Credit: Victor Dlamini

Six African writers talk about their books and what works for them while writing. And of course, share some writing tips for the aspiring author. Pioneering this series is Yewande Omotoso, author of The Woman Next Door. Enjoy!

…find yourself a good reader – Yewande Omotoso

My process of writing is seldom from one single idea. Rather a better way of thinking about it is that there are always many ideas and images and thoughts. And at some point, I pick one or a few as a jumping off point for starting a new book. I start wondering. Let’s say I spend a year wondering. When I say ‘wonder’, this primary activity involves other secondary activities such as reading a huge amount of other fiction as well as non-fiction books on various relevant themes. As well as watching the world, observing myself and my surroundings with my novel as a lens; sifting through the events of life with my project in mind and recording what seems significant even if I don’t know why.

Now that I’m writing my third book, I can see a few patterns. The observing and collecting, the note-taking without necessarily knowing where things belong, figuring that out later. With my second book I started using Excel to create spreadsheets that cover the years of my characters’ lives, mini biographies. There are also patterns of despair, of thinking no one cares, no one will read this, patterns of doubt. It’s comforting to see these recur because these spells also pass and life continues and though nothing seems particularly typical right now as I’ve been travelling a lot, ideally I like to wake up and write. Wake at 5 am or so and write for a few hours before other tasks demand attention. I like to get 1000 words down at least and I’m not particularly precious about these 1000 words, I trust there will come a time in the process when I will have to be painstaking about them but with the initial draft I am very kind with myself and everything is permitted and fine. Apart from the writing, I carry a notebook around with me and write things down by hand through the day: thoughts, dialogue, characteristics, scenes observed and so on.

I seem to take two to four years to finish up a manuscript. I haven’t, up till now, had the experience of writing one up in a couple of months. Instead my process seems to involve stretching it over quite some time (juggling it with other activities), like a fine net over several years of my life, the novel is a kind of long-term climate versus flash flood. It takes a lot of patience but I also allow myself to luxuriate in the activity of writing.

I’m wary of general tips in something as vast as writing because I think almost every tip is right for some and not so right for others; or right for this period but not for that. Perhaps a fairly safe and sensible tip is to find yourself a good reader. This is distinct from friend, mother or lover although they might coincide. Find someone who is interested in your improvement, whose reading is excellent and whose opinion you are willing to hear and, however challenging to you, open to heeding. Being obsessive seems a requirement. Being interested. Being willing to notice. When it comes to blockages, I find Julia Cameron’s Morning Pages really effective, this concept of free writing or writing with lots of permission. Perfectionism is useful at certain (often later) stages of the project but can be incredibly crippling in the early times. It might be strange advice but I think “being well” is important. Or as stated in the Desiderata (a text I got acquainted with through many hours of detention in high school!): …whatever your labors and aspirations, / in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace with your soul.

  • Yewande Omotoso was born in Barbados, she grew up in Ile-Ife, Nigeria and Cape Town South Africa and currently lives in Johannesburg. An architect, she completed a Masters in Creative Writing at the University of Cape Town. Her debut novel ‘Bomboy’ (Modjaji Books), was shortlisted for the 2012 Sunday Times Fiction Prize, the MNet Film Award and the 2013 Etisalat Prize for Literature. It won the South African Literary Award First Time Author Prize. Her short stories include ‘How About The Children’ in Kalahari Review, ‘Things Are Hard’ in the 2012 Caine Prize Anthology, ‘Fish’ published in The Moth Literary Journal and ‘The Leftovers’ in One World Two. Yewande was a 2013 Norman Mailer Fellow and a 2014 Etisalat Fellow. In 2015 she was a Miles Morland Scholar. Yewande’s second novel ‘The Woman Next Door’ (Chatto and Windus) was published in May 2016.
DON’T MISS OUT!
Subscribe To Newsletter
Be the first to get latest updates and exclusive content straight to your email inbox.
Stay Updated
Give it a try, you can unsubscribe anytime.

174 COMMENTS

  1. It’s the best time to make some plans for the longer term and
    it’s time to be happy. I have read this submit and if I may I desire to counsel you
    few interesting things or suggestions. Maybe you could write next
    articles regarding this article. I want to read even more things about it!

  2. I enjoy you because of all of the effort on this blog.
    Gloria really loves setting aside time for research and it’s really easy to understand why.
    All of us know all about the powerful form you convey functional ideas by means of this web site and even invigorate participation from some others on that
    concept then our favorite simple princess is now understanding so much.

    Enjoy the remaining portion of the new year.
    You are always performing a very good job.

    my website 39.100.90.4

  3. Wonderful beat ! I would like to apprentice whilst
    you amend your website, how can i subscribe for a blog
    website? The account aided me a appropriate deal.
    I had been a little bit familiar of this your broadcast offered vivid clear idea

    My web site … slboos.com

  4. Thanks a bunch for sharing this with all people you really realize
    what you are talking approximately! Bookmarked. Please
    also discuss with my site =). We could have a link alternate agreement among us

    My homepage; 2xueche.com

  5. Have you ever thought about writing an e-book or guest authoring on other blogs?

    I have a blog centered on the same ideas you discuss and would love to have you share some stories/information. I know
    my viewers would appreciate your work. If you are even remotely interested, feel free to shoot me an e mail.

    My web blog: bbs.yunweishidai.com

  6. Definitely believe that which you stated. Your favorite reason seemed to be on the internet the
    easiest thing to be aware of. I say to you, I certainly get irked while people think about worries
    that they just do not know about. You managed to hit the nail upon the top and also defined out the whole thing without having side effect
    , people could take a signal. Will likely be back to get more.
    Thanks

    Here is my page :: kebe.top

  7. Hello would you mind letting me know which hosting company you’re
    working with? I’ve loaded your blog in 3 completely different
    internet browsers and I must say this blog loads a lot quicker
    then most. Can you suggest a good hosting provider at a reasonable price?
    Kudos, I appreciate it!

    Stop by my blog: clubriders.men

  8. I must express my thanks to the writer for bailing me out of such a condition. As a result of researching
    through the search engines and finding opinions that were
    not pleasant, I assumed my entire life was over.
    Living without the presence of strategies to the difficulties you’ve
    sorted out through your entire review is a critical case, as well as the kind that might have in a negative way damaged my career
    if I had not encountered your web blog. Your personal expertise and
    kindness in handling all the details was important.
    I’m not sure what I would’ve done if I hadn’t come upon such a stuff
    like this. I am able to at this moment look forward to my future.

    Thanks a lot so much for your impressive and
    result oriented help. I will not think twice to propose
    the website to any individual who will need counselling about this problem.

    Here is my webpage: vntong.com

  9. Thank you for your entire hard work on this web site. Gloria really loves getting into investigation and it is obvious why.
    I notice all concerning the dynamic mode you render
    good secrets via your web site and in addition invigorate response
    from other people on this concept and our
    princess has been starting to learn a lot. Take advantage of the rest of the new year.
    Your performing a stunning job.

    Here is my website; http://www.1stanapa.ru

  10. I don’t drop a comment, but after reading a few of the
    responses on My Writing Day (and other tips): Yewande Omotoso |Praxis Magazine for Arts & Literature.
    I do have a couple of questions for you if it’s okay.
    Could it be only me or do a few of these remarks come across as if they are left by brain dead folks?

    😛 And, if you are posting on additional sites, I’d like to
    keep up with you. Could you list of every one of
    your social networking pages like your linkedin profile, Facebook page or twitter
    feed?

    Feel free to visit my homepage; Del

  11. I drop a leave a response when I like a post on a
    website or if I have something to valuable to contribute to the discussion. Usually it’s caused by the passion displayed in the post I read.
    And on this article My Writing Day (and other tips): Yewande
    Omotoso |Praxis Magazine for Arts & Literature.
    I was excited enough to create a comment 🙂 I actually do
    have some questions for you if it’s okay. Could it be simply me
    or do some of these remarks come across like they are written by brain dead visitors?
    😛 And, if you are writing on additional online sites, I’d like to follow you.
    Could you list the complete urls of all your shared pages like your twitter feed, Facebook page or linkedin profile?

    Also visit my website Green Country Growers
    CBD; https://bibliodigital.escoladocaminho.com/index.php?action=profile;u=20165,

  12. Thank you so much for giving everyone an update on this theme on your website.
    Please realise that if a brand new post becomes
    available or in the event any variations occur on the current posting, I would be considering reading a lot more and finding out how to make
    good usage of those techniques you write about.
    Thanks for your time and consideration Greens Of Bliss CBD Reviews
    (https://bbs.yunweishidai.com/forum.php?mod=viewthread&tid=1222472) others by making this blog available.

  13. Hi, i read your blog occasionally and i own a similar one and i was just curious if
    you get a lot of spam comments? If so how do you stop it, any plugin or anything you can advise?
    I get so much lately it’s driving me mad so any assistance is very much appreciated.

  14. I think everything published was very logical. However, what about this?
    what if you added a little information? I am not saying your information is not good, but what if you added something that grabbed a person’s attention?
    I mean My Writing Day (and other tips): Yewande Omotoso |Praxis Magazine for Arts & Literature is a little plain. You
    should look at Yahoo’s front page and note how they write news titles to grab viewers to click.
    You might add a related video or a picture or two to grab people excited about what
    you’ve written. Just my opinion, it might make
    your posts a little bit more interesting.

    my web site; https://contabledf.com/2020/09/08/como-leer-mi-recibo-de-sueldo/

  15. But small web sites with limited readership shouldn’t get too upset if they aren’t overflowing with comments. Not every reader is going to have something to say about every post and the fewer readers, the less chance of a comment.
    How do you know if you get “enough” comments? Beats me, but if YOU don’t think you are getting enough, you are probably right..
    카지노사이트

  16. Really comments are great and a yardstick of popularity and good content. But one thing when we see some comments for a post we also tempt to comment two lines. Am I correct?
    You really grabbed my attention now! I’ll use this on my blog and I think I learned the most of blogging from you. Thanks buddy,
    카지노사이트

  17. Sometimes we over think what we’re doing and try too hard to achieve a certain result, even if we’re not aware we’re doing it at the time.
    I’m starting to put an emphasis on asking specific questions related to my content. I’m JUST starting the blog so I haven’t had any comments yet but I feel the more specific the question, the more I will probably get comments (once I gain a readership). As an example, instead of just “what do you think?”, I might ask whether they do “this” or “that”?
    카지노사이트

  18. An impressive share! I’ve just forwarded this onto a coworker who had been conducting a little research on this.
    And he actually bought me lunch because I discovered it for him…
    lol. So let me reword this…. Thanks for the meal!!
    But yeah, thanx for spending some time to talk about this topic
    here on your site.

    my homepage; Vital Max XL Reviews

  19. I must thank you for the efforts you have put in penning this website.
    I am hoping to view the same high-grade content from you later on as
    well. In truth, your creative writing abilities has inspired me to get my own blog
    now 😉

  20. Excellent post. Keep posting such kind of information on your blog.

    Im really impressed by your site.
    Hello there, You’ve performed an excellent job. I’ll certainly digg it and for my part suggest to my friends.

    I’m confident they’ll be benefited from this web site.

  21. Its like you read my thoughts! You seem to grasp so much approximately this,
    such as you wrote the e-book in it or something. I feel that you could do with a few % to power the
    message home a bit, however instead of that, this is excellent blog.
    An excellent read. I’ll certainly be back.

  22. Hello there! I could have sworn I’ve been to this site before but after reading through some of the post I
    realized it’s new to me. Nonetheless, I’m definitely happy I
    found it and I’ll be bookmarking and checking back often!

  23. Hi, I do believe this is a great site. I stumbledupon it 😉 I will revisit once again since I bookmarked it.
    Money and freedom is the greatest way to change, may you be
    rich and continue to guide others.

  24. I just like the valuable info you provide in your articles.
    I will bookmark your blog and check again here regularly.
    I am somewhat certain I will be informed a lot of new stuff proper here!
    Good luck for the following!

  25. hi!,I love your writing very a lot! percentage we communicate extra approximately your article on AOL?

    I need an expert on this space to resolve my problem. Maybe
    that is you! Looking forward to peer you.

  26. I am curious to find out what blog system you are working with?
    I’m having some minor security issues with my latest blog and I would like
    to find something more risk-free. Do you have any suggestions?

  27. Hi! I could have sworn I’ve been to this site before but after browsing through some of the post I realized it’s
    new to me. Anyways, I’m definitely delighted I found it and I’ll be bookmarking and
    checking back often!

  28. We’re a bunch of volunteers and starting a brand new scheme in our community.
    Your web site offered us with valuable info
    to work on. You have performed an impressive activity and our whole community
    might be grateful to you.

  29. Hello, i read your blog from time to time and i own a similar one and i was just
    wondering if you get a lot of spam responses? If so how do you stop it, any plugin or anything you can suggest?
    I get so much lately it’s driving me mad so any help is
    very much appreciated.

  30. Magnificent beat ! I would like to apprentice while you amend your website, how can i subscribe for a blog site?

    The account aided me a acceptable deal. I had been a little bit acquainted of this your broadcast offered bright clear concept

  31. hey there and thank you for your info – I have definitely picked up anything
    new from right here. I did however expertise some technical points using this website,
    since I experienced to reload the site lots of times previous
    to I could get it to load properly. I had been wondering if your web host is OK?
    Not that I’m complaining, but slow loading instances times will sometimes affect your placement
    in google and could damage your quality score if advertising
    and marketing with Adwords. Anyway I am adding this RSS to my email and could look out for a lot more of your
    respective intriguing content. Ensure that you
    update this again very soon..

    Here is my webpage Eggplant Explosion Male Enhancement

  32. It’s a pity you don’t have a donate button! I’d most certainly donate to this fantastic blog!
    I guess for now i’ll settle for book-marking and adding your RSS feed to my
    Google account. I look forward to new updates and will talk about this website
    with my Facebook group. Talk soon!

    Feel free to surf to my web page – Slimingo Keto

  33. Hmm it seems like your site ate my first comment (it was extremely long) so I guess I’ll just sum it up what I had written and say, I’m thoroughly enjoying your blog.
    I as well am an aspiring blog blogger but I’m still
    new to everything. Do you have any suggestions for first-time blog writers?
    I’d definitely appreciate it.

  34. I’m really inspired together with your writing abilities as neatly as with the structure to your blog.

    Is this a paid subject or did you customize it your self?
    Either way stay up the nice high quality writing, it’s uncommon to see a great
    blog like this one today..

  35. Hi there great blog! Does running a blog such as this require a massive amount work?
    I’ve no knowledge of programming but I had
    been hoping to start my own blog in the near future.
    Anyhow, if you have any suggestions or techniques for new blog owners please share.
    I know this is off topic however I just wanted to ask.
    Thank you!

  36. Hi! Do you know if they make any plugins to help with SEO?
    I’m trying to get my blog to rank for some targeted keywords but I’m not seeing very good results.
    If you know of any please share. Thanks!

  37. Hi there! I know this is kinda off topic but I was wondering if you knew where I could get
    a captcha plugin for my comment form? I’m using the
    same blog platform as yours and I’m having problems finding one?

    Thanks a lot!

  38. Hi great website! Does running a blog similar to this take a
    large amount of work? I’ve virtually no understanding of programming
    however I had been hoping to start my own blog soon. Anyway, if you have any recommendations
    or tips for new blog owners please share. I understand this
    is off subject nevertheless I just wanted to ask.
    Cheers!

  39. You really make it appear really easy together with your
    presentation but I find this matter to be actually one thing which I believe I would never
    understand. It sort of feels too complicated and very extensive
    for me. I’m looking forward for your subsequent put up, I’ll attempt to get the hang
    of it!

  40. Excellent post. Keep posting such kind of information on your page.
    Im really impressed by your site.
    Hello there, You’ve done an incredible job. I will definitely digg it and for
    my part suggest to my friends. I’m confident they will be benefited from
    this web site.

  41. Unquestionably believe that which you said. Your favourite justification appeared to be at the internet the easiest
    factor to take into accout of. I say to you, I definitely get annoyed
    at the same time as people consider worries that they just do not recognize about.

    You managed to hit the nail upon the top as neatly as defined out the entire thing without having side-effects , other people could
    take a signal. Will likely be again to get more. Thank you

  42. Hi there! I just wanted to ask if you ever have any problems with hackers?
    My last blog (wordpress) was hacked and I ended up losing several weeks
    of hard work due to no data backup. Do you have any
    methods to prevent hackers?

  43. naturally like your website however you need to check the spelling on quite
    a few of your posts. A number of them are rife with spelling
    issues and I in finding it very troublesome to tell the reality however I’ll definitely come again again.

  44. Hey very nice site!! Guy .. Excellent .. Wonderful
    .. I’ll bookmark your web site and take the feeds additionally?
    I’m satisfied to search out numerous useful information right
    here in the publish, we’d like work out extra techniques on this regard, thank you for sharing.
    . . . . .

  45. This is the right webpage for anybody who would like to understand this topic.
    You realize so much its almost tough to argue with
    you (not that I really would want to…HaHa). You definitely put a new spin on a subject that’s
    been discussed for decades. Excellent stuff, just great!

  46. Greate post. Keep writing such kind of info on your page.
    Im really impressed by your site.
    Hello there, You’ve performed a fantastic job.
    I’ll certainly digg it and personally recommend to my friends.
    I am sure they will be benefited from this web site.

  47. Hi, Neat post. There’s an issue together with your site in web explorer, may test this?
    IE still is the marketplace chief and a huge portion of folks will leave out your excellent writing because of this problem.

  48. hello there and thank you for your information – I’ve certainly picked up
    anything new from right here. I did however expertise a few technical points
    using this web site, as I experienced to reload the web site many times previous to I could get it to load correctly.

    I had been wondering if your web host is OK?

    Not that I’m complaining, but sluggish loading instances times will sometimes
    affect your placement in google and could damage your high-quality score if advertising and marketing with Adwords.
    Anyway I’m adding this RSS to my e-mail and can look out for much more of your respective fascinating content.

    Make sure you update this again soon.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here