A Week In The Life” is a weekly Zikoko series that explores the working-class struggles of Nigerians. It captures the very spirit of what it means to hustle in Nigeria and puts you in the shoes of the subject for a week.
The subject of today’s “A Week In The Life” is an editor at Zikoko. They walk us through the best parts of the job, their least favourite parts and why they don’t announce in public that they write for Zikoko.
Work starts for me at 9 a.m. every day, but I wake up late today. The first thing on my mind as I roll out of bed at 9:20 a.m. is, “What will I eat this morning?” The next thing is, “I have to type my tasks for the day on the company’s Slack channel.”
Monday mornings can be a lot. I start my day by compiling a report of the articles I wrote the previous week: how many articles I wrote, how they performed and the challenges I faced. By the time I’m done with the report, it’s time for our weekly check-in meetings at noon, which I join virtually. During the meeting, I’m simultaneously microwaving “breakfast” while telling my colleagues about what tasks I did the week before. At some point, I mute my microphone to bless God for how delicious the food I’m eating is. It takes the voice of my managing editor asking me a question to shake me out of my food trance before I’m back to reality.
After the meeting ends at 1:30 p.m., I’m back in control of my day. Now, I have to write a listicle, schedule and write an interview for my mid-week flagship, send it to my editor for corrections, and still think actively about what to eat at night. No big deal — just another Monday morning in the life of an unreluctant adult.
I love my job, I really do. I enjoy writing things that make people laugh, pause and think about their lives. Sometimes, I aim to make people shake their heads at the silliness of an article or hiss. Ultimately, I try to at least get some reaction from the readers and also make the reading experience enjoyable for them. But the work also comes with its challenges.
I had to move the interview I scheduled yesterday two times during the day. When we finally had the conversation, I literally had to beg the person to talk freely. I left that interview at midnight, thinking that after all the stress I got nothing tangible.
Other days, I’m so stumped and I can’t be funny or cool or relatable. I can’t write anymore but I encourage myself to show up because it’s work and the show must go on.
Sometimes, a story takes longer than you expect to be ready due to various reasons, and you think it’s going to bang, but it doesn’t and you’re like: “Can you people just give me a chance? It’s funny and if you read it, you’ll like it.” Then there are articles you write that you don’t care about that end up sparking conversations and getting reshares, and you can’t wrap your head around it.
Another painful thing is having a story idea in your head, making calls for people to share their stories and people ignoring you. LMAO.
In the end, I enjoy overcoming these difficulties. I come to each draft completely clueless about what’s going to happen and by the time I’m done writing I’m positively surprised. Half of the job is working to create magic out of nothing. And when people are amazed, I’m also amazed at the output.
Finally, I’ve also learned to develop a thick skin from this job. Like today, a story I wrote did not do as well as I hoped. I just kept reminding myself that I am more than page clicks — if an article does good numbers I’ll be fine. If it doesn’t, I’ll also be fine.
The first thing I do this morning is to share my flagship draft with my editor, then the wait begins. First drafts are always a humbling experience. I’m usually amazed at how a story transforms from 0 – 100. The initial draft versus the final one never looks the same. While this is not a bad thing, a downside is that people read these stories and sort of place you, the writer, on some pedestal. And this breeds expectation of you by others.
My first instinct when I meet someone new is to not introduce myself as a Zikoko writer — this is not because I don’t love Zikoko or anything but because once people know I work at Zikoko, the way they treat me is different. I am no longer a person; I’m suddenly an ideal to them. This comes with expectations that I have to sound like my articles or be funny on demand.
It’s better when people get to know me first and my work comes in later as an added bonus to why I’m interesting. If work becomes the first point through which people interact with you, the whole interaction is defined by work and you go from being a person to being an ideal or a curiosity to be satisfied.
Another area I struggle with is in the fornication department. Sometimes I want to slide into someone’s DM that let’s be sleeping with each other, but I start to calculate and ask: What if they tweet about it? “A Zikoko writer entered my DM to sleep with me. Is this what Zikoko is breeding?”
Don’t bring my work into the fornication we want to do, please. It’s hilarious how people think that because I’m a writer, I’m bound to write on Zikoko if the sex was trash or not. Ọmọ, me sef I don’t have experience. If the sex was trash, I’d be too ashamed to write about it.
Last week, I told someone I was making plans with that I was a writer and they ghosted me. I wanted to find them and tell them I’m a fucking liar living a fake life, so there was nothing to be afraid of. If the tables turned today and the person came to work at Zikoko, they too would become a writer. Then maybe they would see that I’m a human being just like them.
I’m up early today for two reasons: first, to apply the edits to my flagship my editor made. Next, to brainstorm ideas for my daily article. I noticed that since I moved from consuming to creating, stories have lost some of the appeal they used to have for me. Creating takes away some of the magic because of the amount of structure that goes into making things “fun” on the consumer side of things: from ideation to interviewing people to the numerous edits.
Once I’m done applying the edits, my plan for today is simple: rediscover and engage the Zikoko website as a consumer and read as many things as possible. After all, a happy me is a happy Zikoko writer and this, in turn, leads to more fun content for the consumers. To me, this sounds like a win-win.