by Samuel Osho | Dec 28, 2019 | Writing
Asides my love for writing, I am a voracious reader that devours books both for relaxation and education. Reading helps to relax tense mental muscles and amplify imagination, it’s also an avenue to gather information on a new subject.
In 2019, I read more books than I have done in previous years, and I am excited to share some of my best reads with you. I hope you find these books inspiring. The books on my list were necessary not published in 2019; in fact, some are quite old, but they are still relevant in their respective fields.
1. Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
Anne Lamott’s compendium of instructions on writing is a superb blessing for any passionate writer. The book uncovered some nuggets via personal stories blended with humour.
Lamott insists that to become a superb writer, you have to write more and don’t judge your competence based on your first drafts. You will have terrible first drafts. The earlier you know that, the better for you. For storytellers, Lamott’s advice is to keep writing until you unravel the hidden gems – the profiles of your characters, the dialogue forms, the setting and many more. The book offered tasks you can do to warm your writing engines before embarking on the “big” writing project.
To finish a story, if you need the help of experts on unfamiliar subjects, don’t hesitate to reach out. Get those conversations going, and the perfect words might just come to you. Lamott also emphasized the essence of joining writing groups and seeking constructive criticism from editors or writers that believe in you.
Success requires lots of dedication, hard work and resilience. Everyone knows that, but Godin introduces a new angle, which is knowing when to quit a project, a company, a relationship so that you can win in other things.
Godin describes those tough times before success as either a dip or a cul-de-sac. In a cul-de-sac, you recite the mantra of resilience and perseverance, but it’s a ploy to drain your energy and resources – it’s a dead end. While a dip mirrors the same climatic conditions you face in a cul-de-sac, except that it’s going to lead you to a bright side – things get better if you push hard enough.
A dip is a shortcut to success and weeds out your competitors. Still, it takes intuition, wisdom and sometimes, data to know the difference between a cul-de-sac and a dip. If you spot a cul-de-sac early in your journey, quit the race, save your energy and resources for better ventures. That’s how you quit to win.
“What a blessing it is to love books.” – Elizabeth von Arnim
3. Zero to One by Peter Thiel
This is a must-read for anyone interested in today’s style of entrepreneurship and start-up business. Peter Thiel is a highly intelligent founder and entrepreneur with more than two decades of experience in pioneering innovative technologies. The book makes a case for the true meaning of technology and demonizes the word “globalization” as copying what others are doing.
Thiel goes deep into business secrets that every entrepreneur needs to explore before making entry into new and existing markets. The book contains logical arguments fit for discourse in our ever-evolving world. Although the book tilts towards collaboration between businesses and paints unhealthy competition as idiotic, it has answers for entrepreneurs in both monopoly and competitive terrains.
What takes any business from zero to one is doing what others are not doing – creating new solutions and not merely repackaging what others are doing. I love the part that delved into how to set up a mafia team for a start-up, how to distribute and sell a new product, how to build a company with a robust culture.
4. I Will Teach You To Be Rich by Ramit Sethi
Ramit Sethi’s expert advice on personal finance is a brilliant place to start if you are bent on living a life of financial freedom. Management of personal finances requires one to take charge; don’t be reactive but be proactive. The book propels you to take necessary actions towards your long-term financial goals. You will learn the rules of optimizing my credit card(s) and how to enjoy the perks that come with it.
The book shows practical ways to supercharge your negotiation skills and avoid unnecessary bank charges. It went deeper into practical strategies for investing and how to start immediately. Ramit shows how to create a conscious spending plan after looking closely at your monthly spending behaviour. And then the exciting part kicks in with using automation as a smart way of saving more money.
In the end, I enjoyed the comments on saving for a wedding, getting a prenup, buying a house and buying a car. I am more confident about my finances and equipped with the information to make better decisions.
5. Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Jean Greaves and Travis Bradberry
Greaves and Bradberry teamed up to create an instant supercharger for Emotional Intelligence. The book is a robust tool for anyone interested in learning about Emotional Intelligence and seeking practical ways of improving their Emotional Intelligence Quotient.
The introduction gives an eye-opener on how the emotional part of the brain continually overrides the rational part of the brain. It explains why the default response of human beings is usually a gust of emotions and not a series of logical and thoughtful reasoning. The scheme of emotional hijacking as many call it.
The book further emphasizes the impact of High Emotional Intelligence on personal and professional pursuits. I learnt that Emotional Intelligence could be seen through four lenses: Self-Awareness, Self-Management, Social Awareness, and Relationship Management. Asides painting what it looks like being in the top or bottom percentile of each category, there were several daily practices you could start immediately to increase your emotional intelligence.
For a list of my favourite books, you can find them here.
It’s your turn, please share with me in the comments section – what are the best books you read in 2019?
Do you have an idea that you would like to share with me?
by Samuel Osho | Dec 18, 2017 | Writing
Top 10 Writing Lessons from 2017
Oh! My good friend, the year 2017, is waving goodbye but its departure is never without the blessing of a diary filled with memorable events. From the swearing-in of Donald Trump to the death of Don Williams to the massive blow of Hurricane Harvey to the numerous sexual harassment scandals, 2017 will always be remembered.
To my utmost surprise, 2017 happened so fast. However, my major personal highlights have the recurring themes of learning, unlearning and relearning. As a writer, I conquered my fears of rejection and stepped out in grand style with my personal website. It’s crazy how I have to show up every week with new ideas fleshed out in fresh blog posts. Alas! This is my 11th blog post and I am still alive – that’s good news.
To be honest, I am still a rookie in writing but I have got some simple truths to share that will inspire you. There is a lot to learn in doing the things you talk or write about, you earn a wealth of experience that stays with you forever. Your experience is golden and it’s priceless.
I’ll be drawing lessons from my personal experience and daily interactions as a writer in 2017.
The Top 10 Writing Lessons
1. Don’t Be Scared of Starting
Just as a crawling baby gets scared of taking the first steps of walking, it’s the same way with life. Everyone feels that pinch of fear whenever there is a push to start a new adventure. Fear emanates from several quarters: risks, doubts, rejections, and uncertainties. It’s natural but you must not allow it to kill your dreams.
Starting a blog is not a child’s play and publishing your first book takes an amount of boldness but you just have to start somewhere. It’s funny how the majority of the things you worry about don’t eventually happen.
Writers churn out poems, novels, blog posts, non-fiction books and articles. A writer employs writing in creating several products which are all content related. It’s a fantastic idea to be multi-faceted and dexterous but it will be hard to make an impact as a writer if you want to be active in the creation of works for all genres of writing.
You cannot write for everybody. Choose a path you love, stick with the flow and grow till you become the best. I chose the path of creating blog posts on themes such as writing, public speaking, personal development, and productivity. I love writing poems but you will never see my poems here because it’s no longer my priority.
The power of focus cannot be overemphasized. In a noisy world, there is a multitude of busy people but only a few productive persons. I have learnt that it takes concentrated focus to complete a task. Yes, you have chosen a path but you need to be focused on your path or else you start misplacing your priorities.
For instance, if you want to be a genius in the world of fiction, it’s time to stay focused on reading and writing novels. Focus is a key that unlocks the power within and unleashes the ingenuity in your brain. It’s becoming increasingly difficult for people to stay focused, the more reason why it works like magic when you switch on the light of focus.
4. Starve Your Distractions
The world is swimming in a sea of distractions. Attention spans are rapidly decreasing; we blame everyone including the social media except ourselves. People that attract success are individuals who have learnt how to detach themselves from distractions.
Distraction is a subtle killer and reduces the worth of your time from gold to pennies. I recently told a friend how I create my own night during the day in order to find time for writing – I shut down my phone and I switch off the Internet. Twice this year, I had to uninstall Facebook App from my phone when it was becoming a huge distraction for me.
5. Be Committed to Deep Work
In the school of content creation, the big players create quality works and not junks. Quality work is a product of deep work; the successful execution of a demanding task. Blog posts, articles, and books that often become reference points are creative works forged in a place void of distractions.
In the process of scripting solid and robust blog posts in 2017, I learnt the importance of personal commitment to deep work. The term “Deep Work” became popular after an Associate Professor of Computer Science at Georgetown University, Cal Newport, authored a book titled, “Deep Work.” You should consider adding the book to your library. Deep Work is intense and can be very demanding but it is the only way to stand out.
“You can make anything by writing.”
– C.S. Lewis
Every creative mind knows the essence of consistency and its ability to earn you more followers. In 2017, consistency impacted my writing life immensely in two ways: improvement in my writing style and increase in the number of my readers. It’s true that things get better with time; showing up every week with fresh content is a profound way of honing your writing skill. The more you write, the higher your chances of getting better at it.
Regardless of the message you have, consistency is a flavor that attracts others and gives them an impression of the authenticity of your passion. Someone I have come to deeply respect for his consistency is the American author and marketing expert, Seth Godin; I get emails from him every day and they are always fresh and profound thoughts.
7. Chase Progress Not Fame
If the only reason why you write is to get famous or win awards, the chances are high that you’ll soon be frustrated. The social media is built in a way that people use fame as a yardstick for measuring effectiveness. Unfortunately, fame is ephemeral and it puts writers under undue pressure. I’ll advise you to avoid that trap.
Chase progress and improvement in all you do instead of pursuing fame. The worse thing about fame is that at the end no one wins the race, there is always a tipping point for any viral content and it’s unsafe to live your life based on the lifespan of a viral content. Enjoy the process of honing your craft and fall in love with the craft itself – writing.
The mind is created in such a way that there is always a room for new knowledge and a space for learning new things. In the quest to seek personal growth, it’s highly imperative to read relevant books and enroll in online courses. In 2017, I expanded my skill-set with courses from Shaw Academy
, LinkedIn Learning
, and HubSpot Academy
. These decisive steps have been very rewarding. Be deliberate about your personal growth – it’s a sure way of reaching the apex in any chosen path.
9. Connect with Others in Your Tribe
When you find a member of your tribe, you’ll know. Often, people in your tribe share the same passion and do the same work you do. Connecting with your tribe is a fast way of learning solutions to challenges that are commonly faced by people in your field. Starting a blog as a writer was done with ease because I connected with the likes of Jeff Goins
, Bryan Harris
, Neal Samudre
, Joel Friedlander
, Michael Hyatt
, Tim Ferris
and Seth Godin
. I have learnt so much from these virtual mentors and thought leaders; all I had to do was connect with their platforms and listen to them.
10. Everyone’s journey is different
At the end, you need to know and understand that everyone’s journey is different. Desist from comparing yourself with others but compete with the best version of yourself. I admire a lot of great writers but I sincerely don’t wish to be like anyone. I seek to be the best version of myself and that is why I stick to my path with a keen focus on my goals. It’s time to plan for 2018 and hit the ground running.
These are my top ten writing lessons for 2017, I hope it inspires and motivates you to do amazing things as a writer in 2018. Always remember that you only fail when you quit. Stay focused on your path and give wings to your ideas.
What are your writing lessons from 2017?