One of the beauties of this age is that there are wondrous ecosystems for creative people to explore their superpowers. Ecosystems shaped in online communities, building capacities and helping is becoming better in our chosen fields. One of these wondrous ecosystems is The African Writers.
If you are an African writer that is active on Instagram, there’s a very high chance that you’d have stumbled on The African Writers page – the platform created to showcase all forms of writings by African writers.
In our wanderings and stalking ;), we found out that the platform’s Founder is a woman! Yes!
Faith Moyosore Agboola founded The African Writers platform on the 24th of April 2016. It was born out of the need to create a fun and educative platform that helps the new generation of writers in Africa come together to collaborate, learn more about their craft and also get showcased to the world. Faith saw the need take all the awesome new talents and bring their new voices to the limelight. So, we had a chat with her to talk about her dream for African Writers.
The African Writers is a very vibrant and delightful platform, what epiphany/moment led you to create the platform?
Thank you for the kind words. I was new to sharing my works on Instagram and after several months, I discovered the beautiful array of young talented writers in Africa who were not getting the push and recognition that they deserved. There were several non-Afrocentric pages that showcased writers but I noticed that they typically didn’t feature writers from Africa. As a result, I realized it was important to have a platform created by an African writer for African writers. It would be a platform that understands the struggles of a young author from Africa and seeks to help by offering a home of like minds, an institute to nurture them to greater heights, and a place that recognizes and showcases them. I saw the vacuum for all these resources and I decided to fill it by creating The African Writers.
A struggle for many who feel called to creative work is that they don’t know how to start or don’t believe it’s realistic. In your experience and opinion, how should this be tackled?
Honestly, these are feelings born out of fear and false misconceptions created around businesses. When I started The African Writers, I really wasn’t sure where I was headed but I was passionate about helping young authors because I felt they were neglected. I didn’t have a blueprint or a bigger platform motivating me and showing me how to do things; all I had was a passion and a drive to do this. I feel for any creative person with a dream; just start; a child cannot evolve or grow into its true self if it isn’t birthed. Even the mother wouldn’t really know what path the child would follow but the birthing process sets a lot of things into perspective. Start the business first. The problem is one that can be realistically tackled by writing out the vision and the mission. A lot of things could look unrealistic until they are written down to be executed. Our first event, “African Writers Meet 2017” which was successful, seemed unrealistic to the few people I shared the dream with, in 2016. Honestly, at the time it didn’t look like I could pull it off, but my determination to start it, refusal to look at drawbacks, and of course writing out plans and seeking advice and counsel helped me in bringing it to life. My advice to young creatives facing this problem is to start it first, you would see that it would evolve into something bigger than you could have imagined.
As a woman who is cultivating the writing spirit in others, what would you say is one common error or wrong thought process that writers make? Also, do you have any specific tips or view on women writers?
The fallacy that is writers’ block. A lot of writers let writers’ block sideline them and they become unproductive because they think they are facing a problem that needs a grand solution. Writers’ block is a myth. I’ll paint a scenario for you. There are several content writers writing original content daily for firms. Freelance writers who have a deadline or they don’t get their money. Scriptwriters whose pay and growth in the industry both depend on when they can deliver. There are several writing competitions each with deadlines. But do the people that participate in all these sit and wallow in sadness over writers’ block? They don’t! They get up and write. Writers’ block is a mindset, it is the result of emotional feelings and lack of adequate motivation. There’s a certain book I am writing right now. It’s one I should have accomplished two years ago if not that I kept telling myself I was facing writers’ block. Now I’ve realized that there’s a time and season for everything and that if I don’t release the book in a few months’ time, it will be pointless continuing with it. It’s interesting the way the motivation has been coming. It took me a year to write two thousand (2,000) words; now I’ve been writing six thousand (6,000) words per day! Lol! What am I saying? When next you think you’re facing writers’ block, think thoroughly and talk yourself out of that myth. The greatest solution is to just write. Fine, it’s not easy and there are things that can help with it, but the major thing to tackle before all other tools come into play is your mindset. Change your mindset about it and look for that inspiration and write! We need to hear your story.
As for women writers – especially the married ones, I would say keep going. Yes, it tough managing a home and writing, but, with genuine love, passion, and motivation for writing, you’ll pull through. Yes, it’s hard but think about the reward of holding your book in your hands. There’s a certain writer I admire greatly, Nnoma Nwankwor, she has written and published 9 books whilst in marriage and she’s currently on her tenth book. It’s just pure love and passion. Get that into anything you’re doing and you’ll pass through challenges easily.
Another major issue that writers and creative people at large face, is monetizing. Do share us how you tackle this with us.
Well, monetizing a creative gift is a process and not many people have the patience. It starts with awareness, letting people know about you, your work and what you do. You will have to do a lot of things for free. For writers, write on a blog for free to grow audience, share your works on social media, let people get familiar with your gift and the quality of it. Once you have a sizeable audience, then you can write a book or sell a product of your gift. But too many creatives do not want to give out their works for free, they do not want to showcase their gifts. They don’t want to go through the long process. They just want to delve right into making money. There’s something about something that is quality but free, they go viral real quick and eventually people would be begging you to release paid stuff or write a book. I’m at a point in my life where people are telling me to write a book. I went to an event recently and met people who followed my works online. The next thing they all asked after exchanging pleasantries was “when are you releasing your book?” You need to get to that point as a creative to be able to monetize your gift.
On productivity. Do you have a system for making sure you get work done and stay productive?
Hmmmm. That’s something I’m still learning honestly. But I’ll say create a timetable, a list and a structure for carrying things out. List out things you need to do. Set out times to do them. Maybe one or two things per day. The biggest mistake a creative person can make is doing everything at the same time without a plan. You need to structure your time and life to get things done productively.
Share a typical day in your life with us. What does every day look like for you, from the moment you jump off the bed?
Hmmm. A typical day. wake up 3 am and do some research until 5 am. Then I go back to bed. Wake up 7 am, do some chores, eat breakfast and head over to my workstation which is my phone majorly. Whenever I have intensive work to do, I use my laptop. I take breaks in between by watching comedy videos and inspirational videos before going back to creating content or writing my book, depending on what I put on the calendar for that day. So, a typical day in my life is pretty much staring at screens for 12 hours plus daily.
Tell us about 3 women you admire.
Tara Fela Durotoye. She is a beauty product entrepreneur and innovator in the beauty space in Nigeria. She started the bridal makeup sensation in Nigeria, created the first ever makeup training school in the country, and created the first ever make-up conference. She also launched the first ever Nigerian make-up line “Tara”, which was a one-man Team for many years and is now a multi-million naira company with several employees, branches, and stores, and it boasts huge sales across continents. What fascinates me the most about her is how she is committed to helping young entrepreneurs grow, especially in the beauty sphere. There’s nothing as beautiful as helping others rise.
Toke Makinwa. She is a product of hard work, smart work, and a strong drive for greatness. I see her as a forerunner in the media Industry. From building up a YouTube channel talking about stuff that people considered controversial to moving up the ladder to radio and Tv presenting. To writing a best selling book. To creating a conference/program to empower young women and now to releasing a bag line. I see her as a forward thinker, a true hustler and a woman of strength. Life and people have thrown so much at her, yet she thrives and continues to set the pace for great things for herself and others.
Tililope Sonuga. I love how she is elevating poetry in Nigeria. How she has accomplished so many feats for us. First ever Nigerian poet to perform at a presidential inauguration ceremony. She was the Ambassador for Intel. She hosted a sold-out three-day show in Lagos, Nigeria and has traveled to several cities showing the beauty and prowess of Nigerian poetry. I admire her greatly as I see her as a great example to the new generation of poets who might not yet believe in themselves to do so.
Your favourite books and websites.
Well, my favorite books and websites change often really. I don’t have favorite books of all time and I admire people that do. Right now, my top three favorite books are ‘Rupi Kaur’s Milk and Honey’, a young budding author Oyinkan Braithwaite’s ‘Thicker Than Water’, and my friend Christie Jay’s ‘At War With Love’. Favorite websites right now have to be Forbes, Goalcast, and Wikipedia for insight into the journeys of famous people.