Tips from a writer who has failed enough times

There’s a writer in you, buried in there somewhere. If you rearrange the furniture in your head, throw out the low-esteem couch, shake up the laziness carpet, and sort through the box of inconsistency and self-doubt, you’ll find them. They are probably buried right beneath the writer’s block pillow, suffocating, and getting mouldy.

You’re now ready to crash the keyboard with the amazing words you’ll be typing. You have opened a blank word document, and now the cursor is just there, blinking at you, daring you to start.

You ready your hands on the keyboard and wait for the words to start flowing. Nothing. You position your fingers on ASDF and JKL;. Nothing. There are just no words coming, and the words that finally squeeze themselves out of your brain onto your fingertips are bland and saltless. They taste like funeral food in Central Kenya. So you long-press back-space and start afresh.

On a good day, you manage to put words onto a blank page. They sometimes are surprisingly good, other times they just sound like a scratched compact disk of your favourite music.

If you’re struggling with your writing,  try these tips from a writer who has failed enough times to know what doesn’t work.

Just write 

That is the most annoying writing tip I have ever read and been told. It’s also the truest.

Every day, write something. Make it your ambition to write at least 1000 words every day.  Ok, even I have tried that and I can tell you, it was easier to go up  Mt. Longonot than it is to write 1000 words every day. And Longonot was torturous. If you can’t do 1000, write 500 words every day.

You see those days when you just can’t seem to get anything flowing? Even on these days, write. Write about your lunch break. Walk outside and look around and then go back and write about everything you have noticed. Write a paragraph about your kindergarten teacher. Remember something funny or sad about your childhood and write about it.

Think about those things that scare you the most and write about them; your deepest fears, worst-case scenarios. Sad things make for very good stories.

Writing is like breastfeeding, the more you write, the more the milk flows. I mean, the more you breastfeed, the more the words flow. I mean — forget it, I know you know what I mean, just start breastfeeding.

Write now, organise later

Trying to make your written piece sound right with the first draft will give you hypertension and hyperacidity and hyper-everything. Write first, don’t worry if it makes much sense. Even if you sound like you’re having a stroke or like you’re recovering from general anaesthesia, write. You’ll edit when the anaesthesia wears off.

One of my biggest mistakes was writing an article on the day I need to post it. It was always a mess. I’d read it the following day and it sounded like misery soaked in apple cider vinegar. It lacked flow and readability especially if I wrote it in the ungodly hours after 1 AM.

Sleep on your writing or let it rest for an hour or two while you do something else. Take a rope and skip to flatten the curve you have created on your belly, go make banana bread or water the cactus that’s dying on your desk.

Take your mind off the article for a while and then you can read it again with fresh eyes.


My mother tongue has a saying about the man who doesn’t travel, it’s said he thinks his mother’s cooking is the best. The same can be said of the writer who never reads — they think their writing is the best. And nothing could be further from the truth.

For your writing to be remotely good, you have to be a reader. Find the writers who write the stuff that you like to write about. Or just a writer whose style and tone you like and read their work. Read their blogs, their columns, their books, their magazines.

Read books from everywhere and grow your thinking, your style, and your vocabulary. If you come across a word you don’t know, don’t scratch your scraggly beard or braids and move on. Look it up and use it in your next writing.

Have a book that you’re reading at any one time.

Don’t try to sound smart

Big words may wow your readers but not in a good way, they’ll lose interest in your writing. No one wants to read an article while checking for every word in the dictionary. Make sure your sentences are short and easy to understand. A sentence that rambles on and on and on and on and on and o ….

Sorry, I dosed off, where were we?

What I mean is,  shorter sentences are explicable for the reason that your addressees have their attention drawn and they do not lose attentiveness along the way since all the actualities are enunciated in a way that is short and simple and is orthodox for the reason that it’s the most vivacious way to interconnect.

Are you out-of-breath yet?

Believe in yourself 

If all the writers who struggle with imposter syndrome opened up, you’d feel so much better about yourself. You’re a good writer, you have something to say, do not let fear paralyze you. Once you’ve done your research and you feel ready, go ahead and make that masterpiece.

You got this, take the keyboard by the keys.

Art can be heartbreaking because it mostly depends on other people to appreciate it. Nevertheless, if you spend every minute after clicking ‘publish’ checking what everyone is saying and if you have any ‘likes’ or comments, you’ll be depressed.

Churn out the best you can and release it to the world. There will always be one or two people who don’t like you or your writing. But that’s alright, you’re not selling ice cream.

You are a writer. Many writers have struggled with that one sentence. Say it today, “Hello, I’m ____ and I’m a writer.”

8 thoughts on “Tips from a writer who has failed enough times

  1. Wow, you are not only a writer but also a comedian. Call me a thief but I have to steal your advice, knowledge and style of writing. Kudos

  2. This was a good read. I recently returned to my sanctuary where everything flowed smoothly enough to lose yourself in the simplicity and consistency of beautifully crafted ideas. Truly comforting, but alas, failing to plan lead to rooms gathering sufficient dust to make anyone wonder if the spot was ever inhabitable in the first place. Now I have transitioned from effortless writing to painful editing. For this work of art, I say thank you.

  3. Pingback: Tips from a writer who has failed enough times – typically_mwesh

  4. Thank you for the tips as I finally just set foot on the public writing journey. Was timely for me.

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