#WriterSpotlight – “Find your voice, be consistent and stay true to yourself.” DamiLoves

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We have Damilola on today’s #WriterSpotlight. Her description of the difference between inspiration and motivation and the role discipline plays in the life of a writer is insightful and so is the rest of the interview.

Enjoy!

Hello Damilola Can you please describe yourself in a few words?

Damilola is a determined lady trying to live out God’s calling on her life, who endeavours to utilise all opportunities she encounters.

When and how did you discover your love for writing?

I cannot accurately pinpoint where my love for writing grew from, but I can certainly say that it was born alongside my love for reading books and stories. Growing up my father and maternal grandfather always had a book in their hands. They are two of the most intelligent people I know, yet they still wanted to learn and explore more. In reading, I feed my desire to learn more about the enigma that is life, and in writing, I attempt to bring a voice to stories that would have been forgotten.

What is the most important lesson writing has taught you?

Writing has taught me the value of patience. It has shown me the importance of stepping out regardless of the amount of fear and hesitation one may have. The reason for this is that writing is an exercise in editing, but you cannot edit a piece of work if there is no first draft. You must have the boldness to write down the first few words of the first draft, and return to it and work on it until it resembles the finished product you have envisioned. It can be a gruelling process, but the catharsis it produces pays off in the end.

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

I will choose a dead author in the person of Rainer Maria Rilke. I bought the book “Letters to a young poet” as a young teenager, and I find his instructions to Kappus the young poet still resonating with me till today; the letters were written in 1902, but the wisdom is still relevant today.

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

Give up on writing? No, it has become part and parcel of who I am, I even write letters to some of my friends, and I adore love letters. Writing is a way for me to reflect, learn and even pray to God. So, no I have not wanted to give up, but when a project is due, or I am near a deadline, and I don’t have the finished product I envisaged, such moments can be testing.

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

I will acknowledge that there is no real lack of inspiration for a writer as there is a lack of motivation. Life is inspiring; nature, sorrow, joy, pain; there is some inspiration all around us. However, I have found that motivation and discipline are the more significant factors when writing seems to have reached a point of no return.

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?

I have encountered the sharp sting of having my work rejected, and I acknowledge that a lot of us do work that inadvertently becomes pro-bono. So to change the current narrative, we will need to alter the mindset of those who are in the driving seat. Consumers and publishers alike need to understand the struggle, and sometimes tears that it takes to produce quality content.

You manage a blog, in your own opinion what’s the most important skill a blogger needs to have?

I currently run damiloves, and when I started, it was about my journey, but now it is about the journey of women. I endeavour to encourage women by sharing stories, poems or my thoughts of social events; reaching where we are today has been a lesson in evolution. I will say a passion and a desire to excel will be the main driving force. Find your voice, be consistent and stay true to yourself; your niche may change but don’t attempt to run someone else’s race.

What will you say has been your biggest achievement as a writer so far?

I completed a short series last year on my blog “a collection of scars“. It was a collection of fictional monologues by fictional Nigerian women who were carrying some burden or another. I was enamoured by the feedback I received, so many people had such unexpected emotional responses to the stories, their feedback humbled me.

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

I would like my writing to be part of the legacy I leave behind. I want my words to bring joy, comfort and healing even after I depart from this earth.

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

I would say to them just write, start with small steps and whatever you do just write. There is a talent in you that the world is waiting for; in following your dreams, you open the doors for someone else to walk towards the light of their destiny.

 

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. 

#GrammarSeries – All you need to know about non continuous verbs

It is #GrammarSeries on the Sparkle Writer’s Hub blog today and we want to learn about non-continuous verbs. 

Non-continuous verbs are verbs that we do not normally use with continuous tenses. These “stative” verbs are about state, not action, and they cannot express the continuous or progressive aspect. Here are some of the most common non-continuous verbs:

Here are some of the most common non-continuous verbs:

  • Feelinghate, like, love, prefer, want, wish
  • Sensesappear, feel, hear, see, seem, smell, sound, taste
  • Communicationagree, deny, disagree, mean, promise, satisfy, surprise
  • Thinkingbelieve, imagine, know, mean, realize, recognize, remember, understand
  • Other statesbe, belong, concern, depend, involve, matter, need, owe, own, possess

If you’ve been using any of these verbs in the continuous tense you have to stop. 

Look at these examples

I am wanting cake (Wrong)

I want cake (Right)

I am not hearing anything (Wrong)

I can’t hear anything (Right)

Until next week when we bring another series your way, keep your grammar in check. 

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! 

#GrammarSeries – 20 Ways to Avoid Using The Word ‘Very’

Hello Sparkle Writers! Welcome to another Grammar Series on The Sparkle Writer’s Hub. Today, we want to teach you how to avoid using the word ‘very’ when you write. 

‘Very’ is not a bad word. The problem is that when you use it too much, your creative muscles become lazy. Instead of saying, “I am freezing,” you opt for “I am very cold.” As writers your choice of words matters. ‘Freezing’ evokes more emotion than ‘very cold’.

To help you avoid using the word ‘very’ too often, we have a list of alternatives that you will find useful. 

1.  Very Afraid – Terrified, Frightened.

2. Very Bad – Inadequate, Atrocious.

3. Very Beautiful – Alluring, Exquisite.

4. Very Clever – Intelligent, Brilliant. 

5. Very Happy – Excited, Elated. 

6. Very Worried – Anxious, Distressed. 

7. Very Strong – Powerful, Sturdy.

8. Very Rude – Impolite, Cheeky. 

9. Very Fast – Quick, Swift.

10. Very Slow – Lengthy, Time-Consuming. 

11. Very Thin – Slim, Lean. 

12. Very Quiet – Silent. Tranquil.

13. Very Serious – Solemn, Significant. 

14. Very Neat – Orderly, Immaculate. 

15. Very Tired – Exhausted, Drained. 

16. Very Stressed – Pressurized, Burdened. 

17. Very delicious – Mouth-watering, Appetizing. 

18. Very Risky – Dangerous, Perilous. 

19. Very Big – Spacious, Roomy.

20. Very Important – Critical, Paramount. 

#WordOfTheDay – This is what ‘Finifugal’ means

Hey there, Sparkle Writers. It’s time for Word of The Day. Today’s word is ‘Finifugal#. Can you guess what it means? 

Finifugal is an adjective used to describe someone who hates endings or someone who tries to avoid or prolong the final moment of a story, relationship, or some other journey 

Here’s how to this word in a sentence;

  • As a writer, one cannot afford to be finifugal. Every story must come to an end.
  • Hopeless romantics tend to be finifugal.

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 – 10 Ways to Improve Your Writing Instantly

Hello Sparkle Writers! Welcome to another Grammar Series. We hope you’ve been learning from our previous posts. Today we want to share 10 ways you can improve your writing instantly. These are little changes you can make to your use of grammar that will make a big difference in the quality of your writing. Are you ready?

1. Prepositions (after, towards, against etc) are not words to end sentences with. Try to use them either at the beginning or in the middle of your sentences. 

2. Avoid cliches like a plague. Why write, “As busy as a bee” when this expression has been overused. Be more creative. 

3. Do not use more words than necessary. It’s superfluous and actually takes away from the true meaning that you intended your words to have. 

4. Avoid profanity as much as you can. Use it sparingly and only when necessary. 

5. The passive voice should ideally be avoided. We’ve discussed this on the blog before. 

6. Depending on the nature of what you are writing, avoid colloquialisms if possible. 

7. Let your use of alliterations be limited. Alliteration is the repetition of the same sound or letter at the beginning of each or most of the words in a sentence. For example, ” Anxious ants avoid the anteater’s advances.” Imagine how your work will be if it is filled with a lot of this. 

8. Do not abbreviate. Try as much as possible to use the full meaning. If it is something you will use several times, then you can abbreviate from the second use. 

9. Be mindful of how you use contractions (don’t, won’t, can’t). Do not over do it. 

10. When in doubt about a word, phrase or grammatical expression, rephrase your sentence to avoid using that word. Better to be safe than sorry 

See you next week! 

#WriterSpotlight – “Writing has taught me that nothing is impossible.” Chioma Anulika

Don’t you just love Thursdays on The Sparkle Writer’s Hub? It’s time for another wonderful #WriterSpotlight feature and today, we have Chioma Anulika Christine. She is a fantastic inspirational blogger who has learnt over the years that with writing, nothing is impossible. You will enjoy her interview with us. 

Hello Chioma. Can you please tell us about yourself in a few words?

My name is Chioma Anulika Christine. I run an inspirational and lifestyle blog called Anuli’s Blog. I am a writer, a content creator, a closet author, a weirdo and an introvert who finds inspiration in the most abnormal things.

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

I discovered my passion for writing as early as I started writing and reading. Boredom was one thing that made me realise how much I loved writing. My decision to follow this passion was not conscious. Writing made me happy so I continued doing it. Also, my parents and my brother, Joshua, were always pushing me forward. They always reminded me that what I could do was special.

Can you tell us what you love most about writing?

I love how writing gives me the ability to create a new world and be imaginative. I also love the fact that I can pass my message across with my words. Writing has served and is still serving as an escape when I find myself stuck in a place I do not want to be.

Your writing is centred around your faith and inspiring people. Why did you decide to go in this direction?

This was not a conscious decision. My faith is something that I am constantly growing and sharing always made me feel like I was doing good by God and that feeling cannot be traded for anything. I always want to make my writing a reflection of myself and sharing certain situations and phases my life has gone through and how I have been able to get through them makes me feel like I am also helping someone else.

What is the most important lesson writing has taught you?

Writing has taught me that nothing is impossible. Writing has taught me that we do not have to always use our mouth to speak, writing can speak for us.

In what ways have you grown over the years as a writer?

I have grown tremendously with my expression and interaction and being able to channel my thoughts properly before putting them into words. When I was growing into writing, I never put these things into consideration, I just wrote as I pleased. Writing for this long has made me realise the various aspects and just how broad writing is.

You inspire people a lot. Have you ever reached a point where you struggled to find inspiration? How did you handle it?

It feels great to hear that I inspire people. Yes, I have reached several points where I struggled to find inspiration. I just recently went through a phase and it was the most difficult compared to the others. I didn’t feel the happiness I used to and it made me really depressed. It took a while for me to find my way back but God helped me a lot. I had series of quiet time with God and with myself and I remember one thing I always asked God and it was that He should remind me why I loved writing so much and why I derived joy from inspiring people and He helped a lot. I also read a lot because reading has been one major point of inspiration for me.

What will you say has been your biggest achievement as a writer so far?

That would be the Inspire Week. The Inspire Week is a 7-day inspirational programme where 7 different statements are being emphasised on to inspire. We just got done with the second inspire week and this one was much bigger than I could have imagined. The first inspire week was a struggle and with help from my friend Dami and my sister, Esther, I could pull through. For the second, I had more company of seven other bloggers (Didi, Dami, Kemi, Feyi, Emeka, Nnamdi and Elizabeth), and they made the journey amazing.

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

I want to be an inspirational figure and one sure way to do that is with my writing. I never want to stop inspiring with my words.

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

Never let the wave of the world or the trend determine your message. A lot of times, we hold back because we fear the world’s reaction to what we preach but mostly, what the world says does not matter. Be real, don’t contradict your message because you fear displeasing people. Not everyone would agree with what you must say but do not let that change your message.

10 things your blog needs to attract more readers

We know you love blogging. You get to pour your heart out and write about things you love. 

However, what the point of writing day in day out if no one is reading the awesome things you are writing. As you post consistently on your blog, you must also think about steps you can take to increase your blog’s traffic. 

We have 10 things you can do today if you want more people to be attracted to your blog. Take a look at the list and implement a few of them as soon as possible. Your blog will thank you. 

1. Have a clear brand. Yes, your blog is a brand and that brand must shine through with every post. Pay attention to brand elements such as colour, design of images, writing style, tone etc. 

2. Meet the needs of your ideal reader. Don’t forget your reader. Make sure they actually find your blog worth visiting and reading. 

3. Sort out the tech stuff. Your blog needs to be responsive and mobile friendly. It’s 2017. We don’t need to say more. 

4. Work on your homepage. A drab homepage will drive readers away. Spend a bit of time working on your homepage. Use eye-catching images and some fun words/ phrases on your home page. 

5. Easy to navigate. Your readers should not struggle to search for things on your blog. Life is already stressful. No one wants to come online to be more stressed. 

6. Access to previous posts. If your readers want to read your old posts, you should make it as easy as possible for them to find those posts. Have a neat archive for your posts that is visible. 

7. Don’t be all over the place. Your blog should be simple. Messy blogs are tedious to read. It’s like too much is going on at once. Keep it as simple as possible. 

8. The comment section. Make it easy for your readers to leave a comment. No one wants to climb a mountain just because they want to drop a comment on your blog. 

9. Add some variety. Your content shouldn’t be the same day in day out. Switch things up. Use video, memes, quotes and guest posts to make your blog more interesting.

10. Contact page. Wondering why this is there? What if someone wants to contact you to offer you a big opportunity or a really big platform wants to feature your content on their site, how will they contact you? Create a contact page on your blog and include your contact details. You might want to limit this to your email alone so you don’t begin to have stalkers. 

We hope you can begin to implement some of these tips as soon as possible. 

 

#GrammarSeries – 8 boring words you need to stop using right now

Hey Sparkle Writers! Welcome to another #GrammarSeries. 

Today we want to talk to you about words you absolutely need to stop using right now. It’s not that these words are bad but they are stale because they are overused.

You know we always have you covered. As we highlight the words, we will show you words you use in its place.

Pretty

Do you use the word ‘Pretty’ a lot. We think it’s time to stop. Here are some other words you can use; Beautiful, Lovely, Elegant, Attractive, Handsome, Striking, Gorgeous, Exquisite, Fair, Cute.

Little

This word is overused. Thankfully there are some fantastic alternatives; Compact, Diminutive, Miniature, Slight, Minute, Microscopic, Petite.

Funny

Are you fond of saying something or someone is funny, here are other words you can use in its place; Amusing, Humorous, Witty, Comical, Silly, Hilarious, Hysterical, Laughable, Jocular. 

Nice

We know we have a lot of nice people around but other words can use used to describe such people; Benevolent, Gracious, Considerate, Decent, Congenial, Courteous, Warm, Cordial, Humane.

Happy

Do you know these words can be used to express the same meaning as the word ‘happy’? Merry, Glad, Pleased, Delighted, Jolly, Elated, Thrilled, Cheerful, Jubilant, Joyful.

Run/ Ran

Instead of saying that someone ran away, you can try using any of these words; Bolted, Hurried, Raced, Dashed, Galloped, Jogged, Sprinted, Rushed, Sped, Darted, Trotted.

Bad

If something is bad, you can use the following words to convey that; Atrocious, Terrible, Dreadful, Vile, Brutal, Despicable, Sinister, Nasty, Wicked, Abhorent.

Smart

It’s very tempting to use the word ‘smart’ when describing someone’s intelligence. Here are some other words you can try; Witty, Sharp, Brainy, Gifted, Wise, Clever, Bright, Quick-Witted, Knowledgeable.

 

#WordOfTheDay – Protean means…?

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On today’s #WordOfTheDay series, we are looking at the word Protean.

Protean means tending or able to change frequently or easily.

If you refer to somebody as protean you are saying the person is receptive to change in whatever context the sentence directs.

Let’s look at a few words that are similar in meaning to protean; Changeable, ever changing, erratic, inconsistent, shifting, uneven, variable,multi-talented, flexible, resourceful. malleable. 

A person who is protean can do many different things, he’s versatile.

My boss is a protean she knows how to handle all the different aspects of the job. 

Now can you make your own sentences using this word? It’s pretty easy.