#SWChristmasCampaign – “Christmas means undiluted time with my mummy and my sisters and I don’t take it for granted. ” Adedotun Adejoorin

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This entry by Adedotun is thought-provoking and it evokes all sorts of deep emotions. Christmas is truly a special season for all. Enjoy her entry.

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Just like the past four years have been, I’m sitting here, writing this post, wondering what this year’s Christmas would be like.

Would it be a little off like the last four Christmases where everything looked like it needed you to be complete?

Will this year’s Christmas morning feel like all other mornings where I would wake up and still wish everything was a dream and I’d see your very happy face wishing my sisters and I Merry Christmas.

Or would I have to go to places, I’d rather not go to avoid remembering what we’ve lost?

You know, there are times it’s wise to reflect because it helps you appreciate what you would originally consider unimportant.

My Daddy used to be the centre of Christmas for me and my family; I think he received a special directive from God to make sure every year was special. Hehehe. He would take us out this year, impose a family photo shoot the next year or make compulsory ‘Chinese egg’ , I still don’t know why he thought eggs, tomatoes and sardine was Chinese.

I used to think he was over doing it sef.

But I don’t think I ever took any of those things seriously. I just felt it was the norm. Everybody should have this kinda Christmas right?

December 25, 2012, was different.  It was the first Christmas without daddy and nothing seemed right.

Nobody at home was excited; there was nothing to ginger us. Christmas was bland. I don’t even think we cooked anything that year, there was no point.

A Good Samaritan remembered us and decided to take my mum and my sisters out, I was thrilled, and it looked like something was finally going right that day but it didn’t quite work out.

In the end it seemed like it would have been better if we even stayed at home.

The past few years have also been a bit off, with each one having something to remind me of my dad and the fun Christmases he used to give us.

Knowing that that time of the year can never be the same as when he was here, Christmas became something equally as special but different.

Christmas to me is a time to be grateful for the joys, sad moments experiences and people in our lives. It should be filled with appreciation for the opportunity to end another year. It is a time to give back for all we’ve received.

Christmas is a time to make beautiful memories. It means undiluted time with my mummy and my sisters and I don’t take it for granted.

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About Adedotun Adejoorin

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Adedotun Adejoorin is a  writer, content creator, personal development blogger and budding communications expert. Her work has been featured on Jabulani Space, The Beautified Network, The W community amongst others.

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The Sparkle Interview – All you need to know about #DestinyWalk2016

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A few weeks ago, we told you about the Ignite AfricaReaders R Leaderswalk. On Tuesday, The Sparkle Writer’s Hub had a fun but enlightening interview with the Ignite Africa team and we have to say that we loved every minute of it. Success Frank and Dare Oladipupo give us insights into what necessitated this annual event and what to expect this year.

You will definitely register for the walk after reading this.

Hello please introduce yourself.

Dare: My name is Dare Oladipupo I am the Project Strategist for Ignite Africa.

Success: Hi, my name is Success Frank, Human Resources Strategist for Ignite Africa.

Can you please briefly tell us what the #DestinyWalk is about?

Dare: This year’s edition of the #DestinyWalk makes it three years since we started creating awareness about reading. One of the things that Nigeria is losing is its reading culture. To address this, the founder of Ignite Africa, Mr. Kola Oyeyemi, had this vision to gather celebrities, stakeholders in Nigerian education sector, youths and parents to walk to create awareness about the reading culture. As a nation we can only succeed when we read.

Ok. After the walk, how does Ignite Africa follow up on participants?

Dare – Like I said earlier the walk is about creating awareness. After the walk, participants tend to ask questions about what we do. Ignite Africa has several programs that help to instill this reading culture. We have book clubs in Secondary and Primary schools. For adults, we have a central library at Oregun where they can register for a token to be a part of the library. During the walk we provide information to those who want to be a part of the movement and we take it up from there.

One of the hashtags is #DestinyWalk which is an interesting choice. What’s the rationale behind the hashtag?

Dare – One of the reasons we chose #DestinyWalk is because of the way reading links you to your future. Whatever you want to become, you need to have substance and substance can be gotten from books. Since one of our goals is to build life time readers we want people to know that they have to invest in reading.

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Can you tell us how relevant the previous walks have been?

Dare – One of the major things we tried to do when we started this walk is to propose reading hours in public secondary schools. Many private schools now observe one hour a day for reading and right now this is a law in Lagos state. It is this one hour period Ignite Africa takes advantage of on Wednesdays to read with the students

Holistically we are gradually getting the nation to go back to reading. There are more places to reach but more people are now interested in reading not just to pass exams but for personal development.

What does Ignite Africa hope to achieve with this year’s walk?

Success – This year we want to call more attention to all stakeholders; government officials, parents (parents are important because the bulk of the work is in their hands.) We hope our voice will be heard this year and it will be louder than ever.

We also want to get people to know about our plan to bring back libraries. We hope someday that we can have libraries in all public schools. Right now we have a library in our office space and we are inviting everyone to come be part of it.

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Who can/ should be a part of #DestinyWalk2016?

Success – Everyone should come. Everyone who has a burden for the growth of this nation. Anyone who knows reading is important for Nigeria to improve. We are inviting CEOs, parents, students, celebrities, fans of celebrities, youths come and lend your voice to this worthy cause. The walk is also a great opportunity to network and meet great people.

What should we expect from this year’s walk?

Dare – Expect a lot. Yes we are creating awareness for reading culture but we know young people don’t like anything boring. There’s going to be speed reading, music performances from the industry’s best, dancing, poetry and spoken word and other exciting activities.

How can anyone register?

Success & Dare – You can register through Eventbrite or using this link 

We want everyone to do this at their convenience. Although there’s no deadline for registration, endeavour to register before Saturday October 15th 2016 so we can make appropriate plans.

Distribution of walk materials would be on first come, first serve basis. Come early so that you can get yours.

To end the interview we asked them how pumped they are for this year’s walk and Dare said 95%. Oh well Success is a 102% excited that’s supa dupa excited right?

See you at the walk!

This is how to develop a regular writing habit

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Are you finding it difficult to develop a regular writing habit? You are not alone. Writing may be what you love doing but if you do not develop a regular writing habit you will lose your writing flow.

There are few things you can do if you are finding it hard to develop a regular writing habit;

Write everyday. “Writing is showing up, not worrying about the outcome, just honoring the process.” – Jeff Goins. Write every day, even when you don’t feel like it. Over a period of time, it will feel more natural for you to write than not to write. You don’t have to write a chapter in one day, you can start with a few pages, but make sure you write.

Get an accountability partner. Do you want to take your writing more seriously? Then get an accountability partner, someone who can remind you of your writing goals. This will prevent you from slacking and it will keep you on track. You can join a writing group, this will also help too. The Sparkle Writers Hub can be a great writing accountability partner if you don’t know where to find one.

Make it fun and interesting. Writing should not be boring because you do it every day. Spice your writing up a bit, try something new, make it fun and interesting, use a different writing style, write on a different topic or niche. Just have fun with it. Let each article or story you write be a challenge and get better as you go on.

Try these tips and let us know how well you do after 30 days.

Manage rejection with these 8 tips

by Adedotun Adejoorin 

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Hello dear writer, how are you doing?

Do you know that Ray Bradbury the author of over 100 science fiction novels and stories had around 800 rejections before selling his first story?

Entrepreneurs, writers, artistes or anyone who puts his work out there must know that rejection is inevitable. It is not every time that the publisher, editor or boss is going to think your work is the best thing that has happened to humanity. Sometimes your work will get rejected and this can be really tough and annoying too.

 So what do you do when rejection stares at you in the face?

  1. Relax. When you get a rejection it does not mean that your life is over or your career is dead. Do not be too hard on yourself; it is JUST a rejection. You may need to take a break from writing especially commercially and just rest. This will give you fresh inspiration when you return to your writing desk.

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  1. Get used to it.  This is not because you are a terrible writer. It is because it is just a part of life. Rejections happen to the best of us so don’t let it bring you down. Nobody likes to be rejected but when we are, we must ensure that we learn from it and move on. Rejections are part of your experience in becoming a better and more successful writer. It’s part of your writing story!
  1. It is not about you. Instead of moping around, acting like you were rejected, remember that it is not about you. Your work was rejected not you. Don’t think that the publisher hates you or does not like the way you dress. Instead go back and get better.

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  1. Go over the comments and corrections. When your work is rejected with comments explaining why it was rejected then you should rejoice. Not every publisher takes the pain to do that. Go over the comments written down and learn from them. You do not have to agree with everything that was written. Pick what you can and move forward.  Although your work was rejected, at least you gained extra knowledge.
  1. Send to another publisher, editor or writing group. Sometimes it is good to get another ‘diagnosis’ for your work you know. Send your work to another publisher or writing group that can help review it sincerely and professionally. Sparkle Writers is one writing group you can trust. We truly care about that article. We have the expertise to help you ensure that your work is properly reviewed.
  1. Implement the recommendations. According to Malcolm Forbes, failure is success if we learn from it. Have you taken time to check the reasons why your work was rejected? Instead of thinking it is because the editor does not like your face, check the comments on your work and learn from the corrections. If you have to change one or two things about your work, change them and ensure that they never repeat themselves again. Even if the work was rejected, at least you learnt something.
  1. Share your feelings. A problem shared is already half solved. You can share your feelings with friends or other writers. It will at least help you lift the burden that rejection seems to have placed on you. By sharing your feelings you may get to hear stories of other writers who were also rejected and got encouraged again.
  1. Remind yourself why you love writing. Let’s face it, rejection can be a huge disappointment and it can discourage anyone. So take a piece of paper and just write down all the reasons why you love writing. it will encourage you not to give up.

 

 

Can’t find the right words to express yourself? You should try this

by Adedotun Adejoorin

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Words. Those delicate little blocks that can make or break your writing. They carry great emotions. They have a lot of power when used wisely but sometimes they can be elusive. So how do you find the right words to express yourself? How do you find the words which will communicate exactly how you feel to your readers?

No matter how spectacular your idea is, you won’t elicit the desired emotion from your audience without the right words. Words are building blocks for your writing. They help your writing come alive and bring the reader into your world. Your inability to use the right word to relay your idea will affect the overall presentation of your writing. One of the most important things that writers do is to relay emotions, feelings and thoughts. You don’t want your reader to just smile when you expect them to be jumping and shouting for joy.

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The tricky thing about words is that if you do not know the right words you cannot use them. This is why you have to invest in new words and use them as often as you can.

Whenever you cannot find the right words DO NOT settle for the nearest in meaning. Invest in your dictionary. This is what Gustave Flaubert said about finding the right words and we agree

“Whatever you want to say, there is only one word that will express it, one verb to make it move, one adjective to qualify it. You must seek that word, that verb, that adjective, and never be satisfied with approximations, never resort to tricks, even clever ones, or to verbal pirouettes to escape the difficulty.”

Don’t be satisfied with synonyms and approximations. The right word gets your reader excited, annoyed, anxious whenever you want.

Avoid clichés.

Once you are done with your first draft, don’t be too quick to publish the article or send it off to a publisher. Go over your work and make sure every word expresses the correct emotion.

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Never use a word because it seems fancy. Use it because it brings to life the idea you want to pass across.

This is a simple example:

There is a difference between Sandra went home and Sandra tiptoed home Tiptoed elicits a different emotion in your reader and it makes them ask the question, “Why would she have to tiptoe?”

As you write, remember that finding the right word is always worth it. It makes all the difference in your writing.

Are you ready to find your niche? Here’s what you need to do

by Adedotun Adejoorin

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In our previous post, we told you why you need to find your niche if you want to be successful as a writer. We’re sure you’ve started thinking of how to find your niche and we’re here to help you do just that. You will definitely find this helpful so keep reading!

To find your niche, here are the steps you need to take;

Identify the things you love. One of the best things that can happen to a writer is being able to write about what they love. What do you love? Can you imagine someone who is in love with fashion and entertainment having to write about why the economy of the world is suffering? That is a complete mismatch. Whatever it is that you love to do, whether it is sport, volunteering for a children event, farming and so on, write about it. You will most likely excel in that area if you do.

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Write about what you do. If you love what you do then you can leverage on the information and experience you have. This will help you to connect better with your readers as you would be able to give them real time advice. For example if you make or design clothes, why don’t you consider starting a blog or writing for a fashion magazine? This is one of the fastest ways of carving a niche for yourself.

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Write about that thing you’ve always wanted to try. Are you a lawyer but you have always wanted to learn how to play the piano? Then write about it. You could take your first piano class and write something on ‘5 things every beginner keyboardist has to know.’ That way, you can document your journey as you go.

Know the audience you want to reach. This is another way to carve out a niche for yourself. Who are you interested in talking to; stay at home mums, college students, artisans, politicians? Try to discover your preferred audience especially if you want to write professionally. Prospective clients will be thrilled to know that you focus on their target market already.

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BONUS POINT. If you are still stuck, participate in online conversations on blogs and websites that interest you, go for events and programs that you find exciting. One way or the other you’ll find things that resonate with your spirit and you will find your place as a writer.

After you have done all these, it is important to note that some niches are more lucrative than others so you have to decide whether you’ll stick with your innermost desires or align them with the market. Remember, you can always expand your horizon as long as it works for you.

Good luck finding your niche, let us know when you do!

3 reasons why you need to find your niche

by Adedotun Adejoorin

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Sports, business, technology, health and wellness, faith…what is your niche? A niche relates to the kind of content you will focus on as a writer instead of just writing about any and everything (which we don’t suggest you should do). Whatever you want to specialize in is totally up to you.

Have you ever been asked what your niche is as a writer and you went blank? Here are three reasons why you need to find your niche right now;

1. You’ll be more productive. Finding your niche is really important because it helps you become more productive. Overtime you get more familiar with the tiny little details in that field because you learn more, know more and can give more. You will probably get more work done because you focus on a particular industry.

2. You’ll develop expertise and become an authority. When you focus on content from the same industry, you will develop expertise in that field. You will become familiar with the industry and it will be easy to keep up with new trends. Finding your niche and sticking to it as much as possible also helps you speak more confidently about your area of specialization as time goes on.

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3. To build your portfolio. Focusing on a particular industry will help you build your portfolio which in turn will help you to become more visible to potential customers. When customers see that you focus on their industry they become more interested in working with you because you will be taken as a professional, one who knows his onions. Overtime you will have a lot of work to show to your clients when you have to pitch for a new job.

So if you do not know what your niche is yet, we advise you find out. You can send us an email (thesparklewritershub@gmail.com) and we’ll help you to discover your niche

Keep Sparkling!

#StopTheCliche – Is everything really awesome?

by Adedotun Adejoorin

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Variety is the spice of life and as writers one of the things we do is make the world colorful beautiful and more meaningful with our stories. A very important tools we use in performing this great task is vocabulary. Words are to a writer what blocks are to a bricklayer. Every word has its own meaning and unique effect. When overused, it becomes weak.

Gradually, some words are becoming clichés. This is probably because they are easy to remember,and that is because they are used frequently. You know how you read an article and keep seeing further more, further more, further more and then the word further more begins to irk you? That’s what we are talking about!

When a word is used too frequently, making it unimaginative and uninteresting, it becomes a cliché. Clichés make your work drab, sloppy and they can even send your readers to sleep.

Today we are picking the word ‘awesome’ and giving you other words that can be used in its place.

Awesome –  astounding, awe-inspiring , bedazzling, breathtaking, daunting, divine, elegant, epic,  exceptional, exquisite, extraordinary, fabulous, fantastic, flawless, grand, impeccable, impressive, incredible, indomitable, irresistible intimidating, legendary, magnificent, majestic, marvelous, outstanding, overwhelming, phenomenal, pitch-perfect, profound, remarkable, resplendent,  shocking, splendiferous, splendid, striking,  stunning, stupefying, superb, wondrous,

Please don’t let these words become drab. Use them when applicable not just because they’re the first words you remember. Check the dictionary for their meanings and enjoy these new words.  Let us start a revolution where we use words appropriately. This is also a fantastic way of learning new vocabulary so why not?

 

Wondering why people don’t read your posts? This may be the reason

by Adedotun Adejoorin 

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How does it feel when it seems no publisher, editor or even prospective reader likes your article? Terrible right? It is even worse when there is no reason attached to it.

There are so many reasons why your manuscript or article can be rejected and because we care, we have compiled a few of those reasons so you can be aware of them and use them to your advantage.

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  1. Wrong Market. Every writer has a market which he or she writes for. Your market is the crop of people who will be interested in your writing. So if your work is meant for artisans and you give it to a publisher of a campus magazine, it is very likely that it will be rejected. We advise that you evaluate your writing style, determine who your audience is and align your writing and submissions accordingly. It doesn’t matter how good your writing is, if it is for the wrong market it will always get rejected. You should never put square pegs in round holes.
  1. Too many errors. This could be quite annoying! One of the things a writer can do to get their work immediately rejected is by submitting it with too many errors, especially the avoidable ones. Go over your work and if possible send it to an editor. Do not write ‘the sheeps left the shed in the night’ please! Publishers are very busy and seeing so many avoidable errors in your work makes you look unprofessional and lazy. Sparkle Writers can help in editing your work. We’ll give it the professional touch!

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  1. Boring article. This is a NO NO; any time, any day. Nobody is interested in reading boring articles. Life is already hard enough. Janet Reid a literary agent said that it takes her 15 seconds to determine whether or not she is interested in a particular manuscript. Hence your story has to GRAB the attention of the reader right from the start.
  1. Unauthentic article. If your article does not seem real or authentic to the publisher it will be rejected. That is why you need to be real. There is no need trying to reproduce another man’s work. “If I feel like I have read something like this before, why should I continue reading it?” That is how your readers think.

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  1. Wrong timing. Sometimes it has nothing to do with you. You probably submitted your article when the company was going through financial hardship and they just did not have the capacity to publish it. Or maybe they just accepted a story similar to yours and they do not need another for now.

Whatever the reason for the rejection, remember that it is NOT the end of the world. Keep writing. Your work will gain traction sooner or later.

 

Dear writer, this is why you should read

by Adedotun Adejoorin

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Have you ever wondered why people keep asking what book  you are reading now or when last you read a book? Do you question why you have to keep reading as a writer? Or do you want to know the difference between a writer who reads and the one who does not?

Well, we have the answers for you!

Reading is not just a hobby for any serious writer; it is a necessity and these are the reasons why:

Reading widens your skill – When you read, you will begin to appreciate the different styles and approaches each writer uses in writing and this will help you to find your niche. The more you read, the more you’ll be exposed to all kinds of writing; the good, the bad and the ugly. You will learn how to avoid the mistakes other writers make and you’ll learn good writing habits too. Reading helps you to analyze and make your stories better.

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Reading can be a source of inspiration – When you think you’ve lost your flow or the well of inspiration has gone dry, try reading. There are times when as a writer you don’t feel like you are in your place or you do not have enough motivation to write. At such moments, take a book and read. It can help to re-fire your inspiration. It will fuel your imagination and give you new ideas.

Reading helps you learn new vocabulary – As a writer the major tool you use to communicate your thoughts and ideas to your reader is vocabulary. This is why your grasp of vocabulary is crucial. It will help you become a better writer. The more words you know the better your writing will be. Want to know how you learn new words and have fun at the same? We’re sure you already know the answer – by reading!

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Reading helps you to keep up with the trend – Can you imagine a technology reporter not aware that Apple has released a new iPhone? It will be a disaster and that will probably be because he does not read. It is very important for writers, especially those who write industry based articles, to keep up with the trend. You need to read to know what is happening in that industry you write about. You should be the one informing your readers about what is happening. You cannot afford to write stale news; you won’t get clients that way. When a new invention comes you should be the first to know.

Reading develops the mind – According to Richard Steele ,”Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body”.  Exercise makes the body stronger, healthier and builds its stamina. It is the same with reading. It makes you wiser and more exposed. The mind needs to be exercised daily and reading helps you achieve that. As a writer you rely on your mind a lot and you cannot afford to let it lie fallow.

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We love this quote by Natalie Goldberg – “If you read good books, good books will come out of you!” So keep reading and keep writing.