20 Lessons from Karakana Creative Writing Dialogue

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 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 – Fatuma’s Voice

Moderator: Stephen Nderitu 

Here are a few lessons I took home;

  1. Evolve

Find your voice. Discover why you are a writer. Discover your vision as a writer.

  1. 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. 

  1. Know who you’re writing for

Find your tribe. Appeal and pitch to the right audience. Think about your end user.

  1. Invest in your work

You have to be good at it; no other way out.

  1. Solve a problem

That’s what you are here for.

  1. Be audacious

No one cares about your talent. Push your writing. Creative writing is about creative thinking.

  1. 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.

  1. Challenge yourself

Every month, go out and do something to brag about. Write out of you comfort zone.

  1. 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. 

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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)

  1. Accountability 

Don’t work alone. Attend literary events. Join writing and reading clubs.

  1. Trust your writing journey

Be patient. Don’t beat yourself too much.

  1. 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? 

Karakana Initiative is an artist-run social enterprise that provides news, updates, forums, resources, and solutions for Kenya’s creative industry.

Check out for more: https://www.karakanaonline.org/


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