Updated: Feb 24, 2022
Chronicles of an Emerging Writer- Part I
“This is your best. I could not peel my eyes off ‘Forever Love’ until I finished it. Superb.” The WhatsApp notification broke my concentration from the piece I was writing. I felt happy at the compliment. Along with a sense of dread. Best? I have just begun. What if I can’t surpass this story? How do I exceed this piece of writing? I have two books on the anvil. Will my writing career get over before it has taken off? Demons of doubt invaded my mind, and my writing was done for the day.
Welcome to an inside view of my Writing Diary. There are some exciting tit-bits here if you care to rummage through the pages. Like how I came up with a story idea while taking a bath in the bathtub.
The story was a hilarious take-on what else- a bathtub! You can read ‘Where There’s A Will’ and let me know what you think. Or the early morning when I was watering my Basil plant and got the idea of ‘Parched’. Upon examining the diary more closely, you might notice the dates and realise that today marks the 100th straight day when I have penned some thoughts and imagination, for better or worse.
You will find unpolished stories that await their turn to be edited, concepts that have been abandoned mid-way and write-ups that need to be completed. Character sketches, plot ideas, settings, prompts. A writer’s diary can be a treasure trove of information and ideas, as well as an insightful perspective on the joys, sorrows, excitements and fears of a writer.
I can’t describe in words how much I love this new experience! Of course, there are some days when I have to drag myself to write something. Then are those days, I keep staring at the white MS-Word document in front of me to think what to write. During some of the days, I lose track of time when I write.
What and How to Write Daily
Writing daily is a discipline that comes with practice. Here are some techniques that I apply to keep up with the habit. I hope that they will help my fellow emerging writers in those days when they need inspiration for tapping their fingers on the keyboard.
1. Let your characters talk. Sometimes, instead of coming with the plot or the setting, I think about the character. Or the protagonist, to be more precise. I usually model the central character on a real-life person I know, have observed or read about in the newspapers. I then let my mind roam on what does she think, feel, see, hear. Who are the people around her? How does she perceive her world? What are the challenges she faces and the strengths she has?
I start to write when the character’s picture comes to my mind. I let the protagonist and the other characters develop as I write. Sometimes they turn out to be predictable; other times, they seem to have a mind of their own and surprise me with something unexpected. This often leads to a twist at the end of my stories, which are much appreciated by the readers. Read ‘Graduation Day’ or 'Twist of Fate' to appreciate this technique.
2. Take a look out of the window and describe the scene. I look outside my window or go to my balcony to observe the view. How’s the weather outside- sunny, rainy, windy? Is the day bright or the atmosphere dull? Can I see anyone, or there’s not a single soul on the road? Then I come to my desk and write. This forms the setting or background for my story.
I don’t necessarily write a piece in chronological order or even work on one story or article at a time. There are many unrelated scenic descriptions in my diary, which I have later used as a background for my stories. ‘Where There’s A Will’ is one such example. I described the scene from my balcony in a page of my writing diary and a month later used it in this story. I have also used it in another, entirely different story, which is as yet unpublished.
3. Someone said something that has stuck to your mind? Weave a story around the words. I start with the sentence and see where my fingers take me. Pretty often, it is the first dialogue in my story. I often find that one sentence follows another when I have put my first sentence on the paper.
The Other Side is an example of this technique. Many years ago, in my office, someone had remarked something about a colleague. That phrase came to use all these years later!
4. Think (or read) of a situation. It can be either past, present, an impending or imaginary future. I let my imagination soar and put the words that come to my mind. Or, I put down my opinions and examine the consequences of the event and draft an article.
Rendezvous is partly a product of my observation of seeing two people sitting in a restaurant. Ditto for The Couple. The article 'Impact of IPL's Postponement on The Sports Ecosystem in India', was my attempt to examine the consequences of postponement of the marquee sports event mid-way.
5. Take a shot at that writing prompt. Even if nothing else works, this will never fail. If my brain is too lazy to think, I open writing prompt apps or go to prompt websites, choose the first one that takes my fancy, and write whatever comes to my mind. Lately, I have also started to participate in short story contests and competitions, and often organisers provide a prompt on which the story is to be based.
So far, these simple techniques have been working for me. I also have some specific tips pertaining to writers block which you can read in my blogpost here. You may have your own tips and techniques that work; I will be interested to learn about them from you. In the end, I would like to say that don’t seek words to write but focus on facts and thoughts, and the words will come to you unsought.