Writing is a craft; treat it as such

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Do you know that there has always been this argument about the difference between art and craft? Well, it has often been said that writing cannot fall into the category of craft because it does not produce something tangible like pottery, sculpting and wood-carving would produce.

It has also been mentioned that art comes as a result of a person’s innate talent while skill in craft can be acquired with experience. How wrong! 

You see, writing is art and craft all at the same time. It is true that writing, irrespective of whatever genre, first begins with your innate talent. However, it does not end there.  You’ve got to put in the work. Someone who carves wood for instance becomes skilled with experience. No wood carver becomes a legend overnight, irrespective of how talented he or she maybe. It takes time, lots of work, practice and experience to become a better crafts-person. The same happens with writing. Don’t see yourself as someone who just puts down whatever he feels like. You are a skilled person, setting hearts free, bringing joy and hope with your words.

It is high time you began seeing your writing as a craft. When you do this, it takes on a new shape. It becomes something tangible. You begin to see yourself as a crafts-person using his or her tools, which in this case are not concrete, to carve out images that people can relate with.

How do you get to that point where your writing becomes so tangible and real that your audience can almost touch your message? The answer is to keep writing to gain mastery of your craft.

One thing you should always remember is this: it is a good thing to be a talented writer. However, without practice and determination, you will never be a skilled crafts-person. Talent is just never enough.

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The bright side of writer’s block

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As much as we do not believe in writer’s block, we know there are some writers who still struggle with it. Today we have discovered something fun…the bright side of writer’s block! 

Who ever thought that writer’s block could have a bright side? 

Firstly, if you want to get the best out of a writer’s block experience (since you insist you have it) you have to change the way you see it. You have to stop seeing the block as an enemy. If you continue to see writer’s block as the enemy, you would end up frustrated and anxious. This will further hinder the inspiration from coming at the time it should come.

Secondly, writer’s block is life’s way of saying, “Hey, writer, it is time for you to take a break and have fun.” It draws your attention to some areas of life that you probably have been missing out on. It could be a shopping experience, a movie, another genre of novel that you probably never considered reading, a sermon, a scrabble game, a walk around the neighborhood, a music album, playing the guitar, anything to take your mind off the task for some time. The list is endless really. Have you ever wondered why inspiration drops at times when you are not even deliberate about it? So, relax and be calm. Handle writer’s block like a pro.

Finally, writer’s block will help you develop patience as a writer. It will teach you how to go easy on yourself and bring you face to face with your humanity. When you write in that “lack of inspiration” state and feel like what you have written is not worth writing or reading, you have to understand that with just a little patience, you can make something beautiful out of a crappy piece of writing. Do not give up on your writing because of writer’s block. Look on the bright side and become better at your writing craft.

See that writers block isn’t so bad after all? 

 

Embrace your not so popular ideas

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We absolutely love Amos Tutuola! Yes, his life is still an inspiration to all writers out there. It is remarkable what he did and how he became the first Nigerian writer to gain international fame through his writing. His first novel, “The Palm-wine Drinkard” has been translated to 11 languages. It was the first novel published in English outside Nigeria.

Why are we bringing this to your notice today? The answer is simple. Amos Tutuola wrote that book in modified Pidgin English. The title of the book tells us that much and it was outside of the mainstream literature at the time it was published in London.

This book garnered more than enough criticism with a good mix of popularity as well. The book was criticized as being too primitive and barbaric because of the kind of English it was written in. However, the book has been described by so many literary icons as the greatest novel ever written.

Dear Sparkle Writer, embrace your out-of-the mainstream ideas and opinions. Be fearless with your writings. Imagine that Amos Tutuola had chosen to focus on how he had just six years of formal schooling and was not educated enough to write in Standard British English. We would not be celebrating the ingenuity behind the novel “The Palm-wine Drinkard.”

Embrace your strange and not-so-popular ideas. Forget about the criticisms you might most likely receive. Forget about what other people might think about it and just write. Amos Tutuola’s book was not a perfect book but it was appreciated for its originality. Let go of your fears and write what you need to write. Trust us; you would be glad you did.

Writers are listeners. Are you listening?

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How much of a listener are you? This is your question for today.  So, we hear that you want to be a good writer which is awesome, but we are asking you just how much of a listener you are. Have you noticed that there are too many talkers in the world but few listeners? Yes, people are more interested in being heard than lending a listening ear.

Good writers are actually good listeners too. It really does not matter if your niche is fiction or non-fiction or just plain journalistic writing. The point is if you do not listen to people or the world around you, you will not have any material to work with. If you want to do “how-to” posts, for instance, you have to understand the specific problem that people would like to get solved. You would have to listen to their needs and their wants so that your writing would align with their needs. If you are a fiction writer on the other hand, listening to the people and the happenings around you would help you create real characters that your readers can actually relate with.

Ever read a book that made you laugh or cry and then you went, “Oh my God, that is the exact same thing I would have said if I was in that character’s shoes?” Well, that is the point exactly. Do not wade through the solitary waters of life simply because you are a writer. Listen to other people, like really really listen too. You would be amazed at the depth of information you would glean from just listening. Interesting characters abound in real life. All you have to do is keep your ears and eyes open to hear and see them. 

We know life is happening fast but you have to pause and listening to the world around you.

Your guide to finding clients that pay

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We know you are getting tired of writing for free. You keep hearing that there are people who are making money from their skill and you are wondering how and when it will be your turn to bill clients.

If most of the people who know you write do not see it as a serious profession or are not willing to pay for your services, today we are revealing our secrets and showing you where and how to find the clients that pay.

Thank us later!

Turn to your colleagues (including former colleagues) 

If our guess is right, you still have your day job, which is okay. Mention that you are writer to your colleagues so that they can inform you of any freelance opportunities. Talk to your previous colleagues. These people know you and trust you. Once there is an opportunity they will most likely remember you.

Connect with fellow freelancers

Don’t live in a world of your own and complain that writing doesn’t pay! It does. Talk to other writers. You never can tell, once they know you are available for work, they’d send you referrals from them.

Blog about your industry

Write useful articles you know your audience would love and submit to relevant websites. If you are targeting students look for where they visit often. 

Potential clients can see these articles and find a way to reach you. You never can tell.

Get referrals from existing clients

Email your existing clients to see if they can refer you to other businesses. If you have a great working relationship with them, they’ll be glad to send others your way.

Head to a co-working space

Co-working spaces give you tons of opportunities to meet other freelancers and business owners thankfully, there are a number of them around. Find them and use them. 

4 practical tips to help you improve your productivity as a writer

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Hardwork sometimes is not good enough as writers. The more clients or writing gigs we get, the more important it is for us to understand productivity and how important it is to our growth. Being busy and not meeting deadlines doesn’t spell productivity.  

With the hustle and bustle of life especially if you stay in Lagos, other responsibilities and for those who work a 9-5, these practical tips will show you that we care about your productivity as a writer . 

Put your phone on silent

This is the first rule to getting any serious work done. We don’t know if it’s just us but there’s this thing about when it’s time to work, the phone alarm goes off, text messages, both the wanted and the unwanted ones, keep coming in. Let’s not talk about the emails and those calls. You may not be able to prevent them from coming but you can prevent them from disturbing you. Just put the phone on silent. 

Mute your email with Gmail pause 

It’s good that you’ve put your phone on silent but you must know that it is not enough. If you’d be working with your laptop which is most likely the case, you need to take it a step further by muting your email so that you don’t keep getting distracted from that end.

Sort out your to-do list 

It is no longer enough to have a to do list . You need to prioritize work that needs to be done. Most times we just write out tasks for the day and eventually do the least important ones leaving the most important ones for another time. That needs to stop. Highlight your tasks by must do, should do and want to do and start with the must do obviously. 

Smile and be happy

When you are getting it right, smile and when you are not and it feels like you are getting overwhelmed take a deep breath and smile more. Don’t panic, don’t get nervous; it only makes things worse.  Everything will be fine

 

 

 

 

Thinking of co-authoring a book? Read this first

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Hello Sparkle Writers! Co-authoring is not something that is very common especially in this part of the world. Many writers are just getting to embrace this profession and we know that soon there will be more books written by co-authors. Writing is fun and can be much better with a partner. However, there are few things you must note. 

Communication is key

It’s important that you communicate with your writing partner.

Even if you have a lot in common, being able to speak honestly and clearly is important when you encounter bumps along the way. You can use a Google doc so that everything is automatically saved. This makes sharing easy and you and your writing partner can edit at the same time.

Your writing will also go more smoothly if you schedule weekly phone calls to go over important thoughts and concerns.

Share a similar vision

During the initial stage of planning, it’s important to clearly define your vision, to make sure both of you are on the same page. You and your partner are different writers and may have different goals for the book. Sort out these differences so you can move on to other things.  

Establish a timeline to complete the project

It’s a good idea to discuss timelines and how you plan to complete the project. This way everyone is on their toes and the book isn’t delayed.

Let go of control

Writing a book with someone means you are not as in control as you may want to be. You’ve got to learn how to let go of control and of course be open to criticism. Your writing partner has a lot to bring to the table just like you do. Make sure you don’t disregard his or her opinion. 

Your journal gives you permission to write like no one is reading

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Social media has changed the way things are done and although some of these changes are great, others are not so acceptable. One of them is the change in how and why we write. 

As writers we are supposed to write first for ourselves before writing for others but the advent of social media has made changed things. How you may ask? Many writers post their work on social media (which in itself is a good thing) but this means that a lot of other writers would see these posts, comments and likes and probably feel jealous. This jealousy can in turn fuel their need to write their own posts in the same way, using the same style just to get the results of fellow writers on Instagram.

This is very dangerous. Doing this consistently will not only silence your authentic voice in due time, it will also make you dislike what you do over time because you will be writing to compete instead of writing to be heard, to release your thoughts and bless humanity. 

Writing in your journal however helps to curb this. Your journal is a safe haven and knowing that no one is judging you or your work gives you the license to write uncensored and pour out your truest feelings. 

Writing a journal is easy, with it you write at your pace, no one expects a 2500 word count from you in one week. With a journal you have the permission to not always make sense. You don’t need to keep writing and editing at the same time. With a journal no one is reading, so you can write whatever the you want.

Use your journal wisely and if you don’t have one you know what you have to do. 

Your book will first be judged by its cover, make it awesome!

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No matter how you want to rationalize it, potential readers and the audience at large will judge your book first by its cover before they open it and read the pages.

The cover is what everyone sees first. If we don’t like what we see, there’s no point opening it. We just move on. If you do not take out time to create a striking design alongside your publisher or graphic designer, your book will automatically lose a large percent of its potential readers. 

Our brains are wired to process images faster than words. When we see an image, it makes us feel something. A great cover can help your reader instantly recognize that your book is for them.

Bookshops display books with their covers facing the reader. It’s the first thing a reader sees. It is the reason a customer picks up the book, particularly in a supermarket setting where every book is front facing.

When a reader sees an amateur cover on a book, they will expect the content itself to be amateur. If it looks cheaply produced, then they will expect the inside quality to be cheap also or that there has been little or no editing, proofreading or it contains bad prose. If a reader sees a cover and has that expectation, why should they buy the book? And it’s not just about someone buying a book, but about them investing their time to read it. 

Poor designs on the other hand can be a huge turn off. With millions of books for readers to choose from, the first “sales pitch” is the cover. If it is not striking enough to draw attention, it will be passed over for something more interesting on either side.

Don’t ruin your book’s chances of success. 

The world doesn’t need another Shakespeare or J.K Rowling, it needs you!

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Shakespeare, J.K Rowling, Stephen King, Jeff Goins, Ernest Hemingway – we admire their work, we marvel at their creativity and definitely want to read more from them. What we don’t want is to read another person who is failing at trying to sound or write like they do! Nope we are not interested. 

Writing is simple; it is about looking at the world and saying what you see. If you are trying to say what someone else sees you will struggle for the most part of it. 

One sure way to ruin all your chances of becoming a good writer is by trying to be someone you’re not. The reason that you’re intimidated by other writers is probably because you think you need to become like them to be a good writer. Absolutely not. 

 The world is waiting for the manifestation of your talent!