“Criticism to the writer is like greetings to the man who farms by the way side. If you pay too much attention to what people say about your work, you will lose your talent.” – Manesseh Azure Awuni
Manesseh Azure Awuni is the senior broadcast journalist at Joy 99.7FM, an Accra based English speaking radio station. He also won the 2012 Ghana Journalist of the year award, after sweeping three other awards that same night. Manesseh is a prolific writer, who reads for pleasure, and does writing as his hobby. Here are his seven tips for writers and aspiring ones alike (in his exact words and tone).
Read a lot
Abraham Lincoln once said if he was given eight hours to chop a tree, he would spend six hours sharpening his axe. I say if you want to be a good writer, dedicate 80% of your effort to reading and 20% to writing.
Keep it simple
The office cleaner is your reader. The University professor is also your reader. The only way to satisfy both of them is to keep your writing simple.
Right use of adjectives
Use adjectives advisedly. Like too much salt, they mar the beauty and credibility of your writing, especially non-fiction.
Use simple words
Don’t try to impress your readers with knowledge of “big” words. The use of unfamiliar or fanciful words is not the hallmark of good writer. A good writer is one who uses simple or ordinary words but weaves them in a way that tickles the reader.
Be positive towards criticism
Criticism to the writer is like greetings to the man who farms by the wayside. If you pay too much attention to what people say about your work, you will lose your talent.
Be yourself when writing
Learning to write like someone else is like imitating the left-handed. It is good to have favorite writers and study their styles, but when you settle down to write, be yourself. With time, a reader should be able to identify your work even if it doesn’t bear your name. You only achieve this by being yourself.
I don’t think writing is a special gift from God. It is one of those general gifts that anyone can enhance through learning. I am yet to see a good writer who does not read or an illiterate writer. Creativity, which enhances writing, can be a special gift from God, but not writing itself. God has not given you that special gift to write. The more you read and practise writing, the better you become. You have no excuse not to write.
Personally, these tips give me a ride back to the classroom. They are all professional and helpful. Every writer must cling on to it, especially my beginner friends. Have your say. Drop your questions and comments below.