Writing In Whispers


I don’t know how many people there are in the world who are like me:

1) For too long I wrote but shied away from advertising myself or my writing. I wanted to be discovered! I’m not sure how I wanted that to happen exactly. After all, I never spoke about my work, I didn’t enter competitions, didn’t send it anywhere; even the poetry book that I had self published was under wraps and before long I found myself ashamed of it.

2) I wanted to be perfect. I wanted to create a work that would cause critics to marvel at my creativity, my subtle metaphors, my unique view of life (especially for one so young!) So I ended up not writing anything. Or starting and not finishing because my words did not sound as though they were leading to a crescendo. I stopped writing for fun.

3) I didn’t want family and friends reading it. I didn’t want to be judged for the words that my mind produced all on their own.  I didn’t want an aunty reading about a girl who slept around for fame, and thinking that I must have done something similar to be able to describe it so graphically. I didn’t want the church condemning me for the way I wrote about a demon. I started to think of pen names.

4) Then I moved to Nigeria and found a new reason to constrain myself – I didn’t write like Nigerian writers. My stories were not set in Nigeria, they were not heavy with Nigerian history, or culture. They were not reflections of society. So they became unimportant.

So I wrote in whispers. Wrote so no one would see. Wrote in fear. Wrote and hated every word.

If you are reading this and you can see yourself in it, here are some of the ways I overcome my internal obstacles:

1) I learnt to start having fun again. Now I write for the sake of writing and not to be selected as the greatest, cutest writer of all time.

2) I try to think logically, instead of emotionally – if I never do anything with my work, how do I expect to be discovered?

3) I stop relying on good luck. Success is a result of grueling hard work

4) I write even when I don’t want to write.

5) I taught myself to love even the crappy stuff I produced.

6) Everyday I embrace the way my mind works and the stories I create.

7) I love myself – if I’m not comfortable with myself, I won’t be comfortable with my writing and this hesitancy will show in my work.

8) I give myself achievable goals that I can also enjoy – progress spurs you on to attain more progress

9) Even when I’m not writing fiction, writing on this blog helps me to continue to exercise my writing muscles.

10) I have people around me who encourage me even if they haven’t read my latest piece.

Keep writing!

About the author

Oyinkan Braithwaite

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May 2019
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