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.

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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. 

‘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.

This is what it means to write from the heart

Your ideas are valuable

”Write from the heart.”

You must have heard this line before. You are probably still wondering what it means and why people insist that you must write from the heart. The answer is not far fetched. It is the best place to write from! 

There is a difference between writing because you have to or because your job demands that you write and writing a piece from your heart – something that resonates with you and literally brings fire to your bones.  That’s the reason they say: ”No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader.” When you write, write from a place of understanding, passion and if possible experience. It reflects and ultimately affects how your readers will respond to your piece.

We are not saying you must always write about something you went through. We are asking that you write about topics you are passionate about; talk about what makes you tick and hey, make us love it too.

It makes your work easier and your readers will also have a good read!  

It’s not too late to succeed as a writer

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You know how it feels when you look at other writers and how they have intentionally taken steps to improve their skill and you want to beat yourself up for being so lazy. There are times you may even feel like there are too many people who have gone ahead and it is too late for you to make headway in this career. 

This is NOT true. It is never too late for anyone to succeed. Just take it that the day you decide to take your writing serious is your own morning. 

If you’re still breathing, you haven’t missed your window for success as a writer. Those chances will remain open as long as you keep trying. Saying ‘it’s-too-late’  is just another attempt to find a reason to quit. Don’t give that thought any importance. 

Look at what we found out;

  • Laura Ingalls Wilder was in her mid-60s when she published Little House in the Big Woods (Little House On The Prairie came soon afterwards.)
  • Harriet Doer published Stones for Ibarra, at the age of 73.
  • Millard Kaufman published his first novel at the age of 90.

So remind us, how old are you again and why do you think its too late for you to succeed as a writer?

 

The danger of writing only when you are inspired

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We know a number of writers will tell us over and over again that they can and will only write when they are inspired. 
Although this is quite easy to do and say but it is not advisable for anyone who wants to write seriously. 

Writing is an art. A skill that needs to be learned. Most of us have the writing ability in the raw form but we need to fine tune such skill so that people can appreciate it better. 

The only way to do that is by writing. 

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You won’t always feel like writing but when you know there’s work to do and reader are waiting you’ve got to practice. 

Look, inspiration and passion are nice.

There’s nothing better than sitting down in front of the blank page with a hot idea and everything seems to flow

But, if you wait around all day to come up with an idea and for inspiration to strike, what will you do if it nothing comes?

Will you wait till tomorrow, next week, or next month for inspiration to tap you on the head and say “Hey I’m ready” or will you just go for it? 

4 reasons why outlining is important for writers

How many times have you read a story, poem or article and you had to stop halfway because something was not just right? You stopped probably because the article did not flow well. 

You may even have experienced something similar with your work. You wrote something but didn’t think it fit quite well. This and many more problems can be avoided with an outline. 

Here are four benefits you stand to gain from taking the time to outline your work;

Focus

An outline helps you focus your attention. It helps you determine what to write. It gives you a roadmap from start, through the middle, and to the end.

Outlining actually helps you write more quickly, more effectively. 

Flow

It is far easier to review the flow of your information over a page or two than over hundreds of pages. Even for shorter documents, like a blog post or e-mail message of substance, it is a good idea to at least jot down an information outline.

What do you need to tell your audience? Is it in the right order? Are the transitions logical? What are the relationships between topics and subtopics? Is the hierarchy transparent?

Balance

Reviewing an outline makes it easy to determine if the right amount of emphasis is placed on each topic. Simple enough. You might find that you need to move things around to get the right balance, or perhaps you will decide to remove information.

 Completeness

An outline is much easier to review for any gaping holes. You will not have to go through the whole document looking for those holes. You can look at the topics and subtopics to ensure you have covered everything you must tell your audience.

How to develop your self-esteem as a writer

This is how to handle criticism like a pro

Self esteem is one of the most important things every writer needs to succeed. As a writer you are exposed to all manner of criticism and comments from readers, editors, publishers or plain haters.

So how do you make sure all these negative comments don’t affect your self esteem and prevent you form doing what you love?

Read

Good writers love and appreciate other good writers. Reading helps you to appreciate someone else’s gift and in return the gift that you have. Read about other writers’ achievements, their lives, what makes writing special and just be inspired.

Expect rejection

One of the things that can kill a writer’s esteem is rejection. It is always very disappointing to see negative remarks about your work especially after working so hard on it. Although it sounds weird, if you expect rejection it wouldn’t really hurt when it comes right?

This is not to say that you should not do good work. Please do, but don’t expect that everyone would love it the way you do. That way you are not disappointed. Even the best writers have their work sent back as unacceptable.

Get used to it. Editors don’t always behave rationally, and occasionally say things  like “This isn’t a good fit for us.” Don’t take it personal.

Learn to distinguish between constructive criticism and thoughtless remarks.

Be patient

All evidence and historical example shows us that it takes many years of rewrites and heroic perseverance to endure the writing industry. There’s no fast success. To get published, it’s essential to have realistic expectations about how long it will take.

Whatever happens in your writing journey should toughen you and encourage you to do more not to toy with your self esteem.

You have what it takes; now, prove it to the rest of the world because we believe in you already!