Meet the World’s 10 Highest-Paid Authors in 2017

Meet the World’s 10 Highest-Paid Authors in 2017

Meet the World’s 10 Highest-Paid Authors in 2017
10
DECEMBER, 2017
Samuel Osho
Writing is a tough job. The ubiquity of writing has made it an indispensable tool for content creation in any space. To communicate an idea, it is either you speak or you write. Writing is one of the oldest forms of communication and it is here to stay. The world is prodigiously blessed with a sea of writers but exceptional writers are scarce.

Except you are making the headlines or you are raking in money, a lot of people believe that writers are jokers or lazy people. From a pile of stories, it’s true that making a living as a full-time writer can be an arduous task.

However, there is a myriad of successful writers in contracts running into millions of dollars. These writers who have redefined the face of artistic contribution through the portal of writing are sources of inspiration to young writers. However, the stories of successful writers have the same recurring themes – persistence, rare talent, diligence, and luck.

With the recent influx of digital tools that support self-publishing, life just got better for writers. From the inspiring stories churned out in 2017, it can only get better. It’s a season of earning big-time money for writers who are diligent in honing their craft and showing up consistently with riveting works.

 

Let’s look at some intriguing figures from Forbes’ top 10 highest earning authors for 2017.

 

The World’s 10 Highest-Paid Authors in 2017
Photo Credit: The Big Issue

1. J.K. Rowling ($95 million)

Leading the clan of the world’s highest-earning wordsmiths in 2017 is the British Queen of letters, Joanne Rowling. Though the magical idea of the Harry Potter fantasy series was conceived in 1990, the book did not hit the shelves until 1997. Ever since 1999, Rowling has topped the Forbes’ highest-paid authors list three times.

In a writing career spanning two decades, she has sold more than 400 million copies of her books. Rowling’s total earnings of $95 million in 2017 quadrupled her earnings for 2016. Her astronomical financial growth can be attributed to the 2016 releases of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

The stage play script/book, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child co-written with Jack Thorne emerged as the best-selling book of 2016 with over 4.5 domestic million copies sold. The movie, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, tickled the interest of the Harry Potter fans and subsequently paid off in huge sums for the British novelist.

Rowling has this to say about persistence:

“I’ve been writing since I was six. It is a compulsion, so I can’t really say where the desire came from; I’ve always had it. My breakthrough with the first book came through persistence because a lot of publishers turned me down!”

Photo Credit: Los Angeles Times

2. James Patterson ($87 million)

Patterson is not a stranger to the Forbes’ list of highest paid authors. Before slipping to the second position in 2017, he held the first spot for three consecutive years from 2014 to 2016.

The award-winning writer is best known for the crime fiction novel series – “Alex Cross” and several of his works are being adapted for screenplays. America’s richest author has written 147 novels, 114 have appeared on the New York Times bestselling list. He holds The New York Times record for the most #1 New York Times bestsellers by a single author, a total of 67, which is also a Guinness World Record.

He has sold over 300 million copies worldwide. Even at 70, Patterson is ready for 2018, it was announced in May 2017 that Patterson will co-author a crime fiction novel with former US President Bill Clinton. It’s expected to be a blockbuster and rake in more money for the prolific writer.

Patterson talks about doggedness in a conversation with TIME Magazine in 2010:

“I worked my way through college. I had a lot of night shifts, so I started reading like crazy. Then I started writing. And I found that I loved it. When I was 26, I wrote my first mystery, The Thomas Berryman Number, and it was turned down by, I don’t know, 31 publishers. then it won an Edgar for Best First Novel. Go figure.”
Photo Credit: The Wimpy Kid

3. Jeff Kinney ($21 million)

American cartoonist and author of children’s books, Jeff Kinney is best known for his book series – Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Upon its release with an online version in 2007, it became an instant hit. In April 2007, the book was published. Up to date, thirteen different titles have been published in the Diary of a Wimpy Kid Series and has sold more than 60 million copies.

Kinney made huge returns from his creative work this year because the ninth title in the series – Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul made it to the movies.

Kinney shares this about his passion for writing:

“I only work on my books at nights and at weekends. It is really just like a hobby.”
Photo Credit: The Daily Beast

4. Dan Brown ($20 million)

If you have watched Angels and Demons and perhaps you fell in love with The Da Vinci Code, then you must be familiar with Daniel Gerhard Brown popularly known as Dan Brown. The 53-year old American author has carved a hunt for himself on the hills of thriller fiction with suspense wrapped around themes such as keys, symbols, codes, cryptography and conspiracy theories.
He has written seven books with five out of them serving as subjects of major controversies – the Robert Langdon series: Angels and Demons, The Da Vinci Code, The Lost Symbol, Inferno, and Origin.

 

He has three movie adaptations of his works from the Robert Langdon series – Angels and Demons, The Da Vinci Code, and Inferno. Inferno was released in 2017 but it could not replicate the sterling performance that made the first two screenplays spectacular. However, Dan Brown made considerable cash from his newly released book – Origin.

 

“When I graduated from college, I had two loves–writing fiction and writing music. I lived in Hollywood CA for a while, doing the songwriting thing. Aside from a song in the Atlanta Olympic ceremonies, I never had much success in music. I woke up one morning and decided to start writing fiction again. Digital Fortress was my first attempt at a novel. I certainly feel blessed that it sold; I’m not sure I would have had the patience to write another one on spec!”
Photo Credit: The Daily Beast

5. Stephen King ($15 million)

The King of horror novels has written a myriad of thrillers that have earned him millions of fans across the world. More fans equal more sales and more money. He is one of the world’s wealthiest authors having sold over 350 million copies of his books.

King’s most popular novels – The Shining, It, and Misery, all have movie adaptations. It made it to the theaters in September 2017 and gathering storm with raving reviews while King’s recent novel, End of Watch sold 1.9 million copies in the U.S. in 2017.

In his book, On Writing, King shared about how he handled rejection as a teenager while trying to publish his short stories:

“By the time I was fourteen the nail in my wall would no longer support the weight of the rejection slips impaled upon it. I replaced the nail with a spike and went on writing.”
Photo Credit: Famous Authors

6. John Grisham ($14 million)

The sixth spot is equally shared by two successful American novelists, John Grisham and Nora Roberts. John Grisham’s exceptional style of crafting legal thrillers has made him the fancy of many readers across the world.

His books have been translated into 42 languages and published worldwide; his first bestseller, The Firm, sold more than 7 million copies. Nine of his novels have screenplay adaptations: The Chamber, The Client, A Painted House, The Pelican Brief, The Runaway Jury, Skipping Christmas, and A Time to Kill.

He recently published three novels: The Whistler in 2016, Camino Island and The Rooster Bar in 2017. The Whistler emerged as the third bestselling book of 2016 with over 660,000 hardcover sales in the U.S. and the sales of Camino Island is not doing bad either.

Grisham talks about focus:

“My name became a brand, and I’d love to say that was the plan from the start. But the only plan was to keep writing books. And I’ve stuck to that ever since.”

“It took me fifteen years to discover I had no talent for writing, but I couldn’t give it up because by that time it was too famous.” – Robert Benchley

Photo Credit: Screen Junkies

7. Nora Roberts ($14 million)

Nora Roberts dubbed as the Queen of romance novels and also known for her prolific nature published four novels in 2017 with two new titles ready to hit the bookshelves in 2018. In 2017, Roberts raked in sales from her latest novel, Come Sundown after topping the New York Times bestselling list.

 

She is one of America’s wealthiest writers with a net worth of about $370 million. She has authored over 200 novels and a handful of them have been adapted into screenplays earning her the screenwriter’s credits.
“Every single book is a challenge. No matter how many you’ve written, you’ve never written this one before. And each book has to receive your best effort every single time. No slacking. But that’s the job. I’m lucky to love my job. Certainly the plagiarism, and dealing with the fallout of it, was the most difficult thing I’ve ever faced since I started writing.”
Photo Credit: CBC

8. Paula Hawkins ($13 million)

Zimbabwe-born British author, Paula Hawkins, debuted on Forbes’ list of highest paid authors in 2016 and clinching the eighth spot implies that she is on top of her game. Hawkins strolled into the limelight in 2015 with her psychological thriller, The Girl on the Train, which was widely accepted by book lovers across the world. She has sold more than 2 million copies of the book in the U.S. over the past 12 months.

 

She has other novels under the pen name, Amy Silver but she is popular in literary circles for the ingenuity portrayed in The Girl on the Train. The thriller was recently adapted into a movie and making ripples at the theaters after it grossed $173 million in 2016. Her latest book, Into the Water, was released in 2017 and the rights for its film adaptation was acquired by Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Partners.
In an interview with The Guardian, Hawkins has this to say about her record-breaking book:
“It’s great to break a record. It’s also, though, a slightly artificial thing, isn’t it? I’m not even sure when those records began, and from an author’s point of view, that’s not the most important thing.”
Photo Credit: Forbes

9. E.L. James ($11.5 million)

English author, Erika Mitchell, popularly known by her pen name E. L. James, is the author of the bestselling erotic romance trilogy – Fifty Shades of Grey, Fifty Shades Darker, and Fifty Shades Freed. The first book in the series, Fifty Shades of Grey, was published in 2011 while the other two sequels reached the bookshelves in 2012.

Sales from the trilogy pushed James to the top of Forbes’ list of highest-earning authors in 2013 with earnings of about $95 million. She is in the eight spot in 2017 because of the film adaptation of the second title in the series – Fifty Shades Darker, the screenplay failed to receive massive approval from her fans.

The 2017 movie grossed $379 million worldwide, nearly $200 million short of Fifty Shades of Grey. She published a new novel this year – Darker: Fifty Shades Darker as Told by Christian while the film adaptation of Fifty Shades Freed is set to hit the theaters in 2018.

James talks about writing:

“Write for yourself. That’s it. And write every day.”
Photo Credit: Forbes

10. Danielle Steel ($11 million)

American prolific author, Danielle Steel, shared the tenth spot with Rick Riordan after a very eventful year despite her recent induction into the septuagenarian circle of literary sages.

 

At 70, Danielle is rock solid like a steel; published six novels in 2016, seven in 2017 and she has four ready to hit the bookstores in 2018.

 

The novelist known for her romantic stories is the best selling author alive and the fourth bestselling fiction author of all time having sold over 800 million copies of her books worldwide. Asides her prolific nature, her books top the charts and 24 out of her 110 novels have movie adaptations.
In an interview with Goodreads, Steel sheds light on her rigorous writing process:
“I work for about six months to a year on an outline and do it by hand mostly. Eventually I type up what I’ve got, send it to my editor, get comments, and alter it, send it back, get comments, alter it again. And I eventually sit down to write the book, and when I do that I pretty much lock myself up for about a month and do only that for about 20 hours a day. And it goes back and forth like a tennis ball between me and my editor for about two years while I rewrite it. I’m usually working on four or five books at once.”
All earnings listed here are for June 1, 2016 through May 31, 2017 before taxes and other fees.
Credits: This post was made possible with the annual list from Forbes Magazine.

How to Use Mind Mapping for Your Next Writing Project

How to Use Mind Mapping for Your Next Writing Project

How to Use Mind Mapping for Your Next Writing Project
04
DECEMBER, 2017
Samuel Osho

In 2008, when I fell in love with reading, I was scared of voluminous books. Have you seen the Complete Sherlock Holmes book authored by Arthur Conan Doyle? I love crime novels and I have a soft spot for the ingenuity of the extraordinary sleuth, Sherlock Holmes. I have always wondered how authors like Stephen King, John C. Maxwell, Agatha Christie and J.K. Rowling generated those storylines and lengthy texts. Malcolm Gladwell, the author of Outliers and Tipping Point, carved a mysterious niche for himself by building navigable bridges between scientific theories and real-life situations.

The scary point is how do they come up with these ideas? How do they find the time and energy to write those books? The mind is a treasure trove of ideas but pushing them out as books and articles can be a daunting task. Everyone makes use of different paths in scripting their articles but one method that really works for me is called Mind Mapping. It is a form of intense brainstorming for ideas that resonate with a topic you have in mind.
“The power of the writer is to capture the thoughts live and present them as they appeared in his mind.” – Bangambiki Habyarimana

In mind mapping, the first step is to set a time limit (usually 15 minutes) while you start creating a map of your ideas on a piece of blank paper or a blank whiteboard. Setting the time limit happens after you have concluded about the main idea you want to make the subject of your brainstorming. Perhaps, the writing of a novel, or a blog post or a non-fiction book. The rules for the mind mapping exercise are very simple.

 

Five Simple Steps

1. Visualize Your Desires

It’s all about brainstorming for paths and processes that can aid the development of an idea until it becomes a powerful and presentable product. Imagination creates room in the brain for the reality of your ideas. It’s more like setting those ideas and desires in motion through the eyes of the subconscious mind.

 

If you have a plan to write a non-fiction book on how to live a healthy lifestyle, you need to visualize how the book looks like, turn the pages and see how one chapter leads to the other. Everyone has the power of imagination but only a few harness it for the creation of innovative products.

2. Embrace all ideas

This is the time to write everything that comes to your mind. Create a room for all the words and phrases that come to your heart, allow them to find a space where they can call a home.

If you want to create branches, please don’t hesitate to do so. If you want to make a map or a web showing your thoughts, please go ahead. If there is anything you must do at this stage, you must write down everything you can remember about the subject matter.

3. Don’t judge yourself

Experts say that the creative part of your brain and the one for editing cannot work at the same time. If you attempt doing that, one will be to the detriment of the other.

 

Don’t judge or censor these ideas and don’t start giving them pet names. In this freedom of expression, your creativity will blossom beyond your imagination and you will be amazed.

4. Stick to the time

The essence of using a stopwatch is to help shut out all distractions and tell your brain that you are focused on achieving a single task at hand. Your productivity can take a quantum leap if you learn to do one thing at a time. Focus on the blank paper or board and fish out all the ideas swimming in your unique pool of intelligence. You can do this for 15 – 20 minutes.

5. Grouping your ideas

After the allotted time for brainstorming, you can be more critical in the choice of ideas that goes through the next stage. Remove all the irrelevant ideas and phrases. Create groups of ideas, phrases, and thoughts that are similar. And you can work on from here and make considerable progress.
To learn more about the act of mind mapping, let me guide you into the safe hands of bestselling author Tony Buzan. Another method, some writers employ in generating ideas is called free writing. This is a form of brainstorming process where you write all that comes to your mind during a time frame.
There is an example of a Mind Mapping exercise (pictured above) that I did for fifteen minutes; I used a whiteboard, you can use A4 paper and you can also tow a deeper path with your brainstorming exercise.
Have you used mind mapping in your previous writing projects?
In what other ways do you think mind mapping can help writers?

The Daily Routines of 10 Famous Writers: From Toni Morrison to Kazuo Ishiguro

The Daily Routines of 10 Famous Writers: From Toni Morrison to Kazuo Ishiguro

The Daily Routines of 10 Famous Writers: From Toni Morrison to Kazuo Ishiguro

19

NOVEMBER, 2017

Samuel Osho

It could be hard to have the bird of inspiration perch daily in your garden of letters. When do you search for the lyrical whispers of ingenuity and originality? Is it in the darkest hours of the night or when dawn is dancing in the shadow of the rising Sun? As a writer, do you think there is a specific time of the day when you can easily arrest muse for a cerebral exchange of ideas? In this busy and noisy world, you need a daily plan that supports your writing style if you want to get outstanding results.
Writing a book can be a daunting task but we have a litany of highly successful writers that have defied the odds. These distinguished authors are on a writing spree – churning out their creativity in blockbuster novels, poetry collections, and screenplays. They found the magical touch of brilliance, they met the deadlines and the world distinctively celebrates their unique voices with applause.
In my strong admiration for brilliant authors that have earned literary medals, I searched for their daily routines and writing plans to scoop their “secrets.” Perhaps, if there is a new style that I can implement in order to get excellent results. What are the famous and celebrated writers doing that you should also start today? It’s time to find the energy and passion that will kick the half-baked and unfinished works in you to the bookshelves.
Let’s learn from Nobel laureates, Pulitzer Prize winners, Booker Prize clinchers and bestselling authors who have shared the beauty of letters with the world through their works.

The Daily Routines of the 10 Famous Writers

Photo Credit: Princeton University

1. Toni Morrison

At 86, Toni Morrison released her latest work, The Origin of Others, in 2017. The American author has won a huge chunk of notable literary awards, from the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1988 to Nobel Prize in Literature in 1993. She is popularly known for The Bluest Eye, Song of Solomon, and Beloved. In 2015, shortly after the release of God Help the Childshe granted an interview to Goodreads and she talked about her daily routine.

“Very early in the morning, before the sun comes up. Because I’m very smart at that time of day. Now, at this time of day [4 p.m.], it’s all drifting away. But tomorrow morning I will be sharp for about four hours, say from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. If I get up before the sun and greet it, that’s when I start.”

Photo Credit: Hello Naija

2. Chimamanda Adichie

Chimamanda Adichie, one of the most prominent young African authors, has earned her spot in the international league of writers. Her debut novel, Purple Hibiscus, was nominated for the Booker Prize and Orange Prize in 2004. The Nigerian author in an interview with Goodreads talked about how she wrote one of her international bestsellers, Americanah.

“I wrote the book in both Nigeria and the U.S. I don’t have a routine. I like silence and space whenever and wherever I can get it. When the writing is going well, I’m obsessive—I roll out of bed and go to work. I write and rewrite a lot and shut everything out.
When it is not going well, I sink into a dark place and read books I love.”

Photo Credit: The Daily Beast

3. Michael Connelly

Michael Connelly, the bestselling author of crime fiction novels with the prominent amidst the pack – the Harry Bosch series earning more readers by the day. In an interview with Goodreads, he shared about his writing habits and how he gets the job done. He has more than 30 novels to his name.

“Because of working on a TV show, my writing process is to write whenever I get a chance. Also, my training in journalism has taught me to write—I don’t need to be coddled. I can write in my office, I can write on planes, I can write in cars. I was on a plane last night for five hours, squeezed in so tight, my elbows were pushing into my ribs, but I wrote the whole time and got a lot done. That’s my process: to try to write whenever I can.
A perfect day would be to get up before the light gets up in the sky and start writing and get a lot done before the rest of the city wakes up. That’s what I try to do when I’m at home or even when I’m in a hotel on the road. Morning hours are really good for me, dark morning hours. So in that regard I kind of share something with Renée because I like to work till dawn.”

Photo Credit: The Verge

4. Stephenie Meyer

Stephenie Meyer is an American author best known for her vampire romance series, Twilight. The popular four-book collection has sold more than 100 million copies worldwide. She is also the author of The Host and The Chemist. In an interview with Goodreads, she spilled her secrets and daily routines for writing blockbuster novels.

“My writing process has morphed mostly in smallish ways—for example, I have a hard time writing to music with words now. I usually listen to classical music and movie scores. I save the metal for editing.”
“None, really, besides time of day. I can never get truly immersed in writing during the daytime. I know it’s a product of being interrupted by work calls and emails, children’s and husband’s questions about where fill-in-the-blank is located, and the dog’s bladder needs.
Subconsciously my brain believes that there is no point in trying to focus when my office door is just about to slam open in three…two…one…. So now, even when I’m in a quiet, private environment, I can’t make my brain accept that it is possible to write while the sun is out. When I’m in the middle of a story, I do my self-editing during the day. That part handles interruptions better.”

Photo Credit: The Daily Beast

5. Stephen King

Stephen King is an American author and a revered King in the palace of horror, supernatural fiction, suspense, science fiction, and fantasy. King also writes under two pen names – Richard Bachman and John Swithen.

King has authored 54 novels, all are global bestsellers and he has sold more than 350 million copies with some adapted as films, television series, and comic books. In this interview which was granted in 2014, he sheds lucidity on his daily routine for writing.

“I start work around 8 a.m. and usually finish around noon. If there’s more to do, I do it in the late afternoon, although that isn’t prime time for me. The only ritual is making tea. I use the loose leaves and drink it by the gallon.”

Photo Credit: Famous Authors

6. Paulo Coelho

Paulo Coelho, the Brazilian author of the 1988 bestseller, The Alchemist, has written over 30 books. The Alchemist is a book of literary ingenuity and no wonder it is the most translated book in the world by a living author. The lyricist is the writer with the highest number of social media followers – 29.5 million fans on his Facebook page and 12.2 million followers on Twitter. In this interview, he served a plethora of hints about his daily routine once he is in a writing mode.

“First I say that I’m going to write as soon as I wake up. Then I postpone and postpone and start feeling guilty and horrible and feel that I don’t deserve anything. Then I say, OK, today I’m not going to write. Then I write just to not feel guilty, and I’m going to write the first sentence. Then once I’m off the ground, the plane takes off…when I’m writing, I wake up around 12 o’clock because I write until 4 in the morning. Only two weeks.
Then of course, I have to make the corrections and do another draft. I have to correct the second draft. So the first draft has, let’s say, one-third more pages than the final draft. So I start cutting.”

” I don’t give a lot of advice, but I tell aspiring writers all the time that until you reach the point where you’re writing one page a day, you’re not serious. ” – John Grisham

Photo Credit: Famous Authors

7. John Grisham

John Grisham is the master of legal thrillers and definitely knows how to spin readers in the wheel of suspense. The American bestselling author has more than 30 books under his belt. In 2014, Grisham talked about one of writing habits and daily routine in an interview with Goodreads.

“Sure, it’s work. Some days the words flow, and some days they don’t. Some days the characters are alive, and some days they’re not. Some days the plot moves in the right direction, and some days it doesn’t. It’s always a struggle to get it right.
I laugh because I don’t have a job; I don’t really work that hard—I mean, these days I don’t. Back then I worked hard because I was also a lawyer, and I had to [write] as a secret hobby whenever I could steal a half an hour here or there. That goes to the advice part—I don’t give a lot of advice, but I tell aspiring writers all the time that until you reach the point where you’re writing one page a day, you’re not serious. I mean, you’ve got to get one page in per day. If you do that, then the pages are going to pile up pretty fast. That, and knowing where you’re going: that goes back to the outlining. You outline a story, you know where you’re going, you start writing, you do at least a page a day, with no exceptions—you’re going to get somewhere! The pages are going to pile up, and that’s what it takes.”

Photo Credit: Emily’s Poetry Blog

8. Margaret Atwood

Award-winning Canadian author, Margaret Atwood is popularly known for her crime fiction novels and she is one of the most celebrated Canadian writers alive today. At age 78, Atwood has 14 beautiful novels to her name, asides children books, poetry collections and short stories. She has been shortlisted for the Booker Prize five times, winning once. Atwood secured a permanent place in Canada’s Walk of Fame in 2001. In an enthralling interview with Goodreads in 2014, she talked about her daily routine.

“There are no typical days spent writing. Let’s pretend there is one. I would get up. We would have breakfast. Then we have the coffee. That is something I really like to have to get myself started. Then I would probably sit down and type something that I had written in manuscript the day before. It’s a kind of overlap method, in which I’m typing out what I did the day before to get myself going for what I’m going to add on to that. I’m revising and then continuing to write in the same day. Then I do the next bit of new writing in the afternoon. I don’t go by how much time I spent at it but how many pages I managed to complete.”

Photo Credit: Screen Junkies

9. Nora Roberts

Nora Roberts is a literary beast that needs no introduction – the master chef when it comes to baking romance novels with an icing of suspense. She is one of America’s most successful authors with more than 200 novels to her name, and with more than 500 million copies in print. Her books have collectively spent more than 1,000 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. She talked about her daily routine in a recent interview granted to Goodreads.

“I’m an early riser, and I wish I wasn’t. But I’m often up by 5 or 5:15 a.m. It’s ridiculous. When my kids were up, we got up early because we had to catch the bus, we live in the country, and I would think, when they’re old enough I’ll be able to sleep until 7 or 8 a.m. Well, now I’m up at 5 a.m. It kills me! I got used to it. It just seems to be the way my body works. I get up early, before the dogs, and play around for a while. Check Facebook, play a game or read stuff, right now it’s politics. Then the dogs get up, my husband gets up, and I count down the time until he leaves for work because he’s just breathing my air, [laughs] even though he doesn’t bother me.
And then if he’s gonna be around through part of the morning, I’ll just ignore him and start work anywhere between 7:30 and 9 a.m. If I haven’t started before 9 a.m, then I’m just f@$king around. Then I’ll work until 2:30-3:30 p.m., it depends. Are the kids coming? Am I making dinner? Then I go work out, then fix dinner or warm up leftovers. Then I watch TV or read a book and then do it all again the next day. “

Photo Credit: The New Yorker

10. Kazuo Ishiguro

British writer of Japanese descent, Kazuo Ishiguro has authored seven outstanding novels including The Remains of the Day which won him the 1989 Booker Prize award. His 2005 novel, Never Let Me Go was chosen as the best novel of 2005 by TIME magazine and also included in its list of 100 best English language novels from 1923 to 2005. He was recently awarded the 2017 Nobel Prize in Literature. In an interview with The Guardian in 2014, he shared passionately about how he wrote The Remains of the Day in four weeks.

“So Lorna (his wife) and I came up with a plan. I would, for a four-week period, ruthlessly clear my diary and go on what we somewhat mysteriously called a “Crash”. During the Crash, I would do nothing but write from 9 am to 10.30pm, Monday through Saturday. I’d get one hour off for lunch and two for dinner. I’d not see, let alone answer, any mail, and would not go near the phone. No one would come to the house. Lorna, despite her own busy schedule, would for this period do my share of the cooking and housework. In this way, so we hoped, I’d not only complete more work quantitively, but reach a mental state in which my fictional world was more real to me than the actual one.
By the third day, Lorna observed during my evening break that I was behaving oddly. On my first Sunday off I ventured outdoors, on to Sydenham high street, and persistently giggled – so Lorna told me – at the fact that the street was built on a slope, so that people coming down it were stumbling over themselves, while those going up were panting and staggering effortfully. Lorna was concerned I had another three weeks of this to go, but I explained I was very well, and that the first week had been a success.
I kept it up for the four weeks, and at the end of it I had more or less the entire novel down: though of course a lot more time would be required to write it all up properly, the vital imaginative breakthroughs had all come during the Crash.”
These are the daily routines of some of the fascinating authors in the world. I hope it inspires and motivates you to share your stories and literary works with the world. In a nutshell, I have learnt several lessons and they include:
– The power of focus from Ishiguro’s arduous “Crash.” Do one thing at a time and finish it.
The art of waking up early from Toni Morrison, Nora Roberts, Stephen King, and Michael Connelly. It has repeatedly been proven that great achievers are early risers. And most importantly, they focus on the most important events of the day once they wake up before wading into other matters.
– Take your writing life more seriously, see it as a job and not just a hobby as clearly stated by John Grisham.
Get a writing plan or stick with a period that works for you like Paulo Coelho that embarks on two weeks writing marathon once a year.
What is your daily routine when it comes to writing? Which one of the daily routines listed here is your favorite?
Credits: This post was made possible with interview excerpts from Goodreads and The Guardian.

How Active Reading Changed My Life: 7 Things That Happened To Me

How Active Reading Changed My Life: 7 Things That Happened To Me

How Active Reading Changed My Life: 7 Things That Happened To Me
12
NOVEMBER, 2017
Samuel Osho
You have heard that readers are leaders. You have heard that reading makes you intelligent. If you are a public speaker, you must have been told that reading makes you a better speaker. And I am pretty sure that writers must have heard a million times that reading makes their pens smarter. These assertions are true but there is more.

 

American novelist and 1954 Nobel Prize Winner in Literature, Ernest Hemingway once said, “There is no friend as loyal as a book.” From my personal voyage, I totally agree that good books are loyal friends and they keep the company of the wise. I love reading good books. Reading is an activity that refuels and rewires the brain.
When you read fiction books, you learn to live in the world of the characters and travel to new places. Reading a non-fiction book opens your mind to new insights from unique wells of knowledge that can make your life better. I have been married to good books for about a decade and the impact of reading in my life is mind-blowing.
To be honest, before engaging in active reading, I was that young lad who was inherently shy and always scared of criticism. I was helplessly battered by an inferiority complex and lacked the energy to sustain intellectual conversations with people.
Asides my school books, I was a complete novice and to make matters worse, I loathed movies. These three traits perfectly describe my personality before engaging in active reading:
  • Timid:
I was that smart but diffident kid that sits at the back of the class. Everything about me including my grades spoke eloquently except my lips. They were sealed by timidity. Provided the discussion is out of the spheres of science, I was a complete ignoramus. There was really nothing to say due to lack of exposure.
  • Lack of self-worth:
I lacked the dignity of believing in my worth as a person. Inferiority complex dealt with my personality and made me a fragile soul. I was that moody guy pummeled by the actions and inactions of others like a ball in a pendulum. I was a people pleaser and never believed in myself.
  • Terrible at communication:
Communication can be tough for shallow minds. The two most popular media of communication – writing and speaking, places a demand on your reservoir of knowledge and drains you. I was terrible at both writing and speaking and would always find a way of running away from them. Worst of all, I struggled with engaging in simple conversations because I was always afraid of making grammatical blunders. To earn a modicum of respect, I kept my mouth shut and watched others unleash their thoughts and ideas.
In 2007, shortly after graduation from high school, my Dad gave me a book, “You Can Make A Difference” by American author Tony Campolo. And that was the turning point! The book appeared to me as a mirror that showed all my flaws, weaknesses, pain-points and shortcomings.
 

 

I perceived so strongly in my heart that Campolo had me in mind when he wrote the book because it did not only talk about my challenges but also offered solutions to them. He showed me why I felt inferior to others, why I always chose to follow the crowd and why my lips were sealed. Before I got to the last page, my inferiority complex encountered a natural death and I was free.
 
What happened to me? Just a book? Yes, one good book brought liberation to my soul.
 
And what was the next thing I did? I searched for more books and read voraciously. At that time, I had a very close schoolmate who lived two blocks away from my house, he was an addicted reader that consumes all manners of books in print. We became very close friends and made reading one of our hobbies.
 
That’s one single decision I have come to eternally cherish. Reading became my strongest addiction. Anyways, I am very proud of it even though I have earned funny names like bookworm and nerd.
 
After reading Campolo’s book, I pounced on novels and found a special taste for thrillers and science fiction. In the novels of Michael Crichton and Robin Cook, I learnt about topics such as medicine and public health.
 
While rummaging through novels by John Grisham, I understood the meaning of words like subpoena, probono, affidavit, and other legal terms. I was intrigued by the problem-solving instincts of Dr. Watson’s fictional character, Sherlock Holmes, and fascinated by the solutions of Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot in Agatha Christie’s mystery novels.
 
Reading books made boldness surge through my veins; it was like putting on a switch in my brain. Let me show you some of the things that happened to me when I started reading actively:
7 Amazing Things That Happened To Me

1. Increased Concentration

Reading good books sharpened my ability to concentrate on tasks and get them completed. It takes a lot of discipline and concentration to pick a book and finish reading it. When I started active reading, phones and tablets with social media were not in vogue. Grabbing a book was my way of getting entertained.

Now, it’s more difficult to read a book because of the multitude of distractions here and there. My concentration levels increased because of reading. You just need to sit and concentrate, one book at a time and it gets better.

2. Increased Vocabulary Bank

New words will be your friends if you are an active reader. My vocabulary bank increased with the daily deposit of new words, new phrases, and new statements. I also saw how these authors used these words which informed my use of new words in my conversations with people.

3. Better Writer

I became a better writer after giving myself to reading. After delving into active reading, it influenced my writing skills positively. Writing became easier because I had access to a plethora of words that aptly describe my thoughts. Above all, reading makes it possible for you to know the minds of other successful authors and you can explore their writing styles.

4. Better Speaker

In speaking, you communicate what is within you to others. It can be exhaustive and could be an arduous task if you don’t know what to say. Active reading made a better speaker out of my timid frame. With reading, I consistently filled my reservoir of knowledge with the insight of others.

Hence, I could engage more people in inspiring conversations without burning out. The inspiring words of American poet, Ralph Wado Emerson comes to mind: “If we encounter a man of rare intellect, we should ask him what books he reads.”

5. Access To Solutions

My adventure with books went beyond corridors of novels to the front porches of non-fiction books. Books are treasure troves. No wonder, American entrepreneur, Walt Disney opined that “There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate’s loot on treasure island.”

Reading of biographies, autobiographies, and self-help has shown me on numerous occasions that one can find help in books. If you are persistent enough, you can find solutions to your challenges in a book. In books, I found ways of becoming a better speaker, I learnt the rudiments of financial literacy and ultimately, how to be the best version of myself.

“Ordinary people have big TVs. Extraordinary people have big libraries.” – Robin Sharma

6. Increased Imaginative Power

When you read beautiful novels that are works of ingenuity and creativity, it has a magical effect on your brain. On several occasions, I try to create the scenes of the stories that I read in books. This is an activity that trains your brain and mind to use the power of imagination. In the realms of imagination, I don’t only create new things but I also birth them.

7. Exposure

With books, I traveled to new places, I learnt about the cultures of other people and I embraced new perspectives about life. I discover new routes of thinking and that is a form of education. Reading exposed my mind to many things that were intellectually stimulating and heightened my curiosity.
I began to ask many questions and find answers to them. I was not surprised when the German-American author, Dr. Seuss Giesel said, “The more you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you will go.”
In conclusion, developing a habit of active reading will make you stand out amidst your peers and it’s the secret of highly effective people. It’s one of the smartest ways to speed up your personal growth along your career path or areas of interest. Read like your life depends on it and you will be handsomely rewarded by life. According to Worldometers’ counter based on statistics published by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), over 2.2 million new book titles have been published in 2017. That’s huge! In this new week, grab a new book and read. Active reading equals active learning!
Which book are you reading now? Which book is your next catch? Let me know in the comments section below. I am currently devouring Kiyosaki’s updated edition of Rich Dad Poor Dad which was published in April 2017.

How to Shatter Writer’s Block: 10 Tips That Work

How to Shatter Writer’s Block: 10 Tips That Work

How to Shatter Writer’s Block: 10 Tips That Work
29
OCTOBER, 2017
Samuel Osho
Staring at a blank page all day can be very devastating. You have no clue about where to start your article. It’s a painful ordeal; a condition that imprisons the mind from grasping the right words. Writer’s block – it’s the rigid partition that stands between a blank page and a completed work. Every writer at one time or the other will face writer’s block. It’s a feeling of getting stuck and lacking the energy to perfectly express your thoughts.
Looking at the long list of celebrated writers, from Socrates to Ernest Hemingway to Stephen King, almost every great writer engages in a vicious battle with writer’s block. Apparently, you are not alone but only the resilient and determined minds win. If award-winning writers have won the battle, you too can shatter your writer’s block.

First of all, I want to make some clarifications. Often, what you call a writer’s block is merely an outward manifestation of two popular demons. And they are as follows:

  • Procrastination:
When you keep putting off what you should do and validate every decision of delay with an excuse, it’s called procrastination and not a writer’s block. Deadlines are usually the wrong sources to look for an inspiration. Inching closer to a deadline before writing can make you prone to a myriad of mistakes. However, there are situations when your mind needs to undergo an incubation period before the writing ideas are fully formed. More like, I am allowing the turkey to marinate in the spices.
  • Perfectionism:
To be honest, on several occasions, your problem is not writer’s block but an obsession for perfection. You are just dissatisfied with the quality of your work because you want a version close to perfection. Perfectionism is a dangerous path to follow as a writer. Attempting to be perfect in your first draft can be counterproductive.

 

So, what is a writer’s block? It is that moment when you feel a clog blocking your creativity tap; a fog shielding you from the rays of inspiration. For others, it’s a period of separation from the proverbial “muse.”
Now to the meat of the day, let’s explore several ways of shattering writer’s block. These are some methods that have worked for me in the past and are still yielding results. Anyways, it’s not a formula but I invite you to also try out some of these methods.

 

The Top 10 Tips That Work

1. Take a walk

Yes, go for a walk! Hit the road and enjoy the warmth of nature. Deliberately observe the things around you: the swaying trees, the flying birds, the whistling of the winds and the sounds that make nature beautiful. In the midst of this new adventure, you can find an inspiration, a spark and probably a ceaseless flow of ideas for your next piece.

2. Have a shower

I know this sounds crazy but it works for me. Stay in the bathtub and just see if you can realign the ideas and thoughts of your writing. Taking a shower can calm your nerves and serve as a source of rejuvenation. Get out of the bathroom and grab your pen.

3. Listen to your favorite music

Good music is therapeutic – a good medicine for the soul. Having my ears locked with the sounds of my favorite songs usually gets me into a spontaneous mood – a room where many creative things are possible. For me, gospel songs and classical music have magical effects on my brain.

4. Talk out loud to yourself

When writing on a specific subject, once there is a detour from the main point, you tend to delete but this is impossible when you are talking. Speaking to yourself has a way of tunneling deep into your mind to excavate everything you need for your writing. I do this a lot; I speak to myself in front of a mirror and in the midst of my speech I find the flaming torch. When talking out loud, I suggest you record your speech because you may want to listen to it later.

5. Eliminate all distractions

It could be very hard to accomplish a goal when you are wearied down by a host of distractions. Social media and the Internet can be very distracting when you intend to write. If you want to write, then focus on writing. Apps like Cold Turkey and Freedom can assist you in killing your social media distractions.

“There’s no such thing as writer’s block. That was invented by people in California who couldn’t write.” – Terry Pratchett

6. Free Writing

Forget about the rules, just write. Write whatever comes to your mind. Don’t judge yourself. Look beyond the mistakes and errors; flow with the tide of your spontaneous thoughts and enjoy the cruise.

7. Browse through your photo album

This sounds insane but it usually works for me. I take a walk through my photo album on Google Photos and try reliving some of those memories. It’s a lovely journey – it brings smiles and makes you appreciative. While going through the album, several thoughts will queue up and you may just find one that will inspire your pen.

 

8. Read inspiring quotes

The world is a home to a bunch of inspiring people. When you deliberately go on a search to seek insight and inspiration, you can take solace in the library of quotes from your role models, mentors, and motivators. These are some helpful resources – Brainy Quote and Goodreads.

9. Visit a new place

Go for sightseeing. Visit new places that interest you and endeavor to relish in the fun every moment brings to you. Go to the museum, historical sites, galleries and much more. You may just find the muse while taking a snapshot.

10. Change the writing environment

This works for me like magic. I recently found writing in airport lounges very interesting. You can change where you write. Try writing in the following places: a coffee shop, a restaurant, a library, a bus station, and a park.
Furthermore, there is a wide variety of apps that can assist in shattering writer’s block. Some of the best in the market include:
Story Plot Generator (free, available for Android)
Writing Prompts (free, available for Android)
Prompts ($2.99, available for iOS)
Rory’s Story Cubes App ($1.99, available for iOS and Android)
Verses ($1.99, available for iOS)
Instant Poetry (free, available for iOS)

 

In conclusion, the hard truth is that writer’s block is often a self-inflicted disease. It can be cured when you decide to write. Yes, just write until it makes sense to you.
It is your turn to share with me. I am curious! How do you overcome writer’s block?

Six Golden Rules That Will Change Your Writing Forever

Six Golden Rules That Will Change Your Writing Forever

Six Golden Rules That Will Change Your Writing Forever

15

OCTOBER, 2017

Samuel Osho

Writing is a craft, which means it can be studied, understood, and learnt. It’s natural for you to feel inadequate after reading the works of some excellent writers. But here is the good news, you can be a better writer if you are ready to do the work.
After wrestling with a bouquet of books, I encountered several authors who gave their best to make words look more than a compendium of alphabets. George Orwell is one of such beautiful minds that blessed the world with greats gifts such as Animal Farm, Nineteen Eighty-Four,  The Road to Wigan Pier amongst many others. His exceptional use of allegory in Animal Farm made him stand out amidst his peers.

 

However, not many people know his real name – Eric Arthur Blair. In fact, his tombstone bears “Eric Arthur Blair.” But even in his death, the world continues to celebrate the works of Orwell for his ability to explain social injustice, autocracy, democratic socialism to the common man. This is a popular quote from his book, Animal Farm: “All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others.”
In “Politics and the English Language,” an essay published by Orwell in 1946, he handed six golden rules to all writers of English language. These six cardinal points can guide your choices of words and embellish your works with brilliance.

 

After applying these six rules to my writing, my paragraphs started shining. I thought of sharing them with you, so you can also start cooking irresistible meals of literature for your readers.

 

The Six Golden Rules

Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print

This a priceless advice for writers that want to produce outstanding works. Does Orwell mean I should come up with new literary devices despite the inundating volume of works in print? Yes!  And you can do it. You only need to pay attention to the concepts of these literary devices and craft ones peculiar to your work. In summary, Orwell wants you to know that cliches make your work look watery, ordinary and common.

 

In a more practical sense, avoid using the following expressions: “apple of my eye,” “birds of a feather flock together,” “ideas in motion,” “life is a journey,” “the light of my life,” “necessity is the mother of invention,” “sweet smell of success,” amongst many others. Craft new expressions using your originality and you will be amazed by the effects created.

 

Never use a long word where a short one will do

As rightly put by the Bard of Avon, William Shakespeare: “Brevity is the soul of wit.” Every writer must work towards brevity; put your thoughts across to readers in a lucid manner using the right words. Use words that can shorten the length of your text. Be concise and clear.

 

In all, never put your readers in doubt as regards the meaning of your thoughts. Take a look at the following examples: “Obama is a bold speaker” instead of “Obama is no longer shy when speaking.” “He is fearless” instead of “He is not afraid.”

If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out

When you are in search of inspiration and your mind is aimed at reaching a certain word count, you may be tempted to use all the words that come your way. Have you noticed that if you take a second look at your written piece, some sentences will survive without “that”? After the first draft, peruse your work and cut out unnecessary words.

” As rightly put by the Bard of Avon, William Shakespeare: ‘Brevity is the soul of wit.’ Every writer must work towards brevity; put your thoughts across to readers in a lucid manner using the right words.”

Never use the passive where you can use the active

Masters of forceful writing make use of active sentences. They are powerful and not as weak like the passive ones. If you want to be direct and grab the attention of your readers from the first sentence, employ active sentences.

 

Orwell means you should say, “I shall always remember my first visit to California” instead of “My first visit to California will always be remembered by me.”

 

Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent

Writing is a form of communication and understanding is key. What is the essence of writing articles that are incomprehensible? Use simple words and avoid scientific words whenever possible. It will facilitate the comprehension of your readers. If it’s academic writing, you can use professional terms. You really don’t need to use words like “status quo,” and “lingua franca” if they can be replaced with English equivalents.

 

Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous

Rules are guidelines and they offer guidance. But why don’t you attempt breaking one of these rules? Sometimes, rules are meant to be broken if you want to soar on the wings of creativity. Have fun with your imagination and make sure you have a concrete reason for breaking any of these rules.

In conclusion, stay away from popular metaphors, say goodbye to passive sentences, shun foreign phrases, seek brevity and feel free to break any of the rules. Apply these golden rules from Orwell to your writing and watch your piece glitter like gold. That’s it for this week.
Let me know your thoughts about this post. Which one of the six rules is your favorite? Which one of the six rules do you want to apply immediately to your writing?

 

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