Jackson Biko is passionate about writing. Reading through his blog, you can tell that he does not just do it to fill up his day (or his pages), but that he writes because he loves to do it. His posts are always lengthy giving the impression that he could go on and on given a chance. Which makes you wonder, has he ever thought of writing a book? He answered this question during his Masterclass at the Digital Camp.
Many are the readers who have asked him this same question. His answer “Kenyans want you to write a book but when you do, they will either not buy it, or they will borrow someone who has bought it and make copies for themselves.”
It’s one thing to write a book. But will people buy it? As for whether Biko will write a book any time soon or not, the answer is still out there.
The Creative Blogging session with Jackson Biko started at 11am on Saturday 7th at the Digital Camp in Naivasha. It was a cool morning, the sun only peeking through, as we gratefully relished the fact that it had not rained on the night that we had slept in tents – phew!
Biko’s masterclass started just after our tea break and since we were full (but not too much) from the snacking, and it was not hot, and it was not an afternoon with the scotching sun overhead and tummies full of heavy lunch (the food at the Digital Camp was good by the way), this was a session that had our full attention. It was set out to be laid back and engaging right from the get go.
He started out by confirming what we have always suspected – that he is indeed very passionate about writing. Then he went on to dish out tonnes of advice to writers from his own experience as a creative writing blogger.
We can start from the beginning – the first draft. After writing the first draft, let it simmer. Always. This way, you will see it with a fresh pair of eyes when you come back to edit it. Then you will see clearly what needs to be taken out, what needs to be tweaked around a little and what needs to remain as is.
Biko’s writing is lengthy. His posts mostly amount to 2,000 plus words. There is no science behind it, it is how he tells his stories and he never thinks about the word count. A member of the audience expressed their confusion because the message they had got from Caroline Mutoko’s session was that the digital space thrives on short precise information as opposed to lengthy writing.
Biko however begged to differ, saying that writing short posts does not help to promote the reading culture that we all want to see flourish. Whereas short to-the-point writing works in most instances, there is also an audience and some instances that accommodate the kind of writing that he does. I bet his audience will be pleased to note that we are not about to see him limit his writing to a shorter word count any time soon.
He intimated that when he sits down to write, he enjoys the writing process and it is always his hope that his readers will enjoy reading him as much as he enjoys writing for them.
He cautioned against creating blogs with the sole intention of making money. He instead advised writers to simply follow their writing passion, and the money will follow because money follows passion not the other way round.
On money matters, Biko candidly shared that when writing for a brand, always consider the person buttering your bread, don’t burn bridges and don’t take your fights online.
Don’t be a performer or a pleaser. Don’t play to the gallery, he cautioned. Simply tell your story.
The advice he had for budding writers who are struggling with their art was simple: Write. To be able to write well, one has to be able to write even when they don’t feel like it. And to run a creative writing blog, you have got to love words!
Biko has a Creative Writing Masterclass that you can sign up for by clicking on this link.