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Writeousness: This Is How I Wrote My First Chapbook

Whenever you published writers give advice on writing, it almost always includes this: Start to Finish. What they mean is, don’t just start a bunch of writing projects and never finish them. 

This is the struggle, because we are prone to getting rather too excited about NEW ideas at the exact same time you get sick of working on the OLD ideas. This shouldn’t be. It gets one nowhere.

I used to be in this cult of ‘off to new goals’, leaving old projects half done and unrealized. I would be working on a book project, then of a sudden, a new idea sneaks in, I abandon a solid 20 pages of ten half-thought out books moved to ‘revisit folder’ (which I never get to revisit) at the very first brick wall of writers block.

It’s easy to go, “Well, ‘Story A’ isn’t going anywhere, so what’s the point? I’ll just work on ‘Story Z’ instead. Life’s too short to expend energy on one project. Go bro! Go!” 
How sad! 
You go nowhere, because newer ideas will always come to replace an existing one. You end up building a dunghill of unfinished books.
Sometimes you abandon things for one reason or another, but it should never be because you think it’s not worth it, or that it’s not a good idea, or you just read something else that is somewhat similar to what you’re doing. Those are excuses that would trick you into abandoning something you’re not yet confident about.
My first chapbook faced this fate many years ago. I abandoned it occasionally to chase new writing ideas (fiction, playlets, music, songwriting, drawing). This book would have been published four years ago, had I focused on it when the idea popped up in my teenage head. Finally, after many years of gong back and forth, ‘Diary of a Broken Poet’ was published in 2017. While this doesn’t mean it’s done and dusted (I noticed flaws in the book, which should be reviewed anytime soon), it does mean that, despite feeling like throwing in the towel constantly, I finished a goddamn book.

I stumbled upon these on my Pinterest account. Cover arts of my first chapbook.

(First cover art, 2008)

(Second cover art, 2011)

Here’s the final cover art, when it was published in 2017
Click Here to get a copy

It’s not a particularly classic chapbook, but it’s a hell of a lot more poetry that can earn me a Grammy (I dream a lot, alright?). Finishing, publishing it and having great sales, was my 2017 greatest achievement. 
Although I couldn’t make much sales, because I lacked, as at then, the know-how of book marketing and how to leverage social media to promote my book. If it sold pretty well as did ‘Sweetness’, my second anthology, you’ll be hearing me talk about it relentlessly.

If you’re struggling to make it through that first draft, all hope’s not lost, YET. I’ve got the secret for you. The sure-fire way to finish that manuscript. Here’s the secret:
Sit down and do it!
I know, sucks right? It does. It really, really does. But that’s the only way to get it done, because no one else will write that book except for you. Here and there does not make a champion. 
But, it’s not as romantic as that. It’s a slog. At least, for me it is. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE WRITING—once it’s time for a second draft. That’s a blast. That’s where the details are fleshed out, poetic devices come to life, the lines and verses makes sense (hopefully), and everything gets a bit more lively.

If you plan on writing as a primary source of income, you must sit up and work hard. Do not spend precious time thinking you can’t do this thing and swirl in self-doubt. Get your butt fixed on a chair and write your heart out. You can’t be a successful writer cum author if you are not writeous. It calls for dedication and passion, plus obsession.

Righteousness exalts a nation, but Writeousness exalts the writer – Stefn

Time spent actively avoiding the project and doing other things delays is actualization.
The process would be long, require dedication, willpower, patience, and most important, support. Don’t give up on you. Don’t switch to a new writing idea.
I’m currently writing my third anthology (which would be co-authored with a writer friend). 
So far, it’s going fine? Hell no!
I’m sure there will be hiccups and interruptions and distractions, but I am dedicated to this. No backing out! There are other projects with tighter deadlines, but I would rather lose those than abandon this project. How about you?
The length of time doesn’t necessarily matter, as long as you get the damn thing done. But, you know, hopefully do it in a timely fashion.
But do not forget to remember: writing is hard, and takes a lot of time. 
Where I come from, we say it in this manner: ‘writing hard, no be beans’
Keep writing!
#Pengician #SSA

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Jaachi Anyatonwu
Jaachi Anyatonwu is a poet, editor, and publisher living in the suburbs of Aba. He is the author of numerous poetry chapbooks and collections, and the Editor-In-Chief of Poemify Publishers Inc. Jaachi is passionate about discovering new voices and mentoring emerging poets. He is also a fierce advocate for the boy child and sexually molested.

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