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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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.

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

 

 

 

 

Writing quote: “There are no laws for the novel. There never have been, nor can there ever be.”

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 “There are no laws for the novel. There never have been, nor can there ever be.” – Doris Lessing 

If anyone ever ever told you that you can only write in a certain way they are not speaking the truth. 

Writing novels should never look like a chore or bore you because you do not have to follow a particular pattern or write like another novelist to get your own audience.

That’s the thing about them; the more creative your novel is the better for all of us. You set the laws for your novel – how you want it to start, progress and how you want it to end. As long as it makes sense to your readers the rest of the world has no choice but to go with it. Novelist write stories that they wish they could find on the shelf, stories that keep circling in their head, the ones that make them smile in the midst of a large audience. 

Writing novels and following ‘rules’ will restrict you. As long as you are a writer you must commit to giving your best to your readers every time you pick up a pen. No excuses, no going back. 

#GrammarSeries – What’s the big deal with grammar?

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What’s all these grammar talk we read every Tuesday on The Sparkle Writer’s Hub? What’s the big deal? Grammar is actually pretty important and if you’ve ever wondered why we keep insisting that you follow the Grammar series on Tuesday, this will convince you. 

Imagine if we all just talked and nobody understood the next person because each person decided to go with his or her own grammar rules? What will happen to the world? Definitely a lot of chaos. 

The reason that the rules of grammar exist is to give all speakers of the same language a playbook to make sure that they understand each other.

If you decided one day to stop pluralizing anything and just use the singular form for everything, that’s great for your personal journaling or expression. Most other English speakers will need some guidance if they have to read and understand what you wrote. 

Some might argue that rules are made to be broken. In the case of writing, bending some of the rules can be a form of expression. However, rules should not be broken for the sake of breaking them. You’re not going to keep the attention of an audience if they have to struggle to make sense of what you’ve written.

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. 

What’s the big deal about creativity?

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Today, we are going to talk about something very crucial; something you cannot do without as a writer and that is creativity. Ever been to an art exhibition or a book reading? What is it that you appreciate about these events – yeah, the CREATIVITY. You appreciate the creativity in each of the paintings or the creativity in the way the writer of the book has crafted the words in such a manner as to convey his message in a succinct and striking way. Creativity has an uncanny ability to pull the reader into your world has a writer. Creativity is a transformational skill that writers should not leave behind in their writing. Make conscious efforts to be creative.

Creativity has an uncanny ability to pull the reader into your world has a writer. Creativity is a transformational skill that writers should not leave behind in their writing. Make conscious efforts to be creative.

For a moment here, we would like to define what it means to be creative. Creativity is not necessarily writing words that have never been written before. Rather, it is saying the same thing in a novel way such that your readers can see the same picture they have always seen from a different perspective.

One way in which writers can be creative is in the infusion of metaphors in their writing. Well, for those who are not very familiar with literature and what figures of speech are all about, metaphors are ways of making strong comparisons between two often unrelated concepts. So, for example, if you want to describe the concept of Love, for instance, you might say that LOVE IS A BATTLE. Here, you are comparing the abstract concept of love with the physical concept of a battle so that your audience will immediately get your ideological point of view of what Love is to you in particular.

Creativity could also occur in diverse ways such as the manner of ordering or the arranging your words in your narrative or in any piece of writing; it is using the same words in such a way that it causes your audience to see things from another perspective and if possible have an epiphany.

We do hope that this article will help you get your creative juices flowing.

Against all odds, this is how to keep writing

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We are here with a million dollar question to ask and it goes thus: Why do you write what you write?

Knowing the purpose behind everything you do matters a great deal because purpose keeps you going even when the tides are against you in the vast ocean of life. It is often said that if the purpose of a thing is not known, abuse is inevitable. As cliché as this may sound, there is a whole lot of wisdom we can glean from this as writers.

Knowing the reason you are on earth sets you off in the right direction. If you know, for example, that you were born to be a singer, you will find yourself going to voice coaching classes or a music school to hone your skill and no matter how many times you may have been rejected in one of those singing-related programmes, your purpose will drive you towards being a great singer even if the entire world does not believe in it.

That is our point exactly. Knowing why you write is magical. It will propel you to write even when the odds are against you. Dear Writer, never lose sight of the reason why you write. It is essential that you remind yourself of the reason for writing. The truth is this: understanding purpose when it comes to your writing will keep you standing even in the midst of the storms of rejection, lack of encouragement, lack of huge sales and even the lack of inspiration.

So, we ask again, why do you write what you write? Think slowly and carefully about it because it makes all the difference.

This is what successful writers have in common

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Have you ever wondered how the famous writers you admire made it to the limelight? Even more so, have you ever thought about what they had to grapple with before their names and works ever saw the light of the day? The thing is, these writers might be domiciled in different corners of the world but these three qualities bring them together—Discipline, Persistence and Patience.

Discipline

Discipline is the art of writing one word at a time until you are done with the article, book or novel you had in mind when you began. This is easier written than done but successful writers write and get the job done even when they do not feel like it. In this thing called writing, feelings do not matter. What matters most is doing what must be done. Mystery writer Janet Evanovich pulled in $33 million in the year 2012 but wrote for ten years before getting published. Only a disciplined writer would keep on writing for ten years with a name and story unheard by the entire world. Keep on writing even when you do not feel like it. Even when you feel like you are writing crap, keep writing.

Persistence

This is the art of digging the ground until you find gold. When it comes to writing, discouragement always lurks around the corner, waiting for you to throw in the towel and surrender to negativity. Successful writers do not stop digging for gold even if there are slim chances of finding it. Do not stop digging; do not stop writing. No matter how many books you sell, no matter how many people visit your blog and no matter how many rejections you get, do yourself a favour and keep on digging. You will surely find gold, depending on what you see gold as. Judy Blume, who has sold 80 million books, got nothing but rejections for two straight years. Judy found gold after two years of digging. Never say never!

Patience

This is the art of waiting for the seeds you have planted to bloom and grow. A beautiful garden takes time to bloom. It has to be cultivated, nurtured and fertilized to flourish. It is the same with writing. Whenever you write, you are planting seeds and nurturing them. Successful writers understand this principle. Give your writing time to bloom and flourish. The only way to do that is to keep on writing. Do not be in a hurry to “hammer.” Great writers are patient enough to hone their talents and skills to perfection or near perfection. Always remember, patience has the ability to bring out the best in any writer.

 

Don’t be afraid to evolve

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You either evolve or you disappear.”  Tupac Shakur 

We had to quote Tupac for today’s post! Think it’s too direct? Not so much. It is the absolute truth. Whether in personal life, business, career and for us as writers, evolution is a necessity and as Tupac has said you either evolve or you disappear. 

Evolving as a writer means getting better at what you do. 

When you start off, nobody expects you to be perfect. Nobody is perfect really. In as much as we all have our individual writing weaknesses we are not expected to celebrate them. This however does not give you the liberty to sit on your skill. There is no finish line. Regardless of how adept we become at writing, there will always be room to evolve. 

One fundamental way to do this is to let go of the pride, limiting beliefs and embrace learning. You have natural talent but there’s still a lot of experience to garner. 

This is the hardest and most important ‘mind shift’ every writer needs to go through. We all come into the journey believing our writing is good, and special which is something that is true but most times, our writing still needs to be polished.

Once you are open to learning you’d be amazed as to the number of things you didn’t know and are pretty important for your career. 

Attending writing workshops and training will do a lot to your career.

We do not know how and why it is believed that every writer must be an introvert who is only in love with his computer, journal and pen. Writers do not necessarily have to be introverts and NO we are not saddists too. You should be able to associate with other writers not just online but offline. Attend writing workshops and conferences because you’d see things from different perspectives and improve your writing.

Remember that evolving is not an option, it is a necessity especially if you want to stay relevant.