Amina Islam is a self-proclaimed Kemeni girl – with her Yemeni roots and Kenyan nationality. She is known for her opinions on journaling, productivity and being a renaissance woman. In this short interview, we chat with her about her thoughts on Creativity, the importance of keeping a journal and her routine.
For Creative Girls: What was growing up like for you and at what point did you decide to start writing?
Amina Islam: I started keeping a journal at 13. I’ve been an avid reader since I was a kid, and picking up a pen was a natural consequence of that. I’ve always been socially awkward and found it really hard to connect to people because I’m an introvert. So I was pretty alone most of the times, but I was rarely lonely because I had my books to keep me company. I wrote fictional stories, and wrote about what happened in class during the day, and how I felt about it. At 13, my notebooks had typical “Dear Diary” entries. I still start with Dear Diary, but my journals are more than that nowadays. I copy down inspiring quotes, write about interesting studies I read about, brainstorm ideas….
FCG: Is there a major experience or issue that has impacted or changed the course of your writing?
AI: Since I picked up a pen to write at 13, I just never stopped. At that time, I used to keep one notebook per year, but nowadays, I’m up to 3 notebooks a year. Nothing life-altering or memorable really happened when it came to my writing. I just write. All the time.
FCG: What is your daily routine like? Give us a snippet of a day in your life?
AI: I have a day job as a researcher in a science lab – I’m an engineer by profession. I normally journal before going to the lab. If I don’t, I carry my journal in my bag to write in it during lunch hour. After work, I make dinner and settle with a book. I tend to do the writing in the morning, and the reading in the evening.
FCG: What is creativity to you? And how do you handle creative/writers block?
AI: My personal motto when it comes to creativity comes from Steve Job’s “Think Different”. I tend to handle creative block by going for a walk, and maybe freewriting, but I also recognize that I have good writing days and bad writing days. For example a couple of weeks ago, I was working on a story. So I went to a coffee shop to write and I was really happy with the output. The next day, I did exactly the same thing, but the result was awful. But I didn’t beat myself over it, as I recognize it’s all part of an iterative process.
FCG: What are you currently reading? Which book or piece do you consider a must-read for female creatives?
AI: I recently read Linchpin by Seth Godin, which I recommend to all creatives, male and female.
FCG: What tools (digital or traditional) do you use everyday?
AI: iPhone, laptop, notebook, pen…
FCG: Is there a project you are working on right now? We want to know 🙂
AI: I’m currently working on a collection of short stories of Mombasa people. There’s also a weekly post which I publish in Life of Mombasa and my personal blog which I update weekly; Ahscribbles. The posts tend to be different in every platform because it’s all audience-dependent.