A SCRIPT EDITOR’S PERSPECTIVE ON MISTAKES WRITERS MAKE WHEN WRITING BY DAMARIS IRUNGU OCHIENG’

As a script editor and head writer for over a decade, I notice mistakes that could easily have been avoided, if the writer just worked a little harder on their craft.

In this blog I’ll point out seven mistakes in the hope that you’ll avoid them and increase your chances of making it as a writer out here.

  1. Lazy writing: Things that fall in this category are things like un researched material and facts, careless spelling mistakes, grammatical errors and such like things, that distract the script editor from fully being immersed in your written story.
  2. Un-relatable Characters: The surest way to make your story fall flat is to give the audience characters they can’t relate with. Your characters are the ones driving your story, so make sure they are carrying us along emotionally in their journey.
  3. Not beating deadlines: I can’t overstate this, if you don’t beat a deadline as a writer on a TV show, it’s not just your episode that gets affected but the entire series. How do you expect the Script editor to read episode 4 before reading episode 3.  Not meeting deadlines is one of the surest ways to get yourself ‘not recommended’ for other gigs.
  4. Predictable twists and turns: The reason the audience is giving you half an hour, one hour or ninety minutes of their time is because they want to be immersed in some journey and forget about life for a moment. When your story is predictable then what’s the point, they might as well check their phones for the jokes and memes in their whatsapp groups.  Robert Mckee once said that the audience is not losing attention span, it’s losing interest span. There are so many things competing for the audience attention, make sure you grab and hold your audience interest. The predictable twists and turns also weaken any conflict.

I’ve in the past written a blog post on how to hold your readers’ attention. Find it on my website www.damarisirunguo.com

Or Click on this direct link to the specific blog post https://wordpress.com/post/damarisirunguo.com/489

  • Telling Us instead of showing us: TV is a visual medium, make sure you are utilizing it. Think of your story movements in terms of actions and see what you can show us instead of tell us. E.g If a character is angry, instead of them saying they’re angry, how about they clear the stuff on their desk in a huff or throw something to the wall. Show don’t tell. Make sure you’re showing us more than telling us in your script.
  • Not sticking to the Tone of the show/story: If you’ve never written in a certain tone, research on it, eat, sleep, dream with that kind of show to make sure you are nailing the tone of what’s expected.
  • Not taking Notes given by the Head writer: There’s nothing more annoying than this. There’s a reason the head writer is the head writer and not you, so even if you don’t agree with their notes, examine whether it’s your ego or stubbornness, then put your feelings aside and work on the notes given. One day when you are the head writer you can call the shots. For now, the easiest way to get yourself fired is to give your head writer/showrunner a hard time. I’m not saying don’t push back on notes at all, but know which battles to pick, if it’s something you are deeply passionate about and can’t sleep if you take that note then by all means raise it with the head writer, we are humans and we understand and listen.

 Hope you’ve found those tips useful. If you’d like more tips on writing. Head over to my website www.damarisirunguo.com

You can also subscribe to my email list for your free guide on writing plus a weekly newsletter that inspires and informs to get you on the right track on your writing journey.

You can also buy my book on writing. Get writing, A beginner’s guide from Idea to First draft on Amazon. Or if in Kenya, order a hardcopy by whatsapp text only to 0707 651546 for your hard copy at Kshs 650.

Happy Writing and Creating!

A SWOT Analysis of Yourself As A Professional Writer By Damaris Irungu Ochieng’

 A SWOT analysis is mostly used by corporations to check if their business plan or idea is going in the right direction. If you’re a writer making your money from writing, it is important to do the same to check if you are heading in the right direction and if not, how to get your writing career back on track. Read on for my thoughts on how to do a SWOT analysis of your writing career.

S – Strengths: What are your strengths as a creative? Do you even know what your strengths are or are you comparing yourself to those around you? I love this famous saying that ‘if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree it will grow up knowing it’s stupid’ Do you feel like you’re a bad writer because perhaps you wrote in a genre that is not you? Perhaps you didn’t put enough time into the work? And that has made you feel inadequate? Work on stories that let your light shine through, what are those stories that make you come alive? What genres do you love most and can shine through them? Tiger Woods didn’t win numerous records by focusing on his weaknesses? He focused on perfecting his strengths. Perfect your strengths as a writer so that you may shine through.

W- Weaknesses:  What are your weaknesses? A person who is not able to look at themselves sincerely and point out their weakness won’t go far in life. Spend time examining yourself as an individual and find any weaknesses that could be stopping you from reaching your fullest potential. Are you a glass half-empty person? I’ve worked with writers who give half of their zeal on projects because it’s not their original idea, this lack of passion in turn ends up hurting the prospects of them being called for other gigs. Let’s take time to look inward at our weaknesses and find ways to create a balance.

O- Opportunities: Sometimes we miss out on great opportunities because we let fear of the unknown control us. ‘What If I fail? What if (insert your fear). Listen, a lot of us are doing it afraid, so go for it, don’t let opportunities pass you by because you’re afraid of what others will think of you if you fail.

Look around you, what opportunities can you see in the market place around you and globally, how can you leverage that for your win? How can you synergize with others for a win, in the spirit of Ubuntu? I am only because you are?  An African wise saying goes ‘If you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, go together.’

T- Threats: What are the threats that could render you irrelevant as a writer and bring an end to your career? How are you approaching the threats to make sure they don’t end your career? Is the threat imaginary or is it really a threat? What can you do about it? Do you have friends or acquaintances who can help you overcome the threat? Do you have mentors who you follow to stay inspired and to see how they are handling the threats that come their way? Remember the reaction to the threat is what will determine your outcome. Threats will always be there, so how will you react to them?

Hope this article has helped with you some tips on how to navigate your career as a writer.

For more inspiration, Information and education on the craft and business of writing, make sure to subscribe to my FREE WEEKLY email list at my website

www.damarisirunguo.com

Happy Creating!

HOW TO STAY CONSISTENT WITH YOUR WRITING BY DAMARIS IRUNGU OCHIENG’

We are counting down to the New Year. 2022 is fast approaching. One thing I know for sure is that the things I’ve succeeded in; are the things I have been consistent at this year. My weighing scale hasn’t moved because I have not been consistent with my workout that’s for sure!

But what I have been consistent at, is writing and growing as a writer and I hope to take some of my writing habits and apply them to the rest of my life.

If you’ve struggled with being consistent in your writing this year. Read on for some tips on how to stay ahead in 2022.

  1. Set Clear Goals:  We are at the end of the year. This time should be spent on lining up your writing goals for the next year. Look at your schedule and see how much time you have available for writing. Be REALISTIC.  This is not the time to do your wishful thinking list, it’s the time to do a realistic schedule of what is really possible, factoring in all the other commitments you have in your life. I would challenge you to give yourself a lesser goal i.e give the project more time than you think it will take, if you finish earlier, well and good, and if you use all the time, you are still on schedule, this will reduce frustration and help you stick to your goals. Example; are you only able to write 3 pages of a script a day or 500 words of your novel a day? Go with that and set your goal based on the little time you have available and stick to it no matter what!
  2. Commit to your goals: How badly do you want to succeed as a writer? If you’ve been referring to yourself as an aspiring writer in 2021 then you need to move from aspiring to professional writer in 2022. The difference between aspiring and professional writers is that aspiring writers keep dreaming of what ‘could be’. Professional writers on the other hand get their hands dirty by getting the job done.  To stay consistent in your writing means working on your daily habits. How does a professional treat their career? By making time for that which they consider their profession, by investing in their skill and making time to learn more on how they can be better at it. Take an inward look at just how much you’ve invested in yourself as a writer this year and take the necessary steps next year. PS I have a book on writing- check out more on my website www.damarisirunguo.com Plus free blog articles, a Weekly newsletter with information and inspiration if you sign up to my newsletter list, plus vlogs on my Youtube Channel, Damaris Irungu O
  3. Measure your achievements: We’ve talked about setting clear goals and committing to the goals. One way to trick your mind into staying consistent is by measuring your achievements. If you’ve said you are getting a script done by March Next year. Do you have a treat for yourself for getting to that milestone?  Did you align the goal based on a competition you’d want to enter your script in? Do you have a ‘next step’ strategy after getting to your achievement? It could be as simple as booking a friend (with a knack for story) to read your work after you’re done with a second draft revision.  Make sure you keep measuring your achievements and move to the next goal, so that at the end of the year you have several things to show for the 12 months in the year.
  4. Change your mindset: One of the most important strategies of staying consistent in your goal is to make sure your mindset is on the positive. No one can do this for you. No one can make your dreams come true more than you can. You will have to lift yourself up when you’re feeling low, when you feel like giving up, only you can do this for yourself, so refill your creative well with positive affirmations so that when the going gets tough, you will still keep moving and will have a great body of work to show at the end of 2022, God Willing!

Godspeed in everything you do!

Need more help with your writing?

Then grab a copy of my book ‘Get Writing, A beginner’s guide from Idea To First Draft’ Available on amazon. And hard copies available in Kenya by order by sending a whatsapp text to 0707651546

Hope these tips have helped jumpstart your move to becoming the best version of a writer that you can be.

You can find more of such articles on my website www.damarisirunguo.com

You can also subscribe to my email list for free for various guides on writing. www.damarisirunguo.com

Happy Creating!

7 KEY INGREDIENTS FOR A GREAT STORY, Writing with the reader in mind BY DAMARIS IRUNGU OCHIENG’

  1. Characters we root for: We need to have at least one character through whose eyes we experience the story, someone who we empathize with and root for, the person who serves as the connection between what they are going through and the world of the story.  Such characters help us go the journey with them till the issue/crisis is resolved (or not)
  2. Conflict: Drama is conflict, without conflict or promise of it then what’s the point of keeping us there? Make the conflict relatable that we as an audience put ourselves in the character’s shoes and ask ourselves. ‘what would I do if I was the character/s in the story?
  3. Grey areas: Choose subject matters that don’t have obvious answers, this will hold our interest as an audience as we listen and follow both sides of the debate to see which one holds more weight.
  4. Suspense: You’ve got to hold your readers interest and curiosity. If I’m not curious about what’s happening next, then I’m not going to stick around. I’ve in the past written a blog post on how to hold your readers’ attention. Find it on my website www.damarisirunguo.com
  5. Great Pacing: You need to find the proper balance of the pacing of your story, we have to breath but at the same time we have to stay on the edge of our seats. Finding that balance is your lonely task as a writer. Study the genre you’re working and see how the other writers in that specific genre do the pacing of their stories. Keep studying and reworking your story until you find that rhythm.  
  6. Use humour: If you are gifted with a hand in humour or writing witty dialogue then by all means drip feed it across the series. It’s not only comedy that needs humour. Every genre can do with some laughs so spend some time working on appropriate humour for the piece of work you’re writing.
  7. Teach us something we don’t know: If you have a budget for spectacle scenes then use that. If you don’t have a budget then give us some new useful information, drip feed it across the story so that we can feel a little bit more intelligent by the end of the experience.

Hope you’ve found those tips useful. If you’d like more tips on writing. Head over to my website www.damarisirunguo.com

You can also subscribe to my email list for your free guide on writing plus a weekly newsletter that inspires and informs to get you on the right track on your writing journey.

You can also buy my book on writing. Get writing, A beginner’s guide from Idea to First draft on Amazon. Or if in Kenya, order a hardcopy by whatsapp text only to 0707 651546 for your hard copy at Kshs 650.

Happy Writing and Creating!

HOW TO INVEST IN YOURSELF AS A WRITER BY DAMARIS IRUNGU OCHIENG’

The journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step. It is not enough to say I do to writing, you have to put in the work that comes in after saying ‘I do’

To become good at something, you have to work hard and smart at it, keeping in mind that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

I see a lot of writers who never get far in their careers because they simply never invest in themselves. They will never buy a book on writing, a course on writing, or watch a lecture on the craft of writing.

They will always find an excuse on why it can’t be done, why they don’t have the money, time and resources and yet the very writer will find time and resources for other things like a weekend of binge watching their favourite shows, will get money for new shoes and so forth but it’s such a struggle to invest in the craft.

The question is how badly do you want to succeed as a writer? If you want it badly enough then you will find a way to make it happen.

I share below some ways you can investing in yourself to become a better writer and storyteller.

  1. Follow the right people and organizations on social media: If you call yourself a writer and you’re not following writers who work in genres you’d want to work in, then something’s totally off. I see writers following the actors and forgetting to follow the writers of the shows and films, who might give them the inspiration needed to move them from aspiring writers to working writers. One of the ways to get to know more about the industry and craft of writing is to follow those you want to emulate. They don’t have to be a direct mentor, but by following them you will get some useful insights into how to go navigate the world of writing and your career.
  2.  Apply for Free courses/Webinars: I just completed a 12-week intense course on story development by Realness in partnership with Netflix. I already knew a lot on writing when I applied for the course, but I always stay hungry and eager to learn more, you can never learn enough.  It was a great investment of my time and energy and I’ve come out on the other side a better writer and story developer. Look out for such opportunities, put your best foot forward in your application and go for it. If you want to get updated on such opportunities for writers, join my email list where I send out a weekly newsletter with inspiration and information, head over to my website www.damarisirunguo.com and give out your email address at the bottom of the page.
  3. Pay for Courses on Writing: If you don’t have the muscle to compete for the few opportunities available and have some cash you can spare, then pay for some writing courses and fast track your writing career. Writing is a serious profession and can easily become your major stream of income, that will only happen if you invest in yourself and keep growing as a creative. Everyone invests in their passions one way or the other, prioritize your passion and it will reward you in the future.
  4. Make time to listen to podcasts/Youtube videos: If you’re low on cash and high on motivation, then get your hands on useful podcasts and youtube videos that will help shape not just your craft of writing but your mindset as well. Sometimes all we need is the right mindset to help us move in the right direction in our lives. So find those free resources and devour them. You can check out some of my youtube videos on my youtube channel Damaris Irungu O. Remember to subscribe and encourage me to put more content there.
  5. Read and Analyze scripts: You can find free scripts on some of your favourite shows and films online. Head over to www.simplyscripts.com for the free scripts resource. See how the descriptions are written. Do they evoke any feelings in you as you read the descriptions, see how the dialogue rolls off the pages. Study them and grow as a writer.
  6. Get writing: The only way to get good at writing is to consistently flex that muscle. You all know how it works, when you’ve worked out for some time, then you stop and get back to it, it feels like you’re a beginner at doing squats. The same applies to writing, you can’t write once a year or once a month and expect to build that muscle, it has to be an almost every day activity. So no excuses. Get on with it.
  7.  Buy books on writing: I cannot emphasize on the importance of buying books on the craft of writing. Books on writing have changed and shaped my writing. I learn so much from different books on writing and it’s helped fast track my career as a writer, and enabled me stay on top of my game. Do you want to improve on your writing? Then grab a copy of my book ‘Get Writing, A beginner’s guide from Idea To First Draft’ Available on amazon. And hard copies available in Kenya by order by sending a whatsapp text to 0707651546

Hope these tips have helped jumpstart your move to becoming the best version of a writer that you can be.

You can find more of such articles on my website www.damarisirunguo.com

You can also subscribe to my email list for free for various guides on writing. www.damarisirunguo.com

Happy Creating!

WHAT’S YOUR WRITING CAREER STRATEGY BY DAMARIS IRUNGU OCHIENG’

Every business needs a strategy on how it plans to move from point A to Z. It’s sad however, that many artists don’t consider themselves businesses, they go with the flow, believe they’re victims of circumstances, and accept the leftovers at the table.

We are creators, without us the creative economy would be down the toilet, why then do creators sometimes believe the lie that they’re not important in the food chain?  

I’m a strong believer that real artists don’t starve. Real artists work hard and smart on their craft and business to get ahead of their game and stay at the top of it.

Do you have a writing career strategy? How does it look like? When did you last review it? Who are the friends you hang out with? Who are the people who inspire you?  If you and your friends are always throwing pity poverty parties, then as Wacheke Nduati of Centonomy would say ‘Ditch your poverty support group.’

If you don’t have a strategy, I suggest you take a few days to careful consider where you’re going and how you plan to get there.

Dreams are goals with deadlines. I love dreaming, but then there comes a time when you have to stop dreaming and flex those muscles, as painful as it might get, that’s the only way to move your dreams from just dreams into reality.

I share below a few tips on how you could go about your career strategy.

  1. Read some business books/articles etc: You need to start thinking like a business. What are the things that make businesses succeed? What are the things that make businesses fail? Apply that knowledge to yourself as a business and see how you fair.
  2. Renew your thinking: It’s been said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.  If you’re doing the same things, over and over again and getting the same results, why keep doing it? Change strategy, change your thinking, renew your mind and see where that leads you.
  3. Stay consistent: Consistency makes things easier overtime. The more you show up every day, do what needs to be done and repeat over and over again, the easier it gets (to some extent) and the more productive you become. More productivity for a writer means a potentially successful career. Stay consistent and see how your sacrifice will reward you in the long run.
  4. Invest in yourself: I’m amazed at how many writers will blow up money on food and drinks but the thought of paying for a short course on writing or buying a book on writing gets so much resistance. What kind of a writer do you want to be? One who only operates on instinct or one who has both instinct and skill? When you have a strategy in place, then your priorities shift and you start investing in your career. Nothing comes without sacrifice.
  5. Find a mentor: It doesn’t have to be in the old fashioned sense of someone mentoring you directly, it could be a podcast that you listen to that inspires you, a showrunner or writer you admire and follow. Find someone who fits close to where you’re going as an individual and follow them keenly to see how exactly they got to where they are.
  6. Believe in yourself: One of the most important gifts you can give your dreams is believing in yourself. There will come times in your journey as a writer that the only thing that will save you, is the fact that you believe in yourself. Self-doubt is part of the creative journey, but the ability to shut down the self-doubt volume and increase the belief in self-volume will make sure you’re still working on your craft years from now. Don’t wait for anyone’s permission. Don’t wait to be invited to the table. Bring your own table and own your hustle.

I hope these pointers have inspired you to work on your writing career strategy.

Happy Creating!

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http://www.damarisirunguo.com

HOW TO GET YOUR AUDIENCE/READER TO ASK WHAT HAPPENS NEXT By Damaris Irungu Ochieng’

One of the most important questions you should arouse in an audience/reader is the Question. ‘What Happens Next?’ If you can master this skill of keeping your audience’s interest up with that question, then you’ll be on your way to a successful writing career.

How many times have you watched something that was not particularly engaging but the question what happens next kept you glued waiting for the answer?

I share a few tips below on how you can get your audience/reader asking themselves that Question.

  1. Get us to care about your characters: This starts with us getting emotionally invested in your characters to care enough about what happens to them. It doesn’t matter if it’s your villain or your protagonist, as long as we’ve connected with your characters, we’ll start rooting for them, in turn we’ll stay around to make sure they get what they want.
  2. The Motivation of Your Character: The WHY of your character has to be clear. Why do they want what they want? What’s at stake if they get or don’t get what they want. If the stakes are not clear, if we don’t know why your character is doing what they’re doing, then the question ‘What happens Next’ won’t matter to us. Make sure the Motivation of your Character is as clear as can be.
  3. Raise the Stakes: Don’t keep the stakes in your story stagnant. Make sure you raise them throughout the story to keep the audience glued and wondering what happens next and if your character will get past the next hurdle. Also be sure not to repeat the same stakes, because the more we experience something emotionally, the less effect it has on us, so vary those obstacles to give us variety in as far as our emotions go.
  4. Don’t pay off before you set up something else: This ties in to raising the stakes. If you want the audience to keep asking what happens next, then make sure you set up another problem for your Protagonist before you solve the problem they’re currently going through.
  5. Add a Subplot: To prevent your story from getting linear and to allow your Main story room to breathe. Add in a subplot. This could be directly linked to your Protagonist, whether it’s a love interest or something else, but something that gets us to see your protagonist or the world of your story from a different Point of View. If done well, subplots help a lot in getting the audience more invested and asking ‘what happens next?’

Hope you’ve found these tips useful. Be sure to read more of those at www.damarisirunguo.com

Subscribe to my email list for weekly inspiration, updates and information to equip you to be the best a writer that you can be.

Happy Creating!

HOW TO GRAB AND HOLD YOUR READER’S ATTENTION BY DAMARIS IRUNGU OCHIENG’

Writing a story that grabs and holds your reader’s attention is not an easy task, but with some tips, it can become easier to keep your reader/audience engaged.  Here are some tips that I’ve used in my work and used by other Award winning writers like myself. Hope you find them useful.

  1. OPENING HOOK: This is an opening that grabs your reader’s attention and gets them asking questions like how did we get here? And they stay on to find out how the protagonist got here. It’s an opening that puts your audience/reader at a place of dramatic irony, where they know more than the characters in the story. An opening hook helps you start with a bang before slowing down for a little as you set up your story. The advantage of a strong opening hook, is that it opens up a lot of questions for your audience and they’ll stay tuned in to find out more.
  2. A FAST SET UP:  There’s been recent debate about whether a set-up is needed in a story at all. I’m of the school of thought that a great setup is important to get us to understand a little about your character and their world before Ish hits the fan. So I suggest you do the set up of your story as fast as possible then give us the inciting incident (more on the inciting incident in a recent blog, check it out on my website www.damarisirunguo.com)
  3. MAKE US CARE: Get us to care about your characters so badly that we have no other choice but to go this journey with them and root for them. If we don’t care enough about your protagonist then we can easily switch off, but if we care, we have no choice but to stay on and cheer them as they go after what they desire.
  4. RAISE STAKES: You have to continually raise the stakes so that you hold our attention and curiosity.  Make it harder for your Protagonist to get what they want; this ensures we don’t get bored.
  5. TELL US SOMETHING NEW: So point number 4 leads us to this point, as you raise stakes, make sure you’re not repeating the same emotional beats. Make sure we are experiencing different emotions through the obstacles you put in your protagonist’s way to stop them from getting what they want. Don’t tell us things we already know or have experienced emotionally in your story, keep the obstacles fresh to keep our attention.
  6. PAYING OFF AND SETTING UP IS THE NAME OF THE GAME: Before you pay off a part of the story that’s holding our attention as the audience/reader make sure you set up something else that opens another can of worms and holds our attention. There shouldn’t be any moment in time in your story where we don’t have our curiosity and interest level up.
  7. WITHHOLD AND DRIP FEED INFORMATION: You need to know the correct dosage of what you tell us and what you withhold, so work at giving us enough information to help the audience follow the story, but at the same time not telling the audience/reader everything which makes them lose the curiosity for what will happen next.
  8. YOUR CHARACTERS DESIRE: You character has to want what they want badly, they have to want it more than we want it for them, this way, it’s easier for us the readers/audience to stay on and root for them as they press on towards their goal.
  9. ADD A SUBPLOT: Linear/single stories are hard to pull off, unless you have years of great writing experience under your belt, if not, consider adding subplots that are tied to your main story to hold the readers’ attention.

Hope these tips help you with your writing goals. For more of such, check out my blogs at www.damarisirunguo.com

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Happy Reading!

WHAT I WISH I KNEW WHEN I WAS STARTING OUT AS A WRITER BY DAMARIS IRUNGU OCHIENG’

We’re are two weeks into the new year. And if you’re like me, you’re dreaming of all the writing you’ll get done in the new year.  I’m armed with a plan to achieve my writing goals, so help me God!

For some of you, you’re just starting out on your writing journey, and are unsure on how exactly to make sense of your writing passion, so that you can start earning a living with your writing. I’ve taken a moment to reflect on things I wish I knew as I was starting out my writing career. I hope these observations will help you fast track your own writing journey in the year 2021!

  1. No one owes you anything: Just because you’re talented doesn’t mean everyone should stop their lives and pay attention to you.  There are so many talented people out here. Understanding that there are so many more talented writers out here will humble you to work harder at your craft, have the right attitude towards others, support other writers and people in your industry and in turn, it will get you the necessary support you need to move your career to the next level. Before asking others for favours, find out what you can do for them first. Build and grow relationships, which in turn will grow your career.
  2. No one is to blame for your failing writing career: It’s easier to blame other things, like our life circumstances, our parents’ inabilities, our spouses, our bills, the government, the education system for pulling us down and making it harder for us to achieve our writing dreams. If you take a long hard look in the mirror you will find it’s on you. Success is 80% attitude, what’s your attitude towards your writing? What sacrifices have you made to make sure you propel your writing career? No one will sacrifice for your career better than you, so give yourself the best, to get ahead in your writing career.
  3. Perfectionism will cripple you: Don’t fixate on one project and spend a whole year on it. You need to have a body of work, even if no one is producing it. Work on a project, finish it, move to the next. Repeat. That’s the formula to get you a great body of work.
  4. Everyone is doing it Afraid: Scared of failing? Scared of being laughed at? Or being criticized? Well, everyone who is putting their work out here is also scared, but the difference is, they don’t let their fear stop them, they simply do it afraid. So give your writing a chance by doing it afraid and putting your work out here. Join the rest of us doing it afraid.
  5. Writing is a marathon not a sprint: You can’t learn everything at once, there’s no pill that you can take to turn yourself into a great writer overnight, it takes constant flexing of the writing muscle, constant putting your work out there and getting negative and positive responses, constant reading and analyzing of work by others and your own, constant researching, constant curiosity and of course your life experiences will help out with your Point of View in story, so live life and enjoy the process, you’re here for the long haul. What looks like overnight success out here is years and years of hard work by the ‘overnight’ success writer.
  6. Run your own race: Don’t get distracted by other people’s successes and failures, follow what you’re truly passionate about. Don’t spend precious time trying to follow every trend, it’s like chasing the wind. Ask yourself ‘What is it that truly touches you as a writer? What themes pull you in? Work on that.  
  7. Always balance between paid work and passion projects:  This rat race is never ending, bills are going nowhere, deadlines for work will always be there (most times) So always make sure you’re making time for your passion projects because time will not wait for you. If you don’t work on your passion projects, then you’ll end up disillusioned years to come. Your passion projects are crucial to your writing soul, don’t ignore that fact.
  8. Being ahead of times and trends is not a bad thing: There are things I put off pursuing because no one could see my vision, and because they didn’t, I doubted myself and didn’t pursue those things. Go for your crazy dreams and goals. You’re better off attempting and failing than living with the ‘What if’ regret.
  9. Never stop learning:  As a writer you have to continually learn, there’s no shortcut, you can’t operate from a place of ignorance. You could write from your gut feeling, which most of us have done, but once you learn about how story works then it opens up a world of possibilities. Take every opportunity you can to grow yourself as a writer, your efforts will be rewarded and your art and craft will thank you. And if you need help with your writing, grab a copy of my book on writing, ‘Get writing, A beginner’s guide from Idea to First Draft’, or you can grab a companion workbook on the same to hold your hand as you figure out your story.

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Happy Creating in 2021!!

AMATEUR WRITING HABITS TO LEAVE BEHIND AS WE START THE NEW YEAR BY DAMARIS IRUNGU OCHIENG’

We’re about to get into a new year and some of us have achieved their goals and some of us haven’t.  Some of us will blame it on covid. But for some of us, it’s really amateur behaviour that has made us miss the mark on our goals. Let’s look at some of those habits and how we can nip it the bud for a successful 2021.

  1. You Don’t write every day:  Writing is a muscle that needs to be flexed every day, you don’t flex it, you lose it or you stay an amateur, it’s that simple. If you want to make it as a successful writer, you have to flex that muscle every day. Observe the successful athletes, I’ve watched documentaries on Eliud Kipchoge and how hard he works, Usain Bolt, Mo Farah, Catherine Ndereba when she was active. They trained every day! Writing is a muscle. You have to flex it.
  2. You Don’t take charge of your career:  Dear writer, you need to take control of your career and run with it. I saw Athlete David Rudisha interviewed once and he was cleaning his own shoes, he said ‘I want to be in control, no one else washes my shoes, I have to know where it’s worn out and so forth.’ If a gold medalist gets his hands into dirty water to clean his shoes to make sure he has all his ground covered, who are you to put your feet up and think you have arrived? Let’s get down to work in 2021.
  3. You Don’t read: My heart skips a bit every time I bump into a writer who says they don’t read. Your words are your tools of trade, how then are you comfortable not reading every day! You have to take a keen interest in how words play on the page, how story flows, your characters develop, this will only happen if you read scripts, read novels. Find free scripts to read @ www.simplyscripts.com BBC writers room also has free scripts to read every so often so check that out as well. Read non-fiction stuff as well, read new reports, all this helps you stay abreast with current happenings but also expands your knowledge. Writers should be some of the most knowledgeable people, you should be hungry for knowledge. So refill that creative well every day.
  4.  You Dream but Don’t Do: Dreams are great. Lupita Nyong’o reminded us all that our dreams are valid. But it takes a doer to move dreams from just dreams into a reality. We’ve had covid to blame this year for all the goals we didn’t hit this year, that excuse will run out in 2021 because now society has found its way to live with this and make the most out of life. So again, what actions have you put in place to move your dreams to reality? Write them down and put dates on them. Start the year right.
  5.  You let your feelings control your life: Feelings are great, otherwise we wouldn’t be human. But when your feelings run your life you risk the chance of not getting to your goals. You don’t feel like writing today? No problem, you can write tomorrow, so you shut your laptop, go to the couch and binge watch your favourite show. Tomorrow comes and you don’t feel like you’re creative enough, so you spend the day on social media admiring other people’s lives and wishing you had a successful writing career. I can assure you that, the success writer you’re admiring doesn’t let their feelings control them, instead they show up for their dreams every day, work hard, flex the muscle and shut their feelings up until the job is done.

So friend, we’re about to turn a new year. Leave amateur habits behind for a successful 2021 writing year!

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See you on the other side of a successful 2021!