The first time I was here was last year and a lot has happened to me in one year.
Last year by this time, I was a hospital administrator freshly out of 10 years in banking and looking forward to a new career.
One year later, I had been hospital administrator, Special Assistant in government and had just become what I call “The Accidental Consultant”.
But right now, I define myself as a writer because at my core, that is what I truly am.
I am doing an informal story session about my writing journey.
If you don’t find it useful, you just may find it entertaining. 😉
I have a complex relationship with the pen and with words but I think deep down inside, I’ve always loved to write.
I learned to read at 5 years old and writing followed immediately after. My parents are both English lecturers so this was to be expected. I fell in love with words immediately.
My parents actually said I learned to talk before I could walk.
Words became my obsession early. In secondary school, my friends made list of movies they’ve watched. They listed hundreds of them but I made a list of books I’ve read (in hundreds) in junior secondary school.
One day, I saw someone had picked my list and written
“This is very boring. People are listing movies, you are listing books.”
It didn’t bother me and it didn’t make me start to watch movies.
I went on feeding the writing flame. I spent more time writing in the university and all that. I’d send in essay competition entries and all. Writing my project was the sweetest part of school.
Around graduation, I got depressed. It was 2001 and I was leaving with a Degree in Animal Production and a burning desire to write.
The internet was quickly invading us and I felt like that was the end of things as we knew it.
I didn’t see how there was a future in writing or what I could do with it.
Eventually, I went to teach Agriculture in a secondary school and then I discovered cybercafes.
I was looking for a writing/money opportunity and I came across a lots of information including the one that would define my dream and life path for the next decade.
I clicked on a link that said
“Can you write a letter like this one?”
The link told me about the lucrative world of copywriting, especially what is known as Direct Mail Marketing taught by an institution known as American Writers and Artists Institute.
This was 2005. The course was for about $500. To a jobless graduate, that was a lot of money and this was before wire transfers became a norm. So even if I had money, sending it would be a problem.
I still signed up for their free newsletters and I have them in hundreds, maybe over 100.
I didn’t just get the mails, I studied them. I picked writing skills from them and tips that came in really handy.
In my 10 years in the bank, I was the best query writer or replier.
Often, I’d help the boss draft the query and help the responder answer the query. Useful skill. 😁
I also found a lady online who had written a detailed copywriting manual that sold for $250 dollars back in 2005. She was one of the best in the US. Her name: Lorrie Morgan-Ferrero.
I wrote Lorrie Morgan-Ferrero and pleaded with her to take me as an apprentice.
She wrote back and said she was impressed with my passion. She sent me her book for free.
I didn’t even have a computer so I printed all 300-500 pages and read it.
I kept working and picking skills and then in 2016, as I prepared to exit the bank, I enrolled in AWAI.
When I realized I didn’t really want to be a hospital administrator, I fell to my course with a vengeance.
Part of the training has you submitting assignments to a group site. I didn’t want to submit any because I felt no one would take me seriously. Nigerian + Internet aren’t exactly paired positively.
Then the amazing thing happened. My first assignment fetched me a prospective client from Singapore and very strong commendations from my American reviewer.
That was all the fuel I needed.
So, I kept on, at it. I’m learning still and applying and its working out almost easily.
On the Nigerian end, I felt led to start writing on Facebook and I realized the posts were bringing in a lot of feedback and making impact.
Since then, Facebook became my sketchpad and an enjoyable activity.
I also started experiencing what I call “The Butterfly Effect”.
The Butterfly Effect says,
an activity as minor as the flapping of the butterfly wings in one continent can lead to a hurricane in another.
What I felt were posts on Facebook led to a lot of opportunities like
Client referrals (for writing, editing, training etc)
This happened without a formal company and zero advertising.
I was also offered my government job based on the Facebook.
Then I got a foreign client by referrals from someone who read me and then found myself writing and presenting a proposal to the government and then getting a retainership deal.
And so on and so forth.
Currently, I’m incorporating a company Vasilia Preston Consulting to cater to business and creative writing.
So, eventually, writing is paying off and I’m finding it emotionally rewarding too.
So, my lessons would be:
Read. Read. Read.
[bctt tweet=”The best way to write is by reading.” username=”SamSemako”]
You pick things up unconsciously when you read.
Write. Write. Write.
[bctt tweet=”Find your voice and keep using it.” username=”SamSemako”]
Writing needs practice, and without exercise, you get rusty.
Don’t Be Afraid To Try.
[bctt tweet=”Project your voice. There’s great demand for more voices” username=”SamSemako”], especially authentic voices. The world needs you.
[bctt tweet=”Don’t settle for the fruit at the bottom of the tree” username=”SamSemako”]; the sweetest are high up there.
Start from Somewhere.
[bctt tweet=”Use what you have and just start. ” username=”SamSemako”]
I told someone today that Donald Trump didn’t invent Twitter, he just learned to use it for his advantage.
Use what you have and just start.
I think that brings me to the end.
Finally, commit to learning always; to being a better version than you were yesterday and let’s go conquer. ✌🏾💪🏾
Questions & Answers
1. How do you handle criticism and negative comments on your writings.
2. Do have a particular subject or field of focus or you just write on anything.
Thanks Mayowa. To answer questions:
1. Criticism is expected especially since I write about touchy subjects – marriage, heartbreak, my divorce, etc.
Sometimes, I hear what I share is too personal but I’m rarely criticized about my writing.
I always say, it is my decision to share and it is about the people I affect (impact).
2. I haven’t written about politics and I doubt I’ll ever write about sports, but other than that, I centre around relationships.
I have been trying to write my thought but I don’t how to do it. I want to start something online now and that will require me to write but don’t know what to do.
Hi Samson, I always say there are 2 important aspects in writing:
1. How to write and
2. What to write.
For the How question, I encourage people to find technical help.
And for the What question, find what you are passionate about. Ask yourself if you can write 20 articles about the subject, then 100, then 200.
The more you write, the more you are recognised as an expert.
P.S. Pyemwa Samantha Deshi is a former bank worker, a former hospital administrator, a former government Special Assistant. She is a writer and consultant. She shared this with us on People And Career (PAC) Group.
You can reach her via her Facebook profile.