Start with a list

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So a blogger friend of mine sent me a message the other day saying, “I’ve lost my writing mojo.”

I replied back with, “You’re not the only one,” considering I haven’t been as consistent on my blog as I usually am.

But then she said she had to write an important report and couldn’t even get that done. So my suggestion was to start with a list. Just bullet points. Incomplete sentences. Grammarless English. Or Sheng.
Personally, I’m a huge fan of lists. Whether you’re trying to break out of writer’s block or a prolonged procrastination period, lists usually do the trick because they’re so simple.  My personal favorite list is one I saw spreading on social media. It fools you into thinking you’re so productive.



Joking aside, there’s no rule of where to write your list or how it should look like. You may write it on a post-it note and stick it on your laptop screen to increase its visibility (though that doesn’t always work because your mind gets trained to ignore it).

However, the single best advice I’ve heard about daily to-do lists is “Limit your to-do list to three tasks.” No less, no more. Having more than three items on your list can be a bit overwhelming especially when the tasks take hours. Also, finishing the day without crossing out everything on the list makes your mind think it’s okay to put off today’s work until tomorrow and that enables the procrastinator in you.

So what type of lists are you used to writing? Leave your comments below and feel free to share.

A Couple of Words about Writing

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So the other day I spent close to four hours on a story. I only stopped to move to another place with better lighting. And to order food, which I ravenously wolfed down with one hand while the other was on the keyboard. It’s a story I’ve been working on for ages (the first draft was written back in 2006), and the more words I add to it the more I realize I wouldn’t want it published. Unless I want to be sued by the real people who inspired it. It’s supposed to be ‘fiction’ with enough details close to life to make people point fingers and speculate. And in a small town like Mombasa, you seriously don’t want to set the ball of speculation rolling. Trust me.

Writing can be an emotionally draining experience. That’s the main reason why I tend to write in ‘spikes’ and things like nanowrimo never work for me. I might stay away from a work-in-progress for a long time and then spend four hours in a single day writing. Not only can writing be time-consuming, it can also be unsettling. It’s how Natalie Goldberg once said, “Writers end up writing about their obsessions. Things that haunt them; things they can’t forget; stories they carry in their bodies waiting to be released.”

And sometimes writing may result in insomnia. We cannot sleep until we’ve put those those words on paper (or an iphone note). I actually kept an insomnia notebook one summer. Before smartphones came along.

And you know the worse part about writing stories?

It’s when you actually go to sleep and end up dreaming an upsetting scene. It happened to me once, but I still haven’t had the emotional capacity to write down the story around that one scene because it was too sad, thinking about it makes me tear up occasionally, I just imagine the disastrous effect  writing about it would have. 

But you know despite all its downfalls, writing helps us understand people, understand ourselves. It helps us figure things out things about life in general. In one of the scenes I wrote yesterday, my protagonist’s friend tells her, “Sometimes our secrets define us. No matter how much time we spend together you can never really know the true me because the things I choose to hide are as much a part of me as the things I choose to tell. Does that even make sense?” 

Last but not least, it can  be therapeutic.

Explains why I’m here. Good night.


Winners Announced

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Thank you all for the comments. The winners for the competition are Alya and Bliss. Congratulations! Either send me your M-Pesa number by replying to the email I’ll be sending you soon (on the email address you used to comment) or if that email is incorrect, get in touch with me at so I’ll be sending you your prize.


Four years and 413 posts later…Click to win a prize

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I know this is way overdue, but…as a token of appreciation for everybody reading this blog, I’m offering a prize. The rules of entry are easy. All you have to do is leave a blog comment (don’t call me, don’t whatsapp me, don’t email me) with a method of how you would like to receive the prize (1,2 or 3 below), then I would collect all the comments, assign a number to them and use a pseudo-random generator to select two winners. To increase your chances, you can also share a post on twitter and Mention me @ahechoes.

However refrain from spamming please and I do get your IP addresses, so do not try to put multiple blog comments using the same IP address. As much as I would love you to tag me on twitter a lot, I would only consider the first mention for each twitter handle (if you have different twitter handle, then I can’t really know right?) .

Each of the two winners would get around 25 USD (rounded up to 2200 Kenya Shillings and down to 90  UAE Dirhams).

I would pay them through the following medium:

1) gift card (not

2) Kenya’s M-Pesa

3) AlAnsari Exchange or Bank Deposit if you are in the UAE

I apologize if none of these are applicable to you but that’s the best I could do.

This will run until 18 November 2013 (12 pm UAE time) In Sha Allah. You can also follow this blog by email, and  like my facebook page on

Also, please make sure you mention explicitly which method of payment you would prefer, but do not leave your personal details on this blog. Also note, it usually takes me some time to moderate comments so refrain from posting multiple times at the same time (in case you refresh and don’t see your comment yet). The last time I tried something similar, it failed miserably so for the whole competition to be initiated, I would need at least 5 comments (and/or Twitter mentions) to proceed.

Also note that I will keep this post at a top until the 18th, so new posts will appear below it. For those who visit the homepage to see if there is anything new, you might need to scroll down just a little bit.

So what are you waiting for? Leave a comment below and spread the word.