Tag Archives: Writing process

My Writing Process

This post ought to have been left blank because I realized that I have no process. Or perhaps there is no process.

Except that process where you have shown perseverance in spending time glued to the chair at your desk, tearing your hair (if you have any left), sighing in despair, pacing up and down the floor and sitting through the bouts of time when there has been no writing.

I realized also that you must have reached a goal, albeit set by yourself, weekly or monthly, of a number of pages/words that you decided to write, even if the writing was all gibberish, to have started thinking about a process.

The gibberish is an important ingredient to start with.  It is the one that might or might not lead to magic.

Unfortunately, I have realized through the years that there is no magic in the world that you haven’t produced yourself. But try enough times and you’ll see that for those who know how to look for it, lo and behold! “Zim zam zambowe/ Magic comes from nowhere!” (so sings the wise, white-haired, white-bearded sorcerer from the Indian children’s show Chota Bheem).

The sorcerer with Chota Bheem and his gang. The image is linked to the the image url. Thanks to The Boy for locating this image.

The following steps are solely how it happens with me. I’ll be very glad to hear how it happens to you. Continue reading My Writing Process

Advertisements

Does writing advice really help?

from pixabay
from pixabay

People vary vastly in their approach to work or play. So when I see a lot of writing advice doing the rounds (including my own), I’m rather skeptical.  Unless the advice is really specific, regarding tone, structure, syntax or something else, it serves little purpose for me beyond motivation, which, admittedly, is a huge part of success in any endeavour.

Some of the advice comes from writers themselves, when a dry spell probably compels them to write about something and what better a topic than the one they know most about—writing?

A lot of the impetus for writing about writing comes from a high demand amongst readers, who would be writers, and are looking for some magic recipe that will tell them how write. They expect such instructions to be clear and bulleted, exactly like the ones on how to put a bookshelf together or how to identify nasty weeds in your garden.

Again, such lists serve a purpose, to an extent, if you’re looking to churn out writing that will fulfill a purpose, and in theory, will help the next person write a similar thing should s/he be able to get to the instructions just like you did. Catch the reader’s attention with the intro, use a quote or an anecdote and end with a question or comment. Or, make sure the characters develop and edit out the parts that don’t fit.

But really, if someone has not recognized that they need to catch the reader’s attention or to make the characters come alive like real people from his or her reading of good authors, and is spending valuable reading time on reading a list of five points with clear headings and sub-headings on how to write, is this a person who should be thinking about writing for an audience at this stage?

That is not to say writing about writing serves no purpose. In a discussion or workshop based setting, whether face-to-face or online, talking about craft in a specific manner really helps. Where is this piece not working? Am I failing to connect here? Am I too verbose? But without a specific piece to start from, is it possible to discuss writing? Continue reading Does writing advice really help?

Writing Memoir on Social Media

I’m doing something in the room and The Boy walks in stealthily from behind me and suddenly there is a shower of bubbles in the air and lots of childish laughter. I turn my face and I see a host of bubbles floating up and up and up towards the light, their shiny surfaces catching the light and turning them into iridescent rainbow hues. It’s hard to tell how each bubble will float away, where it will stick and when it will burst.  But together they transform the room.

Actually I’m not just sitting here doing something. I’m writing yet another blog post. It isn’t unusual at all, while I’m writing, for a childish face to peek in and insist on typing a word or two or close a window or want to check out a blinking light below the touchpad. But bubbles? They are new.

The bubbles floating around me make me think of a lot of writing I’ve been doing lately. Light, beautiful, polished, iridescent and ephemeral.

What really has been the end goal of these pieces? To live for a bit, to catch the light, to stick in someone’s mind for a moment and then to disappear? To float directionless, to dazzle and to die? Continue reading Writing Memoir on Social Media

Writing description

Strange mist earlier this week obscuring the Manhattan skyline. How can I describe it?
Strange mist earlier this week obscuring the Manhattan skyline. How can I describe it?

You close your eyes and try to remember the first snow this season as it fell softly on your way to work. You relive the memory of your train ride from Calcutta to Kharagpur where you met the woman who shared aloo parathas with you. You feel the taste of the exotic Ghost Pepper at Chelsea Market in Manhattan on your tongue, after you’re home, when the burning sensation is no longer real.

Then you simply describe it in words.

Description. Of all the strategies of writing, description should be the easiest of all.

I mean, after all, what’s there to description? The original is already in existence, or must have been in existence, or can be very much like something that is or was in existence. Just go forth and make a copy. Describe it.

Can that be so hard?  Continue reading Writing description

Writing Implements of Wonder

I recently got a surprise gift for my birthday. It was an iPad Air, my very first tablet. I downloaded Pages on it and typed a little rather tentatively.

The iPad Air is a really sleek, thin, shiny thing, cool and smooth to the touch. The experience of typing feels a bit different from my now relatively old laptop with its chicklet keys, short, square and almost noiseless, which had felt so smart and new when I’d first got the notebook compared to my older, bulkier, back-breaking laptops.

As I heard the distinct kchchh sound each virtual key made as I hit it, the experience I savoured seemed familiar even though the device was new. I flew back in time over  two decades to a very old incident from childhood, inspired by a feeling of awe and wonder at the stylish new device. A similar kchchh sound surfaced from deep down in memory made by something when it had clicked shut a long time ago. Continue reading Writing Implements of Wonder

How to stop worrying and start writing

Many of us just know we have it in us to produce some good writing of value. Yet, either anxiety doesn’t let us get there or makes us so slow that there’s no progress over long periods of time.

English: A photo of a cup of coffee. Esperanto...

Some of us lose ourselves in the rituals we develop around writing–getting coffee, cleaning our desks, decorating a study room. Others wait for the perfect moment when writing will appear with the muse.

I’d say the only thing that can exorcise writing anxiety is a few pages of writing itself. And the only thing that can make you better at writing is more writing. Lots of it.

So how do you stop worrying and start writing?
Continue reading How to stop worrying and start writing

Blogging and voice

Communication | ArtPrize 2010
Communication | ArtPrize 2010 (Photo credit: Fellowship of the Rich)

I wonder how many of us take a conscious decision to become the people we are and how many of us just come to be as we wander through life.

Each human being is already complex. Put one human being in touch with another and you have an even more complex set of possibilities of interaction. When you think about it, only part of that interaction is communication, only part of communication writing, only part of writing blogging and just a small part of that voice.
Continue reading Blogging and voice

Writing and detail

How do you write your descriptions? How to you remember the little details that are oft forgotten and fall by the wayside of our memories? How do you bring a moment to life exactly as it was as you were going through it? Above all, how do you get your memories to lie like truth? How do you create moments that make us remember things that were yet were not to lead us to our make believe worlds as though we were in them with the clarity of a memory?
Continue reading Writing and detail

What would Homer do?

There’s a lot of advice out there on how digital writing differs from traditional writing. Whenever a new way of expression is discovered, our response is exuberance and wonder at what current technology can do. Often, that kind of discussion spawns a myriad other discussions and rightly so.

Sometimes, while we build on the old, we only focus on the new as though the old is not relevant anymore. Continue reading What would Homer do?

On grouping blog posts innovatively

OR On blog content arrangement Part 4

Once readers have been drawn to your blog, they may want more. At this point, you would need some kind of underlying idea to classify your posts. The more critical thinking you put in the classification aspect, the better your blog will be. The underlying principle has to come before you make use of the great features that will enable you to group blogs such as categories or custom menus. Continue reading On grouping blog posts innovatively

On focusing the reader’s attention on your blog

OR On blog content arrangement Part 3 (after Part 1 and Part 2)

How would you guide the reader’s eye in terms of content on your blog? What would you want them to look at and for how long? Would you want to present a lot of content or only a small amount? Continue reading On focusing the reader’s attention on your blog

On a reader-friendly arrangement of blog posts

OR On blog content arrangement Part 2

We talked about difficulties of navigating blogs without proper cues yesterday in Part 1. Let’s think about a few principles of arrangement of posts on the page today.

On a reader-friendly arrangement of posts

So how can we arrange content on our blog so that it’s more accessible to the reader?

There is only one answer.

The easiest way to do this is to put ourselves in the reader’s shoes.

We won’t be able to know how it feels in the reader’s shoes unless we first know what kind of content we are generating which in turn is attracting what kind of readers. Continue reading On a reader-friendly arrangement of blog posts

On blog content arrangement

Part I

Have you ever seen a blog that you’ve wanted to see more of? You’ve tried to spend a minute or two trying to figure out how, been frustrated, and then moved on?

Haven’t you wondered sometimes how some bloggers put a lot of effort into writing a post, then select great pictures, put colourful badges, icons and a lot of other pretty things around the page and then put little thought into how the reader would navigate the blog? Continue reading On blog content arrangement

Of bloggers, Birbal and birds: How to make yourself heard

How many of us bloggers are out there?

A mind-boggling number very hard to grapple with for sure.

Our sheer numbers  reminded me of a well known tale of Akbar and Birbal I came across recently on my flight back to the US from India. It was a version of the story in animation adapted for kids which I watched on the screen trapped in my little space in the sky.

It goes something like this: Continue reading Of bloggers, Birbal and birds: How to make yourself heard

Short blog posts or long ones?

Is it possible to deal with a topic in depth in a single blog post and still be read by a substantial number of people on a blog platform? Or is a blog post meant to be short, striking, entertaining for a moment, even intriguing, merely pointing to something more extensive and detailed? Is it meant to just keep people updated, a “Hello! I’m here” as opposed to “Hey! I’m here to visit and here’s my luggage. I plan to settle in for a while.”
Continue reading Short blog posts or long ones?

In defense of purposeless writing

I have been wondering, like many a scattered soul on the blogosphere, about what it might mean to write aimlessly. By aimlessly I mean to write without a specific purpose such as to sell, to build a resume, to add to a larger work, or to vent.

When I browse posts in an unfiltered sort of way, without any express purpose as a reader, my idle meanderings make me speculate on a purpose (or perhaps the purpose) that writing serves in our lives.
Continue reading In defense of purposeless writing

Writing, moods and discipline

You’ve been deeply distressed about a number of things going on in your life lately. At the same time, you’re creating a character who is going through a crisis.

You’re euphoric about a new job, a new partner, a new plan that materialized. At the same time you’re writing a book about how to be happy.

Doable?

Not necessarily. Continue reading Writing, moods and discipline

Writing in spite of the daily

Jan 20, 2013

It’s 4:30 am. It’s quiet enough for me to be able to hear the low gurgle of the refrigerator punctuated by the intermittent swishing sound of the heater as it’s coming on intermittently. The river is dark outside and the lights on the banks of the river are glowing like diamonds because it’s going to be a clear day.

The everyday sounds of the day in full blast are still mute. I can get in touch with a part of myself that turns my thoughts into writing.
Continue reading Writing in spite of the daily

What’s a good blog?

What’s a good blog?

For me personally, it’s very hard to tell. I know it when I see it.

Sudan(?) Monkey riding a rhino
A blogger is a friendly person who is telling me a few things in a way I can trust (Photo credit: George Eastman House)

But what am I looking for?

One thing I know for sure–when I’m browsing a blog, I’m also looking for a good experience. Continue reading What’s a good blog?

Five ways to hold your readers’ interest in your blog posts

Kitten

This post is as much for myself as for my readers.

I’m beginning to take notes as things work and as things don’t as I blog on the blog hoping to help myself and anyone who reads this compendium of evolving experience on writing as I grope my way through the blogosphere.

So here are my words of wisdom to myself.
Continue reading Five ways to hold your readers’ interest in your blog posts