20 Lessons for Writers in Kenya
For a first meet-up, The Karakana Creative Writing Dialogue on 29th Jan, 2019 at the Kenya National Theatre was immensely successful and challenging.
The Creative Writing Panelists
The panelists were professionals well versed on matters of creative writing, poetry, blogging and publishing:
- Kingwa Kamenchu – Author. (Madam President)
- Mutendei Akhaya – Writer/blogger
- Gabriel Dinda – CEO, Writers Guild Kenya
- Chris Mukasa – Founder, Fatuma’s Voice
- Moderator – Stephen Nderitu
Karakana Creative Dialogues – Creative Writing (Video)
Watch excerpts from the first full panel discussion by Karakana Initiative at the Kenya Cultural Centre (Kenya national Theatre) on creative writing.
Get insights from panelists Kingwa Kamenchu,Gabriel Ndinda, Chris Mukasa, Tabitha Kihara and Mutendei Akhaya. The session was moderated by Stephen Nderitu.
Summary of the 20 Lessons for Creative Writing in Kenya:
- Evolve: Find your voice. Discover why you are a writer. Discover your vision as a writer.
- Money: How do you price your work? We are here to make money. Be very deliberate about it.
- Don’t just write about what you care about if you want to earn. Start with what you can.
- Some of the ways to make money as a writer: Training writers, holding seminars, Copywriting, film industry. Be a book/writerpreneur. Look around you.
- The things you want to do cost a lot of money. Make the money then do what you love.
- Know who you’re writing for. Find your tribe. Appeal and pitch to the right audience. Think about your end user.
- Invest in your work. You have to be good at it; no other way out.
- Solve a problem. That’s what you are here for.
- Be audacious: No one cares about your talent. Push your writing. Creative writing is about creative thinking.
- Be professional: Have a team – If you can, have a marketer, photographer etc. If you can’t afford it, you have to be all that.
- Challenge yourself: Every month, go out and do something to brag about. Write out of you comfort zone.
- Are Kenyans readers? “I don’t care; it doesn’t matter. I’m gonna create a product and sell it to you.”
- Munira Hussein; author of ‘Unfit for Society‘ at the event.
- Modesty doesn’t work. Break away from historical injustices – education system – that tells you you can’t be good enough; that shattered your self-esteem.
- Discover your voice; all that is hidden inside and bring it out.
- Do not apologize for being a writer: Be confident about your products (books). Proudly say, ‘I am a writer’ – even to those who ask, ‘what else do you do?’ Don’t apologize for who you are/what you do.
- Marketing: You’re only an artist when you are creating. After that, you are a businessperson. Understand the business. Attend entrepreneurship sessions. Make noise about your writing. (Refer to no. 6)
- Accountability: Don’t work alone. Attend literary events. Join writing and reading clubs.
- Trust your writing journey: Be patient. Don’t beat yourself too much.
- We are the solutions we are looking for: “As creative’s, we need to be on the front line. Learn the business. Do what it takes. Let’s run our show. We need to understand ourselves as an industry.”
Which lesson do you wish every writer knew?
About Karakana Initiative:
Karakana Initiative is an artist-run social enterprise that provides news, updates, forums, resources, and solutions for Kenya’s creative industry.
What does Karakana mean?
Karakana means ‘workshop’ in Swahili, a name we chose to signify the many categories in the creative economy that we represent.
Who does Karakana work with?
We work with Kenyan creatives in fashion and crafts, modeling, design, painting and drawing, illustrations and cartoons, graffiti, gaming and comics, photography, TV and film, interior design, architecture, dance, poetry, animation among others.
Get Featured on #KarakanaOnline Platforms:
Every week, Karakana features 2 or 3 artists’ work on all their online platforms-website and social.
If you would like to be featured, send them an email to [email protected] and include 5-10 artworks on medium or high resolution.
Artworks must not contain watermarks, names or logos.
Check out for more: https://www.karakanaonline.orgKarakana Initiative (@KarakanaOnline) is an artist-run social enterprise that provides news, updates, forums, resources, and solutions for Kenya’s creative industry. Karakana means ‘workshop’ in Swahili. Click To Tweet
About the Authour Vera Omwocha
Vera Omwocha is a writer and editor as well as a special correspondent writer for The EastAfrican, a publication of Nation Media Group.
She is a writer, book editor and reviewer at Writers Guild Kenya. Although she trained as a teacher, she discovered upon graduating that her passion for literature was outside the classroom.
In 2015, she plunged blindly into the world of editing books and writing short stories with a strong determination to learn. Later in the same year, she won the Tito Livio Award for Historical Fiction for her short story, “The Crescent Moon”. Originally posted by on Vera Omwocha’s blog. Read more about Vera Omwocha here.Vera Omwocha @vomwocha is the young Kenyan writer winner of the Tito Livio Award, a literary contest organized by @iicnairobi, @sugarpulp and Chronicae Festival. Click To Tweet