When I was nine, a classmate of mine bought a shiny, new copy of Harry Potter, flashing it in my face. I took my parents to the bookstore the very same day and never really looked back. Except for the odd phase where I thought my future lies in being a space scientist and the next Kalpana Chawla, I’ve wanted to be a writer, all my life. I studied English literature from Lady Shri Ram College and then a masters in Creative Writing from the University of Edinburgh. I’ve been blogging for many years, curate events for writers and readers, and generally try to understand the craft. While learning is lifelong and there are no standards (something my dad loves to repeat), these are some things I believe might be true more often than not.
The University to Writing is Writing
Courses and classes have their own significance and value, but being a writer means sitting and writing, first and foremost. You can have the best mentors, but in the end you must be able to make yourself sit down and write every single day. As a forced habit, as a ritualistic practice, as something without which you cannot end your day.
Read as a Writer
It is for sure you cannot be an excellent writer without being an excellent reader, but learning to read as a writer will teach you many things about the craft. Try to consciously note how an author depicts the passing of time, how body language is used, what kind of dialog works better. While it is hard and I struggle myself, paying attention to stories written well will teach you very much in the long run.
Begin with Smaller, Attainable Goals
Instead of setting yourself up for a full force novel which is a very ambitious and gallant of course, try and see if you enjoy writing shorter stuff at first. Write non-fiction blog posts, try your hand at poetry and definitely give a go at short stories. A short story is typically 2000-3000 words and is a microcosm for a novel. Once you achieve a smaller goal, you will approach a bigger one with more confidence.
Write Down Stuff When You Can
It’s an irrefutable fact of life: time dilutes memories. If you hear something that sounds like a good line, a situation, a hilarious comeback, write it down as soon as you can, and you will be thankful later. Keep a notebook dedicated to great things you come across, and when trying to frame a story later, go back to it and see which one fits. A lot of it will!
Say Yes to Things
For a long time, I tended to close myself off to things I felt irrelevant to my field, things I felt were of another world and kept a one-track mind. Yet a writer must be a jack of all: learn to say yes to things that come your way, make that extra effort, and even if the experience isn’t good, you will always take home something, especially something new that you can write about. The best things in life are the ones which began as a gamble.
At the end of the day, I know that writing something that resonates with people is what makes life meaningful for me. Keep writing but more importantly, enjoy the game!
You can find more articles by Srishti Chaudhary at www.srishtichaudhary.com. Read her latest story here.