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Image by James Manyika

There isn’t one magical key to becoming a writer, neither is there one life-changing habit that guarantees success in literary pursuits. Sarah Ladipo Manyika says as much in a recent piece titled “What Virginia Woolf Forgot To Say.”

The author of Like a Mule Bringing Ice cream to the Sun attributes success in writing to surprisingly mundane practices like having a stable source of income, seeking out community, and getting sleep.

Writing can be a long and arduous affair—often thankless and unrewarded. For a chance to succeed at writing, it is important to develop habits that give you the means to stay the course. In the essay, Manyika’s writes about how to develop these habits and practices.

We’ve excerpted a few key moments in the essay and strongly encourage aspiring writers to read them and hold on to every word.

Enjoy!

Money:

Making a living from writing is hard and, unless financially independent, one thing a writer needs is the proverbial fairy godmother. This may be a partner, family member, government or institution in a position to support the writer’s career. Writing takes time and mental stamina, and in my experience, trying to squeeze it in around some other full-time occupation is nearly impossible.

Community:

A writer needs a community. What would a writer have to say if they kept all their thoughts to themselves? So many people contribute to a writer’s practice, which explains why many writers include an apology in their acknowledgement lists to those inadvertently forgotten.

Sleep:

Contrary to the popular myth of the writer that does without sleep, I can only work well if I’ve slept well. With good sleep I’m a more attentive listener and reader and more willing to try new things, all of which are vital for writing. Virginia Woolf once said that “one cannot think well, sleep well, love well if one has not dined well.” I’m sure she also knew that one cannot think well, love well or write well if one has not slept well too.

Read the full article HERE.

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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.

2 Responses to “Sarah Ladipo Manyika’s 3 Best Practices for the Aspiring Writer” Subscribe

  1. Lydia Oluchi February 27, 2017 at 11:59 am #

    If I could go back in time to advice my younger self, I’d say keep writing as a side gig until it becomes a financially viable venture that you can totally rely on. I learned that the hard way. While writing is a highly fulfilling and magical experience, it is not lucrative. So now I always advice younger ones, pursue your passion, but always have a backup plan. Very realistic advice from the author.

  2. WordsAreWork February 28, 2017 at 3:23 am #

    Loved this essay when I read it: brilliant. If you want more from Sarah, here’s this interview we did with her ar WordsAreWork under an African author interview series: http://www.wordsarework.com/why-not-write-sarah-ladipo-manyika/. Enjoy!

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