Is it not to write? I can do it.
I have been told this a few times because of how much I asked for in exchange for time at the writing desk, the thoughts (from years of experience) I would put into it, and the results such projects could generate. But recruiters don’t want to pay writers that much.
Why, you might ask?
Erm, one thing I’ve observed is that many people do not know the power of writing. So, today, after reading and listening to Chimamanda’s The Danger of A Single Story and Winston Churchill’s speeches again, I decided to make things clear. Let’s talk about how to change the world with words.
How can words inspire change?
Words are powerful. An African proverb says words can bring kola nuts (gifts) from a purse, and words can bring swords out of their pouches. If you look back from time, from Roman empires to the British kingdoms, there are a few ways to implement changes or pass messages from one nation to another or from one general to his army. Scrolls. Letters. Ravens. Some of these were documented.
Some of these letters changed the world.
Notable mentions of famous writings that changed the course of history include Henry VII’s letters professing love to Anne Boylen. It was an act preceding a reason for the British to change how they practiced Christianity.
Better examples include the Holy Bible and Holy Quran, which are letters, usually compiled or written from one prophet to a city or a household. Apostle Paul wrote many famous letters. The Bible and Quran are great books today as guides, a route to spirituality.
I can’t help asking myself if some of these great books were altered or written differently. We might be handling our religious ways differently.
If you want to see the power of writing, just take a minute or two to watch a religious gathering. See how many people are listening with intent and how many people are experiencing transcendence based on what is written in these books.
How did writing change the world?
Think about books and the authors who wrote them. Today’s fiction books, for instance, have been revolutionized from enormous volumes of tales to smooth sentences that flow like pouring juice into an ice-filled cup.
There are many other examples of how authors and society shifted from one way of doing things to another, and writing has a way of revolutionizing concepts and creating new cultures.
Changing the History of Literature
Let’s go back in history a little to 1597.
In every fiction genre you have read, someone has worked on something that gives birth to the next. So, if you trace the history of romance writing or stage drama back to the early years, you will get to a point where you would have Romeo and Juliet in your hands. (I could say the same of Jane Austen, but let’s go a little back than that). Shakespeare was not the first writer to write plays or romance, but his contribution is well known. He had been a step up at the point of what was already written.
Things Fall Apart
The same can be said of a few writers in African history. In the history of African (Nigerian) literature, we have Things Fall Apart; though there were other forms of written literature (such as G. O Fagunwa’s books), Things Fall Apart did set things apart and went far and wide to spread the beauty of African literature than any one of its predecessors. It’s a step up, an advancement, to what has already been created.
Fifty Shades of Grey/Harry Potter
These are books that create new genres out of existing genres. You have read romance books before, but what is that erotic romance that broke the record and brought the lights to an area previously dark or not well-acknowledged?
You have read other fantasy books, but there were rarely baby sorcerers until Harry Potter. Sorcerers used to be aging men with white hair and cloaks. Sorceresses used to be women with grey eyes and beauty that didn’t exist anywhere else (or they’re probably blind). Harry Potter creates something, and many books and movies followed with books and films that have a ‘school of magic.’ Oh, that was not a thing before then. Or, it was not presented the way the book did.
Looking at each of these examples, you see the power of writing. History was made. Perception of a continent was changed. But let’s not dive deep into the abundance of things like the wealth of ideas and financials created from such books. These books have become a foundation of millions of dollars in franchises. Many other authors and movie producers have been inspired by books (Fifty Shades of Grey or Harry Potter). They used ideas generated from these books already to create wealth (fortunes, in fact) and more materials.
The Power of Writing
The power of writing can be immense when the writing is good. Sometimes, the effect surprises the author behind the pen.
Writing and political movements and activism
Martin Luther King
One of the most famous speeches of all time was written by Martin’s friend. MLK’s message was clear since the beginning of his campaign, but the speech was one of the vocal points of his activism. Many remember it and still sing it today, proving that good writing does not only have a big influence immediately, but that influence can spread to generations and generations.
He was a famous president who ruled in times of unrest and war. So, he was expected to give speeches and words of encouragement to both the generals on the war fronts and the citizens of his country. Wiston, the son of Churchill, was one of the finest speechgivers. Though he might not have been the author of what was said, he embodied it and showed the charisma to get things done whenever he had to stand before his people and say a few words.
Let me say that I am not advocating controversy… On the contrary, I say, let pre-war feuds die; let personal quarrels be forgotten, and let us keep our hatreds for the common enemy.
“Let party interest be ignored, let all our energies be harnessed, let the whole ability and forces of the nation be hurled into the struggle, and let all the strong horses be pulling on the collar.”BBC
Abundance of LETS. That’s a writing trick to keep the listeners attentive and remind them that ‘let’ is a collective responsibility.
While learning copywriting and content writing, I heard about Churchill and observed some of his speeches to learn why they had the effect they had. What is it about them? They were not just sentences but these words arranged to echo encouragement and uplift the listeners.
We will get to the element of good writing later and why some work and others don’t. If you want to write the kind of things that move a country to change their views about a subject or make them see the things you want in a new light, you have to present your sentences in a certain way. You have to be a sorcerer. But all you have are words and a blank page. Not so many use that to achieve something significant.
The power of writing.
Authors reshape/contribute to the political landscape.
One of the powers of writing is that it sometimes hands wordsmiths more power than they ask for. I was listening to Chimamanda’s interview once, and she said, sometimes, I don’t want to have an opinion about something. But the world we live in isn’t structured that way.
Great writers are considered intelligent, and people want to know what intelligent ideas such people have about topics. In history, many authors have used the chance to write at a bigger stage to ask important questions and challenge the status quo. Famous names include Aristotle, Karl Marx, George Orwell, and others. Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own is still referenced today as a part of feminist moments to give women the freedom they deserve. Chimamanda’s The Danger of A Single Story is a request to be open-minded, to be more curious, and to seek more information than what the media tells you.
You might ask, that’s a speech; how does that relate to the power of writing? And the answer is — my answer is — they are written before they are read. Even in instances where speeches were not first written, they are premeditated so that only intelligent writers or people famous for writing intelligently can give such speeches.
Writing is at the center of the entertainment industry.
I started my points about the power of writing by talking about books. But that’s just one out of all the types of entertainment out there. Many forms of entertainment rely on writing: books, games, movies, series, and theater. We have a lot of writing types that spread across many entertainment forms. Sometimes, a good book (manuscript) is turned into films (scripts) and then games (game scripts). Sometimes, it starts with a few hundred pages, then becomes something big, really big, that employs people for years to come. And there are people on the other end, the consumer or public, who get the uttermost satisfaction from such a piece of writing.
Writing and culture and education
Does writing affect culture? I will say yes, to an extent, it does, but it depends on the type of writing and the government’s perception of the writing.
Good books are incorporated into the academic curriculum every time, and the details are studied in classrooms. This is a great value. I grew up reading excerpts of Things Fall Apart. Through the book, we talked about our culture in classrooms. We appreciate it a lot more.
If you read about people like Toni Morrison, you see a woman who started putting people like herself in books. Amazing history. Before that, some areas of black history were NOT well-represented in fiction books. She did something about it: the power of pen.
Another question you can ask yourself is how humans pass knowledge from generation to generation, and you will find your answers in libraries, made in hardcovers, or online in ebook and pdf formats. Although there are a lot of video teachings nowadays, the percentage of people who prefer books and writing is on the greater side. For me, videos move too fast. While I read, I feel I can control my reading pace much better.
Some of the essential attributes of powerful writing
There is no way we will talk about the power of writing without talking about an important element that makes it powerful.
Let me be clear: I am not talking about good writing (or a writing process) but powerful writing. They look alike, and one can become the other depending.
Is it powerful if I write an essay and a professor edit and make it perfect?
The answer is ‘probably.’
Now, let me ask again: Is it powerful if Chimamanda writes an essay? Yes, it is.
What if the president read my essay to the world? Will it be powerful? Yes, it will.
You’re getting my point.
These are the silent but often important features of powerful writing
- Name, who is writing it?
- Credibility: How much do people think the author knows?
- Integrity: How much respect is accorded to the author on the topic?
- Lastly, combining writing with a few genres or media can create great results. I publish this on my blog; it will be a different thing entirely if it appears in New York Mag. What if my name is Neil Gaiman?
It takes time and a bit of luck to get to that stage where your writing can push people to bring their cards out of their pocket or motivate an army of soldiers to set out their artillery and put their lives on the like to defend their country.
You can read my other posts on how to get rich writing.
Check out my books on Amazon.
Thank you for reading. Check out my books by clicking the ‘buy my books’ on the menu at the top.