This interview has a truckload of nuggets for every freelancer! Speaking with Oluwas tomiwo Akinyemi was an experience in itself!
Akinyemi Oluwatomiwo Iyanuoluwa is a Nigerian from the southwestern part of Ondo State. He majored in English and literary studies at Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba Akoko. He is passionate about the performing arts and this birthed his passion at such an early age for dramatic arts, script writing and poetry. According to him, he can only be grateful that he found this at such an early age and in turn found purpose.
Enjoy our interview with him!
How long have you been writing?
(Chuckles) I wrote my first book in a notebook titled ” Joash the Obedient” around 1999. The book teaches children about being good, respectful and the positive ideals that define a person in the society and above all to serve and honour God.
The sad news is I never got to publish it. I ended up misplacing the manuscript when we moved to our new house but the truth is that moment gave birth to something that has been nurtured ever since.
But I started taking writing seriously in 2010 and this was influenced in part due to my passion for arts and my course of study.
How long have you been freelancing?
Honestly, I don’t actually remember the year. To put a time stamp, I’d say like 5years ago. You can find me on Instagram @penmarktomdoc.
In the course of your freelancing, what are some of the challenges you faced and how did you overcome them?
The main challenge has to do with your audience. Many people write without a target audience in mind. When you know your audience, you will be fine. When you write for yourself, it’s not really writing because the reason why you write is for your work to get noticed and also for it to have a positive effect on people and if that is not achieved then the purpose of writing is defeated. The challenges are more of having to balance writing with other commitments but it has to do with creating time to do it as long as you are passionate about it because “without passion, there is no action”.
I can honestly state that the social media has made it easier to get my work out there and all you need to do is have a phone or digital device that is internet friendly and you are good to go.
All these platforms helped to overcome whatever challenges along the line and because of this, I know how my readers relate to my writing and before the end of this year, my first published work will be out.
What are your favourite tools for working?
Some of my favourite tools are Quotes creator, Textgram, Notegraphy. They help to give expression to my thought. It is also important to always keep a journal with you cause you never know when the stream of inspiration will flood your mind.
Tell us about your works?
My work centres basically on issues that plague the human existence. The desire to find love, the understanding of hate, nationhood, the questions that centre around existence and making meaning out of life in terms of finding purpose despite the hunting nature of time.
All these motivations help to create answers to the mind boggling questions of life.
How do you motivate yourself to write?
I motivate myself in a lot of ways because, without motivation, the mind is locked up. One of such ways is through music. I love this Nigerian gospel musician named Nathaniel Bassey. His songs are powerful and full of depth… I also motivate myself by reading books and this is effective in that while growing up, my parents couldn’t afford to buy you games and other fun stuff but they made sure they got you books to read. My Mum is a seasoned author so also is my eldest brother Tolu Akinyemi who writes poetry for people who don’t like poetry and through his unique mode of poetry, I am inspired in a lot of ways. I am reading “Your Father Walks Like a Crab” right now which is the first instalment of poetry for people who don’t like poetry.
I also go on strolls to clear my head and refresh my mind.
What is something you’ve learnt about freelancing that others can learn also from?
One lesson I have learnt is that people will always be out there to discourage you but it is important to always encourage yourself.
It is also important to know why you are writing. If it is because everyone is, you won’t last in the profession but if it’s your passion, nothing can kill that fire which is burning in you so it is important to keep writing. It might not be a beautiful read at first but trust me it will get better. Just believe in yourself.
Tell us about one of your works you consider as your favourite.
I don’t think I have a favourite work but if I am to reluctantly pick one,
It will be “For the love of my Pride” a short story that was inspired by a poetry collection I read entitled “The Song’s of a Shattered S-k-y” by Tosin Gbogi. The story captures the political situation in Nigeria. Such as issues that have to do with governance such as corruption, insecurity, unemployment and other social realities. The setting is a pub which mirrors how Nigeria’s political scene is like a pub where those in power drink to stupor and squander our resources, loot the treasury to satisfy their selfish intents while those they ought to serve have become servants scouring for left over.
What is your best writing tip?
My best writing tip is first, lock out that outside voice that wants you to think its impossible. You must always move with a journal, pen or better still a recorder everywhere you go because we live in inspiration and you as a person is a walking inspiration.
What is your best freelancing tip?
Don’t be bigger than yourself. Every opportunity to make an impact and write, you have to take it no matter what. I believe with writing, you have to be proactive and ambitious.
What advice would you give to a budding freelancer or writing?
I’ll advise a budding freelancer to keep enjoying what you do. The more you enjoy it, the better and proud you become for it.
You also have to focus on yourself, not on others. It is not a competition, it is a movement and once you believe you chase a common goal, you will be fine.
Most importantly, your message must not be lost. If your work loses its message, it is a mess.