Home Essays Cmonionline Weekly Essay Competition: My Journey So Far by Bolaji Alade.

Cmonionline Weekly Essay Competition: My Journey So Far by Bolaji Alade.

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Not all heroes wear a cape, and without gainsaying, cmonionline embodies this truth. Although a modest online community, its reward for excellence and creativity, sound feedback mechanism and consistency for over six months is worthy of significant accolades.

Before I knew about cmonionline, at the risk of being immodest, I consider myself a good writer, at least when it comes to research essays. However, my love for writing was nothing to write home about. For me, writing was about building a portfolio and writing academic papers that boost my professional outlook and well doing the lord’s work through editing articles for family and friends.

When a good friend and brother, we share opportunities, told me about a new weekly writing competition, I was eager to know the niche the writing competition entertains. And I will tell you why. Scribbling creative stories does not excite me like reading it does. I would instead vote the General (Rtd) from Daura once again than write a beautiful story. Okay, that’s an exaggeration. But I hope it was sufficient to drive home my point.

Upon confirmation that cmonionline allows a participant to select either of three topics, I made up my mind I would give it a shot that week (Essay competition Week 3) and write a research essay come hell or high water. Nothing would deter me. And since nothing stops a determined man, I made good of my promise. Disappointedly, I didn’t win for a reason I do not agree with at that time. I now know better.

That essay was among the few submissions recommended by the judges as outstanding, but something was missing or putting it in the judge’s word, something was not “enough”.  According to them, I had conducted extensive research and failed to show my creativity. And honestly, that was not the case. And this will lead me to share a bit of what the build-up to all my entries look like. While I love to do research, I don’t begin by researching. I take a deep breath, assume an excellent posture, sometimes plug in an earphone, and then embark on meditation.

I think deep and then more profound till my mind draws ‘clear’ water from the well of wisdom. Then, I pen down these ideas, and after that, I research to find credible sources to back up my idea since no scholar exists in isolation, and no idea is utterly novel. And that was the same pattern my first cmonionline essay competition followed. But, alas! I took it to the extreme. I was so careful of making an assertion not backed up with factual evidence so much that it was impossible to identify any idea in my entry as ingenious. Therefore, although I didn’t win the laurel, I learnt a lesson. Which is, while it is okay to reference, let your innovative idea be noticeable. And armed with this knowledge, I won my next submission.

Soon, I began to try the impossible. Primarily influenced by judges comment on my abilities, I decided to leave my comfort zones and try out another niche. I wanted to write a story too, and this time, I wrote a story about myself, the important lessons I learnt early in life. This story wasn’t without recommendation by the judges, but that wasn’t the highlight for me. My satisfaction came from the comments people in my network who read it on my social media platforms made. Some were inspired to apply the lessons I shared; others were happy my story guided them, and a particular friend of mine pleaded, actually still begging; I don’t stop to share my story. Thus, my writing experience in the cmonionline community taught me yet another vital lesson. I should not just write to add to my professional outlook but to inspire change, spur growth and connect to my reader. And now, my love for writing is no longer “nothing to write home about”.

Furthermore, my writing experience with cmonline made me discover my forte in another writing area where I wouldn’t have thought I had a chance. Before my baptism into the cmoniline community, I love satire. I’ve read satirical pieces published by Elnathan John, and they excite me. Many times, in my head, I write beautiful satirical essays but never published any. Thus, on a particular week, I decided to do something different from the norm. I wrote a satirical piece, and guess what? It had the highest personal reviews have gotten in all my years of writing.

A friend would later send a mail telling me how fantastic the piece is and that I should always share my writings for her to consume. A particular judge would also commend on my humour’s skillful use to pass across valid messages in that essay. And again, cmonionline essay competition gave me the golden opportunity to bring to fruition a long term dream of being a satirist.

Through all these lessons, my approach to the weekly essay competitions is unchanging. I examine all the topics, with a bias towards politics and current affairs, of course, and decide which of the issues allow me to share my unique ideas. Once I figure that out, I conduct quality research to complement my ingenious ideas. After that I craft the ideas in beautifully knitted words that are easy to understand, even by an audience of average intelligence.

However, the quality of weekly essays published in cmonionline community generally could be a lot better provided writers would do their due diligence. And this requires but not limited to: using grammar checker apps to vet articles before publishing. This app does purge your work of spelling errors, inappropriate punctations, wordy sentences, and passive sentences, to mention a few. If you do this, judges will be less distracted by your mistakes and appreciate your display of knowledge more. Some of the popular grammar checker apps available are Grammarly, Pro Writing Aid etc. In the same vein, for accurate referencing, writers should consider free websites like citations.machine.net to assist them in making flawless referencing for their research essays.

Lastly, although underrated, every writer must proofread his or her work before final submission. A hack I found out is reading my work aloud. It helps to notice inconspicuous mistakes. You could also decide to read from the last paragraph to the first. This way, the natural flow of thought, which could distract you from seeing inevitable mistakes, is distorted and you won’t miss anything out.

In conclusion, there can’t be a holistic appreciation of the cmonionline community’s progress without a fair appraisal of the management team. The promptness in cash prize payment, among other good qualities enunciated earlier, is laudable. However, there is yet room for improvement, particularly in three regards. First, it would be nice if there is an automated mail response to acknowledge receipt of participants entry submissions via Email. Personally, there were days I went to bed in doubt if my essay submission via Email was received or got lost along the way due to network glitches.

Also, it is only suitable if the cmonionline social media handles are strictly for communicating information relevant to the community in tandem with the international standard. Case in point, using the community’s Twitter account to express personal opinions or vent on controversial issues is not ideal. Likewise, the quality of the community’s graphics design on social media is honestly getting better by the day, yet, there is still room for improvement. Long live Cmonionline!

 

Bolaji Alade is a 400 Level law student of the University of Ibadan with a keen interest in International Criminal Law, Journalism and Media & Entertainment Law.  He can be reached through mobolajijames23@gmail.com

 

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