‘Keep an honest, unpublishable journal’ – Madeleine L’Engle’s advice to writers is epic!

We’ve seen a lot of advice to writers so you can trust us when we say Madeleine’s advice is epic. It is in three folds and we’d just highlight them properly. 

On keeping an honest journal. 

‘If you want to write, you need to keep an honest, unpublishable journal that nobody reads, nobody but you. Where you just put down what you think about life, what you think about things, what you think is fair and what you think is unfair.’

We totally agree. One of the reasons why we are lacking original content is because everyone is churning out what they think people want to read people or are copying what they see from other writers and as a result, there’s just a bunch of duplicated copies of art, content and truth. It is time writers wrote out their true feelings, the deepest, and most vulnerable. Keeping this journal will help to keep that truth alive.

On why reading is and will always be important

‘You need to read. You can’t be a writer if you’re not a reader. It’s the great writers who teach us how to write.’ 

As a writer, you must be someone who loves to read. There’s nothing more to add to this. 

On why writing every day is still relevant 

‘The third thing is to write. Just write a little bit every day. Even if it’s for only half an hour — write, write, write.’

Because in the end that’s why you are a writer, to write.

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Do this when you don’t know what to blog about

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You have decided to be consistent with blogging and you even went ahead to set a target for yourself. The only issue is that you don’t know what your next post will be about. 

We have a suggestion for you – Do something interesting and then write about it.

If you really think you are stuck, do this and it will fix all your problems. Life is way easier to write about when you’re doing something interesting. Don’t you think so? Take a course, tick activities off your bucket list, say hello to a stranger on your way from work. It doesn’t have to be anything super serious but it must be interesting enough to catch the attention of your blog readers. 

You never can tell, they may like the post so much and request that you make that post a regular one on your blog. This would however not happen if you do not try it out first. 

Blogging doesn’t have to be so straight jacketed and boring. Try new things and have fun while you are at it. Just make sure that you don’t use writer’s block as an excuse not to write. You know what we think about it already. 

#WriterSpotlight – “I would love my writing to win a space for me in people’s hearts.” Ibukun Tunbi

 

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We absolutely love Ibukun Tunbi’s interview on today’s edition of #WriterSpotlight. She is such an amazing writer and her answers are so real. We love how, after struggling so much with her passion, she is finally doing what she loves which is writing. Be inspired by our interview with Ibukun. 

Hello Ibukun. Can you please describe yourself in a few words?

Assertive, strong willed, playful, bold, down to earth and spiritual.

When did you discover you had a passion for writing and why did you follow this passion?

At the back of my mind, I always knew I would write, I just never imagined it would become a passion. Growing up, I had this feeling that I would be successful at it and that made me very fearful of trying. Eventually, I found myself caught between this paralyzing fear and thoughts dying to be expressed. One had to give way for the other. On this particular day, I made a decision to get validation from someone that could be gracefully objective. I wrote a story and sent it to my sister anticipating her response. She was so excited and told me to continue with the story. Her feedback made me think, ‘Umm…maybe this could work’ but still I didn’t immediately jump into writing,

I started a blog last year and was still oblivious to the fact that I had a passion for writing. I knew I liked story telling but it seemed too big to touch so I didn’t really embrace the idea.

Eventually, after a few years of trying my hands at this and that, I accepted writing to be my passion. The year after, I was reminded of a scene from the movie Sister Act (II). It was something Whoopi said to Lauren Hill that caused my awakening.  She said to her, ‘If you wake up everyday and all you think about is singing that means you are a singer.’ Applying this to myself, I decided it was time to stop being chased by my passion and chase my passion instead, I was a writer.

 Can you tell us what you love most about writing?

What I love most about writing, specifically storytelling, is the power inherent in creativity. Once one word is written the next obediently follows. The words always find an avenue to come alive and find their place in your story. Characters, scenes, dialogue…all of it, fascinates me as they mix together to create a beautiful piece. Most times, I wonder if I am the one writing or if the story is really telling itself through me. The feeling I get in the mixing and matching process is amazing. What is even more fulfilling is the joy that comes from beholding a finished work. I usually feel I earned myself a reason to sleep afterwards.

 What is the most important thing writing has taught you?

Writing has taught me that you get better with use. In whatever field you are in, I believe this rule applies. Experience really cannot be bought; knowledge can but experience cannot. The more you make use of something the better you are at manoeuvring it.

 At what point did you decide to start your blog and how has the experience been?

My blog was my training ground. It started at a time when I was trying to discover myself. The words in my head kept bouncing around until one day God told me, “Start a blog.” It was very direct. I started to give my excuses, which He sorted out. All that was left was the courage to start and that came along too. I did it afraid. I still do.

It’s been a roller coaster. In the beginning, I got so much support, then it reduced. At a point, I felt drained. I had to stop but a friend encouraged me to continue. Sometimes, I ask myself ‘why am I doing this?’ But somehow, I get encouraged again. I can tell you, as of a few days ago, I was thinking of shutting down the blog, but this has encouraged me to continue.

Which author (dead or alive) would you love to spend a day with if given a chance?

Hands down, C. S. Lewis. I would love to peek into his mind to see how it worked.

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Have you ever reached a point where you wanted to give up on writing?

Not really but I found myself extremely discouraged recently. I submitted a script to this production house but they got back to me saying they couldn’t produce my story. It was my first bold step in putting my work publicly and I was terribly crushed. I felt very powerless to keep trying. It’s a terrible thing to feel like a dream died. So anyway, one of my Spurlies (friends) called me and suggested we attend this program. I was still in a haze so I told her to register on my behalf. Eventually I made it to the event, half interested. When I got in, I met this lady speaking. She mentioned that every year for the past ten years, she has considered giving up but somehow, she has kept going. I was really shocked, especially because the lady is quite successful in her field. This theme was re-occurrent throughout the program. A few other successful speakers mentioned how they kept going despite the temptation to give up. It then dawned on me that everyone was bound to go through this stage of despair and I was in good company. Thus, my resolve to keep moving.

When you are struggling to find inspiration, can you share some of the things you do to find that inspiration to write?

Sometimes, I just write anything that comes to my head and try to force the words out. However, in situations like that, I feel like my work doesn’t make a lot of sense. Other times, I change my environment, and I get inspired. This trick doesn’t work too often though. The one that works mostly is spending time with God. After I do, I feel a flow and writing becomes effortless.

I have learnt that my writing flows from some place and so I respect that. Therefore, if there’s still no flow after I have done all that I know to do, I wait until I am stirred, and I always am, then I write.

 Where would you like writing to take you to in the future?

As much as I would like to win Oscars and Nobel Laureates, I especially would love my writing to win a space for me in people’s hearts. The ultimate for me is when my words become a voice. A voice that influences how society is shaped; a voice that creates a worldwide platform where the very hearts of people are touched.

What advice do you have for people who know that they have a message to share but fear keeps holding them back?

You can only run so far. It’s time to stop and embrace your message, your fulfilment is hidden in your fear.

 

If you know any writer who you feel should be featured on our #WriterSpotlight segment or you are that writer, please send an email to thesparklewritershub@gmail.com. 

#WordOfTheDay – Find out what inveterate means

 

We love it when we have the opportunity to learn new words. It is even better when we get to share those words with you! It’s time for our #WordOfTheDay on The Sparkle Writer’s Hub.

Today’s word is ‘inveterate’. Inveterate is an adjective that is pronounced /ɪnˈvɛt(ə)rət/. Ever heard of this word? 

It means to have a particular habit, activity, or interest that is long-established and unlikely to change. 

Look at these examples:

Politicians are inveterate liars.

I am an inveterate writer, what about you?

Find ways to use this word in a sentence this week. See you next week when we will have a new word for you.

#GrammarSeries – The difference between burnt and burned

Hey, Sparkle Writers.

Have you ever burned/ burnt a meal before? How did you relay the information? Most people still do not know which is correct. Burned or burnt?

If you read this post till the end, you will find out. 

Burned and burnt are both acceptable past-tense forms of the verb to burn.

While ‘burned’ is more acceptable in the United States, ‘burnt’ is more acceptable in the United Kingdom. 

So for example, you’d say  

Mom burned the cakes (if you are using the American standard)

Mum burnt the cakes (if you are using the British standard)

In addition, the dictionary of Modern English Usage says that the two forms can have slightly different meanings. For example, if you say a house burnt down, that implies it happened quickly, but people are more likely to use burned for something that took a long time like ‘the fire burned for days’. But this isn’t a hard-and-fast rule.

We hope this helps! 

 

Culled from GrammarGirl

 

Dear Writer, you can do more

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‘Great work’, ‘Oh my goodness I could totally relate with that.’

These are just some of the kind of comments you have received from readers and you totally deserve it because you’ve done a great job. 

But can we talk? 

There’s still more, so much more you can do.  

“What more can I do,” you may ask? 

Our answer is much more than you are already doing. When you begin to feel comfortable with where you are and what you have achieved please know that it is time to reach into your wells of creativity and bring out or do something different. 

Building a career in writing is not just about blogging every day, posting your articles on social media, or guest blogging.

Have you started reaching out to other writers or are you still one of those that believe writers must be introverts with no form of social life at all?

How about collating all your poems and creating an e-book? Big deal? Not so much. 

What if you did something bigger like reach into the hidden and almost forgotten folders on your computer and finish up that beautiful story you were working on. When we say story we do not necessarily mean fiction. It doesn’t matter what you have achieved so far there is room for MORE. 

 

Writing Events This Weekend!

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Hello Sparkle Writers!

Every Friday, we will bring you events and training for writers that we think you should be aware on a weekly basis. There’s no reason for you to miss out on great events anymore. 

This week, we have the following events;

White Lagos Book Party

You may have heard of the award winning travel writer in Nigeria, Pelu Awofeso, but we are not sure you have seen his new book White Lagos! 

The book is a beautiful documentation of the popular Eyo Festival in Lagos and to officially launch it, Pelu will be hosting the White Lagos Book Party this Sunday, July 23rd 2017 at Page Book Connoisseurs 

The Commissioner for Information and Strategy in Lagos State, Steve Ayorinde, will be a special guest at this event. 

Want to attend? Purchase a copy of his book and you get an instant invite. 

For more information about this event, kindly visit Pelu Awofeso’s twitter handle (@PeluAwofeso)

 

OkadaBooks Writers Association Masterclass

OkadaBooks is hosting a Masterclass this Sunday to teach writers how to create book covers for free. How awesome is that? This is a great opportunity to learn how to create amazing designs for that book you are writing. 

You don’t need to own a complex graphic design software or have a degree in Graphic Design to create beautiful images. Just attend this masterclass. 

In this free session, you will learn how to create beautiful book covers and fliers with a program as simple as Microsoft Word.

This class is ideal for authors who want to design simple but beautiful book covers without shelling out thousands of Naira.

This class will hold at Workstation in Victoria Island. Spaces are limited so RSVP as soon as possible by sending a mail to okada@okadabooks.com.

 

If you have an event or training for writers that you would like us to feature, please send an email to thesparklewritershub@gmail.com. 

Five Ways To Improve Your About Me Page

Many writers and bloggers are so focused on their blog that they forget the other equally important elements. “What’s more important than my blog itself?” You ask. The answer is your ‘About Me/ About’ page. Do you have one on your blog or website? We hope you do because there’s a lot you can achieve with this page. 

Your About Me page gives your readers more insight about you and what your blog is about. It is also a great way to publicize your social media profiles, and leave contact information especially for those who may want to collaborate or partner with you. If you have been neglecting your About Me page, you can use the suggestions below to work on it as soon as possible. 

Who Is Your Blog For?

For your About Me page to be great, you need to establish who your blog is for. If you are writing for women only, please state it. In our About Me page, we stated that this is a writing blog for writers. That already gives you an idea that our posts will be majorly about writing and books and it is easier to make a decision about whether this blog is for you or not. 

What Will Your Readers Gain?

You should tell your readers what they stand to gain from your blog in your About Me page. To do this, you need to know the major problems your blog solves. For example, your blog may provide quick and easy recipe options for professional women who are too busy to cook. 

Use the following questions as a guide for stating the value your blog offers;

  • Why did you create the blog?
  • What will your readers learn from you?
  • Why should your readers listen to you? What relevant experience do you have?
  • What should they follow/ subscribe to your blog?

Give Personal Details.

No, we don’t mean you should give out your address or your bank details. We are asking you to let your readers into your world. We love the way our Founder did it on her blog. She went personal without giving out too many private details making it easy for her target readers to connect with her. That’s the kind of thing you need to do. 

Talk About Your Blog.

Your About Me page gives you an opportunity to sell your blog or website to your potential readers. Give your readers a hint of what to expect from them. Consider your About Me page as the appetizer and your entire blog as the main meal. You see why you need to make it as interesting as possible. We love the way Kachi Tila-Adesina writes about herself and her website in her About page.

Include A Call To Action.

Make the most of your About Me page by including a call to action. This could be for your readers to follow you on social media or to sign up to your mailing list. You may also want to provide your email address so that your readers and potential clients can get in touch with you. 

We hope you will use these tips to improve your About Me page. See you next week! 

#WriterSpotlight – “No story is to short to tell, too long to narrate or too irrelevant to be listened to.” Abifola Abraham

 

It’s another Thursday and you know it’s time for our #WriterSpotlight feature! Before we tell you about today’s writer, we want to remind you about our special #WriterSpotlight Anniversary Edition. This evening, we will have an Instagram Live Chat with our Founder where she will give writing advice and solutions to common problems writers face. It starts at 7 pm so don’t miss it. 

Back to today’s feature! It won’t be an exaggeration to call Abifola Abraham a creative genius. He expresses his creativity in poetry and pencil art. We love the fact that he is self-motivated and he is willing to work hard to be successful in his craft. Enjoy his interview with us.

Hello Fola. Can you please describe yourself in a few words?

Olorunlana Abifola Abraham is my name. I’m 18 years old. I hail from Ondo state Nigeria. I draw and write poems.

Drawing and writing poems. That’s an interesting combination. How did you develop a passion for these two things?

Let me say it has always been in me. All I did was let it out. The passion comes as a result of my hard work and encouragement from people who see my work and appreciate it.

In what ways are art and poetry related?  

Well, I define art as a creative way of expressing one’s self. Poetry exhibits this, likewise drawing. So poetry is just a form of art.

Take us through your journey to getting to where you are today. How did you begin as a pencil artist and as a poet?

Well, that’s a long story, but I’ll try to keep it short. It all started when I was little. I was a fan of old British movies, where they’d sing while acting, or sometimes recite rhythmic words while acting. I also loved comic cartoon characters and paint works made by art legends such as Van Gogh, Lionel Da Vinci, and Picasso. I always tried mimicking the actors and actress in those movies I watched. Then I continued until one day my friends saw me in that act and they encouraged me to keep up. As I tried keeping up with the act, I was making caricature comic drawings of my own. Then as I grew older my fascination for comic characters began to fade right from the moment I came across “tag drawing”(a form of drawing in which you use objects to represent or describe a person, society or situation). I kept on making imaginative tag drawings until I came across a pencil portrait work of an Africa girl on the internet. I was amazed. I decided to give it a try and I discovered I had what it takes. Ever since I’ve been making pencil drawings, and I’ve not for once regretted being a pencil artist. On the other hand, I began to write poems the day I was introduced to poetry writing in secondary school. I was 14 and I did literature in secondary school even though I was a science student.  Ever since I’ve been a poet and a pencil artist.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

Inspiration is a thing that comes to you anywhere, anytime.  Sometimes I am my own inspiration. Most of my poems are written based on things that have happened to me. So I just tell the story in form of a poem.  Sometimes, I get my inspiration from the society;  what’s going around me. I basically write my poems to express my thoughts in simple words, which of course will be easy for readers to relate with and get absorbed into.

Did you face any challenges in your journey and how were you able to overcome them? 

Of course I did face some challenges. There was a time I had issues with getting people to read my poems. But thanks to the existence of social media I get to share my poems on Instagram to a wide audience who can read my poems. On the other hand, drawing was more challenging. My parents always believed being a pencil artist was a waste of time and wouldn’t bring reasonable returns. All I did was to raise capital on my own. I denied myself of some things so I could get art materials which are not cheap to purchase and have never been cheap to purchase. It took a while before I could acquire a lot of professional drawing tools. I now have reasonable number of drawing tools.  I kept up with the work until my dad came home one day, saw one of my works and told me to keep the good work up. Today, I fund my own art.

What do you love most about what you do?

What I love most about what I do is that I get to express myself as well the fact that people appreciate my works when they see them.

Has combining art and poetry been profitable for you?

Yes, it has been profitable so far, especially drawing.

As a creative person, what are some of your frustrations with the way art is viewed in Nigeria?

First of all, most attention is focused on people who have spent decades doing art leaving the young and upcoming ones crawling their way up on their own. Secondly, art in Nigeria is not that well-appreciated. It’s sometimes considered as being cheap. People give you good credit for your works but don’t want to pay to have them.

Creative people are more often than not taken for granted because people do not understand the amount of time and effort they put in their work. What do you think can be done to change this?

Well, it happens in almost every occupation. All I think could be done is that one should try to stand out in whatever he or she does. The more the expression of creativity, the more the chances of appreciation.

What is the most important lesson writing has taught you?  

The most important thing I’ve learnt from writing is that, whatever story it is you have in mind, learn to put it down and showcase it to an audience. You never can tell who’s going to learn from it and whose life it is going to change for good. I’ve written a poem which I didn’t consider to have a strong theme but I was surprised when a reader texted me saying he read my poem and his mind was eased. He, in fact, thanked me for it.

What advice do you have for people who know that they have a message to share but fear keeps holding them back?

My advice to those who have something to share yet allow fear to hold them back is, no story is too short to tell, too long to narrate or too irrelevant to be listened to. Do not mind the number of your audience. Not every story is for everyone. Just express yourself to an audience and you’d see your story touching souls and changing lives.

 

If you know any writer who you feel should be featured on our #WriterSpotlight segment or you are that writer, please send an email to thesparklewritershub@gmail.com. 

#WordOfTheDay – Here’s What ‘Propitious’ Means

It’s time to learn a new word on The Sparkle Writer’s Hub!

The word we have for you today is ‘Propitious’.

Propitious is an adjective that is pronounced, /prə-ˈpi-shəs/. Derived from the Latin word, ‘propitius’, it means to be favourably disposed or giving/ indicating a good chance of success.

Here’s how to use ‘Propitious’ in a sentence;

1. Now is a propitious time to start a business.

2. The success of the first big movie in May was a propitious start for the summer season of blockbusters.

We hope you will use this word in a sentence soon.