3 Ways to overcome writing challenges

Being a writer is a wonderful experience, but there are some challenges which I face on a daily basis. Here are three writing challenges which I often experience, and how I overcome them:

CHALLENGE 1: Poor internet connectivity.

SOLUTION: Schedule/plan posts in advance.

Being a writer in Nigeria who uses social media to share my work means that I am always at the mercy of the internet service providers that I use, whose quality of services are at best, average. If you want to make me happy, just whisper the words ‘free Wi-Fi’ to me! I suspect that my wedding vows would include ‘for better, for worse, for free Wi-Fi connectivity…’

I deal with this issue by planning my posts at least a few weeks in advance, and I have learned that for a lot of providers, the internet quality is better in the early hours of the morning. So please, don’t judge me too harshly if there are bags under my eyes; blame the internet quality by my service providers.

Dealing with this issue gives me more time to focus on writing, and reduces the time I spend frowning at my phone when the internet service is too slow for my liking.

 

CHALLENGE 2: Writer’s block.

SOLUTION: Don’t stop writing.

I know what you’re thinking: you’re complaining that you have writer’s block, and I’m saying that the solution to this problem is to keep writing? Please don’t close this page out of annoyance; just keep reading to get my point.

If there is something which I have learned from writing for almost two and a half years, it is that no piece of writing is useless. I have turned half-written stories into poems, and I have turned a poem into one of the first essays which I wrote for another website.

If you’re stuck in one part of a story that you are writing, move on to another part of the story. What happens after that scene? Describe what the main character had for breakfast. What subjects did the character write in his or her WAEC exams? Eventually, the story will get unstuck and you can get on with writing your prize-winning novel, or at least a story that gets a lot of likes on your blog.

 

CHALLENGE 3: Negative feedback.

SOLUTION: Analyse the feedback, and remember the purpose for your writing.

On my blog, someone once commented that the way I wrote a poem was not how a poem should be written. The poem however got a lot of likes, which meant that for me, the poem had resonated with people, so it had achieved its intended purpose.

Corrections about grammatical errors aren’t bad; however, rude comments which personally attack you and your writing are the worst.

So what can you do about this?

First of all, if people are giving you feedback, it means that they are reading your work, which is awesome! Next, if you are getting constructive criticism about your writing (for instance, being told to use more paragraphs so that your work is easier to read), you can take it on board since it helps your work to be easier to read and therefore attract more readers.

When submitting a story for a contest, for publication on a platform with a wide audience or before publishing a book, I always get one or two people to read my work first so I can get feedback which I can choose to accept or dismiss, depending on if I believe such feedback improves my work.

I have grown as a writer since I first started this journey, so I know that as I navigate through the above challenges, my writing will keep improving and more people will enjoy reading my work.

I hope this has been helpful to writers out there!

About the writer:

Ivie Eke is a writer who daydreams about constant electricity in Nigeria and mangoes. She writes poetry, stories and essays on her blog, http://www.classicallyivy.com and is the author of two books, ‘Looking for myself and my phone charger’ and ‘Walking On Eggshells’, both available on Okada Books and Amazon.

 

 

 

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#WriterSpotlight – “Your followers won’t come overnight. Originality will bring them to you, but consistency will keep them with you.” Abiola Adebola

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Hey Sparkle Writers! It’s Thursday and you know what that means. It’s time to meet another amazing writer! Today, we have Abiola Adebola as our guest and we really enjoyed our chat with him. There are lots of useful nuggets to gain from today’s Writer Spotlight on The Sparkle Writer’s Hub. Enjoy!

Hello Abiola, kindly introduce yourself.

My name is Abiola Abdullateef Adebola (Abiola AA). I am a Dramatic Arts graduate of Obafemi Awolowo University. I am a freelance writer, a PR strategist, an actor and a director.

At what point did you decide you wanted to be a writer?

I fell in love with writing as a kid. I was always alone, so writing just kind of became my way of handling my emotions. I think I pretty much made up my mind to be a writer back then.

How has the journey been so far?

Good, mostly rough but that’s why it’s been good. I have enjoyed the challenges, the setbacks, but then I have had very good friends who have encouraged me to go all the way. God really blessed me with amazing friends.

You studied dramatic arts in school, how did that help your writing skill?

It helped in a way I guess, though I majored in Directing in my final year, but I have always paid more attention to the playwrights who were my lecturers. They had a great impact on my writing career.

You mentioned that you are also a script writer. Can you tell us how that different from regular writing?

I enjoy both. I enjoy creating lines for characters, and I also enjoy the freedom that comes with writing prose, not having to create discussions between actors. At the end of the day, you are telling a story in both cases, just different techniques being used.

Congratulations on the launch of your book ‘Catharsis‘. Why did you decide to write a book that bares it all?

I was going through a lot of things when I started writing Catharsis. I had just lost a movie deal that was going to change my life, my brother’s health was deteriorating, my mum was very sad and I was very sad. I wrote the book in less than a month. I was that down at that moment and it was the only thing I could think of doing. I just had to purge it all. I had too much pain in my system, and too much ‘nature’ too. If I didn’t bare it all out, who knows what I would have done to myself.

In one of your Instagram posts you talked about how stressful the process of writing this book was. Could you tell us some of the challenges you faced and how you overcame them?

It was more of an emotional stress. I was scared that people may judge me for the things I wrote in Chapter 3, that my mum may see it and she may be disappointed in me, you know how African parents are. I was also worried about the literary critics, those who may say the book is too short to be a book, those who may not understand that I have no interest in the rules. Lastly, I didn’t think I was big enough to write an autobiography, like who am I to write about myself? So how did I overcome these fears? I decided to damn the consequences and put my story out there. Thank God I did.

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What major lessons have you learnt since you published your book?

Take risks, take a lot of risks, do things your own way, the world will adjust. Donald Trump is President of the United States of America. Anything is possible.

What has the response been since you launched Catharsis?

It’s been amazing. I expected judgment and criticism, considering the kind of society we live in, but people concentrated on my story, and not my mistakes. Even my mum ended up reading the whole book. Despite the fact that I tore the pages of Chapter 3 from the copy I gave her, she still found a way to read the whole thing, and she didn’t judge me. She didn’t scold me. She understood, and she chose to encourage me. That has to be the best thing that’s happened to me all my life.

What impact will the book have on readers?

Owning your truth, and harnessing it. You don’t have to look like where you are from or what you have been through. The sun will rise again if you keep fighting.

Many writers struggle to get a good following but you have managed to overcome that. Can you tell us a few things every budding writer needs in order to build a strong presence online?

I think a lot of writers stopped writing because of the size of their audience, that’s sad. Your followers won’t come overnight. Originality will bring them to you, but consistency will keep them with you. I took a lot of online social media courses which helped me capture my target audience. I am a PR strategist like I mentioned earlier, so it’s my job to build brands.

As a writer, where do you see yourself in years to come?

I want to make Catharsis a movie, a timeless one. I want to write more books, non-fiction mostly. I want to help a lot of people write their stories. I also want to help writers gain more respect here in Nigeria. In years to come, I want to look back and see that these dreams have come true.

Where can readers get a copy of your book?

You can purchase a hard copy directly from me. You can also go on Okadabooks to get a soft copy. If you are in the US, UK, Canada, you can order from Amazon.com.

You have time to write and this is proof

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“Gosh! If only there were 26 hours in a day, I’d at least have time to write!”

If you have been saying this, it is safe to guess that you have not written anything substantial in a long while because you ‘don’t have time.‘ Our experience from coaching writers has proved to us countless times that everyone has time to write but not everyone makes it a priority.

If you were told that for every page you write in a day, you’d get $1000, we are sure many of us will come up with pages of work because we have moved writing to the priority list. We understand that the hustle and bustle of everyday life can get overwhelming but everyone who wants to go beyond writing occasionally must attach some level of importance to it.

You say you don’t have time. What time do you wake up everyday? What do you do when you wake up? Some of us wake up by 4 am and are already checking social media sites for what someone else has posted. Where is what you have posted? Before you know it, it is 7 am and all you want to do is rush out. How about utilizing that period when everyone is sleeping and your neighborhood is quiet to write? If you are a morning person, it is even better. Even if it’s just two pages you manage to write in one hour, it is okay because you have at least gotten something down. 

There is another group of writers who just need to give up something they do for writing. Like we said before, you have to know what’s important to you. If you love your TV and it’s your relaxation time, maybe instead of watching two hours, you just watch for one hour and then spend the other hour writing.

You don’t need to have a four-hour block of time in order to work on your book. If you have 15 minutes, or half an hour, get some words down.

It’s all about scheduling.

Wondering what scheduling has to do with it? You need to actively schedule the time to write.

We make time in our lives for what’s important to us.

The question is this, Is writing important enough for you to make time and plan it in advance?

 

This is why your story is not compelling enough

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You know it.

Your story needs help; you look at it and tell your self that a primary school student can write something more appealing or maybe you gave it to a third party like we usually advise and the person couldn’t go on after the first page. 

But you really don’t know what to fix or how to start. 

Here are a list of things that could have gone wrong with your story and how to fix it.

Poor Plot 

If you do not have a particular plan of action or a direction where you want your story to follow, then your plot will be poor. Remember those books that you drop because nothing significant happened in the first three chapters? Yeah, that is probably where your story is heading to if you don’t get a plan asap. 

It is also possible that your plot is no good because:

  • It’s just plain boring
  • It’s totally unbelievable
  • It only appeals to a very small audience

Clumsy Characters

If your characters don’t think, behave or talk like real human beings, then your story will not work. 

Your characters are the stars in your story and if they are not well developed, people will find it difficult to connect with your story. Are your characters thinking like human beings will orare there too many characters that your readers cant distinguish between them? These are some of the things you should look at when creating your characters. 

 Lazy use of Language

You know one reason why we continually put up our Word of the Day post? It is because you need to get a grip of your language if you want to write a good story. 

 Consider the following:

  • Do you use the same words too often?
  • Do you spend too much time describing things or people?
  • Have you overused adjectives and adverbs?
  • Have you resorted to using cliches?

Remember, a story is only as good as the word used to tell it. 

Here’s how to overcome ANY kind of writer’s block!

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Do you think we’d ever exhaust the writer’s block subject? We honestly do not think so. Today, we are highlighting writer’s block in all the forms and types you may have experienced it. This will help to demystify the entire problem and find practical solutions to it. 

Ready? Of course you are! 

Here are some of the things that cause the popular writer’s block and what to do. 

You’ve run out of ideas. 

There are times you experience writer’s block not because you are lazy or you’re not meant to be a writer. You just simply go blank and you are running empty on ideas. 

When this happens, what you need to do is research. Seek information and the writing will flow. 

Trust us. 

You simply need a break. 

If, for example, you have been on a writing marathon for days or let’s say hours, you may need to take a break. Take a walk, eat and drink something and maybe even nap for some hours. Once you do this, go back to your work and you’d see how different things would be.

Burn out. 

This one requires more than an hour of napping . You, your mind and your body need to go on a vacation. Now, it doesn’t have to be anything expensive but your creative juices will thank you for the time out.

It’s not fun anymore.

Sometimes we take the fun out of writing because we’re too hard on ourselves, or we become overly serious and stop writing altogether because our writing gets stale and feels too much like a hopeless chore to continue. If this sounds familiar, reflect on why you started writing and recapture your true, raw passion for writing.

Remember, however, that deadlines do not recognize writer’s block. If you have a close deadline you really just have to deliver! 

 

Here are three reasons you should write what you think!

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At The Sparkle Writers Hub we have been coaching writers for a while and one of the most recurrent problems many writers face is the fear of writing what they truly feel, getting rejected because of what they wrote or being seen in a particular light.

So what do they do?

They hide, refuse to write again or clone another writer to be accepted. All of these are wrong. A writer should never hide his work and no matter how brutally honest you would be, somebody out there can handle it.

Here are a few more reasons why you should write what you think.

You’re not saying anything valuable when you pretend

Trying too hard to play safe only makes your work vague and void of depth. Say what you need to say, how you need to say it. Nobody is going to love that work if it isn’t valuable and soon, you’d fade out as a writer so it’s better you stop it now.

It’s boring

When you actually have a strong opinion about a particular subject and for some strange reason do all within your power to edit, cut and cut, you will most likely end up with something drab and uninteresting. Staying neutral to avoid offending anyone will result in words without substance.

It’s painfully obvious that you’re not being authentic

The more you try to cover up your lack of authenticity, the more obvious it becomes and most likely the more readers you will lose. People smell fake and restrictions from afar off and would leave. It’s best to avoid it. 

Make your fiction unforgettable with these tips

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All you need to do is enter a bookstore and ask for a fiction book or type fiction as a hashtag on social media and you’d see that there’s a lot of them. In today’s unbelievably competitive industry, how can you make your fiction the best?

How can you make you reader addicted to your story? Victoria Mixon has the answers! 

Secret #1 Unforgettable Character

The most fundamental truism of fiction is that all great plot grows out of character.

You can design any type of plot you like. However, if it’s not grounded in the character of your protagonist, it will be nothing but a mish-mash of events from which the reader can disengage at any time and walk away.

On the other hand, you can design almost no plot at all, and if it’s grown entirely from the character of your protagonist, the reader will not only be addicted to your work, they’ll convince all their friends and relatives to become addicted as well.

Ask yourself:

How did James Bond become a cultural icon, although his plots are repetitive and he must frequently be rescued by a young woman he’s just met?   

Because Bond is an unforgettable character from which his plot grows. 

This means that character is where we always start.

So how do we make this character unforgettable? That work is based upon the character’s conflicting internal needs. These needs must be internal or they won’t be powerful enough to fuel an entire novel. They must conflict, or there won’t be any climax to this story.   

Secret #2 Inescapable Plot

Now what is this unforgettable character going to do?

A story—short fiction or novel—is, at its most fundamental, simply an opportunity for the reader to spend time with your unforgettable character. To make friends with them. To bond. To allow this character to become a part of their life.

This means you must design a plot that gives the freest possible reins to the protagonist’s character—exploring it, exposing it, delving into it to reveal its most intriguing and hidden facets.

 A plot that hooks them quickly, takes them for a thrilling whirl, then throws them off a cliff.

Secret #3 Mesmerizing Prose

Finally there is the writing of this character-grown plot.

How do you turn a brilliant, well-developed idea into a novel of some 70,000-100,000 words—a novel that the reader can’t forget, can’t escape, can hardly put down even for a minute? Because 70,000-100,000 are a whole lot of words. And the reader has a life to live.fi

How do you write a novel that’s mesmerizing? One to which the reader is addicted?

You’ll hear a lot in the writing community these days about how to make time to write, how to write faster and more efficiently, how to get your manuscript finished. This advice is mostly about time management, on the assumption that your life is not set up for endless hours in front of the keyboard. However, focusing upon time management misses a crucial element of writing: you write because you love to.

Truly, if writing is not the one thing you love to do above all else, then go find out what is and do that. Life is too short for wasting on doing things you don’t love.

And if writing is the one thing you love to do above all else, then you don’t need time management. You need stamina. You need to stay in touch with your passion. You need, especially, to know what you’re doing.

This is how to be a confident writer

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One of the reasons many writers have not started blossoming is because they are not confident about what they do. Hence, they can’t tell other people they write, they can’t pitch their skills to clients or contribute when other writers are talking.

Confidence we know is not achieved in one day but every writer who wants to grow and move to the next level of impact in this industry must be a confident writer.

Insecure writers cannot go far. Although many accomplished writers have at one point been insecure, they had to deal with it.

Here’s what you need you know about building your confidence as a writer. 

Know that most people are insecure but that shouldn’t stop you.

Although they do not show it, many people are also struggling with insecurities. So don’t let your mind trick you into believing that you are the only one and cause you to go into hiding. You should never hide your gift from the world that needs it so dearly. Insecurity should not stop you from doing the things you love. You can always improve. The more you do them, the better you become.

Do great work.

The better your work becomes, the better your confidence gets. How do you do great work? Keep writing, and keep sharing your work.  By writing consistently, you are training your writing muscles and when you share your work, you get relevant feedback. All these culminate in helping you to become a confident and secure writer. Lack of confidence robs you of the potential to be the writer that God created you to be and make the impact that you ought to make in the world.

Fake it till you make it.

Maybe like us you hated that phrase the first time you heard but before you make your conclusions read till the end.

This is what we mean.

We know you don’t feel so secure about your writing skill but please don’t let it reflect every time you write. Don’t post on social media and delete after few minutes. Even if you don’t feel confident, act like you are and we promise you, soon enough, that confidence will begin to grow. 

The greatest writers are not necessarily the most courageous people. They are simply people who felt afraid but chose to write and publish their books in spite of the fear. 

 

 

 

 

 

4 reasons why no one is paying you to write

Disclaimer –  This post is NOT for everyone. Some people have chosen to write for passion and are not interested in financial rewards and that’s okay. But if you are one of those people who want to make your writing a career, this is for you. 

Although writing may not look like the most financially profitable careers, a good number of writers have found their sweet spot and are able to monetize their skill. These writers have given their sweat, blood and money to get to this point. 

You may already be asking ‘sweat and blood’, is it that deep? Yes it is, because with writing and every other thing you want to make money from, you’ve got to be intentional. Don’t expect someone to come and say, “Hey there. I heard from someone that you were thinking of writing something and I’d love to pay you to see where that could lead to someday.”

That would be nice but it really wouldn’t happen. 

If you think you’ve tried everything and you’re not getting money, we’d tell you four reasons you probably have not heard before or ignored which may explain why you are not being paid to write. 

You haven’t become an authority in the field. 

Yes, you need to become an authority is certain fields of writing. It’s ok to be a Jack of all Trades but it is much better (and profitable) to be a Master of Some.

Which areas of writing interest you?

Which can you master and become an expert in?

Then can you begin to share content around those areas so people begin to see you as an authority in that field?

If someone Googles ‘Top editors in Lagos’ for example and you are a good Editor in Lagos, your goal is to ensure that your name appears on that list.

Also, when people ask for good content writers from people in your network, they should be able to remember you without having to think too much. That is what Brand Gurus call top of mind awareness! 

You’re wallowing in negative thoughts 

All these your;

‘I am not good enough’

‘This writer is better than me’ and 

‘I can’t’ thoughts would do you NO good. These statements kill your dream, weaken your spirit and if you are not careful, they will affect your entire morale. How will you write well when you are not feeling good about yourself? 

When you are beginning to think you are not good enough, counter that thought by speaking confidently and positively;

‘I am good enough’

‘I improve my writing skills daily’ 

‘I can and I will.’ 

Now go ahead and make things happen

You’re stuck with old knowledge

Any writer who wants to make money from writing and has refused to upgrade his skills and knowledge has not started.  Writing is an ever involving industry and only those who are able to keep up with trends and new developments can remain relevant to clients. For example, if your client wants you to update their blog with content and you don’t know how to edit pictures with basic editing tools, your post obviously will not reach its maximum potential because the picture was not properly edited. 

You have to write often; stay abreast of what’s happening in the writing world and understand multimedia and social media. Today’s writer must be tech savvy 

You’re thinking like a writer and not a business person

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If you want to make money from writing, you have to think of your writing as a business not just a hobby . Generally speaking, most creative people like to create. Period.

Writers like to write, painters like to paint, and musicians want to play. However, until we attach a value – specifically, a Dollar (better than a Naira) value to our expertise – we will continue to be starving artists.

We are not saying you should go about demanding payment from everyone including Instagram for writing captions; all we are saying is that if you’ve chosen to make writing a business, some things have to be put into perspective. 

There are five things to consider when assessing value:

  • The services you are going to offer
  • To whom you will offer your services
  • Your experience
  • The value of your time
  • The value you provide to your customers.

 

Ultimately, the answers to these questions will become the foundation of your business plan, which is your roadmap to becoming a well-paid writer.

 

How to write when you don’t feel like

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Let’s be honest, there will be times you won’t feel like writing. You’ll be tempted to do every other thing except to write. Sometimes, you may not be in the mood for days or even weeks. You just can’t explain why don’t ‘feel like’ writing. Somehow, inspiration seems to have taken a long hike and you’re not sure when it’s going to return. 

Well, if you intend to be a good writer, one who is known to make impact, you need to know how to write whether you are in the mood or not. The best writers are those who are able to master how to write in ll seasons; whether they are in the mood or not. 

We want you to be one of the best writers the world has ever known. Here are some tips that will help you to write even if you are not in the mood. 

Allow Yourself to Write Crap

Yes, you read correctly! Allow yourself to write crap. Sometimes, the reason you don’t feel like writing is because you feel what you will produce will not be good enough. “So why write it,” you wonder. Other times, you don’t write because you over think things; How should I start? Will the story be interesting enough? Will people want to read it?

You need to stop over-analyzing and write. Ignore those voices that keep telling you that what you want to write will not be good enough. Who said so? You never know how good what you have to write is until you finish. And even if it is not as good as you want it, you can always edit and fix it! 

It is possible for you to start writing and the first few paragraphs won’t make sense to you. Instead of getting frustrated, just keep going on. The victory is in the process. Finish, review and learn where you need to review.

Motivate yourself 

If you say you are not in the mood and you know that you definitely need to write then do the needful and motivate yourself. What puts you in a good mood? What gets you excited? Note them and do those things.

You may need to take a walk, listen to music to motivate yourself. The best motivation however is thinking about the number of lives what you want to write will bless. Your message should motivate you. Your purpose should stir you to write.

Even if like this man you have to search for motivation;

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Don’t stop until you find it😌

Eliminate every form of distraction and time yourself

It is bad enough that you do not feel like writing, the last thing you should do is to allow distractions. Your children are running around the house, the TV is on and you’ve been surfing the internet for almost an hour. Why will you feel like writing?

Find someone to stay with your children, leave the house, go for a power walk and go back home to write or look for a park, co-working space where you can have some peace and quiet and write. Distractions are not good for anyone much less a writer.

What are some of the ways you get yourself to write when you are not in the mood. Do share!