Three reasons you should say it more often
Let’s face it. There are more writers in this world who shy away from calling themselves a ‘writer’ than those who happily and confidently do. And then there are wannabe writers who not only stand on the fringes when it comes to the title of ‘writer’ but also feel dubious, if not a little envious or bitter about why and how other writers refer to themselves as writers. The matter is pretty simple — if you write and you love it, that’s what you are — a writer!
Most writers start out with an abundance of self-doubt. This is inevitable as writers. But how we get over it is important. We have to write through it. When I began writing at thirteen, I certainly did not call myself a writer. I did not call myself a writer well until I had my first book published. But then, no one asked me if I was a writer. I was either called one by my friends who knew about my writing or never asked. However, I know one thing for sure — if ever I were asked, I wouldn’t have shied away from saying, “I am a writer.”
The matter is pretty simple — if you write and you love it, that’s what you are — a writer!
Because, it is important! If you are a writer and if you want to be a good one, the very first step you take, apart from writing with commitment and patience, is to own it. Own the title and say out loud, “I am a writer!”
Professionally, I am qualified as a physician and a counseling professional. But, these days, whenever I introduce myself, I add “I’m a writer, too.” to it. The power embedded in simply allowing yourself to take the title is immense.
So here are a few reasons to say “I am a writer.” and why you should say it often.
It’s a reality check
As a fiction writer and poet, often I have found myself detaching from the real world when I lunge into the ocean of words. I have no doubt that I am a writer because that sort of focus is telling enough. However, many writers find it hard to believe that they love to write and enjoy the process. They fear saying it loud lest they be judged. They recoil the moment someone asks them, “Seriously? You are a writer?” even if it was a harmless expression of incredulity. The negative focus in their thoughts about their craft stops them from entirely assuming the title of a writer.
But, every time you feel this way, say it: “I’m a writer!” and let the realization consume you. We all are writers for different reasons. And as writers, we all read — have read a lot — and its role in making us writers is not small. But then, there are many people who read a lot, even more than we do. Why isn’t every reader turning into a writer?
“But, when people say, Did you always want to be a writer?, I have to say no! I always was a writer.”
I believe there is an inherent dissatisfaction in us at what we have come across so far and an immense desire for more. I think when we write, we are also telling us, “Hey, buddy, this is the book you want to read and nobody is writing it, so I’m gonna do it for you.”
So, when you say, “I’m a writer,” it is a positive affirmation you need everyday to keep writing. It is a reality check which lets you realize that you are indeed a writer.
It’s a confidence-booster
Needless to say and as a continuation to the previous point, positive affirmations have a huge impact in cognition. After a while of exposure to something, be it good or bad, our brain is inclined to believe it. When you constantly tell something to someone, it is bound to get ingrained in them and they are very likely to believe it.
This is a great game to help yourself, too. Say “I’m a writer!” oftener than you do — or maybe write it, if that is better — and you will begin wrapping your head around the idea and eventually, you will work towards it. This is if you are already into writing and feel low on confidence and motivation.
It makes writing a job to take seriously
Writing, unlike other jobs or professions, is often taken lightly. People have trouble accepting it as a full-time career. Our family and friends are not very polite when it comes to addressing writing as a job instead of a hobby. Often, they think it is something we should do on the sidelines and ‘being a writer’ is just not professional enough for their ears.
“A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.”
Eventually, we, too, feel it a little less professional and not good enough to be called a job. We call it our passion and it is right by all means, but writing takes flight and makes a difference only once we take it as a profession.
All jobs have titles and so does writing. Someone who writes is called a writer. So while the word still exists, why not say “I’m a writer,” a bit proudly and take it as a serious job? Once you do, so will others. You can bet on that!
Yes, you’re a writer!
There are probably more reasons to say “I’m a writer,” but part of the reality check in point one is that only writing makes you a writer. We must all be striving to put down words and acknowledging, accepting and owning that we are writers make the process more confident, professional and meaningful. These, in turn, help you to be prolific, making you churn out story after story, whichever genre is your forte.
So, go ahead, write and say, “I am a writer!”
Check out this prose poetry book reading from my upcoming book The Storyteller !
Join me at:
I have talked about it everywhere, but not here. Today, I think I will reserve this short post to introducing my new book to all of you although this website is brimming with stuffs about it.
When I began writing The Storyteller, I definitely dreamed of publishing it. I began writing this book way back in 2015, when my daughter was a baby. But I was clueless about how it should go forth, even though I knew the epilogue. All I knew was it was a story I wanted to tell. I stopped writing this book several times, began other projects many times, but this was the one destined to be completed.
Once my debut novel Sandcastles got a publishing deal, I pulled out this file and my mentor told me, "It falls flat. It reads boring. Rewrite it." I was hurt at first, because he had loved it earlier. But, nevertheless, I began revising it and slaying. Rewriting the 50K words that were down in that draft. I was left with about 30K words. And then, I resumed writing the rest.
This journey from draft to book has not been breezy either. It took me 11 rounds, of course with ample amount of weeding by my friend, editor and mentor, Dr. Varghese C. Abraham, who worked with me on Sandcastles as well. And this book materialized.
Now, there are just a couple weeks between the printed book and me. But none between the kindle edition and you! Yep, go grab it from your Amazon Kindle store and start reading it today! It is also available for FREE on Kindle Unlimited (KUL).
Now that that's out of the way, Cheers!
Everyone stay safe and sane. Love, Sana
Passion and neuroplasticity vs. inspiration in creativity.
What makes a writer, a writer? Or an artist, an artist? Primarily, their creativity. But then, the world has more creative people than those who have actually pursued their creative arenas and produced something worth remembering. Why is that so?
Why are some people more creatively successful than others? Is it because they are constantly inspired by something and own a think-tank that overflows with the muse? Is it because their well of stories and thoughts never gets dry? Or is it because they put in more effort and prioritize their art over everything?
Passion and creativity
Creative people who realize that they cannot do without what they are capable of, pursue their art. And creativity bursts forth. You cannot say when the muse strikes you.
You cannot predict what elicits a certain idea in your head. So, the way to capture it is to be ready all the time. Passion doesn’t wait for inspiration. Writers better keep some sort of idea-recording tool — a notebook and pen, a note-making app on your phone or other gadgets or a voice-recorder if you like to speak out your thoughts.
Words get strung in the least way we expect and that string of words could portray a whole new world when you look at it later. I remember using such bursts of thoughts in my fiction books later.
“Creativity doesn’t wait for that perfect moment. It fashions its own perfect moments out of ordinary ones.” — Bruce Garrabrandt
Another aspect of creativity is its adherence to habit. Let’s take a glimpse at that — about habituation and prioritization.
Neuroplasticity and creativity
If you wait for inspiration to strike, you might wait a bit too longer than necessary. You might do much better when you make it a habit to sit and write, not to push yourself too hard but to let yourself experiment, make errors and rectify them.
This is because our brain (where essentially all thoughts and emotions originate from) is neuroplastic. Means, you can mold it into just about everything you want to be.
Habituation and prioritization
These are the two processes that press the buttons when you need to knead and mold your brain into what you want it to perform. The brain programs itself into acting upon what we make ourselves do. The more you do and think something, the stronger those synapses grow and the more it becomes a part of who you are.
The changes in neural pathways take place when the brain resorts to synaptic pruning. This is the process by which the brain deletes the neural connections (there’s one for every thought) which are not necessary or useful for us anymore, thereby strengthening the necessary and useful synapses and inculcating what is important to us.
For example, when you decide to work out, you just decide it, think about it and maybe get motivated for a day or two. You slip back to your sedentary state in no time.
But at the same time, instead of planning to work out, if you just start doing exercises, your brain runs the command accordingly — hey, she is exercising to stay fit, you better stay away from junk food or refined sugars.
The bottom line is — just thinking or planning doesn’t really cut the deal. Acting does. Your brain equips you to habituate something if you do it, not if you just think about it. Thinking precedes action anyway.
So you need to begin acting on your thoughts towards your goals. This works for writing and creative pursuits in general because habituating and prioritizing breeds consistency. And consistency is what eggs are in a cake recipe — a binder. Consistency binds together your efforts into one journey and destination, and subsequently, success.
So, when is the best time to be creative?
The best time is now — now when you are idling and poring over social media because you are uninspired.
The best time is now — now when you are constantly making guilt trips because you have not really felt like writing a new page.
The best time is now — now when you stall on opening your work-in-progress (or rather, regress) just because you have not felt inspired by your life or surroundings.
Your inspiration lies right in there — where you have written some words and left them to fend for themselves. Your inspiration dwells in those pages that are waiting for continuity. It is in there that you wove a web of beauty, that’s where you need to get caught again.
Within you. Within your art.
Sometimes, you need to carve out time from whatever mood you are in, and set to work. The mundane moments might as well be transformed by bringing on some words to the page, instead of waiting for the moments to become extraordinary by themselves!
This article was first published on The Brave Writer on medium.com.
What 15 years of writing carved into me
This is one of my most-read articles on my Medium blog. You shouldn't miss it either. :)
Writing, to be straightforward and honest, is a daunting job. Nothing less. Yet, we all want to write. Because, it is also a deeply gratifying thing to do. To be able to put forward our thoughts in words, to be read and to be appreciated for our work is an immense feeling. We all want it. Wanting to write is, for a good number of writers, just like feeding and freeing the soul.
However, many writers who start out quite enthusiastically slacken later. They are not able to get ahead through writing. They fail to find joy in writing. They do not see results. They barely can get themselves to work towards their writing goals. Many a half-written book has littered the bins and clouded the minds of writers. To make it to the end is often a dream they give up prematurely.
Why do they have to end it like that? What are they missing out on? What is it that they need to have to stay in writing? And why is it important to stay in writing for long to see any real results?
No one answer to these questions. But I know 4 P’s that helped me stay in writing. And staying in writing has helped me see my book published traditionally and allowed me the courage needed to embark on the voyage of authorship.
It is not easy. It is not meant to be easy. Because, writing is a job that requires self-discipline. Writing is a job that needs you to show up. It needs you to be ready to do all it takes to be successful.
Realizing these were what taught me about the 4 P’s you need to stay in writing.
Let’s not go all defensive here — Passion is essential. Like in anything you enjoy and want to keep doing, writing, too, calls for intense passion. You need undying passion for the written word to be a writer and to stay as a writer. Only passion can fuel your writing dreams even when you are about to burn out and feel like quitting. If it weren’t for passion, many great works would never have been written. So many great writers would never have been great.
If you want to stay in writing, you need to be passionate about the craft. Writing has to be something you cannot be without. Passion is what distinguishes between a story told for the sake of telling and a story told for the sake of the storyteller. Passion is what makes you write for yourself. Writing as a profession takes time and hard work to be fruitful.
The only thing that can help you to survive the depressing troughs of a writing career during the time it takes to build up is the unrelenting passion for the activity itself.
So when you feel like giving up, ask yourself:
“Are you really passionate about writing?”
Persistence is simply staying. To stay in writing with your whole heart. Whatever happens, if you feel like you are going to keep doing what you have been doing, i.e. writing in this case, you can say you are persistent.
Short stints at writing are not going to yield anything. To see the bigger picture, you will have to depend on persistence to help you remember why you are here writing. It is easy to lose hope very quickly especially when writing is such a taxing work but takes time to show results.
Without persistence, you will never find what you are capable of.
Despite knowing it all, if you still find it difficult to stay in writing, ask yourself:
“Are you ready to write, rinse and repeat, until something clicks?”
Sometimes, persistence is not going to be enough. It is going to take a little more than that to stay in writing. Perseverance is one step deeper than persistence. When you persist in writing against all odds, against all hurdles and disappointments, you have perseverance.
When you keep writing through rejections (which are inevitable in a writer’s life), you need perseverance to stay in writing. Perseverance helps you to see through the curtains of hopelessness. Perseverance makes your efforts goal-oriented. To persevere is to blend the long time that you have waited and survived while hoping for your writing to find a home. Oftentimes, it gets very difficult to persevere — no doubt — but when you have it all based in passion, it becomes a bit easier.
Avoid self-doubt to find the courage to persevere.
Hard work and quality pays off in the end always. If you are not convinced about that, ask yourself:
“Would you rather do something other than writing?”
Perhaps, this should come right after passion, but I have placed it last because most of the time, you need the highest amount of patience while waiting for your writing to catch attention. You can sail through writing a book if you have the passion, persistence and perseverance to do it. But once it is done and you send it out to pique publishers or agents (if it is a book), the months of waiting that follows could be your undoing. Patience becomes vital when you reach this stage. Many people step back from publishing because of this seemingly endless wait. Many writers resort to self-publishing because of this reason alone.
I waited 6 years for my first novel to be published. And now I am waiting for responses from publishers and agents for my second novel. At times, the wait really gets on my nerves and I almost lose it.
But then, I remind myself — this is what I signed up for. This is a pact with my soul.
So, if you do not want to cultivate patience and cannot wait to see results, ask yourself:
“Are you comfortable with spending time for something you cannot wait for? Is writing worth your time if you can’t find the patience to let it fly and find its own way home?”
Every job needs a specific sets of skills necessary to execute the functions needed to get it done. Writing does, too. To write and to stay in writing, you need talent but alongside, you need to work up your passion, persistence, perseverance and patience necessary to complete a project.
Writing is not for lazy-bums. It is pure hard work and very much capable of intimidating you. Garner the courage to polish your set of skills. Ensure you are constantly reminded of how the 4 P’s become indispensable when you consider writing for long term. Every time you slacken and feel like giving up, tell yourself:
“Passion. Persistence. Perseverance. Patience.”
Ask yourself the questions I have highlighted as quotes under each of these. The first step to getting things done is realizing what you are capable of. The rest will be channeled accordingly.
The first month of 2020 has bid goodbye already and we are halfway into the second. How are your reading and writing goals holding up? Hope you all are finding time to read and write.
In the previous post, I talked about Self-Doubt and Self-Confidence was covered in the post before that. My article on writing with self-confidence has been rewritten and accepted into a publication ‘The Writing Cooperative’ on Medium platform and was published on February 4th, 2020 (Tuesday).
Writers, do check out this platform at medium.com – it’s a great place to read other writers and write your own pieces. I am in love with that place and have been writing voraciously there. You also have the option to choose to be paid as per the time readers spend on your articles by being a member in their Partner Program. You can publish your poetry, stories or any kind of articles there.
So, now on to our third part of The Primer series.
Many writers ask me, “How do you manage everything?” meaning the multiple roles I undertake in a day. I am also a physician working the evenings and two mornings in a week. I do not have a weekend, just Sundays. I have a 5 year old daughter, demanding but I believe she is accommodating of me, too. I live with my in-laws who are lovely people and allow me to be.
But still, when you ask me how I manage, my first answer is:
I don’t. I am all over the place most of the time. I do not manage things at all. But somehow, I get things done. I am far from punctual. The only thing I do on time is to be on time for kid’s school bus.
The time on the clock is 24 hours for all of us. Yet, some people do more than others. I am not the right person to talk about time-management – not yet. But most of the ‘not-getting-done’ in our lives is because of wrong prioritization and wrong zones.
Writers have to introspect, brainstorm and do some serious thinking to do their craft. Some people have learned to write in any kind of environment – I used to write in classrooms when the lectures were going on and now I have to write through the preschooler din. Some need a quiet space, a room of one’s own (preferably without doors). This is entirely up to you although I believe it is best not to get too stringent about having a space. There is nothing human brain cannot get used to.
Dissociation and Compartmentalization
The terms don’t have to scare you. It is pretty simple.
Writers are many people in one person – you all know that by now and have experienced that state of mind if you have dreamed of writing stories. It is not easy to conform and be silent when life situations are not exactly how you want them to be. But, we are humans. We are social animals and live in communities. We have families and friends. Few live in isolation. We have day jobs – very few are into writing full time.
So, when you experience dichotomy, when your heart is split between your passion and responsibility, what do you do? When you want to write when you have to be at a family event, when you have to do an errand for someone you love when you would rather sit in your room and type away, when someone expects you to put off writing for something they prioritize, how do you go about it?
I swear by the technique of dissociation and compartmentalization.
In this post, I will elaborate on Dissociation.
"Writers are many people in one person – you all know that by now and have experienced that state of mind if you have dreamed of writing stories."
Dissociation is simply the act of separating. For a writer in the midst of a normal social life, it is crucial to separate your day-to-day life and writing. It is great if you can manage both without dissociation, but most people can’t.
Dissociation, in my experience, allows you to handle emotions and reactions separately. Writers are in general very sensitive and emotive people. This could undermine their personal life. If you drag your emotional baggage pertaining to your writer persona to your personal life, there is going to be unrest and lots of misunderstanding with whoever comes in contact with you. Further, a divided state of mind stumped with confusion is really not a blissful situation.
The best part is, this is all in the mind. No hoodwinking there. You simply decide to have two sides to yourself. And keep those two lives apart. The experiences, observations and perspectives can overlap because the writer in you will need to know what you go through. But the passions and actions can and will have to be kept separately. Dissociation also helps you to deal with guilt if you were to disappoint anybody with regard to mundane social activities and societal expectations, which you are bound to if you are serious about writing. ;)
"If you intend to write as truthfully as you can, your days as a member of polite society are numbered, anyway.” - Stephen King
There are a few ways to dissociate. Let’s list them out.
1. A pseudonym
Having a pen name (pseudonym) grants you a different name and some personal space needed to be that person. When you assume a name for the writer in you, you are giving him or her, a whole new personality with all its good and not so good aspects. It also helps you to channel your writer persona’s public life away from your personal life. A complicated person such as a writer might experience complicated situations and relationships at some point. A pseudonym lets you have an alter ego that can deal with those complications outside your personal life.
Also, when you are writing, you can slip into it effortlessly and remind yourself to stay focused. The pathological diagnosis of dissociative identity does not let you be in control. A voluntary dissociation helps you take your writing seriously and save your precious time. When you are in your writing persona, you do not have to heed about what your real life limitations are, at least mentally. Yet, you can maintain a certain amount of transparency.
Take care not to overlap the two which brings us to the importance of the next method. The slightly uncomfortable truth when using a pseudonym is, your writing will belong to that name and not to your actual self, which might be a total no for many writers.
"A voluntary dissociation helps you take your writing seriously and save your precious time. When you are in your writing persona, you do not have to heed about what your real life limitations are, at least mentally."
2. Dissociation by time
This is easier and more acceptable to those who are not so keen about attributing all your written work to an alter ego and if you are too proud of crediting it to a strange name.
Dissociate your time instead of your personality. Set aside a time exclusively for writing, preferably first thing in the morning. That way, you will not be immersed in guilt throughout the day that you did not write. Having fixed time periods throughout the day during which you will not attend to anything else helps you go forward with your writing projects.
Make sure your family and friends are aware of this time. It can also contribute to them taking your writing seriously, which solves a lot of dilemma and disillusionment.
"Set aside a time exclusively for writing, preferably first thing in the morning. That way, you will not be immersed in guilt throughout the day that you did not write."
3. Dissociation by space
Every job has a job space – an office or a particular field. Writing should, too. If you are someone who can write from anywhere and everywhere like me, you are doing great. I can squeeze in some writing time even on my phone while I am doing laundry or brainstorm when doing dishes or when traveling. But if you are someone with stringent requirements for brainstorming, it is likely that you will wait for the perfect moment and place to write. It can be a tad bit difficult to get things done in that case. But you can have an office.
Be protective of your time and space if you cannot function anywhere and anytime. Convert your table to a workplace. Pick up some habits that will program your brain into associating with your workplace and start writing. Don’t let other things clutter your space. Some writers convert their outhouses or attics or unused rooms to a writing space. Decorate it with motivating and uplifting things like potted plants, flowers, art and necessities like sticky notes, planners, journals, stationary and snacks.
"Be protective of your time and space if you cannot function anywhere and anytime."
To wind up...
This art of living as a writer will be complete only after talking about compartmentalization, too. I will try to bring it on sooner.
These are my findings as a writer. Feel free to share yours, too. :)
Until we meet again!
Love and Peace,
So what have you been upto since New Year? I have been reading and trying to stick to my reading goals. Last year, I had barely pushed myself to overcome the reading slump. But this year, I am going to seriously do it. Because a writer must read, although those days of reading carefree, in abandon, are long gone.
I finished two books in 2020, both of which I had reviewed on Instagram and my Facebook Page. The first one is Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman. The other, which I completed two days ago, is When I Hit You or The Portrait of the Writer as A Young Wife by Meena Kandasamy. And I am glad I read them both.
I am not gonna drag for today’s post. The previous post on Self Confidence was long since it had the introductory part, too. If you are new here, do sign up on the blog by submitting your email in the subscribe column in the sidebar on your right. And checkout the previous post Writing Your Novel – The Primer – Part 1 if you have not read it, because you are going to need continuity for the topic.
So, the second ingredient in The Primer – Self-Doubt.
What is self-doubt? I don’t intend to define it in formal terms. It is easier to clarify it through the monologues every writer has had at some point of time.
The scenarios go like this, to bring up a few:
This quote has been wrongly attributed to Aristotle and most of the images you will find on the Internet with this quote will have Aristotle credited for it. But anyway, it is so deep and meaningful. There's one way to avoid criticism as a writer - to not write. And that is not an option for you, is it? :)
If none of the above are reasons for getting stuck, close that file or put away that manuscript. Take a book to read. Go on a trip. Bake something. Give yourself some edible treat. And watch movies – yes, it is such a great way to exercise your imagination, to bring out storytelling. Do another creative hobby if there is anything else you are good at. I paint when I’m brain-fagged, it helps immensely to unwind.
Some people have tons of stories in their head, and they ask me: “How do we begin?”
My answer is: Try writing.
Did you just think: “That’s a dumb answer that escapes the actual question.”?
I know. Only that it is not. Because, before writing the story in your mind, you have to find a few things about yourself, like:
And these questions can be answered only if you “Try Writing.”
So, wrapping it up on self-doubt with a note on it:
Self-doubt is a tricky thing. Like salt is in a curry. Like self-confidence is – on the other side of the coin. Too much self-doubt will barricade your very essence as a writer – your writing will never see the world and vice versa. No self-doubt will lead to over-confidence, which is pretty suicidal too. Because, you will not be able to improve or judge your own writing, which is a dangerous state to be in.
Self-doubt is nourishing in little quantities. In healthy portions, it makes you:
When Self-Doubt tells you: “You are not perfect and you will make mistakes, you are not good enough.”, flip the coin and let Self-Confidence come up and tell you: “You are human, you are bound to make mistakes and you are not perfect in everything, but that’s okay. If you are not good enough, practicing will make you better and that is enough as long as you keep striving.” Apply this balance throughout your doubts and you are good to go.
So what are other instances of self-doubt in you as a writer? What monologues other than the ones I have listed do you hear from yourself everyday? How do you fight self-doubt and how do you balance it? Let me know. :)
Love and Peace, Sana
Reading now: All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (Winner of Pulitzer Prize for fiction 2015)
Happy New Year!
Hope your Christmas holidays went well and that you are all looking forward to a 2020 with fresh hope and realistic and practical resolutions. As promised, although not as early, I’m here to begin talking about how to begin writing your novel.
Oftentimes, I get messages from aspiring writers telling me that they have an idea for a book, a story to tell, a novel to write, but have no idea where to begin or how. This is, I suppose, a dilemma every writer faces when he or she embarks on their journey to authorship. Your concern is genuine and real. It is not easy to begin. You will have a hundred little ideas of how to begin your book but sometimes, when you are confronted by the blank page, your mind and muse black out on you.
So today, let’s put a primer to the canvas of the writing journey.
My humble disclaimer: This series is not a step by step tutorial on how to start writing your book. This is a sort of breaking down the art for you as an author, so that you know the inside dynamics of the writing process from an author’s perspective, seasoned with what has worked for me (which may or may not work for you), and paving a path to kick-starting your work.
This post will tell you what the primer to writing a book constitutes. It has nothing to do with the story in your dreams, nor with writing techniques – we are not there yet.
But it has everything to do with you – as a creative person and as a writer. So here we go!
There are 4 components required to prime your mind with, mixed in a balanced quantity, to be able to take up, stick to and see the finishing line of the process called ‘Writing A Novel’. They are:
Today, I will elaborate on the first in the list – Self Confidence.
Nothing worth your time and effort can be done without self-confidence. This goes for every field of work. If you are not going to believe that you can do it, you are not going to do it. A very simple derivation. And in the field of art, the importance surpasses any other, because art is simply not something a degree or doctorate will equip you for. Writing is entirely an inside process before it is displayed. Without self-confidence, you are going to have a hard time trying to write, despite having a hundred wonderful ideas.
So how do you know that you lack confidence? Let me break the symptoms down for you.
Chances are you might relate to one of the above groups, although this is not the end of the list. There is another group of people who are talented and confident but lazy to take the ordeal of writing a book – this post is not for them, because to write, you definitely have to sign up for hard work. It is nothing less than hard work, but something worth the sweat and the persistence.
So, back to self-confidence: how do you nail it? How do you wade through the swamp called ‘lack of self-confidence’?
Some are born and grown confident. Some are naturally smart and self-confidence is just second nature to them. When I look back to the days when I had just begun writing books – which would be at the age of 14, when I wrote my first novel, obviously dumb and cheesy, and cringe-worthy – I have to admit that I did not lack confidence. I wanted to be an author right from that age. But that confidence stemmed from not knowing enough, as I realized later. Which is why I am eligible to talk about nailing confidence now. Someone who has not gone through a lack of confidence at some point cannot talk about it. And I have been there later.
Technically, in creativity, self-confidence is undermined by self-doubt about which we will talk in the next post. It is a no-brainer that self-confidence and self-doubt are inversely proportional. And the idea is to strike a balance between the two.
But these are immeasurable stuffs. I hear you. How are immeasurable things measured or balanced? The equation allows you to do it. Inversely proportional variables move in opposite directions, in terms of quantity. So if you boost your self-confidence, self-doubt gradually depletes. Or if you work on reducing self-doubt, self-confidence will grow and branch out.
Self-doubt needs a whole new post for itself. So, here are a few tips to boost your self-confidence.
There would be more, if I ponder, but I have wound up the tips here for now because it had gone long already. Feel free to add to it.
What are your ideas on developing self-confidence?
Last year, I made the resolution to complete my second novel and finish editing it and I successfully did. And began Book #3. This year, I resolve to write Book #3 and delve into more serious reading.
What are your writing and reading resolutions for 2020? Share below in comments.
Wishing you all a prosperous New Year 2020!
Love and Peace,
Read Sandcastles yet? If yes, why not drop your review on Amazon so that others know about it? If not, choose from the Kindle edition or paperback.
Learning is a continuous process. We keep absorbing information, facts, implications and experiences as we move through our day to day life. Besides all those textbooks and classes we have taken, there's a parallel course of learning that we are seldom aware of - life lessons, observations and experiences. This is the learning process that carves depth into you as a person. We all got them, haven't we?
However, some of us are acutely aware of this footpath learning. We pay attention to the minor details, feelings and reactions from us and the world around us. If you are capable of observing the underlying dynamics of something common and finding the fascinating undercurrents in them, chances are you are artists of some kind. You are capable of converting the everyday mundane things into imagery worth enjoying.
I am not qualified to speak on behalf of any other art/creative pursuit whatsoever. But I deem myself ready to talk about writing. Writing based on true events and experiences is quite a trend nowadays. But I believe, a writer’s true potential lies in writing about things he has not experienced first-hand. Imagination is quite underestimated but those who really know art knows the importance of imagination.
What many people fail to understand is that imagination is indeed shaped from experiences and observations. So here I have come up with a few ways to convert life lessons, observations and experiences into words that can be enjoyed. Of course, the fillers will be imagination and that’s why we need to talk about the how-to and what-all.
1. Keep a writer's journal
It can be a notebook or a diary. Or it can be a note-making app or voice recorder, or a file on your computer. I use a couple of apps like Jotterpad and Gnotes on my phone to keep notes as they are handy and compact. If you enjoy actually penning down stuffs, do that though.
Jotterpad on Android is a great free note-making app which can be synced to your Google Drive. So when I note down my ideas, the next time I sit down to write, I can pull those text files open on my laptop. It's a great way to write on the go. Similarly, Gnotes is a note-making app in which you can register and sign in through the browser on your computer. Either way, what you note down when the muse strikes will be saved there for later.
2. Observe in Third Person
Whenever you are out simply walking or heading somewhere and your brain is not engaged with any other priorities, try running a narrative of what you see around you, and yourself, in third person. This is a simple storytelling technique I used to do while I travelled or crossed the street.
The idea is to convert an experience as simple as being outside on the street, fetching grocery or crossing the road into words. This is an exercise of narration that I have found useful when I sit down to write. Doing this enables you to convert experiences and actions into narratives. And of course, have fun, tweak with interesting expressions and if you want to, write them down. There is a great possibility of coming across something insightful as you adapt the surroundings and the imagination into words.
I am not a fan of gossips and hearsay and not fond of propagating them. But once in a while, eavesdrop. Listen in on conversations. Not to poke your nose into other people's business - nope, that is not acceptable - but, to get a hang of people around you, the world and its problems. Listening in on people around you is a good way to develop your folder of conflicts. Potential story conflicts can unravel from random conversations you heard in passing.
4. Work on Empathy
Empathy is what makes sympathy and kindness possible. This world is wrought with unpleasant news and moments every day. A lot of people are in trouble. A true writer is disturbed by the troubles around him or her. Writers are generally responsive and quite reactive. And this turmoil in our mind can be addressed with words. So work on boosting your empathy.
Be ready to understand others. Be ready to put yourself in their shoes. In writing, you are going to have to do that a lot, because our own life and situations are very limiting to write more than a couple of books, if any. Stories are derived from the world around us and they may or may not include us. But what makes it our experience is empathy.
Empathize with those who are hurting and having a tough time. Empathize with characters from the books you read. Analyze the emotions behind suffering. Every good story has some amount of pathos. And to experience another person's pleasure and pain is indispensable to a writer because we are hundreds, if not thousands, of persons melded into one.
5. Reproduce an event or observation in words, objectively and subjectively
A huge part of a writer’s job is contributing one’s own thoughts, observations and experiences to his or her characters. Use your different points of view to construct different characters. Put them in strife that you have only heard of or come across when you were listening in and then give them solutions that you would make if you were in their place. Sew in your beliefs and understandings into fictitious worlds when you develop a plot.
Recreate a situation you came across or heard of, objectively and subjectively. This writing exercise helps you build narrative skills. Write about someone you met on the bus or train, describe their attributes that piqued your attention. Develop a dialogue from a short conversation you had or overheard.
The more you look around and put into words, the easier writing becomes. Process what you experience into words. When you read books, write reviews to delve into them deeper. Reading is an exercise and experience in itself. You learn the craft while you experience the story and imagine the events in your mind. And talking about it in writing is an introspective and exploratory activity.
To Wind Up
This is a topic that can at once be written endlessly and yet be stopped, leaving the rest to your exploration.
What are your thoughts on writing based on real life experiences and true events and writing that is extracted from the world through imagination?
As a reader, what do you prefer to read - real life stories or fiction?
Which do you think is more difficult? Are true life experiences necessary to write fiction?
Let me know in comments. Adieu until the next blog post!
Summer has rolled in all of a sudden here in Kerala, erasing the wintry chill without a trace. Even the night air is warm and the days are burning sunny. At times, cool breezes blow in and one such breeze held this awesome news that an author can only sometimes dream of!!!
Sandcastles was published on November 30th, 2018 - just eligible by hairline luck to be submitted for participation in ARL Literary Award 2018 - a new award launched in 2018 for various categories like Best Author, Best Debut Author, Best Poet, Most Popular Book, Most Influential author etc for books published between January 2016 and November 2018. Sandcastles being a debut novel, I submitted it under Best Debut Author Category and Best Author Category, to test myself. Well, guess what?
Sandcastles has secured a place in the ARL Literary Award 2018 for Best Author Longlist announced on February 10th, 2019!!!
Can you believe it? Sometimes I can't but maybe, you should check out the book for yourself and decide. ;)
I will be back soon - as soon as possible, that is - with some points on writing. Day before yesterday, I had an interactive session to talk about my journey to Sandcastles in the monthly meet up of The Wordsmiths Club in Calicut. In the quaint seaside Bokchoy Beach Cafe, overlooking the Calicut beach, it was a warm gathering of word lovers. However, time
constraints made me skip elaborating on writing techniques and much more.
So, soon I will be doing a few posts on what I think can push you into writing better, writing regularly and effectively. Let's see how it can fare. Yeah?
Reading Now: The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
Writing Now: The Storyteller
So long! Have a great week !
Last year, I took a sabbatical from Facebook, called it a 'virtual detox' and it went on for 7 months. I had written about it in a post about writing here - how it helped me - yeah, it helped me finish half of the first draft of the second book. Later, I had set out on an editing spree with my mentor, kneading, cutting and shaping Sandcastles into a readable,
I had a huge break from that work in progress - the second book - and it really just got stuck for me. For months, I simply didn't even open the file. I wanted to but couldn't.
Often, such writer's block is a lack of courage and sense of direction. I was overwhelmed. I knew the ending. I knew how it went that way. I just had to fill in the pages to reach there as best as I could. But I couldn't write. I let myself loose - tried not to force-write. But once my debut got settled and finally found a home, I began thinking - what next?
I had excuses not to write. I had excuses for everything. I let myself believe those excuses. And then, I realized, excuses were just justifications for lack of priority and not lack of time. And when it comes to writing, I cannot think of it as anything less than a priority. Writing is important to me but I was not getting it done!
I opened the file. I have had change of thoughts and scenes over the time. Even writer's blocks cannot actually interfere with the streaming of the story images in the head. I had to get it out if I wanted to get it read. I discussed the prospectives with my ever-supportive mentor and editor-in-one friend, Prof. Varghese C. Abraham.
This past week, I have been editing and making changes to it with my newfound brilliance. Lol. Yeah, right, wiser as we grow older. :D
Today was a lovely Sunday - one of the most satisfying one I have had in recent times. Low carb cooking is really easy on me. I spent double time on laundry, the semi-automatic washing machine giving me time to edit the manuscript written so far. Around 51K words had been down in it during the virtual detox time. Now it has dropped down to 49K. Now building up again.
And these days, I spend as little time as possible online and definitely, it works. It is a whole globe of distraction away from your brain. But just now, I realized a few things about my writing journey that called to be shared.
1. The writing journey of the first book and that of the second are totally different. A lot of factors differ. Especially the level of passion. Writing is always a passionate affair for me but when I wrote my first book, there was a blissful oblivion, a race against the destiny. I wrote to find the story. I wrote to know what happened to them and that will be obvious to the reader. I was halfway through the book when the real twist of the story flashed to me. It was like being let in on a secret. Discovering a hidden truth. Unraveling it as I wrote. I think that propelled my writing forward.
As for this book, I already know what happened to everybody. I have even the end written (which will change. Sandcastles no more has the same beginning I had written in the first draft - LOL!). I just need to tell the world what happened and why and how. I find myself having to settle down with a sense of purpose now. Nevertheless, it is a story I need to tell and that is keeping me at it. But before I opened the document this time, I made a few changes to the story-line, changed the setting and decided to add and take a few aspects in the story. So, now, it feels like I have to discover how that makes the characters behave. Voila! So, take a detour when you are blocked, writers out there!
2. I chucked my side job - content writing - to become a full-time writer. Horrifying? True that I can't go on an online shopping spree like before when I feel depressed. But that's good - I'm running out space in my room.
The reason was, being a job that took my writing skill, it really meddled between passion and profession. One was love and the other was duty/responsibility or whatever it is. I was constantly in emotional dichotomy. I was always told passion cannot feed me but it looked like for the time being, I had enough food around me.
My medical practice doesn't interfere with writing. It gives me some extra time which may not be easily available at home as a family woman. But when I had pending works and deadlines and when it called for my creativity and writing skills to complete them, it really took a toll on my creative writing.
I realized I was doing neither of them well.
I had to make the cut - now or never. I chose writing over money. I know it is a test of luck but I was more concerned about the test of faith. I had to have faith in my own words. I resigned from the job because whenever I opened worksheets, I felt bad that I was not writing what I wanted to. And whenever I thought of writing my book, I was using the job to excuse myself from my own passion, feeling guilty. I have decided to take my passion as my profession for real now, apart from medicine and psychology.
So here I am, not dichotomied anymore. I killed my excuses and opened my manuscript.
And it feels like heaven. For once, I have done the right thing by myself.
I have taken the writeous way. :)
The only regret is I should have done it earlier. But then, better late than never!
What has been that one decision that changed your life for the better?
Let me know. :)
Reading now: The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn.
A blog exploring the art of writing and life as a writer amidst other roles through articles on writing, creativity, books, productivity, self-improvement, better living and parenting.