A Quest for a Writer’s Voice

By Masimba Biriwasha | On Point | @ChiefKMasimba | January 20, 2014

Perhaps one of the greatest battles I’ve fought in my life has been to find my writer’s voice.

Because it’s a highly internal affair, there are no witnesses to the bloody spectacle except, maybe, for a disfigured piece of writing. Every time I try to awaken my writer’s voice I feel wrecked. It’s a real pain to say the least: mind-numbing. Continue reading

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Bonne Année: 2010

Bonne Année 2010.  Another year, and hopefully an opportunity for a new awakening. For me 2010 marks my first decade in the work world, and the story has not be full of joy. If anything, the past decade has been full of challenges. Much of my work life in particular has been full of ups and downs and I feel that I never really found my groove.

I do know one thing: I love writing.

I celebrated the coming of 2010 in a Parisian Metro sitting next to an old woman who gleamed: “Bonne Anne” at me and melted my heart. As I looked at my watch to confirm the time, the driver announced over the PA system that the new year had come. I mulled over the event of my last day of 2009 with a squint over my face. The last day of 2009 found me flying from Africa (Johennesburg) to Europe (Paris) via the Middle East (Dubai).

In Dubai, I had a seven-hour lay over, and I spent most of it online, surfing the web, writing emails and looking for jobs. While sitting at the airport a Nigerian couple approached me; they were travelling to Paris for their honeymoon and apparently had failed to book into a hotel.

I found myself having to help them up to the point of looking for a hotel in Montparnasse in Paris; and only headed to my rented apartment in La Defence at about 1130. Anyway, I am looking forward to 2010; I hope that its a year that will bring the realization of dreams that I have held for so long. Continue reading

What Makes A Great Writer: Insight or Effort?

A Labour of Love

Writing: A Labour of Love

In graphic terms, insight is like the proverbial tip of the iceberg to the process of writing. Beneath the tip is the whole sum of effort that is required to ensure that writing gets to see the world. Much of what takes place after insight has long gone is hard work, tears and blood so to speak that make writing becoming real.

Of course, for great writers, insight has its part to play. But the fact of the matter is that insight is not always available. In itself, insight is highly ephemeral. It can be like the passing wind.

So it is the effort that has to kick in to ensure that the insight can remain alive to see the light of day.

Continue reading

Quick SEO Tips For Online Writers

The rapidly changing online environment is putting new challenges on writers of online content, with writers expected to pay attention to strategies of marketing and to increasing online visibility with keywords for purposes of search engine optimization (SEO). 

For online writers and publishers, SEO is increasingly becoming a key priority to enhance Web site rankings. SEO refers to techniques used to improve a Web page’s results in a search.

To be successful online, publishers need to be able to position themselves in a way that delivers what users are looking for at the click of a button. 

Research shows that nearly 91 percent of all Internet users resort to a search engine to find information, making it an imperative to position your copy in a manner that helps users to easily find you.

Used properly, keywords are a simple tool that can help to attract targeted online users to a Web site. If you want to succeed as a writer online, it is necessary to keep up with the SEO buzz and establish ways to incorporate the strategies into your writing. 

As more and more Web sites are launched, competition for visibility gets ever-more intense. Publishers are constantly looking for ways to ensure that they get traffic to their Web sites by incorporating keywords that enhance their Web sites visibility in a search. 

Search engines play a key role in increasing the impact of publishers’ Web sites because they index Web sites according to keyword specifications that are used by online content searchers. 

For users, the use of keywords simplifies the search process, and that’s why it’s important for writers to tap into that habit by broadcasting keywords throughout your Web site copy. 

First things first: The basic rules of writing stick, so what you write still has to be interesting, true to the topic, grammatically correct, well presented and useful to potential readers. The writer still has to work on their content.

SEO is not like a magic bullet that will raise the profile of your content if you don’t do your writing properly. Instead, SEO is an additional tool that, if used properly, can increase the visibility of content online, and thus drive online users to a specific Web site that contains the content. 

The trick lies in identifying keywords that are relevant to the subject matter of the content and making them prominent throughout the article. A keyword simply refers to a word used as a reference point for finding other words or information.

Such words may be used by viewers searching for information and help search engines to index the Web site that contains your content. Keywords must appear early in your copy so that they draw attention to themselves without appearing to be forced. 

In other words, keywords have to be creatively integrated into the structure and meaning of your copy. They must have a special character and idiosyncrasy that enhance the overall quality of the content. 

SEO can be thought of as a way of branding your content, dressing it with specially chosen words so that it pops up at the top of search engines and attracts users to visit the Web site. 

In marketing terminology, branding refers to nuanced ways to present a product or service in a way that makes it unique in the marketplace. In similar fashion, the use of keywords takes identifying the core message within the copy, and branding it appropriately so that online users and search engines can easily it.

It enhances the positioning of copy in the wide world of the web. In no way does SEO take away the hard work that a writer must put into making the article relevant and properly written. The fact of the matter is that, while content is the real equity of the online environment, in order to gain visibility, it must have merit.

Grammatical integrity and clarity must be a key consideration in your writing. Branding poorly written copy will not do either the writer or publisher any good as it may actually serve to drive away traffic.

The key is to ensure that content is so good that potential visitors build an emotional attachment to the specific Web site that they will come back to it while side-stepping search engines. 

Used appropriately, key can certainly boost SEO and, in the process, help to attract Web site visitors. While it’s usually the Web site publisher’s responsibility to identify keywords, the writer has to insure that the design and structure of how the keywords are incorporate makes the content unique and valuable. 

In many ways, the use of SEO is as good an art as the process of writing itself. According to Jill Whalen in an article titled “The Art of SEO: “The most important aspect to being a good SEO is creativity.

You shouldn’t worry too much about the specifics of putting keyword phrases here and there, and again over there.” It is important to use keywords in moderation; otherwise, the meaning of the copy becomes diluted, killing the communication process. 

Keywords must be sprinkled throughout your copy in strategic places that serve to make the content interesting and readable without giving a single hint to users.

Your content must remain in touch with your potential readership.