..reflections on my evolving journey as a
I remember when I first decided to write for public consumption about fifteen years ago. Back in those days, blogs were all the rage and so many people created them to share their thoughts. Social media was becoming mainstream in Nigeria.
If I remember correctly, hi5 was the most popular social media site at the time. The top blogging sites were Blogger and WordPress.
The blog sites made it easier for people to share their thoughts to a global online audience and all one had to do was churn out stories or articles. Blogger hosted my first blog titled “Uplifting Your Soul”. I was probably going through an emotional renaissance at the time; that is the only way I can explain the title and focus of the blog. The blog header read as follows: “A little “pick me up” now and then never did anyone any harm, and that’s what “Uplifting Your Soul!” is all about because we all need a pep talk sometimes. Cheerio, the grass is always greener on your side, you only need to water your garden!”
The majority of the articles focused on emotions, encouragement, feelings, relationships, self-awareness, and spirituality. Many were well-received, and I always loved getting comments from people who didn’t know me personally.
I have always loved sharing my thoughts and opinions. I believe that everyone has an opinion and that sharing that opinion is equally as important as having it. I have found, however, that many people are averse to sharing their thoughts and opinions, at least publicly. There would be many reasons for this but I suspect the main reason would be the fear of being criticised or judged. I wouldn’t blame anyone for this; have you seen some of the people online?
I admit that this was one fear that held me back from writing consistently. Whilst I am not afraid of being criticised or judged, I am always conscious that whatever I write, must be factual so I can maintain some integrity. I am also conscious of the fact that many writers are expected to be politically correct, however, that is not a school of thought I subscribe to or else, this would not be the way I see things today, would it?
When I started writing this weekly series, I was sure it would be a walk in the park. I soon found out it was more like WORK in the park! I mean, I had so many topics and writing prompts saved over the years. I was sure all I needed to do was pick one and write. How wrong I have been! Do you know how it is when a lady stares at her wardrobe filled with clothes and laments about having absolutely nothing to wear? Yes, that feeling! I experience it every week when I try to decide on a topic for my article.
I have very often settled on a topic literally on the day the article is due. Last week, for example, I had mulled over different topics but remained undecided. It then occurred to me that I could write about birthdays and all the fuss that comes with it. This week, I had narrowed down my options to two topics. Then I started fleshing out one of the topics but I just couldn’t find the inspiration. At the last minute, I decided to write this one. I remembered this week’s article would be the thirtieth in the series. Most important as I have wanted to share this experience for a while.
If choosing a topic is hard, deciding what goes into the article is even harder. Sometimes, there is so much to write on a topic that it becomes two articles. Other times, I struggle to find the words because I may not have sufficient information, experience, or exposure on that topic even though the topic has piqued my interest. And then laying out the words. I have found out that first vocalising and recording my thoughts helps. This is especially important as I sometimes randomly think on a topic and want to document my thoughts. I then transcribe those thoughts so it’s easier to refer to when I want to flesh out the article.
And finally, deciding on the story angle: what do I focus on? How do I project the thoughts and opinions I want to convey? How do I ensure that my point has been understood? This is especially important because not many people will finish reading the article if something ticks them off. Some would also not give you the benefit of the doubt. It takes a high level of self-awareness to write clearly and achieving that self-awareness is not easy. I am also conscious of who my reader(s) is/are. I ask myself over and over again why anyone would want to read my articles. What do they expect to see? How do they expect to feel?
Editing my writing has not been as tough as I assumed it would be. Probably because I have edited so many other people’s writing. I had assumed cutting through the dross would be hard as I would be emotionally invested in my writing, however, this has not been the case. Sometimes, I delete whole paragraphs because they no longer make sense within the article. My attitude is to ensure that I detach from my writing to see the wood for the trees.
I encourage people to share their opinions because everyone has an audience. There is something quite therapeutic about laying out your thoughts on paper (or digitally). I don’t necessarily mean full-length articles, any fleeting thought would do. Writing things down help to clear my head. Some people experience this from having conversations with others and it is also very present when you write.
I am learning a lot on this journey as a writer. The most important thing has been learning to question my views and challenge my biases. I have torn through previously held opinions simply by exposing myself to new information: it hasn’t been easy. We should all get to the point where we are comfortable with sharing our opinions but we should also ensure we get information to shape our opinions before sharing.
This is the way I see things today.