A MediVoice Special: Writer’s Interview with Steve Jegede

Hello Medivoicers. It’s another edition of the Writer’s interview and we’re spicing things up. This time around, we have Steve Jegede, a writer from Nigeria’s Premier University located in the brown roof city.

MediVoice: Let’s meet Steve Jegede. Tell us all about you.

I am Steve O. JEGEDE, a copywriter and SEO content writer, with over 5 years of experience. When I’m not alchemizing magic into words, I am a Law student at the University of Ibadan.

MediVoice: What does writing mean to you?

For me, writing is a lot. My tagline (also doubling as my WA Abour) goes, “Scribo, ergo sum”. It means, “I write, therefore, I am”. I got the inspiration for the phrase from René Descartes’s philosophical principle, “cogito, ergo sum”.

If writing suddenly stopped making me money today, I’d still keep doing it. A proportion of my conscious perception of self is attached to writing. I write for therapy; I write as a form of meditative expression; I write for clarity & I write for leisure. I have a habit of keeping journals too – no one gets paid for the content of their journals. And I write creatively, in poetry.

MediVoice: When did your writing journey begin and how has it progressed?

I never had a moment of epiphany in my journey as a writer. As a child (before age 10), I remember demonstrating more verbal intelligence than most of my peers. But that was mostly it. It started to make me stand out when I gained admission into secondary school. Being a mission school, I’d develop sermons to be delivered to the whole school, work on & partake in intra-school oratory/debate competitions and suchlike. Soon enough, my teachers noticed that my writing was, at least, above average. They’d give me (unpaid) assignments to write certain pieces for them, for different occasions. And when I turned these in, their gratitude would know no end.

I also remember times when we’d be given class works to write essays. And not once, not twice—while marking, my English teacher would call me and ask me if I’d lifted my essay from an internet source. At the time, the question was ridiculous because, “Ma’am, we’re in a boarding school, located in a remote village, miles away from any form of civilization. Plus, there’s no WiFi in this school. Where would I possibly have got access to the Internet?” At some point, she just stopped asking & started awarding me my deserved marks.

Then, in 2020, a lot happened. I had finished secondary school but there was covid lockdown and I was trapped at home, so I began entering into essay and poetry competitions. I won some and lost many. One of the contest I entered was for teens. Before the announcement date for the winners, one of the organizers chatted me up and informed me that I was among the top three contestants; but there was a little issue. Upon further discussion, I realized that the organizers couldn’t believe the essay had been written by a teenager. In their opinion, I either outsourced it or I was lying about my age. I had to show them my birth certificate as well as walk them through the process of my writing the essay before they believed it was my entry. I was the winner of the competition.

About a week later, I was with a friend when a strange number called. The caller had read my essay and he wanted me to work as an editor for his Port Harcourt-based local news agency. At that point in my life, begging my mom for data every market day was beginning to poke at my pride, so, I hopped on the offer. It was 6k per month, with 2GB of data. And the workload? I’d edit an average of three 300-word articles, every day. My dad told me right away that it was a terrible deal and I was being ripped off. But I had enough for data now; every other thing could go to hell.

I worked there for almost 2 months before I came to realize that, true to my dad’s better counsel, it wasn’t worth it. So, I resigned. But now, I knew I could get paid for my little hobby. And family friends also knew about my writing. So, recommendations here, unpaid word-of-mouth ads there and I began academic writing. Did that for 2 years. Then, I sauntered into sports writing… and it’s just been dabbling in one niche and another, ever after.

MediVoice: What challenges do you face as a writer and how have you been able to overcome them?

Writers are not respected enough. Previously I believed it was just a Nigerian thing; but I’ve worked with clients from different parts of the world, different continents and I’ve discovered that it’s a general thing. Everyone thinks, “Well, it’s writing. I can do it. I don’t need to drill a hole in my pocket to get anyone to do that for me”. It’s even worse with the rise of AI. Everyone now believes ChatGPT or some other system can help meet all their writing needs.

I like to think I’m a realist, so, I won’t bamboozle you with some pseudo-strategies in a bid to get the needed respect reposed in writers. I’m already learning a different skill – Cybersecurity. Once I hone this skill & get a well-paying offer, it’s bye-bye to commercial writing. I won’t ever stop writing—far from it. But I definitely will stop writing for others. I have plans to own a share of media – books, blogs podcasts – that will operate strictly on my terms.

MediVoice: What genres do you enjoy writing most and which do you enjoy least?

I enjoy poetry. I LOVE poetry. Never written it commercially though. The only times I’ve earned from it were in competitions. Aside from poetry, I love blog content writing. I enjoy the intense research that goes into curating factually correct articles on the Internet. In a way, in an age where there’s a lot of misinformation, I see it as an unpaid service to humanity. 

I don’t like academic writing. A friend calls it “blood money”. It pays nice but at what cost? Zombie appearance, eye bags, puffy face, receding hairline… LMAO. Please, take academic writing far away from me.

MediVoice: If you could meet one author who has inspired you, who would that be?

I’d say Robert Greene

MediVoice: Which book do you believe has the least hype but everyone should read?

The Alabaster Girl – Zan Perrion. Look past its subject matter, it’s the most poetic book I’ve read in all my life.

MediVoice: What’s the best piece you’ve ever come across?

Marcus Aurelius’ “Meditations”

MediVoice: What’s your best piece as a writer?

Most recently, I wrote for a foreign travel agency about the best destinations to visit in Ibadan, Nigeria. I still revisit the article often to glory in the work of my hand.

MediVoice: Do you have a pseudonym? If yes, what’s the inspiration behind it, if no, why?

I don’t have a pseudonym. Whenever I ghostwrite, which is almost all the time, the clients choose what name to publish it under.

MediVoice: What useful tips can you share with the newbie who wants to become a writer?

Read everything and anything. Read intentionally, critically, and soulfully. You’ll soon get to a point that, when you read well-written pieces, it sounds like music to your soul—there’s a subliminal rhythm to it.

Then, write! Experiment with different writing styles. Write on WhatsApp, in journals, on your Notes app, everywhere. Every opportunity to put words out is an exercise of your writing muscle. Let people know you for being the guy who cannot pass up an opportunity to write exhaustively. By the time you’ve reached these two points in your reading and writing, you’re a grandmaster yogi

MediVoice: How do you balance writing with law school?

Admittedly, I balance it poorly. I think balance is a myth. What’s more attainable is prioritization and self-management.

If you’re going to stand out at any endeavor, some other endeavor will suffer for it.

I doubt this is good advice, but what I do is this: the first few weeks of each semester, I double down on grinding. Very often, I miss classes so I can meet deadlines. Then, in those next few weeks leading to the exams, I take a backseat in my craft and become a student again. 😂 If they send me packing from school, what will I tell my father? It’s all about priorities—knowing the best time to indulge any one facet of your life.

MediVoice: Give a shout out to anyone in the world

@TellYourSonThis. He’s an anonymous Twitter user. I might not agree with several of his views, but he’s one of the few people I’ve read from who esteem writing to be the spiritual exercise that it is—not just a mindless activity done for the few bucks it might sometimes bring. And I respect him for that.

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