The Writer Files: Roche Mamabolo

Writer Files Cover

The Writer Files is an online interview of various writers about their books and their writing styles. It is a form of getting to know the writer, their writing style and to tell their stories.

About the writer: Roche Mamabolo

Who are you and what do you do?

My name is Roche Mamabolo and I notice things, name them, and sometimes provoke people to do things differently. I published my first book The Start-Up Revolution in November 2014, started a few companies and I like to teach, sometimes via my blog:

What is your area of expertise as a writer or online publisher?

I’m more interested in entrepreneurship and innovation. I love challenging the status-quo.

I once worked at Exclusive Books during university holidays, at some point I did book translations. I’m in the process of writing a couple of free ebooks. I blog daily, at least one blog thought a day.

My most recent project The Start-Up Revolution: Fit In or Stand Out will be in bookstores in May 2015 and we are working on Audio and ebook as well.

I still don’t believe books are a better way of spreading ideas. I believe a blog is a better way. But I write books anyway.

The most important thing to know is that my primary school English teacher wrote in my yearbook:

“You are the bane of my existence and it’s likely you will never amount to anything.”

Interestingly when I got to high school, the opposite happened I became a nerd and geek at the same. I don’t know how.

Where can we find your writing?

The writer’s productivity…

How much time, per day, do you spend reading or doing research?

8 [hours] every day. I’m not kidding.

Before you begin to write, do you have any pre-game rituals or practices?

I need my ginger tea before I write.

What’s your best advice for overcoming procrastination?

The deadline focuses the mind, of course. So procrastination is part of the process.

But blogging? Once a day. Not every minute like Twitter, which provokes mediocre writing because there’s so much of it.

But every day? Better write something, better make it good.

What time of day is most productive for your writing or content production?

I have no actual data on this, but I’m guessing the mornings, because I’m a morning person. But if I’m tired, which is too often, I’m useless.

I also write a lot in the evening. My motto is: Never sleep in the same day I woke up in. So I write a lot in the evenings as well. But I prefer mornings.

Do you generally adhere to a rigid or flexible writing system?

I’m supposed to have a system? Interesting 🙂

How many hours a day do you spend actually writing (excluding email, social media etc.)?

Do you mean typing? I don’t know, one hour or so. I write a lot of thoughts in one day, so sometimes I can write for 15 minutes, sometimes an hour. I can type fast.

Do you write every day?

Do you talk every day?

The writer’s creativity…

Define creativity.

This might not work.

Who are your favorite authors, online or off?

Seth Godin, Malcolm Gladwell, Muzi Kuzwayo, Walter Isaacson, Steven Johnson, Victor Kgomoeswana, Ken Robinson, Kabelo Mokgacha, Jim Collins, Lucas Moloi, Dan Pink, Dr. Seuss, James Hardley Chase, Mario Puzo, John Eldredge, Tony Hseih, Simon Sinek, Tom Peters, Zig Ziglar. [in no particular order, with apologies to the 45 people I had to leave out]

Can you share a best-loved quote?

I’m really liking this one lately:
“People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. And what you do simply proves what you believe”
― Simon Sinek, Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action

Do you prefer a particular type of music (or silence) when you write?

If possible, I will listen to old jazz (Miles Davis, Jimmy Dludlu, Moses Taiwa Molelekwa, Wadee Ranoto, Tutu Puoane, John Coltrane, Hugh Masekela, Charles Mingus, EST (Esbjörn Svensson Trio), Wynton Marsalis].

But most often, it’s quiet. I think clearer in silence.

How would you personally like to grow creatively as a writer?

Well, judging from a lot of what you read online, you would think that some people have said that they would like to take fewer risks, be more obvious and be less criticised. For me, I think it’s the opposite. I want to take a lot more risks in my writings.

Do you believe in “writer’s block”? If so, how do you avoid it?

This is a fancy term for fear. I avoid it by not getting it. Because I write like I talk and I don’t get talker’s block.

Who or what is your “Muse” at the moment (i.e. specific creative inspirations)?

I wrote my last book dedicated to my daughters. They inspire me with their creative thinking and questions. They have not been tainted by the brainwashing of this world which pushes people to fit in and conform.

There are so many opportunities in our world, and so many things worth fixing, I can’t imagine wasting this moment.

Would you consider yourself someone who likes to “take risks?”

What’s a risk? Like most entrepreneurs, I don’t consider what I do risky. This is my work and my art, and I’m going to do it for a very long time, and if it does not work, I will do it again, but better.

What makes a writer great?

It’s in the eye of the reader, no?

The writer’s workflow…

What hardware or typewriter model are you presently using?

Typerwriter neh? Lol… At the moment Dell laptop, Aeron chair, coffee mug (where I have ginger tea and occasionally black coffee).

I’m planning on getting a Macbook specifically for writing. I want something portable. I get thoughts anywhere and everywhere, anytime, anyplace and it will be great if I can get something that I can just whip out and write quickly and immediately. I write anywhere.

What software are you using for writing and general workflow?

Microsoft Word does the trick for now. I use Google way more than I can remember. I do my illustrations and charts in Keynote, and use that for presentations as well.

Do you have any tricks for staying focused?

Fear of wasting the opportunity.

Have you run into any serious challenges or obstacles to getting words onto the page?

Never once. Often, I get into trouble finding the words in my head, though. I will frequently think about something for a year before I feel good about writing it down. So I do carry some of my thoughts for while in my head until I find the right words to put in writing.

How do you stay organised (methods, systems, or “mad science”)?

Alas, it’s almost entirely a force of will. And email is breaking me.

How do you relax at the end of a hard day?

I like taking my daughter (12) to movies and thereafter we grab something to eat. She asks a lot of questions and most of the time I can’t answer her correctly but after a while she keeps quiet for a long time. She is comfortable in her silence and so am I.

A few questions just for the fun of it…

Who (or what) has been your greatest teacher?

My dad taught me what it is to be a disciplined reader, generous and productive and connected. To stand up and own what you make, and to do it for others. But most importantly he taught the power of humility.

What’s your biggest aggravation or pet peeve at the moment (writing related or otherwise)?

People who want instant success. I personally think celebrities are overrated and flying wears me out.

And most of all, the biggest thing, big enough that it’s not a pet, or even a peeve, is the media’s efforts to distract us from opportunities and urgencies by inflaming every small conflict into an epic game show.

Choose one author, living or dead, that you would like to have dinner with.

Well, if I have dinner with a dead author, he would not be very much fun, would he?

Most authors are not particularly good dinner companions, because they are working so hard on the internal war of art that they don’t invest much effort in conversation. I love Shakespeare and Einstein but I don’t think they will make a great dinner hosts. They live in their heads, so I don’t think they will make great dinner guests. I would love to host Seth Godin though.

With those disclaimers, and without bending over backward in search of the clever answer, I think I would go with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr and Brenda Fassie.

Do you have a motto, credo or general slogan that you live by?

Hey, I’m in the motto business, with a sideline in credos. I think that having philosophical boundaries is a good idea.
What do you see as your greatest success in life?

Opening doors for people who will open doors for people. I strongly think the goal I have in my work is not to be remembered, but for the people who use the work I did to be remembered instead.

If you could take a vacation anywhere in the world tomorrow, where would you go (cost or responsibilities are no object)?

At the moment right here, right now. This is my choice.

But Ghana, Tanzania, Jamaica and Rio De Janeiro are my destinations.

What would you like to do more of in the coming year?

Find beginner’s mind more often. Find more innovations and take more risks in my next two books.

Can you offer any advice to writers and content producers that you might offer yourself, if you could go back in time and “do it all over?”

Keep your overhead low, deliver often, be generous, be patient. It’s going to be fine.

Please tell our readers where they can connect with you online.

I don’t want you to connect with me online. I want you to connect with other people online, to make noise, to stand out (not fit in), to raise the bar, to join a community, found a community and lead a community! You don’t need me, pick yourself. I prefer to hear about the good work you are doing and connect you with that way.

Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know?

You are on the right track. Persist. Make better art.


A picture of your writing space, an office, room, desk with all your writing equipment.

Nothing says more about a writer than the space they use to create.

The revolution begins here.


Thanks for tuning in to The Writer Files…

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