#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.

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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?

 

#PickOfTheWeek- Love and it’s piercing consequences

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Hey Sparkle Writers, you already know we love to see you here Let’s get to the #PickOfTheWeek, we know you want to know what posts we loved this week and why . Well here they are!

 

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We see a lot of posts on love and we decided to give them special attention. The first one definitely made us think. Why would he say those love stories were not theirs? Could that be true or did he say it out of anger and hurt? 

 

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The next post did get us thinking too, or maybe we felt a little bad for the writer. Silence from a loved one can be painful and is something no one wants to experience. 

farmto table (2) Jummy Ipinlaye speaks the truth on this one. Wounds that are covered love related or not never heal well. 

farmto table (1)Finally! Something to smile about right? This post describes love using music. Love can make your heart sing and the one who loves you so will love to listen to every note, and chord it plays.

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. 

#WriterSpotlight – “I could be a better writer than R.R. Martin but we’d never know if I never write.” Lord Josh

Josh Olanrewaju

Joshua Olanrewaju, also known as Lord Josh, is our Writer Spotlight on The Sparkle Writer’s Hub today. One thing we can tell you is that he has a lot of wisdom to dish out, especially on how he has intentionally grown his writing career. Enough talk, let’s get to the interview. 

Hello Joshua, kindly introduce yourself.

Hi, I am LordJosh. I write at www.lordjoshwrites.com. I enjoy writing fiction but I also do a lot of non-fiction writing. I am also a filmmaker.

When and why did you start writing?

It’s difficult to put a date to when I started writing. I’ll just say sometime in secondary school. I didn’t get serious with it though until 2013I was watching a TV show called Scandal at the time and I was loving the work the writers were doing. It was the moment I realized the effect a writer has on their audience. It inspired me to write fiction stories that will hold people spellbound and hooked.

I wrote the first story “Nicholas” and I loved it so much. I wrote the second and then the third and so on.

What do you love about writing?

I love how I can be in my room writing a story and I can influence what happens in the world – the world I create. I love that I can imagine characters and situations and have people care about, love or even hate these fictitious characters and situations.

Stories are a great escape for readers but they are much more so for the writer. I love that.

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You’ve authored books that are available for free download. Why did you make this decision?

I have four eBooks out and three of them are free. They are free because it is more important to me at this point that people read what I write than to make money from them.

Since you started your writing journey what efforts have you made to grow intentionally?

I read a lot about writing. I never presume to know everything. The internet is full of information on writing. Sometimes all you need to make your writing better is to learn something as simple as ‘story structure’.

I have been fortunate to attend physical classes where I have been taught writing too.

Most importantly, I have been writing a lot.

In celebration of Valentine’s Day, you released ‘Valentine Letters we never sent’. What inspired you to compile these letters and which is your favourite?

Well, first of all, I had some of those letters. They weren’t valentine letters but they were letters I wrote but didn’t send. If I was never going to send the letters, why not publish them?

Eventually, I wrote some letters which were fictional (some were even from a girl’s perspective). I also got some awesome guys to send in their letters.

I can’t pick a favourite. The letters all had their own message. You can download it here.

Do you plan to make money from your skill and how?

I already make money from my skill. I sold one of my eBooks “Double Negative” last year. It is still available for sale on Okadabooks. I also do freelance SEO writing. It’s not as fun as fiction writing but it pays more right now.

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What is the most important lesson writing has taught you?

Nothing happens until you take a step. I could be a better writer than R.R. Martin but we’d never know if I never write.

If you could spend time with three writers, who would you pick?

J.K. Rowling. Ted Dekker. Tomi Adesina (because she’s bae).

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

This might be cliché but it’s true; do it afraid. Fear will not go away so you might as well just do it.

 

#WritingQuote – ‘Everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise.’

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“And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” Sylvia Path 

Two words stand out for us in this quote, guts and imagination. Every writer who has guts and is willing to explore the imaginary would do great in this industry because one of the biggest problems plaguing writers is fear. It is so bad that we had to give a whole page of advice on why writers need to write what they think. 

Many critically acclaimed books and stories have questionable themes or discuss topics others would rather shy away from but if  the writers didn’t take that step someone else would have written about them. 

A writer has to have guts. There are times you may need to damn the consequences and write what your heart tells you, write what you can’t stop thinking about and be unapologetic about it.

Imagination is another thing no writer can do without.

Don’t be too tired to dream and when something is becoming usual, switch things up. Heck, that’s why you are a writer. You have the ability to switch things up. Use it. 

Lastly, never, ever doubt your ability to create something phenomenal. 

#GrammarSeries – The difference between cannot, can’t, and can not

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Hey Sparkle Writers, do you know that there is a slight difference between cannot, can’t and can not? Yes there is and we’d tell you all about it in today’s Grammar Series! 

Cannot” and “can not” might seem like they mean the same thing, but you use them in different ways. 

Cannot

“Cannot” is usually the word you want. It means “unable to” or “unwilling to” do something.

  • cannot come to rehearsal tonight.
  • Mom said I cannot have the car tomorrow.

Can Not

“Can not” is occasionally used as an alternative to the one word “cannot,” but it shows up most often when the word “not” is just part of something that comes right after “can.” For example, use “can not,” (two words) when “not” is part of a “not only… but also construction.

  • You can not only be in the play, but also choose your understudy.
  • You can not only have the car, but you can also get the car washed on your way home.‘

Can’t

“Can’t,” the contraction for “cannot,” is just a more informal replacement for the one-word form of “cannot.” 

  • Mom said I can’t have the car tomorrow.

 We trust that you get the difference now!  

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. 

#GrammarSeries – Grammar myths you need to get rid of

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Hey Sparkle Writers! We know that as a writer you would have read and heard so many ‘grammar rules’ – the ones that are true and those that are untrue. 

Today we want to debunk a few of those myths. Whose ready to unlearn and relearn?

Here we go!

Myth 1

You shouldn’t start a sentence with the word “however.” 

Wrong! It’s fine to start a sentence with “however” so long as you use a comma after it when it means “nevertheless.” 

The comma is important because however is a conjunctive adverb that can be used in two different ways: it can join main clauses and it can modify a clause.

If you use however at the beginning of a sentence and don’t insert a comma, it would mean “in whatever manner,” “to whatever extent,” or “no matter how.”

Myth 2 

“Irregardless” is not a word. 

Wrong! “Irregardless” is a bad word and a word you shouldn’t use it, but it is a word. You shouldn’t use it if you want to be taken seriously, but it has gained wide enough use to qualify as a word. 

Myth 3

Passive voice is always wrong. 

Wrong! In passive voice, the subject of the sentence isn’t the person or the thing taking the action. In fact, in a passive voice sentence, the actor is often completely left out of the sentence. An example is “Mistakes were made,” because it doesn’t say who made the mistakes. Your writing is often stronger if you make your passive sentences active, but if you don’t know who is responsible for an action, passive voice can be the best choice. 

This is why you should use more pictures in your blog post

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Raise your hands if you are one of those bloggers who only adds one picture to the beginning of the post, fill it up with lots of text and then you click publish. We are guilty of that some of the time but then everyone makes mistakes right? 

This post is dedicated to explaining why you should stop that.

Do you know why lifestyle, fashion and food bloggers tend to ‘rise’ quickly? Because they delight their readers with pictures, beautiful ones at that.

Agreed, not all of us can be food or lifestyle bloggers because we all have different passions, but we need to infuse the wisdom from these bloggers into our blogging.

When you have large chunks of information to convey to your visitors, using imagery gives you the opportunity to make that information easier to understand. It takes far less time for someone to absorb information presented in a symbol than it does when they’re forced to read about it word-by-word.

Here are more reasons why you should use more pictures .

Symbols quickly convey complex instructions

If you have a pretty long content it is better and wiser to break it down using pictures and symbols. Use memes, GIFs and videos. This way you don’t have to type a blog post that is two pages long.

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People are hard-wired for visual processing

According to Canva, approximately 20% of your brain is devoted to vision – the visual cortex – and that system “reaches out and interacts with at least half of your brain, sending electrical impulses all over the place.”

Colour plays a big role in capturing visual attention and a tool that can be leveraged to affect emotions and behavior.”

Communicating your message isn’t only about information

You could have a genius, 10-page report that answers every possible question anyone could think of, and most people will still prefer the condensed version in the form of an image. Efficient communication isn’t about conveying all of the information; it’s about conveying small chunks of information quickly and clearly. 

We know it is not easy but this is what you get from your readers when you make the effort

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