For Every Writer, the first Oath is to Society

By Wr. Dismas Okombo.

Every writer, established and budding alike, will testify to this verity; writing is never a walk in the park. The wonderful ideas and the splendid imaginations throws you in a febrile and you find yourself lacking words to pen. It is especially challenging to tackle the introductory paragraph for the prose writers and stanza for the poets. Every time you lift the pen, scribble a few lines, sigh and then discard the paper, because you feel you’re expressing yourself in a lackluster language or manner. Other times you start on high note, with great enthusiasm, only to write yourself to a dead end and wonder what to do. These are common challenges we all experience at one point in our odyssey of writing.


Different writers write for different reasons, some of which, honestly, are unknown to me. Yet I will be quick to point out that some write on feigned passion. Or, in better terms, ‘write for the wrong reasons’ as quipped by my friend Anthony Wambugu. Ask me the reason I write and I will tell you that I write for personal satisfaction. I write from intrinsic motivation. I write from the urge to either lambast wrong or celebrate victory, show the thrill in prose or the beauty in poetry, recount tales or tell stories. Well, my reasons might differ with yours but take it from me that any great piece is anchored on passion. Write what you are passionate about and you will be surprised to realize latter that coffee time passed you unnoticed.


Whatever is hot will be cold. This verisimilitude works in favor of bedbugs but, unfortunately, against writers. Your pendulum is at its lowest point today and therefore; you don’t feel like writing. But inside you something is still pushing you to at least jot down three lines since you are conscious about the 10,000-hour rule. Go ahead and write, it is worth the effort. The best way to learn and master the art of writing is to write, whether you are into it or not at the moment. Write, write and write. Even if what you are writing don’t make sense, for in the near future it will. Everyday create something new.


Don’t permanently delete your work. Writing is a puzzle, you ain’t sure what fits where until you’re done, (I’ll put down my pen when I breath my last). Your first scene isn’t appropriate? Save or shove it in the recycling bin, it will fit somewhere somehow in the middle of the story. And if it doesn’t, trust me you still have several writings to do, it will be very useful one day. Writing is an addictive hobby.


Overlearn about the genre you are in and read widely. Yes, I said overlearn and read widely. Here is where obsession helps. Every genre has unique principles and requirements. Master them, and you will ever be relevant. Beware, we are in an ever changing world, unless you are up to date you will soon be archaic. As a writer, spend at least two hours a day online. The internet present invaluable materials which you can’t afford to miss.


Literary Forums

Attending literary forums is another vital culture every writer must embrace. Don’t tell me that such forums are non-existence in our country while our Writers Guild Kenya’s Writers Evening Lounge at Kenya National Museum(Ford Hall from 2pm) and Amka  Forum every last Saturday of the month at Goethe Institute always have empty chairs. That’s just to mention a few.

Finally, be open to possibilities that can help you build your talent. I have observed that surrounding yourself with friends who you share with same passion, increase your chances of tumbling on numerous opportunities and is also a motivating factor.


What good thing come easy? Golds pass through the furnace and diamond must endure heat and pressure. Never say that you will be a great writer someday, be that great writer instead. Don’t be under the illusion of ‘naturally talented’, talents are natured, and if not, they ‘die a naturally death’, my mom would to joke.

I believe in the Kenyan writers; they will achieve much more than is expected.


Dismas Okombo is a student at JKUAT and the Founder of Writers Guild Kenya(JKUAT Chapter). Email:


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