Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie recently reflected on the nature of inspiration. the the author publishes a complementary article to his 2014 book We should all be feminists — a guided journal of the same name — that offers readers prompts to start writing. But Adichie has found an easier way to motivate herself. “I’m not even joking that chocolate is a fundamental part of [my] creative process,” Adichie tells Bustle from Lagos, Nigeria, where she just ate a brownie.
Sweet treats are just part of Adichie’s surprisingly enjoyable writer’s routine. Despite the often dark and serious content of her work — she published last year Notes on bereavement, a volume on the loss of his father – Adichie approaches his job with lightness. “Writing is the love of my life. It’s what makes me happiest when things are going well, other than the people I love,” she says. “Fiction gives me transcendent joy [where] I have the impression of being suspended in my fictitious walls.
She hopes those who use her journal will find similar joy. For the full Adichie effect, be sure to pair the pages with a piece of chocolate – specifically, the writer’s favorite type: “That perfect in-between – not too milky, not too dark. With a little bit of Hazelnut.
Below, Adichie reflects on her favorite poets, her online shopping habits, and the merits of cream liqueur.
On the novel that continues to inspire him:
I read The beautiful Mrs. Seidenman a long time ago and it’s a really beautiful and complex story about Poland in 1943. [It’s set] during the war and it’s about this woman who is Jewish, but does not look “stereotypically Jewish”. She’s blonde and has blue eyes and that’s about what’s happening to her.
Discovering new poems:
I have read many poets. WH Auden, Linda Gregg, Galway Kinnell, Ted Hughes, Sylvia Plath, John Berryman. Then there’s this fantastic app I have on my phone, which is the Poetry Foundation app. It’s just really wonderful because it offers the possibility of finding a new poet at random.
On his YouTube habit:
Sometimes you know you should write, but you do it all corn in writing. [In those moments] I’ll put stuff in my Sephora cart, read random news about feminist collectives in South Korea. I also have a certain fascination with the Holocaust. So I always watch things [about it] on Youtube. Especially when I’m having a dark day or feeling down, I’m on YouTube and watching Holocaust stuff.
On her secret weapon for writer’s block:
Here in Lagos, my desk was made by this young cabinetmaker. It is white with two sliding drawers on each side. On the table itself, I have my laptop and some books. I also happen to have a bottle of a cream liqueur, called Wild African Cream. When I write, I don’t want alcohol in my body at all. But when it’s not going well, then I’m like, “Okay. Maybe we just need to take a sip.”