When I was a teenager, I experienced an accident which stayed with me for many years. I went to visit my uncle in the city of Akure and while walking on the road, an accident happened right before me. A bike man carrying a passenger lost control and ran under a moving truck and instantly, both lives on the motorcycle were lost. That day, I realized how fragile life is and I made a decision to live a life of meaning.
Recently, I lost a very close family friend. I had spoken to him the week before he died and suddenly, I got a call that he was dead. It was so sudden and I was devastated. Till date, I find it difficult to believe that he is actually gone. But, such is life and what this reiterates to me once again is that life is too short to not live fully and go after your dreams.
Yes, we say this over and over again – live your dreams, go after what you want, face your fears – but, the fact is it is not as easy as it sounds. Yet again, when you think about it, you discover it is that easy.
The million-dollar question would be – if you leave the world today, would you be happy with the life you lived? Would you be content with the things you achieved? Would you be happy with your life’s journey? If not, then you know it is time to change things up.
It doesn’t have to be something so complicated. It could be learning a new skill, learning to speak a new language, finally writing that book, or just asking that girl out. It could be putting together that online course, connecting with that mentor you watch from afar, or just deciding to have more fun. These simple actions could have a domino effect and lead you to a path you never imagined.
Whatever you do, just make sure you are living your best life.
“If somebody offers you an amazing opportunity but you are not sure you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later!” – Richard Branson
“Never say No to what your gift says YES to.” – Steve Harris
I remember vividly the first time saying ‘yes’ changed my life and determined the course of my career.
It was the year 2012. I had just graduated from the University and I needed to do something with myself. I didn’t want to be idle, and I was ready for any opportunity, including marketing even though I had never marketed anything before in my life.
I got a marketing job at a jewelry company in the city of Ibadan. When I went for the job interview, I had no idea what it entailed, but because I was determined to work, I jumped at the opportunity. I remembered clearly how I combed the city of Ibadan looking to sell pieces of wire jewelry ( a type of jewelry which was very unknown at the time). I persisted and kept at it though and that led to the second opportunity which I said yes to and which permanently changed the trajectory of my life.
It was still the same company. The company had a jewelry arm and also a magazine. At that time, I already discovered my talent and love for writing but I had not fully explored it. The manager for the company then approached me and pitched writing for the magazine. I immediately jumped at the offer (at least it beats roaming the streets in the sun). I said yes happily, even though I had never written professionally and I had no idea what I was doing. That single positive response changed my story.
From that point onwards, I started recognizing the power of my talent and how I can milk it to live a full life. Today, that is what I do fully.
A lot of times, I have said yes to opportunities even though I had no idea what I was doing and this had given me access to a lot of people and expanded my horizon. The first time I was approached to write a children story, the first time I was approached to transcribe, the first time I was approached to ghostwrite a book, the first time I was approached to speak at an event….there have been many firsts and those firsts have helped me explore who I am to the fullest.
Saying yes can lead to success and it can also lead to failure, but the joy in life is in trying and being willing to take risks and fail if need be.
Yes is a powerful word which I am learning to explore in my life. I have discovered that life is too short to be lived halfway.
I have been observing you for long and I must confess, my heart throbs every time I see your face. Your smile captivates my spirit and I live to put a smile on your face.
I can’t but love you. If loving you is a crime, I want to be jailed forever!
Your secret admirer.
I smiled as I finished reading the crumpled up paper. It had been shoved into the tiny opening above my desk. It was the first thing that caught my eye as I sat down to prepare for the day’s lectures.
“What does it say, Maggie?” My best friend, Dammy asked, bouncing up and down on her toes in excitement. I ignored her, trying to figure out where the note came from. Who wrote it?
My eyes made a quick stroll round the class. Could it be Elisha? He had never made a secret of how he felt about me. I saw that he was looking at me funny, but when our eyes met and I smiled, he quickly looked away. No, Elisha was too shy to pull this off.
I dismissed him as I took another casual stroll. My eyes landed on HIM but I quickly looked away.
In my heart, I knew who I wanted it to be, but my mind shied away from the thought cos I didn’t want to be disappointed. I didn’t want the soft fetters of my tentative hope cut off. Could he be the one? Does he secretly love me?
My eyes refused to obey the command of my mind, and it took another casual stroll to where he sat. He was talking and laughing with his friends, paying me no mind. My treacherous heart did a somersault as our gazes suddenly collided. He winked at me and gave me the most beautiful smile. I turned away quickly.
Could he be the one? Does he love me secretly? I’ll have to do a little bit of investigation today to figure out who wrote this letter.
“Oh, let it be Ahmed. Oh, let it be Ahmed.” My heart beat in sync with those words over and over again.
Today, I want to share with you the power of wishes, hope and action.
In the beginning of this year, one of my wishes was to get more speaking engagements. I wanted to hold my own physical events and also be invited on various platforms to speak. I put a picture up on my vision board documenting that goal.
That was my wish, but did I fold my hands waiting for the wishes to come true? No, I took action.
The first thing I did was to invite an influencer in my field over to my city. The influencer posted about the meeting and it drew crowd. Those who didn’t know about me got to know about me through that particular training. That was a strategy.
The second thing I did was to keep feeding my following. I kept sharing and sharing, and sharing, most times, for free without expecting any remuneration. That was intentional.
Did I get those speaking engagements? No, but I was creating a ripple effect. People were noticing.
This December alone, I spoke at two different places, and I have started booking engagements for next year.
I had this to say about the first speaking engagement:
I went, I saw and I conquered
So, I have not shared about my speaking event at The Literary Festival because I’ve been swamped with work, and I also lost most of the pictures I took (story for another day).
However, now I have a little breather, so, let’s gist.
I was invited to speak as one of the panelists on a particular topic. I got to the venue, took some pre-talk pictures, was introduced and I did my thing. The panel was fun and I was thrilled by the opportunity to share my knowledge on starting out as a writer and dealing with some of the challenges we face as creatives.
After the talk, we took more pictures, connected with some new prospects, and I took my leave.
Later that night, I received a call from the convener. I assumed she wanted to appreciate me for coming, but alas, she was inviting me to come and speak again the next day on Self-Publishing. This was not part of the plan, but apparently, I made such an impression, they needed to learn more from me.
On Saturday, I passionately shared my journey to Self-Publishing. I got a lot more prospects and was able to share about my book, The Smart Writer’s Handbook.
Saturday was not the main gig, but it turned out to be the best time ever. I was called back because of how eloquent I was in sharing.
You see, you need to be so good you cannot be ignored.
My first speaking engagement was a hit back to back. I met some amazing people and expanded my network while doing what I love doing.
If you read through, you might have learned one or two things from that post.
Dear, it is not enough to hope and pray, you must take action and make sure everything you are doing is taking you one step closer to your goals.
Be so good you cannot be ignored.
P.S: before the end of the year, I am going to keep sharing about my resolutions for this year and how far I came in achieving them. Stay alert for my blog posts.
I am reading the book, The Alchemist presently and it made me reminisce of years past. I remembered that once upon a time, I almost gave up on my dreams.
Years ago, when I released my first book Wild Child; it was a paperback novel and I was so excited. There’s something about seeing your name on the back of a book cover. It inspires you, motivates you and just makes you so very proud of yourself. Oh, I was proud of myself all right.
I released the book into the world, launched it successfully and made the production money back just from the launch (oh, how that encouraged me), then it became time to actually sell and I became stumped.
You see, when I was working on the book, I had this vague idea that once I release my work into the world, marketing angels will just spread the word, the world will know about it immediately, and just like that, I will become an instant bestselling author. Alas, that turned out to be so far from the truth.
I launched and then I couldn’t sell. I took it to bookstores, talked to people about it and was able to sell some copies but nowhere near the 1,000 copies printed. To cut the long story short, I had to give away most of the books.
This eventually crippled my desire to pursue my dreams of becoming a writer. I didn’t see the need to write books I had no means of selling. I was truly crushed and couldn’t go on. For years, I hung my writing tools and refused to pen anything down. It took another visitation from the God of Dreams for me to awaken once more to my true potential. I knew at last that I could do nothing but write so I had to figure out ways to make it work. I finally did, and today, I am a bestselling author.
You see, sometimes a huge disappointment might have made you give up on your dreams. Maybe, you think the journey to success is too long, or maybe, you think the rigors of the journey are more than you can bear. I want to encourage you this day and tell you the journey is all part of the learning process. The journey makes the victory much sweeter and enjoyable. When you can look back on all you’ve gone through and you finally arrive at your destination, then you are excited that you made it.
Won’t you rather have a story to tell? The journey is good, and it is exactly what makes success worth having.
Don’t give up on your dreams. Fight to keep it alive and you will be glad you did so.
Your characters are the mainstay of your novel. They are the bedrock. Without compelling and interesting characters, your novel is dead even before you begin writing. That is how important your characters are.
A character breathes life into a story; the complexities, the dynamism, the personality traits, the admirable or non-admirable qualities, these all work together to create a compelling and lovable character.
We have different types of characters just as you have in movies. You have:
The main character (this is who your story revolves around. Your main character might be more than one)
The supporting characters (as the name implies, they are there to support your main character. They could be round, flat, dynamic, static, etc)
Now, we’ve established how important your character (s) is, how then do you create a winning/relatable character?
I have some steps here to guide you through the process:
What does your character look like? Tall, dark and handsome or a plain Joe? A drop dead gorgeous woman or a motherly woman? By the way, your characters are permitted to look ugly. Every character must not be Miss World, everyday people are not like that and the goal is to create a character every of your reader will feel some affinity with.
What is the character of your character? What makes him/her tick? What character defects does he/she have? Is he too self-centered? Is she too demanding? Nobody on earth is perfect so make sure your character isn’t too.
This is where your supporting characters come in. what type of relationships would your main character keep? Who are her friends, family, co-workers, and lovers? Who are his buddies, colleagues, or siblings? What type of friends does your character keep? Is your character a very social person? An extrovert or an introvert? Define your characters by the company they keep.
A person’s history goes a long way in defining who the person will become. A character from a very rich background is likely to have a healthy respect for money and how it is spent. A character that has been to jail is more likely to distrust people. An orphan will likely have the innate fear of getting close to people. These are generalities, they are by no means absolute. A reader will love to know the background of your character.
How does your character communicate? Our personality to a large extent can be determined by the way we talk. What kind of words does your character use to express himself? Does she favor colorful words? Does she have distinctive words in her vocabulary? What is her style of speech? How about the sound of his voice; deep and commanding or soft spoken? Make sure your character’s communication style is distinctive and unique.
It goes without saying that your character has to be relatable. I mean, we all love Superman, but how many people in life are born with superhuman strength? We love Edward Cullen in Twilight, but we have no idea what/how a vampire should be. Granted, you are writing fiction, but as much as possible, you need to infect a dose of ‘relatability’ in your characters. Let them feel like every day humans so the average Joe or Sally out there can see a piece of them in your character. Hence, they will find it easy to fall in love with your character.
Develop your character in such a way that your readers can empathize with him/her. What physical/mental weakness must your character overcome? The goal is to make your readers feel something for your character. The more they empathize, the more they relate with your character, and the more your character is loved, which is the goal.
What are the inner workings of your character’s mind like? How does he/she think through a problem that has to be resolved? Is her internal thoughts different from what she says or do? Does this create conflict in her everyday life? You can make this as complicated as you want to bring another form of dynamism to your character’s traits.
Goals and dreams
What goals does your character want to achieve in your story? What is his passion in life? A person’s ambition usually goes a long way in determining his actions and informing his decisions in life. Do well to explore that option very well.
With these points, you can go on to develop an all-round ad very interesting character that any reader can fall in love with.
That is the goal – if your readers do not love your characters, then that story is going nowhere. Take time to develop your character and you will be glad you did so.
To read the post where I wrote about writing a captivating book, please click HERE
On Facebook, I asked writers following me to ask any questions they wish to be answered, and the first question goes thus:
“How can I possibly write a book that captivates its reader from start to finish?”
THIS is my answer:
The ideas, the inspiration to write and the motivation must, of course, come from within you.
It starts by being true to yourself.
First, you need to choose the type of writer you want to be. Do you gravitate towards fiction writing or would you rather be a non-fiction writer? If fiction, you decide on your genre. There are lots and lots of genre to choose from. From romance to horror to mystery to historical to detective genres, you have a wide range to choose from.
You can start by experimenting on different levels. Start with the kind of books you like to read. What type of books gives you joy? What type of books inspires you? What type of books would you like to see your name on?
Then, you move on to the point you want to address specifically in the book. This is also important for fiction writers. Your story must revolve around a central theme. What topics are you passionate about or very good at? Start from there, and explore.
For the non-fiction writers, this is pretty easy as you can just focus on your area of expertise. Decide what you’re very good at, and then start writing to further develop it and up your game.
Another thing that is absolutely necessary is that you decide who you want to write for before you even write the first word. What kind of people make up your target audience? What specific problems do you want your book to solve?
For fiction, what kind of books would you like to read that has not been written yet? Or how can you add your own stamp on a previously written idea?
This is very important as it will help you sell when it comes time to. So, before you pen anything down, decide WHO you are writing for.
Ask yourself these questions:
For fiction writers.
I. How can I make an existing story better?
Have you read The Twilight Series and The Fifty Shades of Grey Series? I heard that The Fifty Shades of Grey actually started as a fan-fiction. The author, E.L James, loved The Twilight Series so much that she wrote stories on her blog channeling the characters in the series. Today, her books are bestsellers and have been adapted into movies.
So, do you have a story you particularly love? Think of a way to make it better and appear in a totally different light.
II. What can I tweak or add to make a good story different?
Should I add an element of supernatural to a perfectly modern story? Can I modernize an old school story? Be creative with this and you’ll find a way.
III. Is there a story that has never been written before?
Who knows? You might just be the one to write that story.
For non-fiction writers
I. What will save people a lot of time, effort and help them make money?
II. What value can I give that has never been given before?
III. What is it I wish I knew when I first started? (in my business or career)
IV. How can I write a pre-existing book with a different perspective?
Once you know what to write and who you’re writing for, you can continue.
Another point that is truly essential to you writing a captivating story is Research.
Research is key. If you want to write a book that your audience will find captivating, you have to do your research thoroughly. That is non-negotiable.
If you want your book to go far, solve the exact problem you want it to solve, and continue to resonate in the minds of the readers long after they have read it, then you cannot joke with your research.
Think of Robert Kiyosaki’s Rich Dad, Poor Dad; think of Anthony Robbins’ Awaken the Giant Within; think of Dale Carnegie’s How to win friends and influence people; think of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series; think of Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight series – these are all bestsellers. What made them different from the millions of other books out there? The ability of the writer to give you exactly what they promised – that cannot be achieved without in-depth research.
Do you have enough knowledge about the topic or story you’re trying to write? Do you have enough information/understanding of the subject you intend to tackle?
These days, readers expect a high degree of legitimacy and detail in their books. They want to feel that when writers describe exotic locations, the firepower of a deadly weapon or the complex inner workings of an exclusive trade or profession; that they know what they are talking about.
They expect you, as a writer, to be familiar with every aspect of the world you are narrating. So when it comes to tackling your book, you have to be honest and ask yourself: do I know enough about the setting, the era, the lifestyles or professional environment of the characters to be able to write a book which is substantial? Do I have enough information, know-how to tell people how to better their lives and career?
Don’t get me wrong, you don’t have to know everything in this world before you write a book, but you have to be ready to do your research and get enough information, enough knowledge to share with your readers.
If you’re writing a historical drama, do you know what people wore in times gone by? Can you describe their homes, customs and lives in detail? If you’re tackling a crime story, do you know what happens in a postmortem or how detectives investigate a murder? If your heroine works as a reporter, can you recreate the atmosphere, language and backdrop of a newspaper office? Can you say how the job of a reporter differs from that of, say, a sub-editor?
If not, then you’ll have to do some research. It may be time consuming but any period spent getting that information is critical in giving your work credibility.
Many new writers often see research as a chore. But it does not need to be burdensome or dull. It’s often fascinating and you’ll find yourself having great fun learning new or unusual things.
If you get on the internet and couldn’t find what you are looking for, then look for someone who knows what you want or scrap that idea all together. It is better to not write that part than to write a non-convincing scene or book.
In these days of instant worldwide information at the touch of a button, it’s possible to find out just about anything; just do your research.
This information is culled from my book, The Smart Writer’s Handbook. You’ll get a lot more in-depth knowledge from the book. In fact, all you need to write and publish your first book. You can get the eBook HERE.
If you have any further questions, please ask below and I’ll answer them all soonest….xoxo
Change will take your past and turn it into your future
Change will take your dreams and turn them into your realities
Change will take your pains and turn them into your gains
Change will throw away your uncertainties, and help you embrace the unknown
Change doesn’t care about where you’re coming from, it only cares about where you can be
Change is constant
Change is the future…
Early this morning by 5 am thereabouts, I suddenly woke up from a sound sleep with these words ringing in my head; change will take your past and turn it into your future.
I stood up right away, grabbed my phone, opened my Evernote app and quickly penned down these thoughts. I’m glad I did.
As humans, we can be radically scared of change. We sometimes see it as the enemy, as that thing that never has our best interests at heart. This is an unfounded fear though because no matter our thought processes concerning change, it is forever constant. This means we cannot avoid it.
No matter what we do, change will be there. It will be there to turn those dreams into realities, it will be there to open our minds, thoughts and lives to endless possibilities. It will remain with us all the days of our lives.
To me, change is akin to a horror story. Subconsciously, I constantly sabotage myself when I see it coming. Why? Because I’m so scared of what it will bring with it. I constantly ask myself if I’m ready for the growth, if I’m prepared for the new exploits and beginnings. When I can’t fully answer these questions to my satisfaction, I sabotage my positive results. I stop doing those things I’ve been doing that have been giving me said positive results and I withdraw into my shell of inactivity. That way, I feel safe.
Of course, I don’t see these things in such a way when they’re happening. I give myself excuses instead. Oh, I’m too tired; I’m not seeing enough results, why should I continue; this is too much work, I don’t have the time or energy for it. These are some of the excuses I give myself.
It’s only recently that the Holy Spirit opened my mind to this destructive patterns, and He has been helping me work on changing them. I still get scared sometimes, but now I have a better understanding of my fears, and I am able to work on them.
Have you been sabotaging yourself when you see a transformation coming or have you been embracing it fully, excited for what the future will bring? If you’re among the former, ask for help today; ask the Holy Spirit to open your mind to see the beauty and excitement it brings, he is ever ready to provide help when you ask. If you’re among the latter, congratulations and keep soaring.
I wish you heaven’s best.
P.S: Don’t forget to leave your comments. I’ll love to hear from you….#xoxo
I remember years ago when I was still a teenager and it’s time for exams, I would hide the novel I am currently reading in the middle of my notebook or textbook, and pretend as if I am actually studying.
I remember I could stay up all night reading a very interesting book but you can never catch me dedicate such time and attention to my school books.
I remember that during exams while I was in the University, when my colleagues are scrambling and studying hard, you can always find a novel in my bag or see me curled up on my bed with a good book. My friends would look at me funny, wondering how I manage to scrape through exams, but scrape through I did, if only by a hair’s breath.
I remember lots of jottings of story ideas, abandoned manuscripts, poems and articles gone with the wind, written with love but now forever lost.
I remember always joining units and clubs where I could showcase my writing talent. Reading and writing was what I lived for; that was what made me tick.
If I had known then what I know now, I wouldn’t have spent four years of my life studying Chemistry. Instead, I would have enrolled in a writing academy, or just gone for courses that would enhance my talent. I would have gone for training that would build my skills.
Why am I sharing these?
It is simply to tell you that YOU CAN NEVER IGNORE YOUR DNA.
If it’s in you, it’s in you, and if you never develop it, you might wake up 20 years from now, wondering what you’ve done with your life. You might end up wishing you had taken action when you could.
It is never too late to pick up that pen and start writing. It is never too late to release that book.
Developing and honing your skills might be what a set of people are waiting for to break out and manifest. You might be the beacon of light somebody somewhere needs to break forth. Your book might be the breakthrough of some folks.
What are you waiting for?
It is time to stop ignoring your DNA and start to manifest.