On Writing

Writing is the toughest job that I’ve ever had. And I’ve had some tough jobs before this. Thing with writing it that you are alone when you are working. Of course you have your support system and friends and other such people around you but when you put pen to paper, you are alone. You are the only one who can move the story forward. You are the one that decides on the next turn the that story would take. If even its a simple one act story, which in my opinion is tougher to write, you need to do it by yourself. You are the planner, you are the designer, you are the expert, you are the executioner and you are the manager.

Writing is one those things that are probably as close to meditation as they can be. You could sit in a room full of writers, you could talk to them about your plot, you can pick their brains. You do whatever but you would have to put the damn thing on paper by yourself. And I am learning that I suck at it.

The first problem for me was to be able to sit at one place for some time and work without getting distracted. I have got that figured out thankfully. I mean I am still working on it but its a start for sure. I move around and all that but I do not have an active Internet connection and the phone is on silent mode to keep out distractions.

The next is to be able to write fast. I mean today it took me about 8 hours to write 3000 words. And not a new story. I had the plot in place. I just had to add a few words and complete the narratives. And it took me 8 hours. At this pace, the three projects that I am working on, I dont think I’d be able to get those done. And all those three are really important to me. I can not compromise on any. And all three come with strict deadlines. One ends in 30 days from now, on the 23rd October. And the other two, mid November. So I better learn how to write fast.

And mind you, thats the simple bit. The putting it down on paper bit and the speed with which I write bit. The other things that I need to do to be able to be a good writer, are the tougher ones. Here is a small list.

  • A. The non stop rounds of editing where you have to kill what you wrote, even if you are fond of it. Even if you loved it
  • B. Then there is shameless promotion of what you write. I suck at this totally. I dont even put these on facebook. Why is it important? Because every reader is an opportunity for you me to improve your my craft.
  • C. The dwindling bank balance. Its not directly related to writing but its an occupational hazard for me. For a lot of people, writing comes naturally to them and they can write in the evenings, on the weekends. I, on the other hand, have to struggle for every word that I write. And hence the joblessness.
  • D. The infinite homework required, just to keep up. This includes learning words like Moxie, Shibboleth and Chagal. Of course unless I use these words in what I write, there is no point. So far, I havent been able to figure out where would I want to use Chagal, unless I am writing about a sub-Saharan adventure. This also includes reading a lot. I dont mind the reading bit though. Just that I am getting used to reading on a computer. I thought I could use a device but nothing like holding an actual book. And nothing like the convenience of an entire computer (not just a tablet or a ebook reader).

Bottom line, its a tough job and I am totally sucking at it. There is no assurance of money / fame / future prospects at the end of it. When I took it up, I did not know that it would be tougher than a full time job. I mean agreed that I have the flexibility to choose my time and I can sleep during the day and I dont have to struggle through traffic for hours but its a tough tough job.

And I am just ranting here. And to the rant, if you are a struggling writer as well, you may want to do these following things.

  1. Subscribe to a word a day. There is nothing like an extensive vocabulary. And since I still think in Hindi and translate it to English when I write, my writing it limited. I use wordsmith.org. You may choose whatever you like. I am sure there are quite a few of these.
  2. Read about writing. You must read a lot anyway but read about writing. Almost all the great writers have written about their art/craft. Right now, I am reading Chuck Palahniuk’s essays and Stephan King’s On Writing.

That’s it for the time being. Oh, I have set up a mailing list where I would send periodic updates on how the book is coming along. If you are interested, you may subscribe to it. I promise not to spam you. Just leave your details in the form below.

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