This is my first blog post on a new series. A new series of blog posts titled “Authors’ Tips – A to Z of Writing” that aims to cover all aspects of writing. Authors Devika Fernando, Preethi Venugopala, Paromita Goswami, Reet Singh, Ruchi Singh, Sudesna Ghosh and Adite Banerjie
Topics are chosen alphabetically and each of us strive to post a blog post a week. This post shall focus on the topic of writing through demanding times. Well isn’t life as a whole very demanding?
Want to write that great story taking life in your heart, but you face obstacles. Obstacles that you can’t dare remove. Job, family, kids, friends, social commitments, the list can go on. Each of them having a reason or more to make you feel guilty of sidelining them if you ever do. The usual casualty of this tussle is that which is closest to your heart, that unwritten story or book. Tragic!
It has happened to me. It still happens to me and I am done sure it will repeat in future. Not just to me, but to every aspiring, struggling and successful writer. Apart from tough will, only a robust process will help us break the never ending wait. That boils down to :
Accepting the reality.
Even the most successful writers find it hard to allocate large chunks of disturbance free writing time. If not family and day jobs, they have marketing, partnerships and social obligations that fill their day. The only way we can start writing is by realising that a disturbance free writing day is a myth. We have to squeeze in smaller chunks of 15-25 minutes to push our manuscripts. Either by 50 or by 500 words. A friend who is a very successful author is also a highly placed official in the ministry of external affairs. The sheer amount of files that pass through her desk is mind boggling. She says she types her novel in those 5-10 minutes of respite she gets in between her busy paper work! Her strength? Her readiness to accept and embrace those mini/micro chunks of time and utilise it to fuel her passion of writing!
Focus on progress, not perfection
Human mind survives on feedback. It takes immense practice and will power to control that urge to seek feedback. Most of us aren’t looking to become a Yogi in the Himalayas, so we would be better off giving the mind what it needs. When you set to ‘perfect’, say your first chapter, the quest might be quite long, for your characters might not be anchored well enough and you keep getting ideas that might drive you on a rewriting spree. But when fatigue claims you, your overall progress would demotivate you. Hence, it is always better to focus on progress instead of perfection and get done with that Shitty first draft.
Grow out of device blocks
I am trudging ahead on the motherhood journey. The first couple of months were rather not so taxing on my writing. But as my baby got older, she took an immense interest in my laptop. The key she loves the most is ‘Delete’! You guessed it right. The time I get to sit with my laptop has considerably gone down. I resisted the idea of typing on my phone. But considering the amount of typing I do on Whatsapp and Twitter, I thought 500 words a day on phone itself isn’t an impossible thing to do. Hence I shifted from Word to Google docs, at least as far as my first drafts are concerned. Now, I can focus on that progress, thanks to multi device syncing! I can type as I watch over my little one sleeps, or as I can sneak a couple of mins in between cooking, or when travelling, and it goes on.
A friend was facing a problem with her spouse not encouraging her writing ‘enough’. She used to pour it out in our group over how she hardly gets time to do writing, The peer support advised her to start with negotiating a couple of hours a week to focus on writing and also support the husband in any of his hobbies. Thankfully she took that seriously and started the word count engine roaring. A couple of months down the line, her output impressed her husband so much that he no, religiously strives to give one full day a week to write, edit or do anything related to her business of writing. Giving the support system our time conveys that we take them seriously and showing constant progress on our own goals shows that we take ourselves seriously. Both are qualities that evoke respect. But it is important to realise that all can’t be done in a day. Your day and My day need to be understood and mutually respected. After all, this is a crucial step in relationship building, be it a spouse, a kid or a boss.
Wrapping it up
My first novel took me four years. The next one, close to a year and the third, about a month for the first draft!I wrote my fourth novel, typing and dictating not more than a couple of sentences at a time, sometimes typing with a single finger while nursing my baby, holding her in my other arm. Every time, it was a new learning experience. But getting rid of mental blocks we form s the first step to get past any challenge.