A few weeks back, The African Writers hosted a one-word prompt challenge for writers following our Instagram platform. The challenge was to write an 8-word story using “Oceans” as the compulsory word in the mix. We had over 400 entries and Rachael with the handle @raechaelo emerged the winner from a shortlist of top five writers. We had a refreshing interview with her and believe you would learn a thing or so. Here it goes.

1. Tell us about the Rachel that isn’t a writer?

Well, the Rachael that isn’t a writer is an ambivert. She is a natural-skincare enthusiast and a fitness junkie; When she is not writing, she is working out, coaching people that want to work out or helping people with skin issues. She is also an ardent reader with an eclectic taste but is a little partial to thrillers, sci-fi, romance and historicals. Oh, and she is mildly addicted to social media.

2. At what age did you start writing?

This is a tough one. I honestly can’t say. But I identified with being a writer when I was nine and in primary school.

3. What was the defining moment or experience that made you want to do this as a career?

The defining moment that made me want to do this as a career was when I lost my dad. That was a really painful period of my life and writing helped me get through it. It was then it really hit me that as long as I had my words, I could survive anything. I realised then that I couldn’t do without writing.

4. Have you undertaken any formal or informal writing training before?

Yes, I have. I take my writing very seriously and so, I am always looking for ways to improve myself so I take writing classes, all of which are online as I have not found a good program that offers a physical class. So far, I’ve taken two writing classes, one by Omolola Opatayo and the mentoring programme by Sprinng Literary Movement where Patience Lawal was my mentor.

5. How long have you been following The African Writers and what made you participate?

I have been following The African Writers for almost a year now and I participated in the challenge because it was a prompt and I love prompts. They get me thinking.

6. What inspired your piece? Tell us about the process it took to write it.

Funny story. I saw the prompt and it was a one-word prompt. I had never had a one-word prompt to work with so I thought it would be a nice challenge. Then I tried to write something and…nothing was coming. My head was blank and I wasn’t satisfied with everything I came up with so I went to Pinterest-the app-and searched for pictures of oceans(I think Pinterest has the best pictures). So I was looking at all these beautiful pictures of oceans and it reminded me of being lost; waves coming and going in a cycle as if searching for a particular thing. Then, the words just came “We are salt an water, oceans scouting the earth, looking for a way home.” It was just right. LOL. I recommend Pinterest to every writer out there!

7. Did you think you would win?

Honestly, no. I just saw an interesting prompt that challenged me and winning wasn’t foremost on my mind. Plus, I saw some really great entries too. Yes, yes. I checked other people’s entries but it was just to see what others came up with and in my mind, I was like ‘These are really good writers. I should bring up something good too.’ And that was what I set to do.

8.How did winning feel like?

It felt amazing. Mostly because I didn’t see it coming. I was really elated that I put up something I thought was good and other people thought so too.

9. What’s next for you as a writer? Any new projects or plans?

Well, next for me as a writer is to keep on writing. At the moment, I have my eyes out for a professional writing class I can take. And I am working on starting my own blog and writing a book. Also, I’m working on getting into school to get a medical degree. These are things I have dreamed of for so long and it’s a great feeling to see them start to happen.

10. Where do you see yourself in the next ten years?

LOL. I have huge dreams. In ten years, I see myself as a published author, a successful blogger, fitness coach and a doctor with her own natural skin-care brand. I know it seems like a lot but I am really good at going hard for what I want and this is what I want.

11. What will you advice young writers scared of sharing their works online?
I think this is the era for the creatives. We have more people to look up to now and learn from and that is such a blessing. My advice would be to not lose yourself. As a writer, you have to stay true to your story and what you believe in. Bleed your words straight from your heart, unfiltered and unbothered by people’s criticism. It will save you and that story might just save someone else.

Thank you for this opportunity. It is a memorable one.

We definitely enjoyed her interview. Do share your thoughts in the comments if you did. Would you like to be the next star? Then follow The African Writers on Instagram @africanwriters and participate in the next challenge and you just might end up here.