“So, what is stopping you?”
I have often been asked about my writing process. Having struggled from being an ‘aspiring’ (read clueless about how to get that damn draft done) author to someone with multiple books, I have realized the value that following a process brings in. The journey of putting down ~100,000 words does not happen riding on inspiration alone. This is my attempt to document the steps I take now to get my first drafts done.
Jotting the idea
It is important to put the idea on to paper as soon as it visits your brain. (If you delay, it gets angry and leaves!…Well kidding…or am I?). We get new story ideas from many sources. The act of jotting it down helps us identify the key protagonist, her purpose and her journey – the whole snake and ladder game that her destiny makes her play. On answer these simple questions
- Who is your key protagonist?
- What does she want?
- Who or what stands in her way? (The whole story would obviously be about how she overcomes 3 to achieve 2)
I prefer doing it on paper than on a machine as the whole striking off what is bad, adding new elements and everything else is visible and there for us to revisit anytime. Same can’t be said about typing in on your laptop.
Refining these elements helps the writer firm up the idea and proceed to the next step that is plotting.
When I started out my journey, I indulged in this much forbidden act of ‘pantstering’. Well, there are many writers who have churned out master pieces. But given that this took me short of four years to complete my first novel, I stay away from pantstering. The age old task of plotting the entire novel is a lot less of a burden on my right brain.
Once the crucial questions have been answered, I proceed to jot down the key events that define the protagonist’s journey. The dangers that threaten her or those dear to her, discoveries that she makes while running away or fighting back, her course of action, her pit falls and everything leading to the final conflict. (Sorry for making this seem too action or fantasy, but believe me, the process works just as well for a cosy romance too)
I follow a two level plotting process. A process that has now seen me through four full length novels (and is helping me through my fifth and sixth too). This ensures a focused workout to the creative muscle, avoiding needless loops which could prove fatal to our motivation (which is as such a precious scarce resource).
Sprint, sprint and sprint productively
The initial spurt of enthusiasm should be made use of to cover the early miles and that is like an investment that generates returns all through your journey. It all boils down to showing up regularly and adding a few hundred words (push it to the four digit) to the manuscript. It all boils down to doing this every day. Every. Single. Day. Till you reach the end. That’s how you make your writing sessions productive. Life always comes in the way, coercing you to put away writing for a better day. But that better day is today. It is lost if you ignore it. (Read this post on how I managed to type my 100,000 words within seven months of becoming a mother.)
As the earlier phase of plotting zeroes down on blind spots, we need not write the story linearly and first fill up those chapters where we have clarity. Do not wait for that one hundred percent clarity before you start writing. While travelling on a misty day, you need to advance a mile ahead to know what lies on the next. Writing is just that. Adventurous, uncertain and an immensely fulfilling activity. Only if we can adopt the ‘Process’.
This post is a part of the A-Z blog posts on A-Z writing Series that I am participating along with my writer friends. Visit back in a week to find links to all their P posts.
Presenting this work of vast research by my friend Nithin Sridhar on the topic of menstruation. The author’s series of articles on the topic on Indiafacts had piqued my interest and I was really looking forward for this book.
The Book Summary is as follows
Menstruation across Cultures attempts to provide a detailed review of menstruation notions prevalent in India and in cultures from across the world. The world cultures covered in the book include Indic traditions like Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism; ancient civilisations like Greece, Rome, Mesopotamia and Egypt; and Abrahamic religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
Two themes of special focus in the book are: Impurity and Sacrality. While they are often understood as being opposed to each other, the book examines how they are treated as two sides of the same coin, when it comes to menstruation. This is especially true in Indic traditions and pre-Christian polytheistic traditions like Greco-Roman, Mesopotamian and Egyptian. Impurity and Sacrality complement each other to form a comprehensive worldview in these cultures.
The book also examines how the understanding of impurity in Abrahamic religions differs from those of polytheistic cultures. As part of the examination of the sacrality attached to menstruation, a special focus has also been given to the deities of menstruation in polytheistic cultures and to what Ayurveda and Yoga say about this essential function in a woman’s physiology.
Finally, a comparative study of menstrual notions prevalent in modernity is presented, along with a Do and Don’t dossier.
Also find an excerpt below :
Now, what exactly is Ashaucha? It has been roughly translated to mean uncleanliness / impurity. But the full implication of the term goes beyond the normal notions associated with these terms. To understand this, we must first comprehend the Hindu concept of an Individual and the concepts of Shaucha (purity) and Ashaucha (impurity) associated with such an individual.
Much of the modern scientific view, which is largely rooted in materialism, perceives an Individual as just a physical body. Even the mind and its functions are perceived as being rooted in the physical organ brain. Contrary to this, Hinduism perceives an Individual as a being with five layers of individuality. In other words, each person has five bodies that act as five sheaths that covers his/her innermost Self (Atman). These five sheaths, which are together called as ‘Pancha-Koshas’, are: Annamaya Kosha (physical sheath), Pranamaya Kosha (vital sheath), Manomaya Kosha (mental sheath), Vigyanamaya Kosha (sheath of intellect), and Anandamaya Kosha (sheath of bliss). Hence, each Individual is constituted of five bodies- physical, vital, mind, intellect, and bliss. But in day to day life, at the Vyavaharika (transactional) level, a person is mostly active at his physical, vital and mental sheaths. Hence, it is with respect to these three layers of individuality that one must understand the process of menstruation.
One of the names for Menstruation in Sanskrit is ‘Rajasraava’, which loosely means ‘flow of Raja’. Though the term ‘Raja’ here is often translated as ‘blood’, it may as well refer
to ‘Rajas Guna’. Rajas is one among the three Gunas. It denotes flow, movement, passion, energy, etc. and imparts a dynamic nature to the Individual, but at the same time it also increases a person’s bondage to the worldly cycle.
In the physical body, ‘Rajasraava’ represents the flow of menstrual blood, which contains blood, cervical mucus, vaginal secretions, and endometrial tissue that are being thrown out of the physical body. In the vital body, Rajasraava represents the flow of excess Rajasic energy, i.e. Prana Shakti (especially the Apana vayu). Blood is the carrier of Prana-shakti within the physical body. Thus, through the excretion of the blood, excess Prana Shakti, which is Rajasic in nature, is being thrown out of the body during menstruation. In the mental sheath, Rajas represents thoughts and emotions such as anger, frustration, uneasiness, irritation, mood-swings, etc. to which menstruating women are more exposed to. Therefore, menstruation is a complicated physio-psychological process that exposes a woman to the excess Rajasic condition of the physical, vital, and mental levels.
Must say this promises to be an enlightening read on the much tabooed topic. Buy your copy here.
by D. R Downer
A guide that will tell you everything there is to know about the big, bad, mysterious, and often misunderstood world of Ghostwriting.
Other books in this series
After meeting Devika through one of my favourite writer groups, I was awed by her writing discipline. An entrepreneur by day and a writerpreneur by night, she is a living inspiration to anyone who wants to make a career out of their passion. Hence I could not wait to pick up her booklet on Self publishing. Being the one who made self publishing work for her, she succeeded in garnering a global audience and her advice was bound to be invaluable.
And I was not disappointed at all!
In a simple but honest way, the author summarizes the dilemma felt by every writer after penning the manuscript down. The fact that unsolicited manuscripts find it hard to get takers even if they are of the award winning material is well put through. I could very well connect to the dilemma that I had faced about 3 years back when my first literary baby Abhaya had to be published.
Successful Self published writers are no nonsense entrepreneurs who have their production and publishing schedules planned and prefer flexibility. They are their own hustlers and want a way to do it while balancing work and life. They are those who demand a fair share in royalties. Devika beautifully elucidates the fair royalty model that Indie writers can make use of along with the transparency that platforms like Kindle Direct Publishing offers.
There are other reasons too, well explained in the short booklet. If you are an aspiring writer who wants your story to be published, I urge you to read this book as soon as possible.
Also, a huge shout out to The Book Club for putting this together. Being the first book of a promising series, I am also looking forward to read and review the others. Watch this space for the next ones.
About the Author
Almost as soon as Devika Fernando could write, she imagined stories and poems. After finishing her education in Germany and returning to her roots in Sri Lanka, she got a chance to turn her passion into her profession. Having lived in Germany and in Sri Lanka with her husband has made her experience the best (and the worst) of two totally different worlds – something that influences her writing. Her trademark are sweet, yet deeply emotional romance stories where the characters actually fall in love instead of merely falling in lust. She draws inspiration from everyone and everything in life. Besides being a romance novel author, she works as a self-employed German web content writer, as a translator, and as a faithful servant to all the cats, dogs, fish and birds in her home. What she loves most about being an author is the chance to create new worlds and send her protagonists on a journey full of ups and downs that will leave them changed. When she’s not writing, she’s reading or thinking about writing.
Come November, there is a lot of excitement. It is #NaNoWriMo! It is the birth month of Kindle Direct Publishing. Coincidentally, it is the month where I plunged into the life of an author. Right! My first literary baby Abhaya shall celebrate her third birthday. To top it all, we were blessed with a gorgeous baby girl! Three years into author’s life and one year into motherhood feels like a lot of distance travelled. The joys and intrigues of motherhood aside, my #authorlife had no less excitement. Soon after the euphoria of publishing a new book, lay the challenge of marketing it. The task of continuously having to talk about it without sounding like a sleazy salesman was enough to give me a month long writers block!
It is during these phases that some tools and technologies made my life a tad easier.
Book Mock ups
Attaching the same old book cover every single time I made a social media post seemed boring to me and that in turn affected my frequency of posting it. I realised the importance of mockups, that is presenting your book against different backgrounds and formats, that ‘added a zing’ to the post!
You can see for yourself, the header picture of my site, a wonderful mockup of my third novel Mauri. There are many more that can be used in different posts and contexts! The job of marketing began to get a tad more interesting! Because I discovered Adazing.com
It was with some hesitation that I spent that amount to buy a set of mockups for Mauri.
Something like this!
And like this
And the image I used to create a banner like this
The ready pictures were mailed to me by team Adazing and the work on my part was to just pay and post!
28 images for $12.75 does not sound like a bad idea at all. Instead of spending clueless hours that roll into days and weeks of being unproductive, spending a couple of dollars and being done with the nagging social posts sounds really wise!
Encouraged by the utility of the product, I was compelled to check out their other products too! Bought their course material on Author blog machine.
I can’t recommend Adazing enough. Go on, try one of their free offerings and take it from there.
Writing may be a solitary pilgrimage. But the life of a writer most certainly need not be. Being a part of writer communities, offline and online can have a tremendous effect on one’s motivation levels.
Here is how being a part of the writer fraternity can power your writing.
Research and Learning
I write historical fiction. Very ancient historical fiction or Puranic fiction to be precise. My passion of reading source literature aside, there arise a hundred questions in my mind when I sit to reimagine an ancient event; questions like whether a particular technology existed during those times, whether this event could be placed in a specific time period, whether the characters had such and such leanings, whether the philosophy signalled makes sense and so on. Resolving these questions while saving myself from the proverbial research holes (where I start searching for a particular story of Adi Shankaracharya and four hours later, find myself reading about the French revolution with no memory of how my thought train travelled in such a bizzare direction!), requires the company of learned and well read people whose knowledge specialises in the said areas. I have a group of go-to people when I find myself unable to cross every third sentence and they are my saviours.
Writing is an emotional journey. The intensity of this roller coaster only increases if one is writing a full length novel that encompasses the growth, trials, tribulations, victories, intrigues and odysseys of protagonists. Add to it, the emotional toll resulting from business questions like launch plan, cover design, pricing, reviews, etc! There are many moments where we ask ourselves – Why do we do this to ourselves? But we know that we can’t be without that journey! Who can understand this pain better than another writer? The emotional support that we gain from consoling, cheering, listening, ranting and sharing just can’t be replaced! You have to be a part of such a support group to actually experience the advantages.
Cumulative Social presence
If you have journeyed for a while as an author/writer, you would know the importance of an author platform, the reach you have when you stick out your neck and shout out about your book/blog/content. Imagine if 10 author friends shared the information about it to their respecting platforms! As a writer who gained loyal readers because of this cumulative promotion, I can’t recommend this enough. Just that it works only when you give as much as you take.
As I said, writing is a solitary journey, but making a career in writing is most definitely not. Introversion is a luxury we can’t afford if we dream of paying our bills from our writing income. We need shout outs, we need reviews and recommendations, we need introductions to agents, publishers and publicists, we need connections to other freelancers. In other words, we can never say who in this huge world we might need when. Being a part of author fraternities can make friends out of complete strangers, it can enhance your identity, your profile and add that zing to your very introduction. Fraternities survive by pulling each other through the next hurdle, helping each other break the ceilings, because there is nothing called as competition in the writing world. There is only Co-opetition! (As Joanna Penn says!)
Have you been a part of such author communities? Do share your experiences in the comments!
Also, please don’t forget to check out other posts in the C series by the awesome writers I listed at the beginning!
Today’s guest post for AuthorpreneurSpeak is by the very dynamic Ruchi Singh author of four best selling novels. She shares some of the wisdom that helped her scale the best selling lists.
“If you wish to be a writer, write.”
Nothing can sum up the writing process as clinically as the statement above. But is it that simple?
At the outset writing sentence after sentence seems quite easy but writing a unique story, after story is a different ball game altogether. Typically what I have seen during five years in this field; people, who have been reading or are in love with words, think it’s a breeze, but believe me it gets tough as you struggle day after day for new ideas, inspirations, and motivation.
Am I trying to discourage anyone? The answer is ‘no’, instead I want everyone to get into the field with open eyes and mind. There will be moments of euphoria and dejection, frenzy and desperation, happiness and misery. It’s a virtual see-saw of every emotion in the spectrum.
So here I am with my two cents which I have gathered during my writing journey of nearly five years, observing my own writing patterns and fellow writers.
Set an aim
Setting a long-term goal or aim is of utmost importance. To set an aim one has to navigate through the maze of genres, mode of publishing, editors, designers, marketing etc. Setting of aim also includes knowing your target audience; age, gender, background etc
Learn your art
Whatever you decide to do, you should learn the nuts and bolts of the writing machinery, and how to fasten them together. For this one will need the necessary knowledge, skills and tools and support group around you to help you accomplish your goals. Let’s look at them individually;
- Process: Write the first draft, improve and improve. Let it sit for a period of time then re-write. After that it is editing, editing, and editing.
- Language: You should be proficient in the language you have decided to write. The grammar rules should be mastered. Some may say that correcting the language is a job of an editor. No, the editor’s job is not to rewrite your book, but to make the writing consistent, crisp and appealing, and at the end to point out the inadvertent mistakes which might have crept into the narrative.
- Skills: Creative writing skills need to be honed. One should know different kind of voice, POVs, show and tell, dialogue and monologue, exposition, characterization etc. It’s a complete degree course in the universities, so don’t underestimate the subject.
- Tools: These days there are various tools to aid a writer. Use them to optimize your time and effort. I am a big fan of Scrivener for plotting and organizing scenes etc. Then there is Aeon, which I have not explored much. Grammarly, Autocrit are good to catch language goof-ups.
I, as a thumb rule, discard the first two ideas which come to my mind for any story, scene, character traits or plot, just to avoid commonplace ideas. One has to be creative with plot-line, characterization, and description to make the story a unique offering to the readers. Remember you have to bring them back for the next book.
This is the key to achieve anything in life. The first story is a wonder, the second one is a delight but the third and fourth and the one after that need sheer determination and zeal. At times you might not need the motivation to drive yourself, but most of the times you have to have a strong resolve to complete the work.
Whether you are publishing through a publisher or self-publishing you have to promote your book. There is no escaping from marketing your book.
With the onset of online media, it is imperative to know both online as well as offline marketing. Social Media presence is very important in the age of the Internet; have a website/ blog, and Facebook page to showcase your work. Use Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook to interact with your readers and build your brand.
Having said everything, it is imperative to state that; do enjoy your writing process. The thrill of getting a heart-felt review from a satisfied reader will diminish the pain of spilling the sweat and blood.
All the very best!
About the Author
Author of the bestselling romantic thriller ‘The Bodyguard’, Ruchi Singh is an IT professional turned novelist. Her other published novels are ‘Take 2’ and ‘Jugnu (Firefly)’. Winner of TOI Write India Season 1, Ruchi has also published a short story collection, ‘Hearts and Hots’, besides being a contributing author to many anthologies.