MY WRITING JOURNEY: 5 ACTION STEPS I TOOK TO BECOME A BETTER WRITER

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A lot has happened in my journey as a writer. I have made mistakes, published poorly written articles, researched on how to write better, given in to laziness and unbelief, tried to write like someone else because I thought their style was better, got stuck in the middle of a story… I have learnt so much. There are tons of wisdom I’ve gleaned from my experiences, some of which I have started to document which hopefully I will share in a writing project in a short while from now.

I must confess, writing for me has been a beautiful journey. It is one of the many things I do with ease. As exciting as writing is for me, there is a limit. Drafting formal letters, proposals, writing minutes and academic writing is a No no. Of course, my 9 to 5 job demands a lot of formal writing. As it is, the best I can do is solidify an exit plan.

I know absolutely that if you want to ruin my day, give me minutes to draft or ask me to help with your thesis or paper, I’d know you don’t love me and want to punish me. It’s the reason some of us lost interest in lecturing. We love the teaching part but when we were informed that we’d have to produce publications in journals or run a Ph.d, we dusted our feet and humbly walked away.

Well, where creativity permits me to jump freely on paper, my heart sure dances with joy.  This however does not mean that there is always 100 percent will to write. Not at all. There are days I don’t feel like it. Writing is lot of hard work and a truckload of grit.

I’m still on the journey and there is still so much to learn but I’m grateful for the platforms and the grace to carve words beautifully.

What kind of writer am I?

I started as a playwright back in the university. I love to write plays! At that time, I hadn’t given much thought to prose. I just wrote plays in fullscap sheets and gave my friend to read the plays and afterwards sit to talk about them.

Years later when I got on facebook, I scribbled short articles for my facebook friends, entered the blogsphere, tried my hands on non-fiction articles, fell deeply in love with screenplay and here we are.

If you ask me what aspect of writing I makes me giddy, I’d say, fiction and creative non-fiction pieces. I’d tell you I enjoy blogging, that I am caught up in another realm when I have to do a screenplay and that I am estatic at reviving my love for plays.

I’d love to say at this point, that it’s okay to experiment on different writing styles before settling for the one tfore settling for the specific areas.

In another post, I’ll talk about discovering your writing style and tips to becoming proficient at it but for today, I’ll just share some of the steps I’ve taken to get to where I am now.

What little steps did I take that has gotten thousands of visitors drinking from the creative juices that I provide.

I call them my six action steps. There are more but I’ll just share this six.

1. I journaled a lot.

I started writing daily in my journals as far back as ten years ago. I mean consistent journaling. I was very introverted then and preferred to sit with a book and pour my thoughts on paper. It greatly helped me when I started my journey as a writer. Although,  I stopped at some point but I have picked it up again and this time journaling is more deliberate.

I journaled about my tasks, the things I wanted to see in my future, the areas I needed to work on, and so on and because writing about my own personal journey had become a practice, it was easy to switch when I made a decision to write and connect with an audience.

Many writers have no idea what they are missing by not journaling regularly. When you can connect first with yourself on paper, it’ll help you connect with others in whatever platform you choose. I shared more about journaling in a podcast titled, You want to see better results in your life? Here’s how.

2. I kicked my fears aside and made a move.

I was that lady who was so afraid of sharing her work with others. It became worse when I met writers who had a firm grip on their work and rather than just take the challenge to hone my skills, I felt intimidated and hesitant to share my articles. Thanks to a friend Fervency Osagie, who encouraged me to fire on. I did. I spent more time editing my work but I didn’t stop sharing.

One thought rang in my heart when I made the decision to stay on course: If I keep practicing and reading more, I’d be that excellent writer I dream of.

The challenge with many budding writers is, they give up too soon. Who says there is no place for growth. I wish I could show you some of my articles from 2014, I’m certain you won’t believe I wrote such poorly written pieces. Becoming a writer, I learnt, is a process and until you step out, you may never see how much power you can wield over words.

3. I read quality books

There were books I outgrew. As I allowed my mind to explore books with rich content, It stretched. Subconsciously, my mind began to identify spare writing and the seamless flow of words.

I started to recognize the difference between rich language of words and poor, lame usage. It became easier to identify a good story with terrible writing skills and a crummy story that merely imports big words to impress readers.

I remembered coming across Sidney Sheldon for the first time and my heart burning with passion because his style connected so much with the kind of writer I wanted to be. Dramatic. Fast paced. Visual.

Then I began to take note of Francine Rivers and how her depth resonated with my dream and I knew I had found my role model. So when you hear for instance that I read Francine’s Mark of the Lion Series over five times, it is not just the story that I can’t get enough of, it is the heart to heart connection, that transfer of creative breath from an established writer to a budding one, one that many may not understand.

I read all of Chimamanda Adiche’s books more than once (apart from the one centered around feminism) and I’m wowed at the rich use of language.

Again, I learnt early enough that I was not going to be an excellent, proficient writer if I didn’t take reading seriously. Well, I am in for audio books too but as an individual with goal to gain mastery with words, I believed I still have to allow my eyes fall constantly on written words.

4. I always edit my work.

I also learnt in my journey that editing does not just mean correcting grammatical errors from your drafts. There was more. I learnt how to crack sentences and rephrase words so that they are tight and that they capture appropraitely the message I am trying to pass across. I discovered in my writing journey that the more I read great books, the more my mind could capture sentences in an impeccable and less superfluous manner.

How an editor will not be a voracious reader beats my imagination. I really think people misinterpret editing for proofreading. Reading voraciously helps your mind in the construction of sentences and language clarity such that when you get ready to review your drafts, you are able to do so with such great precision.

I love to edit and I get better as I spend time reading more books. Editing is for me the most interesting part of my writing assignments. I love it absolutely.

That art of ruminating and rephrasing drab sentences, kicking out superfluous words, finding new words to replace passive sentences. It’s tasking trust me. Some days for a blog post, it’ll take me five hours to get my second draft formed. By the time I’m editing the third time, it becomes easier. I’m still learning to be hard on my articles and stories. I’m learning to fall out of love with my first draft so I can kick out extraneous words faster.

When I have to outsource for an editor especially where a novel or magazine is concerned, I want to ensure that I cut out the melodrama and do my own part of editing the book or publication before sending to the editor.

5. Writing became a job.

I write almost everyday. If I’m not writing, I’m editing a piece. I’m addicted to it already. There is a daily schedule for my writing work. I’m either working on a blog post, sharing nuggets on my facebook page, working on writing jobs for my clients, working on my book or resource. Consistency is really my secret to proficiency. As a result of writing and reading consistently, steady growth is taking place in my life.

There is still a lot I’d love to share but I’ll stop here for now.

Writing is a skill. Aim for excellence. Find your niche. We don’t all have to write fiction. If yours is non-fiction, find out how to gain ground in that area. If you love to write for the movies (i.e screenplay), find out how it works.

Who are you following? Who are you reading? How deliberate are you? Do you have any structure?

I hope you learnt one or two things from my journey. I’ll be sharing more. Do well to subscribe to my blog and to my telegram channel for notifications.

Telegram channel: IFE GRACE NETWORK 

Read also: How to become a prolific writer while working full time on a day job 

5 easy ways to improve your writing skills 

About the author

Ife Grace
Ife Grace

I am a faith blogger with a passion to contribute my quota to the body of Christ. I am also the author of two books: The Reunion and Spring.

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