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T he month of March—Women’s History Month—has been great, but it’s coming to an end

We invite you to join us in celebrating African women writers who inspire us with their work and their wisdom.

nnedi-okorafor

Nnedi Okorafor (Nigerian), author of Lagoon

Don’t talk about writing. Don’t whine about writing. Don’t spend all your time obsessing over who wins what award. Write. And then edit. And edit again. Put in the work. Put in the time. Don’t try to get published too early. Don’t focus on making money or receiving praise, focus on been the best writer you can be.

lauren-beukesLauren Beukes (South African), author of Broken Monster

Finish the damn book. You don’t know what you have until you’ve finished it. You don’t know how to fix it until it’s all down on the page. There is no magical motivation fairy. Success is 10% talent, 10% luck, and 80% blood, sweat, tears and determination.  If you want to write you won’t find the time, you will make the time. I wrote a novel at night when I had a three-month-old daughter and a full-time job. Remember that first drafts are always messy but you can fix them. You learn how to write by writing. I found having a deadline worked well for me when I was studying creative writing at UCT.

petina-gappahPettinah Gappah (Zimbabwe), author of An Elegy for Easterly.

I love…being a lawyer, and I love writing. But as I want to do both, I realised right at the beginning that I needed to find a way to fit my writing into my life. The most obvious thing seemed to be to create a longer day, so I get up very early around 4, 4:30, then I write, and around 7:30 I stop and the rest of my day follows.

taiye-selasiTaiye Selasi (Ghanaian), author of Ghana Must Go

Every blocked writer [thinks he or she will never write again]. That’s what makes writer’s block so painful. You think the well has run dry, maybe somewhere in the heavens the tap has been turned off. That’s beyond frightening. That has nothing to do with deadlines, contracts signed or advance money spent, that has to do with the fear of losing your joy, your love. I was heartbroken. But then of course I was really heartbroken. I was heartbroken by the man I was foolishly dating at the time. Then I was able to finish the book!

adichie13Chimamanda Adichie (Nigerian), author of Americanah

Ask questions. Never pretend to know what you don’t know, otherwise you will never learn. Read books. Do things properly. Do not write formal emails in text language where ‘you’ is one letter of the alphabet. Don’t be fake. You are more interesting as you truly are. Don’t measure yourself using another person’s yardstick. Be curious about the world. Be kind. Don’t be quick to judge, think carefully about things before you pass judgment. Try and learn something new every day. Don’t decide not to try something because you are afraid you will fail. Every successful person has failed at something. Think of it like this: you might fall down but if you fall down you can stand up and try again.

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I hold a doctorate in English from Duke University and recently joined the Marquette University English faculty as an Assistant Professor. I love teaching African fiction and contemporary British novels. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

4 Responses to “Quotes from Five African Women Writers to Help You Jumpstart Your Writing Dreams” Subscribe

  1. CAMBABOOKS April 1, 2015 at 9:18 am #

    Extremely inspiring words from the very best of Africa’s female writers. Should be framed and hung on the walls of aspiring writers – like me! Thanks for sharing!

  2. CAMBABOOKS April 1, 2015 at 9:23 am #

    Inspiring words from Africa’s best! Thanks for sharing.

  3. NURUDEEN March 4, 2016 at 3:02 am #

    How I wish to get a trustworth publisher.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Chimamanda: Don’t be fake. | Kalunde's Scribbles - March 26, 2015

    […] I stumbled on a link on my Facebook timeline about quotes from five African writers. One was from my favourite writer, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. It was even more profound for me […]

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