them like nothing happened? That’s not good enough. It is not that easy to build another community like that again.

You’ve developed an eye for meaningful things.

Admit it, since you started blogging you have filtered certain things from your life. You have become more detailed and you now pay more attention to life and things around you. Blogging has helped you to appreciate and develop an eye for meaningful things. Why stop now?

Basically, we want you to think thoroughly before you shut down that blog. Your blog is a blessing to someone out there.

 

#WriterSpotlight – “Reach into the creativity of your soul and allow your mind to take you to places where you’ve never dreamt of.” Oche Victor

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Our #WriterSpotlight series is one reason we love Thursdays so much. Today won’t be any different.

Victor’s attraction to words led him to become a writer and spoken word poet even  as an Electronic Engineer. Pretty amazing! Enjoy his interview with us.

Hello Oche, please introduce yourself and tell us what you do.

My name is Oche Victor. I am an Electrical/Electronics engineer and a writer/spoken words poet. I was born in Benue State, grew up and went to schools also at Benue and Rivers States. I am an addicted reader and love to spend most of my time just reading various articles. I am also currently writing my first book with the title, “Yellow darkness”.

We know you studied Electronics Engineering, when and how did you discover your love for words?

Oh well I’ve always had an extremely strong attraction to words. Although I clearly discovered this from the days of high school when I would scribble letters for my friends as well as compose text messages for my parents.

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

I wrote my first poem at the very tender age of 15, which I titled “Broken ties”. I remember writing this poem and showing it to my friends and they were all astounded at such level of creativity. I was a shy kid, but I summoned courage and performed the poem at an event and that served as a springboard for where I am today.

Spoken word is 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?

Spoken words is more of an oral art that concentrates on the aesthetics of word play and intonation. Notable speeches such as Martin Luther King’s “I Have a dream” and Booker T. Washington’s “Cast down your buckets” could be regarded as bedrocks for the spoken word community. So basically, spoken words is just putting in emotional attitudes to these written words to make them appealing to listeners.

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

I haven’t really gotten negative comments about any of my poems, probably because I tend to focus on reality and I’m mused by the events that happen to us in our day to day lives.

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

Well, writing for me is something that flows from the deepest wells of my heart. I write for the love and satisfaction that comes from it, more reason why my poems and articles cut across all spheres of life. Moreover, this is the only medium which I can confidently express myself and like the saying goes, “Where your heart is, there your fortune lies.”

Do you have a writing mentor and why?

I do not really have a writing mentor. I do have a couple of writers I admire. I would say I find myself as my mentor because I like to fall in love with each and every poem I write and I ensure to get better than each previous piece I’ve ever written.

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

I am the type of human who aspires towards perfection. And as such I could edit my poems as many times as I want to so long as the intended message is not wiped out.

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

I do not believe that “talk is cheap”. People just find a way to believe theories that suits their comfort zones.

What’s your ultimate desire as a writer?

My ultimate desire as a writer is that, these words I sketch would sink deep into the wells of hearts and inspire people to find a reason to live. I hope that someday, writers will be a force to be reckoned with as we are totally on a journey to “save the world”.

Have you done anything to improve your writing skill in the past years, please tell us what you have done?

Yes, I have. I have taken out time to read articles of writers who have created a world impact. Learnt a thing or two from how they have successfully branded their craft.  I also indulged in a group of writers community as we help kindle our drives collectively.

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

Oh yes, I would totally love to meet Ezekiel Azonwu, a poet and spoken word performer. I would love to look him in the face and tell him how much I love the way he crafts his words and the energy he exudes each time he performs.

What’s your advice to upcoming poets? 

Poetry is an art that stirs imagination, so my advice to upcoming poets is just, reach into the creativity of your soul and allow your mind to take you to places where you’ve never dreamt of.

 

#ChroniclesOfAWriter – Do not be afraid to shine

Adedoyin Jaiyesimi

About a year and a half ago, I was called to manage a research project for a big client. I had to go for an interview to get the job. The person who called felt it was something I could do because she knew I had good research skills.

I didn’t really think much of the call except for the fact that the lady kept emphasizing how confidential and big the project was.

My meeting with the boss was the next day but I didn’t really prepare. How does one prepare for a project they know little or nothing about?

I arrived at the venue on time and after waiting for over an hour, I was invited into the boss’ office.

The man was not smiling.

The first thing he asked for was my experience. “Have you ever handled a big research project before?”

“No,” I replied, “but in my previous role as the Assistant Editor of Y! Magazine, I did a lot of research and in my three years as a Law student and the one year spent in Law School, research was something I did frequently.”

He gave me this funny look from the top of his glasses. Then he asked some more questions. I answered, still wondering how big this research project could really be.

Some minutes later, he dropped the bombshell.

“This project is for The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the findings of your research will form the basis of their activities in Nigeria and Africa as a whole. Are you sure you can handle a project of that magnitude?”

My heart stopped. Bill and Melinda what??

Immediately, several fearful thoughts flooded my mind.

“Better just tell the man that you can’t do it.” “Is it the small research you did at YNaija that you think you will do here?”

The thoughts didn’t stop.

But there was another voice. That voice said, “You can do it.” “You have great research skills. You are just applying that little skill that you have to something bigger.”

I chose to listen to the second voice and I told the boss that I could deliver.

He was sceptical but he agreed.

Knowing that a lot was at stake for me, beyond the money I was being paid (it would be the first time that I would earn money in foreign currency), I gave this project everything I had.

I went over and beyond in my research. I just had to deliver.

At the end of the day, I surpassed expectations to the point that the report I handed in became a template that other African countries used for their own report.

And the icing on the cake, I was called back to handle more projects for them.

That episode got me thinking, what if I walked away from that opportunity because I was afraid; because I had never done research and writing of that magnitude?

I would have missed out big time.

Let’s come to you for a minute; what opportunities are you denying yourself of simply because you are afraid that your writing is not good enough? What opportunities have you lost because you doubted your ability?

You cannot be successful if you always give in to fear. Most times, what you are afraid of never actually happens.

It always amazes me that the people who start off saying, “Adedoyin I’m not a great writer like you so manage what I have written,” end up writing amazing stuff. Really, I’m always amazed.

Your skill might not be where you want it to be yet but it will never get there if you don’t take the risk and put yourself forward.

If you don’t write, you will never get better.

If you don’t pursue opportunities to make your work more visible, you will keep writing for yourself only.

Put yourself out there and don’t be afraid of the skill you possess.

You are a great writer. I believe it. Do you?

#WordOfTheDay – What does uncouth mean?

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Hey Sparkle Writers! On today’s #WordOfTheDay series we are looking at what uncouth means.

Uncouth is an adjective that means several things. We’d tell you all about it today and even give you a few examples.

Uncouth can mean awkward, clumsy, or unmannerly. Look at this example;
Your brother is uncouth, he always embarrasses the family.
It can also mean strange, unusual and ungraceful in appearance or form.

My brother’s uncouth girlfriend does not realize she should close her mouth while chewing her food.

Have you used this word in a sentence before? You should try it.

Remember that if you don’t use the words you learn here you won’t remember them.

 

Apply for the Writivism Creative Writing Mentoring program

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Hello Sparkle Writers.

Have you always wanted to write creative stories but you need someone to guide you through the process?

Well, we are pleased to inform you that  the 2017 Writivism Creative Writing Mentoring is now open for applications. How exciting is that?

Writivism is a project of the Centre for African Cultural Excellence. They identify, mentor, publish and promote emerging African writers resident in any country on the African continent.

The online mentoring program is for emerging fiction writers and creative non-fiction writers who have not published a book yet.

The program will involve the emerging writer sending their work to the mentor (a published or award winning African writer), who will provide feedback on how the work can be improved.

Are you interested? Send an application to info@writivism.com:

Your application should contain the following:

  • A synopsis of the story you intend to work on, for the Writivism Short Story or Koffi Addo Non Fiction Prize.
  • A writing sample from the above project, of 500 – 1000 words.
  • A personal statement convincing the Writivism team of your suitability for the program.
  • A short bio of 50 – 100 words, including your nationality and country of residence,.

All documents must be sent as attachments in Microsoft Word or PDF formats. The email subject must read 2017 Writivism Mentoring Application.

All applications must be received by 31st January 2017 midnight, East African time.

For more information, visit Writivism for more information.

 

#GrammarSeries – There’s a difference between these words

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English language can be confusing even after many years of using it to communicate. Words that sound or look alike don’t help the situation.

Here are three words (in pairs) that you may have been confusing.

Its and it’s.

‘Its’ is a possessive form of ‘it’ while ‘it’s’ is a contraction for it is or it has. Most people get confused because of the ‘s which usually means something is possessive.

Are you confused? Whenever you use it’s check to see if replacing it with it is or it has will make any sense if it does, you are correct.

For example;

It’s been raining all week now the streets are flooded.

It’s one of the hardest courses in its history

They’re ,Their and There.

Although these words sound alike they do not mean the same thing.

‘There’ is used to indicate a place. It is the opposite of here

Your bag is there not here.

‘Their’ is a possessive adjective used before a noun. It shows that something belongs to a group of people.

I went to see my cousins. Their house is beautiful.

‘They’re’ is a contraction for they are.

Your children are beautiful – they’re beautiful

Censure and Censor.

Censure /ˈsɛnʃə/. This is used to express severe disapproval of (someone or something), especially in a formal statement. It is also used to refer to the formal expression of severe disapproval.

Censor  /ˈsɛnsə/. This means to examine (a book, film, etc.) officially and suppress unacceptable parts of it. It can also be used to refer to an official who examines books, films, news, etc. that are about to be published and suppresses any parts that are considered obscene, politically unacceptable, or a threat to security.

The board of education has censured the school principal because he tried to censor the students’ newspaper.

 

3 things to do after setting your writing goals

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We are continuing our #WritingGoals series with today’s topic. You know,  it’s not enough to set writing goals; there are a number of things you have to do after setting your goals. These things are what make the goal setting process worthwhile.  Wondering what they are? Keep reading.

The first thing you have to do is:

Work on the goals

Pretty simple right? But most people don’t do this. They write the goals and forget about it. Your writing goals will keep being goals until you work on them. You will continue to be an aspiring author until you actually write that book. Do you need to get a coach? Find one. Do you need to start a blog, what are you waiting for? 2017 is not the year for too much talk. Start working.

Remind yourself of the goals

The human mind is very fickle.  Because most of us set our goals at the beginning of the year, it is very easy for us to forget.  We get so busy trying to hustle that we just eventually go with the flow. If you don’t find a way to remind yourself of the things you want to achieve with your writing this year you will forget.  Place your writing goals as sticky notes and make sure its on your computer screen, the wall in your bedroom or your writing table. Just make sure those goals are visible. If you keep seeing your goals,  there is a tendency to achieve them, not when it is stuck in some journal.

Review your goals

What happens when you achieve all your writing goals for the year in the first quarter, do you go to sleep? No.

It is important to review your goals periodically. How far have you gone? What goal have you not touched, what goal needs to be reviewed? You need to constantly check all these for continuous progress.

How to re-start an abandoned writing project

If you are like many other writers then you have to admit that you have so many writing projects stuck in your drawer, a number of unfinished stories saved up on your computer and probably different blogs that you’ve abandoned  all over the internet.

While this is not new to writers, there’s got to be something we can do to stop these abandoned projects from increasing. Nobody is going to read an uncompleted novel and neither would anybody pay for an e-book that has just two unfinished chapters.

Besides, whatever writing goal you set for yourself this year would never become a reality if you don’t finish what you start.

Here’s how to:

Don’t start anything new

Yeah we know this may be difficult especially if you are always getting blessed with fresh ideas. But how will you complete the ones you have stocked already if you keep writing new ones? If you think you don’t want to lose the new ideas coming, jot them in a book. This way you win both ways.

Assess all abandoned projects

The first thing you have to do is find all abandoned projects, in your drawer, desktop, laptop, journal, wherever it is you may have saved them . Once you have done this, the next thing you should do is check them out. Which one do you want to continue with? Which do you want to trash? You have to figure that out. There are some articles you’ve got to admit are going nowhere or probably don’t appeal to you anymore. What do you do with them?

Rather than keeping dead projects release yourself of the stress and trash them.

Focus on one project

So now that you’ve assessed all your unfinished work you need to pick one and start working on it. Don’t try to start writing all your abandoned projects all at once. You will end up where you came from. Instead, make one your priority, maybe the e-book you stopped working on or the blog you’ve abandoned and start working on it immediately.

Now that you’ve read this, we hope you get to work. Let us know how it goes.