Okechukwu Ofili: 4 reasons why I stopped writing

Sometime this year I started to struggle with writing. My articles were not written as frequently as before and even when I wrote them I barely promoted or shared them.

As a writer it’s hard to admit you have a writing problem … especially when people look up to you as a some sort of writing role model.

But I did … I had a problem.

I mean I had spent the last few years telling people how to write to overcome their writers block, but here I was with the same disease I seemingly had a cure for. Dying silently from the disease.

I would go to the mall or just be on the internet and people would ask me stuff like “I no longer get your newsletters” or “when is your next excuse book coming out.”

I would normally give a quick “very soon, its coming very soon” response and run away to hide.

But recently I started thinking about what happened, why did I stop writing? Why did I lose my hunger for writing. And what I discovered gave me reason to write this article. It was a tough article to write but I learned a lot in the process …. and I hope you learn as much as I did writing it. Here are the 4 reasons I stopped writing …

#1 The Nigeria Wahala

I moved back to Nigeria early last year and it has been great.

When I moved back, Oil prices had started to slip crash and the Naira was already being devalued by the CBN. But things were still relatively sane. Fast forward to today and Nigeria is in a full blown recession. With the recession, I have seen my salary cut, my stocks fall, price of basic commodities increase and generally things getting worse and more difficult.

The truth is that it’s difficult to write when you are worried about the Economy and the direction the country is going. And when you start to wonder whether moving back was a good or bad idea it inevitably affects your writing because your mind is in other place. And that’s what happened to me … instead of writing I was worrying and when I was not worried I was frustrated.

So I ended up taking out my frustration by ranting … not writing but ranting. Which brings me to the second reason why I stopped writing …

#2 The Radicalization Politicization Of My Words

I had always written about politics in Nigeria but this was the first time the political stupid decisions of the Nigerian Government directly impacted me.

Instinctively I started ranting on facebook about my reality and frustrations. And soon the ranting ended up in my writings and my newsletters, and soon I started receiving emails from people on my listserv saying they were unsubscribing because I had become political.

During this period, I got accused of being tribalistic, biased, stupid and all sorts of other accusations. I grossly underestimated the LOVE Nigerians had for their leaders whether the leaders were GOOD or BAD.

To avoid the mess that was evolving on my facebook page and blog, I decided to stop writing politically and write safe “motivational”articles. But the problem was that my style of writing has always been about my reality. The reality I was facing.

Telling me to write non-political motivational articles was like telling Tupac Shakur to stop rapping about police brutality and instead record a duet with N’SYNC … not happening!

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The result was that I wrote fake articles and if I wrote real political articles, I will subconsciously hide them away from people in fear of backlash. I stopped sending out newsletters completely, because I did not want it to soil my “motivational speaker” holy brand. And this affected my writing because I kept editing and editing even though I had told people to kill their editor!

I wrote, but I worried about how people will feel and soon I over-edited myself out of writing.

#3 The Multipotentialite* Curse

*A multipotentialite is a person who has many different interests and creative pursuits in life. Multipotentialites have no “one true calling” the way specialists do.

I did not even know I had this disease until I watched this TEDx video by Emilie Wapnick and that’s when I realized I had it. Symptoms included jumping from one thing to the other, not being focused on one idea, ability to do many things quite well but not one thing very well. I was infected …

I was a full time design engineer, part time artist, part time author, part time tech entrepreneur, motivational speaker, landlord, stock market trader and member of the Justice League. I did a lot of things and as such I could write on a lot of things.

I could write Financial Articles, Political Articles, Funny Articles, Work Related Articles, Entrepreneurial Related Articles, Tech Articles and more. And so I did! But it was like my branding was all over the place, like I was juggling too many things and making a mess …

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It was like my work-related articles could not jive with my entrepreneurial articles. And my funny articles could not jive with my political articles. I once wrote an article on finance and one of the comments was like “finance is not motivational speaking, please leave that thing and do what you know.”

So I found myself again trying to control my writing to fit one thing, when I could in fact write on a lot of things … again my writing suffered.

#4 The OkadaBooks Success

When we started OkadaBooks in September of 2013, we were a small company with no office space and a few hundred users. When we received an email we would celebrate…literally.

Today, we still don’t have an office but we receive on average 50 emails in a day, our users base has grown exponentially to about a 100,000, and we have more people working for us than before. Thus the time required to manage okadabooks.com has inevitably grown.

This is a great thing, except that I am still stuck at a 9 to 5.

So the free time I would typically have used for writing has now shifted to managing okadabooks.com. As a company we are currently seeking investors and are optimistic that we would find something … that would greatly free up my time to write. But for now our success withokadabooks.com has ironically eliminated my writing time.

Conclusion

“Why I Stopped Writing” was a tough article to write for me because it exposed a part of me that I would normally not share with anyone. But it was therapeutic in many ways.

Through writing the article, I was able to come to terms with the things that have subconsciously slowed down my writing and learned a lot of things along the way.

But the main things I learned was to write not for the applause but because it’s the truth, to write regardless of what people think or feel and to write regardless … period.

Because as long as you are writing you have a chance to make sense of the madness but the moment you stop writing the madness consumes and paralyzes you. Keep writing!

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