#WriteTips: The Filmmaker and The Memoirist

With the theme for the 2017 Short Story Day Africa Prize announced, we thought it would be a perfect time to share with you, some of the latest #WriteTips we've gathered. These two writers come from different literary backgrounds but all their tips really get to the heart of writing your perfect piece - whatever it may be.


Umar Turaki

  1.  A story is a living thing. There is a way it desires to be. Listen closely and it will tell you. The art of hearing what a story wants to be could be called instinct.
  2. Do you remember the scene from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade where Indy is faced with a great chasm and the only way to cross it is to step out in faith into thin air? That’s writing. Sometimes you don’t need all the answers. Most times, it’s enough to grope your way through the dark until you reach your destination.
  3. Second-guess everything you put down. And never stop. It keeps you grounded and alert.



Susan Newham-Blake

1. I find the only way I can keep on writing is if I remind myself I’m simply telling a story. I focus on getting it down on paper. You can always go back and create the perfect sentence, bring in elements to help with characterisation. So I try not to worry about perfection until after the story is down.

2. Don’t write for anybody or anyone but yourself. Write to get your unique story down on paper, not because you want to get published, be famous, impress your friends. In other words, do it for yourself and no one else and this might alleviate some of the self doubt.

3. If you want to be a better writer, you need to put in the hours. Don’t think about writing the perfect novel or short story. Think of every word you put down on paper as practice. I often think of Malcolm Gladwell’s concept of putting in the 10 000 hours. You need to write for 10 000 hours before you’re going to write that masterpiece!