We all share our thoughts in more ways than one: on social media, in everyday conversations, and in other forms. It’s a kind of socialization where we exchange ideas and build personal, business, religious and political relationships. In 2021, your storytelling has to be more intentional, it has to be properly documented. Your story doesn’t necessarily mean an autobiography, it can be sharing your unique perspective on a subject. Books are forever and writing one is a sure way to outlive your lifetime.
Nobody Will Write Your Story Better Than You!
Your point of view is unique to you. I have a degree in Economics and I remember one of our lecturers always saying that “a thousand economists can have a thousand different perspectives of the same policy.” Your ability to tell your own story is a superpower, one that you cannot afford to lose. Your truths, your convictions, and your worldview are priceless, don’t rob the world of that exclusive contribution to the knowledge space. Authenticity is what makes a story powerful. When a fish tells you that water is wet, it’s speaking as an authority because it lives, breathes, and dreams about water.
Agenda Will Always Agend
Everybody, whether or not we acknowledge it, has an agenda. This agenda informs how narratives are spun, how history is recorded, and how strategic interests are communicated. Chinua Achebe put it this way, “until the lions learn how to write, the story will always glorify the hunter.” A typical example is the disingenuous narrative that Mungo Park “discovered” the River Niger. Before he showed up, were there not people already fishing there? This is one of the dangers of the single story.
I wrote in my book, The Franchise Players, that, “Whenever a person or a group of people wanted to control any civilization, they would shape narratives and somewhat rewrite the books that inform the actions of large communities or societies. History, as we know it, may just be the history that is convenient for those whose vested interests must be protected at all cost. It may be the sincere errors of our forebears. It may also be a necessary evil to bind the ghosts of the past for the future generations.”
One of the most profound ways of reaching a large number of people with your ideas is by writing a book. James Clear has reached (sold) at least three million people with his very instructive classic, Atomic Habits. That’s is a more effective route than if he were to physically travel the world to share those insights. Last year, someone read my essay that drew parallels to Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart and swore I must have known him personally – the truth is that he impacted me through his books, not that I have ever held a personal conversation or had a relationship with him.
Think about it, most of your worldview on certain topics were shaped by books. Till today, the images in My Book of Bible Stories live rent-free in my head! You can also use your book to position yourself as an authority or thought-leader in a specific field because writing itself is a measure of understanding. There are so many things in your head that a tweet or a full-length article cannot do justice to. Writing a book gives you the freedom to extensively put forward cogent ideas in a way that is satisfactory both to you as a writer and the readers.
When Amanda Gorman, the youngest presidential inaugural poet in US history stepped on the podium and delivered her now-famous piece, The Hill We Climb, little did she know that her life would never be the same again. The impact of her words was felt right there, from the Capitol to far-flung places of the earth she had never visited. Her Instagram grew by over three million in following, television networks and the rest of the media were falling over themselves to land an exclusive with her. Whilst all that exposure was good, those words are being put into a book with the foreword written by Oprah Winfrey and if the comments of her publisher about the demand for her book is anything to go by, she will be smiling to the bank for a very long time.
Most of the creatives from previous generations didn’t profit much from their craft. Their pockets didn’t match their popularity and their passion. This generation, thankfully owing to innovation, has learned how to walk and chew gum at the same time. Today, with your great content and a super marketing plan, you can earn some cool quid. The marriage of creativity and technology (automation) is one made in literary heaven. No longer will your income be nothing to write home about.
That’s not even the best part, this type of income is passive, meaning that you don’t have to be in the room to earn. You don’t have to quit your job or stop whatever endeavour you engage in, you can develop a plug-and-play system that works for you round the clock. You also earn perpetually because, for eBooks, you publish once and earn forever. For physical books, you can reprint more copies of the already developed content and continue earning. In a pandemic where events and movement are restricted, this is a steal.
When working with clients on their book projects, I discover that most of them have reservations about the word “legacy” – it is seen in many ways as stoking the fear of death. The first thing to note about legacy is that it isn’t just what people say about you after you’re dead, it’s the story you tell about yourself whilst you’re alive. Onyeka Owenu’s Memoir, My Father’s Daughter was written while she is still here. The Will to Win: The Story of Biodun Shobanjo – Nigeria’s ‘Czar of Advertising’ was written while he is still here.
Your legacy is something that is being curated in real-time; what we call the future is really a harvest of actions and inactions. At this moment, what you’re doing or not doing will form part of your legacy – what you will be remembered for. American movie icon, Cicely Tyson was fortunate to have her book, Just As I Am: A Memoir released just before her passing. On the other hand, there have been many attempts to correctly document the life and times of Malcolm X many years after his passing. The perks of writing your own story are that you accurately tell it and you get your flowers here and now.
Life is fleeting. The most humbling stat in the world is that everyone will die at some point; none of us is getting out of this alive. This should inform your perspective, instead of waiting until you’re on the brink, you can decide how you want that story to be told by the things you choose to do or not do. Writing a book is one of the ways to ensure your legacy is the greatest story ever told.