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Why You Must Trust Your Guts As A Writer

Why You Must Trust Your Guts As A Writer
Trust your guts

Photo Credit: h.koppdelaney via Compfight cc

We all have mentors and friends we look up to … people we draw inspiration and learn from.

That’s a good thing.

As a writer, I’ve got a couple of mentors. They keep me motivated always. And each time I see their giant strides, I get kicked in the ass, and I strive to be awesome too.

You have mentors too, I believe. If you don’t, you shouldn’t be a writer. Why? Because soon, you’ll exhaust all your ideas and motivations, and you know … that’s the end.

But there’s also the tendency to begin to see your mentor or revered friend as a demi-god or a know-it-all person. When that happens, you consume everything that person vomits without thinking.

You lose your independent judgment and creativity. Whatever you do, you seek his approval. When he nods at your work, you get jubilant. When he has reservations about it, you feel really miserable, and you hate your work.

In other words, you simply start to worship him. When you’re in that situation, my friend, you’re doomed.

My struggle against deification

Almost everyday, I meet or receive message from a writer who wants my opinion about his writing, the design of his blog and the book idea he’s got.

For some of them, I give my opinion while adding that it’s just my opinion and it’s not sacred.

For others, I simply keep silent. For instance, seeking my opinion on an essay contest entry you’ve already submitted will get you no response. Why? Because you should not grieve over what you’ve already submitted … something you can’t retrieve.

I’ve lost count of how many times someone has told me he wouldn’t enter an essay contest simply because I wanted to enter too. Each time, I’ve tried to make the person realize why he could enter and outshine me.

And because I joke I’d love to win 100 writing contests and I’ve won just 11, some have told me I should swiftly complete my target and leave the stage … for them to shine.

Two essay contests that show the truth

Last week was special for me: I won prizes in two national essay contests.

But the week is also symbolic for every discerning writer in this community: the two contests prove that anyone with guts can write well, and crush any competitor.

In the Young & Cerebral Essay Contest, there were three categories. Two of my readers, Abdul Abdullateef and Osita Crownwell respectively won the 1st prize and 2nd prize in my category. I emerged 3rd. Three of the other six winners are also my readers.

It was nice meeting and talking with them at Unilag FM. And you should have known how flattered I was when Abdul Abdullateef acknowledged me in the studio (even though I don’t see myself as having contributed to his writing proficiency).

For the National Orientation Agency (NOA) Essay Competition, at least 5 of my readers won cool prizes: Samuel Edet was 1st, Jonathan Olayinka Emmanuel was 8th, AdeBajo FisAyo AdeKunle was 12th, Irekeholar Abdul Hafeez was 13th and Charles Adekunle was 16th.

And my own position? I was 20th.

Coming to terms with reality

Now, what further evidence do you need that I’m no special? And if this not-so-special writer could win 11 essay contests, what stops you?

It really pays to have guts and trust your own abilities. Building a career as a writer isn’t about flair or discipline. It’s about guts. That someone speaks and the other gets inspired doesn’t mean the speaker knows better. [Tweet that]

So live as a real writer. Learn from all. Take the words of those you admire very seriously, but don’t become their slave. Appreciate all advice, but never take all … including this one.

Don’t be afraid to become your mentor’s competitor. And when you do so, go all out to outshine him. Not because you want to be arrogant or insolent … but just because you can excel, however tall your contender is.

So be courageous. Go get guts.

And to hell with all your ugly fears.

Question: How has reverence for a person fettered you from being independent? Share in the comments.

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-- Dr. Mahfouz A. Adedimeji | Fulbright scholar | Senior Lecturer, Unilorin | newspaper columnist

About Muhammed Abdullahi Tosin

Writer. Difference Maker. Entrepreneur. Author, Your Right To Write & Vertical Writing. Winner, 11 Writing Prizes.


  1. Salami taiye says:

    Wow. Just wow. I’m happy I finally read your article. You’ll be seeing more of me.

  2. It takes a lot of strength and humility for a person who is as respected as you are to come out and say; ‘hey, I am no-god I am human’, for many would have easily lost themselves in all the accolades. I doff my proverbial hat Sir.

    I was once a victim, and I almost stopped writing because most of those I referenced wrote with jaw-breaking vocabularies. I thought I would never be good enough since I could only write with simple words….but I was later able to break free from that shackle.

  3. Abdullateef says:

    fantastic and inspiring. keep the flag flying bro. well done

  4. Hmm! HUMILITY AND HARDWORK, I see this two as the basic criteria 4 livin , u have it all. Its a great thing (wat u’re doing).
    Wit ur words 2014’ll be gr8 for us upcoming writers.
    I am inspired by you Sire…

  5. Afraa A. Salim says:

    Hell yeah buddy!!!

  6. Real exhilarating and straight to the point. I am motivated, no doubt, time for action. Thanks alot

  7. Awesome write-up sir. inspired should be an understatment, am geared my accelerated by your essays. tnx man. looking forward to outshining you in an essay competition soo. still remain loyal sir

  8. Ayeyemi Taofeek Aswagaawy says:

    Uhnn! Mouth sealed but fingers typing.
    This piece is a powerful testimony for this blog and yourself. It makes me short of words thinking that my voyage for the past 5 weeks from the internet made miss a lot.
    Be that as it may, I’m always optimistic about joining you guyz on the vertical. Alexander Flemming fails 99 times before coming with LIGHT BULBS on the 100’s counts.
    I welcome myself back, doff for your my proverbial hat and delighted that I meet the house in a good and celebrating condition.
    With respect to the question, I was once a victim but by your posts, I’m no more.

  9. AAHE T.JAPHET says:

    like those words of your’s. please can you send me your blog URL to follow you up. i really want to.


  1. […] it guts, call it thick-skin, call it doggedness; I call it confidence. Whatever name you give to it, it […]

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