What You Didn’t Know About Writing


You get a lot of feedback as a writer. Some of them are good and they make you think anything is possible – that an ordinary person like you has real talent and can get recognized for impacting lives you have never met. Other feedbacks make you pray you never meet your critics again. Like it or not, in a world where everyone has an opinion and minds of their own, people would always have mixed feelings about your writing.

The essence of any form of writing is to pass messages. Whether to alert your readers of danger, tell them a story or inform them of something, when the message is understood correctly, written communication is said to have taken place. The problem with most writers today is that they have a message they want to pass, cannot pass it correctly and expect to receive accolades for the effort it took to submit nonsense (in the truest sense of the word).

There is no perfect story because there is no perfect writer. The writers who get published, especially those already established, aren’t always the best writers when word craftiness and dexterity are concerned. They get published because the editors who read their works can understand them. They have done research, read and re-edited their works personally, over and over again before submitting and they understand their own message to the core. Before submitting any manuscript, make sure you have confidence in what you have written.

Writing like Printing began as a profession of the few in those days. Not everyone was literate and certainly, not everyone was taught to be literate. Those who were called Writers, Scribblers and Jotters in those days had to learn the trade. They learnt from the writers before them and continued to develop their own styles of writing and ways to play with words in a manner that made their messages appealing. Today, any Tom, Dick and Harry can go type up his or her own version of a manuscript and send it out to a publishing company, ignoring the grammatical, spelling and phrasal errors so chronic, they don’t get rejection letters anymore. 

As an editor myself, I can tell you this is one of the many reasons we turn down very important manuscripts before we even read to the middle. Like my dad told me after reading my manuscript at age 12, “You either don’t know enough to inform anyone of anything or you haven’t learnt how to inform people of anything.” Every good writer reads. Every great writer must read all the time.

American author and environmentalist Edward Abbey reading near his desert home in Arizona, 1984 | gettyimages.com

Like Doctors do before any surgery or at least I hope every doctor does this before surgery, they source out recently published medical journals on safer ways to conduct specific operations before entering the theater room at all. So too must writers research and the best way to do so is by reading a lot. Whether you are writing a suspense piece, news article, homework or whatever, if you don’t know what is expected from that work of yours, you might as well be writing for yourself. You must know what is on trend, what is the custom and learn to give your readers what they want.

Like Ben Carson once said in his amazing biography/motivational book “You Have a Brain”, “Everyone has a brain, it’s just left to you whether you use it or not.” Take note that the thing about reading is that you may not need it immediately after reading about it, but one day, unexpectedly you will find yourself wowing others with how much knowledge you have gathered. This comes in very handy when putting together a news article, novel or memoir – If your editor can learn two or three things from your manuscript or be reminded of things he or she already knew but forgot about, you have a friend and fan rooting for you somewhere already. The feedback becomes complete when your work gets published.

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Writing is a powerful thing. It can make people laugh, cry, become inspired, get hungry, angry, think about their lives and smile afterwards. Journalists know that writing saves lives, novelists write to entertain, memoirists write to inform, but none of these people can do what they do without being aggressive readers. The dream of every aspiring writer is to get published as much as he or she writes and if you know your work is good, passes a message and teaches readers something, yet it hasn’t gotten published, hope is not lost. 

Hang in there. 

Most times, rejection letters stop us from settling for less. In more cases than one, bigger publishers are anxiously waiting for manuscripts like yours to reach them. George R. R. Martin was rejected many times by different magazines before he authored ‘Game of Thrones’. J.K Rowling’s pitch for ‘Harry Potter’ was rejected 12 times before the spark. If you put effort into building your skill, one day the way you have laid your bed is the way you will lie on it.

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