Sue Nyathi

Literary Birthday – 23 June – Sue Nyathi

Happy Birthday, Sue Nyathi, born 23 June 1978.


  1. ‘As a writer it’s easy to switch off and exist in a world with your characters but you also need to live and be mindful of those you exist with in the real world. What I mean is being present.’
  2. ‘When I used to write longhand I used to go through a lot of paper because whenever I wrote something I didn’t like I scrunched up the paper and started again. I was not really being kind to the trees!’
  3. ‘Keyboard and screen is ideal because of the wonderful invention of backspace, delete, cut, and paste. You can rearrange paragraphs, chapters. It offers a lot more flexibility.’
  4. ‘I prefer total silence when I write, so you will never find me in a Starbucks or Mugg & Bean! I don’t have a spot; I just prefer silence when I write. So home can be my favourite writing spot if it offers me total silence.’
  5. ‘I am not trained as a writer so I don’t get bogged down with technicality. I write intuitively.’
  6. ‘I love all my characters. They are like children. In writing them I often live vicariously through each one.’
  7. ‘When I was much younger, I was more meticulous about the planning.’
  8. ‘With me it always starts with what is the story I want to tell and who is going to tell it. Then I draw up the character bible from there. In my earlier days I would even do a chapter by chapter synopsis of the whole book. I spent a great deal more time planning. Now my plans are sketchy and I tend to download from my head as I write.’
  9. ‘My writing process is not dictated by word count. It is actually determined by the hours spent on the craft…  I aim to spend at least 5 hours writing every single day. On good days I may write 1,500 words but on a bad day it could be 200 words but the plan is to do it diligently.’
  10. Rejection is a painful thing that almost every writer is confronted with. It is painful because you start to doubt yourself and your ability to write. You hurt because you ask yourself if you even have a write to want it…  You are crushed initially. You will cry. You will eventually pick yourself up and rise above it. Like heartbreak, you heal in time and you pick up your pen and start writing again.’

Read our interview with Sue Nyathi.

Sue Nyathi is a Zimbabwean author. She was born and raised in Bulawayo and now lives in Johannesburg, South Africa with her young son. Her most recent novel is A Family Affair (Macmillan, 2020).

Source for image: Shaun Gregory Photography / Source for quotes: Daily Maverick, Pan Macmillan, GoSeeDo

 by Amanda Patterson

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Posted on: 22nd June 2021