A few months ago, I interviewed a really big guy over here. A guy so big he fits in an award-winning blog, several Kenyan newspapers, and magazines all at once. How does he do it?
He’s got plenty of titles too. A writer, husband, father, imaginary mentor.
You probably know him. Many people like to call him Chocolate Man. I’m not entirely sure why: a fan of dark chocolate maybe? But I like to call him by another name. Jackson, Jackson Biko.
Or JB sometimes.
In his extensive writing, this Jackson guy loves to mention how he was blessed/cursed with a large forehead. However, when I met him, it was his tall frame that stood out more than his alleged four-head. To be fair, I have one too so it’s no big deal.
But I guess that’s his persona. Biko with the big forehead. I wonder what mine is.
Anyway, apart from digging into his personal life in the interview, I also wanted to know what his perspective on writing is. I mean he’s been doing this for years, he must have a few tips. And sure enough, he did. And was kind enough to share them with me.
His advice doesn’t include using SEO or catchy headlines, as you’ve already heard that plenty of times before. Instead, his is a unique stance on the craft he’s so well mastered. So fellow writers, listen up. Here’s what Chocolate Man had to say about writing, and blogging.
On finding the right audience.
Don’t write the right thing for the wrong audience. You have to identify your audience. But there’s always been a big debate on this.
Personally, I didn’t identify my audience; my audience found me. I was just writing and putting it out there, and then people started reading. And I think the best way is to just write.
Let’s say you’re good at writing about cars. Don’t ask yourself, are these women going to read? Just write. You might write about cars in such a way that there’s a crossover. Crossover means the audience sort of spills over to people who generally would not read about cars.
For me personally, I don’t watch soccer so I don’t read sports blogs. But if I find a good writer who writes something about football I’ll probably read it. So I’d say don’t go for the audience, follow your hands. Just write what you want to write. And your work will find its audience.
So I’d say don’t go for the audience, follow your hands. Just write what you want to write. And your work will find its audience.
Whether it’s important to have a mentor.
Not really. I don’t think so. But what works for me probably won’t work for somebody else. And what works for somebody else might not have worked for me. For some people, it might be important to be mentored. But if you want to write, just write.
And people find all those excuses not to write. I think the primary need is to have the fire. How badly do you want to write? Then bloody write.
Mentors are just add-ons. Many people have made it without mentors. Let writing be your mentor.
(So is that a no JB?)
Whether there’s space for other writers apart from creative writers and fashion bloggers.
There’s no space until you make the space. And that’s the problem with Kenyans, somebody starts selling quail eggs everybody wants to sell quail eggs. People want to do things that everybody else is doing.
Why don’t you be the first person who started this? So what if there’s no blog talking about real estate, or what interests you. You go and create space. Open that space and people will plug in.
It’s not just what you write about, but how you write it. You can have very good content but you write it in a such a bad way nobody will read it.
But you can have such a good way of communicating things. I don’t write about things that can move the mountains. It’s not stuff that is made of genius. it’s just everyday things. But it’s just how you write it.
So you have to create that space on your own. Anything goes.
And there you have it, from the Kenyan
blogger writer of the year himself. Maybe of the decade even. If you want to be a successful writer, the big guy has told you his secrets.
Follow your hands. Just write. Even if you don’t have a mentor. Even if you’re the only one in the niche. Just bloody write.
And do it bloody well.