Canada Reads

Want to be a better writer? Mark Sakamoto says get off your phone and into your own head

The author of Forgiveness, the memoir that won Canada Reads 2018, shares his best writing tip.
Mark Sakamoto's memoir Forgiveness was successfully defended by Jeanne Beker on Canada Reads 2018. (CBC)

Mark Sakamoto's memoir Forgiveness tells the story of his maternal grandfather, who was a prisoner of war in Japan during the Second World War, and his paternal grandmother, a Japanese-Canadian who was interned by the government at the same time.

Forgivenessdefended by fashion icon Jeanne Beker, was the winner of Canada Reads 2018.

CBC Books asked Sakamoto for his best writing tip.

"Number one tip: put down your phone. When you're writing, you need to find your own authentic voice and you can't do that unless you sit with yourself. It's so painful and so lonely because there are no constructs — there's nothing but you. That's not the kind of Twitter/Instagram world we live in right now. Especially with memoirs, where you're dealing with people you know and you love. You need to spend time with them. You've got to treat them with the respect that you have in your heart for them. You have to go deep. There are no shortcuts to it."

Mark Sakamoto's comments have been edited and condensed.