How to write better and make money in Nigeria
1. Understand that there are no rules to writing
This may be surprising to you but it is the truth. Creative writing is amorphous, not rigid and static. It is not science in which you have to follow a set of procedures to arrive at an expected conclusion.
There are no rules of writing, what works for Mr A may not work for Mr B. Ernest Hemingway, one of the most famous writers in history is quoted to have said “There is no rule on how to write. Sometimes it comes easily and perfectly, sometimes it’s like drilling rock and then blasting it out with charges”.
All you need is to have the flair for writing, pick up your pen and start writing. Develop your own style (I will expatiate more on this in future) and see it working wonders for you.
2. You must be a good reader
You cannot be a writer if you are not a reader. This is a constant. There are no two ways about it. If you don’t read books written by others, you cannot write anything worthy of being read by others. Every good writer is a voracious reader. Reading widely is a necessary attribute if you want to write fiction.
You see, Reading makes your world big. It enlarges your imagination and expands your scope of reasoning. You travel to different worlds on the pages of books. If you want to write good fiction, you must have an imagination that frightens even you yourself. And the only way to have a kickass imagination is to read widely.
There are many resources for reading. You have ebooks, online forums, pages, blogs, physical bookshops, libraries etc.
Can movies help you expand your imagination?
Yes, but I hope you know that all the movies you watch, all your favourite series that you download and follow religiously were first conceived in the mind by people with a wide imagination and then written down on paper as scripts, and the scripts given to actors/actresses to act out the scenes.
But what if the scripts were not written down by somebody? Would you be watching Game of Thrones or Harry Potter today?
(how to write better and make money in nigeria)
3. You must be proficient in the writing language
Oh, don’t be frightened, you don’t have to be a Shakespeare or a Wole Soyinka before you can write.
First of all, you must choose the language you want to write in. Is it English? French? German? Ibibio? Hausa? Igbo? Yoruba? Pidgin English? Etc. You know, Nigeria and most parts of Africa was colonized by Britain. We were all taught to write and speak English and have adopted English as our lingua franca. So Nigerians and other Africans write mostly in English language.
You must be able to spell simple words and write simple sentences in English. If you cannot spell “come”, “house”, “Morning”, “climate”, “lorry”, “Sorrow” etc, you will find it almost impossible to write.
You must know the basic rules of grammar. You should understand the difference between and know when to use present tense and past tense.
You should know the singular and plural forms of words.
Since English is not our first language in Africa, we are all learning it every day and so we shouldn’t be ashamed when we make errors.
Thank God for editors, autocorrect, spell /grammar check on our writing soft-wares, we can always write error-free and readable pieces.
Now, you must make it your duty to perfect your English and run away from English “killers”.
One of the English killers today is the unnecessary abbreviations and short-hands we use on social media sites. If you keep on typing house as “awz”, Come as “cme”, Happy” as “hapi”, Hi as “I”, Hello as “elo”, Friend as “frd” etc, you will never become a good writer because you will find your writings overwhelmed and influenced by these abbreviations.
A good writer types in full and abbreviates only when necessary.
Another English killer is Pidgin English. If you keep on typing in Pidgin and speaking pidgin all the time, it will reflect in your written and spoken English unless you had already mastered English and can switch between the two versions at any point in time.
I read posts on Facebook where the writer starts out writing a good piece in standard English but along the way, he/she breaks up and ends up writing in pidgin because he/she has become so used to typing and speaking pidgin that he/she can no longer write a short piece in plain English. When this happens, the message of the post gets watered down and anyone who can’t understand pidgin won’t be able to follow the post.
(how to write better and make money in nigeria)
You can choose to write completely in pidgin if it suits your audience more. You can use pidgin words, sentences and phrases but never resort to writing in pidgin when your original intention was to use standard English.
There is nothing wrong with typing abbreviations or speaking/writing in pidgin but you must learn to draw a line. These things kill your grammar most especially if your foundation in the English language is weak.
4. Write consistently
A good writer writes consistently.
Writing is like a spirit that spurs you on to write. In fiction writing, you get no relief until you have put down what’s on your mind onto the paper, onto your laptop via the keyboard etc. The characters are constantly having dialogues in your head. When you finally offload them onto the paper, another set enters your head and begin their dialogue and conversations…
If you haven’t gotten to the stage where you feel the impulse, the drive to keep on writing consistently, you are not a writer in the real sense of the word.
Most writing coaches advocate that you find a way to write every day. No matter how bad or little your writing is, just keep doing it. Writing consistently keeps you on top of your game.
You can decide to write daily, weekly or monthly as long as you are doing it consistently.
This is why social media savvy writers are always on the prowl, organizing and participating in writing competitions, writing on their Facebook pages, writing on online forums, sending opinion pieces to media houses, opening personal blogs, guest writing on friends blogs etc.
They all understand one cardinal principle of life: Practice makes perfect!
The more you write the better you become.
If you are the type of writer that writes once in six months, or once in a year, you need to sit up. Go and make findings, all the famous and award-winning writers are constantly writing in between the release of their books. They are writing articles and columns for newspapers, writing reviews, social commentaries etc.
Unless you are a genius, if you go off writing for a long time, when you get back, you will find out the sad truth that writing has left you.
5. Believe in yourself
If you don’t believe in yourself, nobody else will. You have to overcome the fear of criticism. Post that piece that you have written. Let others read it. The people you think will criticize you may turn out to become your greatest fans.
Can you make money off writing in Nigeria?
One misconception about writing is that writing in Nigeria is not lucrative. This is false. At the initial stage, you might not be bringing in the bucks, but when you keep writing intelligently and consistently, your horizon begins to expand, opportunities will start coming your way and you will find yourself writing for money. And one thing in writing is that, when the money starts coming in, it will never stop. You will become a hot cake!
If you want me to coach you on creative writing, contact me via Email: email@example.com or on WhatsApp: 08068178361.
Iniobong Leroi Umoh is a storyteller, a satirist and creative writer. He blurs the line between reality and fiction and seeks to create a connection with the reader through engaging content. His works have been featured across various online and offline platforms. He hopes to one day travel around the world on a luxury yacht, sipping expensive wine and documenting all his experiences in a journal.
You can send him a mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.