Folks often imagine writers typing away in a solitary state without a care in the world. Maybe some do that — but most are at their desks at home, struggling with the same distractions that we all deal with. So we thought we’d ask our authors to share how they work in the hope that it might inspire budding writers and provide an insight into the writing process.
We begin our series with Saurbh Katyal, author of the soon-to-be-published crime thriller The Invisible Woman, who ‘works as a manager during the day and as a writer at night’:
When and where do you write?
I hardly write at home, preferring to sit in a coffee shop on Sundays and write. I think remaining anonymous among regular distractions in a café works for me, and I can write up to 6,000 to 8,000 words over six hours and three cups of coffee on a particularly productive Sunday.
Do you write every day? How long do you write for?
Not at all. I am not one of those writers who can set a word count, follow a regular routine and write everyday. Writing for me is a catharsis and a sort of de-stressing mechanism. I usually write once or twice a week but when I do start, I write for a stretch of six to seven hours.
Do you listen to music while you write? What’s currently playing on your iPod?
A rhythm in the background always helps me drown out other auditory disturbances and helps me concentrate better. Right now, Damien Rice is on repeat mode on my iPod.
Do you believe in writing with no distractions [read: no internet] or are you cool with surfing the web while writing?
I write sporadically, but when I do write, I don’t get distracted. I have realized that I am quite focused while writing and in a sort of a trance that is not easily intruded upon by other distractions.
How did you write about the underbelly of Mumbai for The Invisible Woman?
My research is based on engaging with the milieu of the city in everyday life. While I was working in Mumbai, I used to travel a lot and explore the length and breadth of the city. The fact that I enjoy putting an element of noir in all my books naturally made me more attentive to the existential battles, moral disintegration and nihilistic lifestyles that also form a part of Mumbai.
How do you juggle your day job and writing?
Frankly, it’s quite easy. I am a firm believer in outlining the entire plot before typing out the first word. I call it ‘incubating the novel’. Once the outline is ready and I know what I am trying to achieve, I begin a detailed outline of the sub-plots and characters. All this happens in my mind and the exercise can take months. By the time I start writing, I am so clear in my mind about each sub-plot that I just need six or seven hours over the weekend in a café or a long flight on a weekday to finish a chapter.