Five positive side effects of writing

Writing has provided me with unexpected benefits. Here’s how.

Benefit #1 Time management

Time management seemed to be the eternally unachievable goal in my life. Sometimes I wonder if I could have enjoyed my growing years more had I known and mastered this art. The few achievements that I can think of during my teen years and youth are academic. Never did I consider to allocate time for art, music, dance, sports etc. The exception was reading mysteries and watching cricket; those somehow always got the time even if the exams were hovering on my head.

Forwarding to present, ever since I discovered writing, life did a somersault.

How do I make the time to write when I am already busy with family, work and social life? Most importantly, before I am a writer, I am a mother, a wife, a friend, an engineer and I would feel terrible if any of those roles are compromised. I tried to write at ad-hoc times, and it most definitely interfered with my life. Wanting to write when my family needed my attention led to frustration, guilt and a sense of helplessness. Writing became the cause of joy and misery at the same time.

I was left with two choices; either make the time for writing and ensure that the other things are worked on schedule or say bye-bye to writing. But when you finally get the satisfaction of pursuing a passion, you automatically get the grit to do whatever it takes, even of it means waking up at 4 am or giving up on T.V. time. It had not been a sudden transformation and I am still working on perfecting it, but surprisingly, I feel much more energetic and passionate about my family and my work now.

Without planning, there is this false sense of having an unending stretch of time, a bucket full of minutes that will deplete gradually at a slow pace. Managing my time has made me realize how little time we really have in this world and how important it is to spend it carefully.

Benefit #2 Focus

So, you finally mastered time management and allocated time for specific areas of your life. But what if your mind kept on going to the stuff that was unrelated to whatever you were supposed to do then. What if you worried about a deliverable at job to implement instead of the dialogue of your story while you are sitting to write at 4:30 am in the morning and ended up writing only half a page in two hours. What a waste, right? Or worse, your kid is complaining about bullying by a classmate and you are too busy thinking about a scene. I know it sounds horrible but most writers have probably been in a similar situation. I have been there and have felt horrible. There is no way around this other than practicing to focus on the job at hand. And nope, I have not perfected it yet, but I am getting better at it everyday.

Benefit #3 Passion

How does it feel to be passionate about something? The experience of this feeling is what writing has given me. Writing is a method of communication but is different than casual talk. You need much more clarity of thought in order to write. Though we can communicate verbally and visually with the advent of audios and videos (you tube etc.), I still prefer writing because it is serene in its own way. You cannot hear the voice of the writer, you cannot see the face of the writer, but you get a glimpse into the writer’s soul in the purest form possible via his or her writing. I have also realized that the real joy in living is to infuse this passion into everything thing that I do, in performing the daily chores, spending time with family, my job etc.

Benefit #4 Self Confidence

Sharing my thoughts via writing has given me the precious gift of self- confidence. As a child, I had a hard time fitting into a group and could not make many friends because of constant moving from one city to another or my introvert personality. I used to be extremely critical of myself and would also be sensitive of criticism from others. I never met my own expectations; I was never satisfied with the person I had become, with how my career turned out, with how I managed my kids and took care of my family etc. I would envy the people who seem to know it all and seemed satisfied.

But writing fiction is creating something from thin air; it’s like seeing a baby that you created with your own mind.

When readers appreciated what I wrote, it meant a lot to me, perhaps much more than anyone would ever realize. In my book, ‘The Independent Girl’, the little bit of appreciation that Sandhya needed when she was broken was what Mr. Roy provides. I too was lost in the monotony of life, bogged down by everyday chaos and circumstances. This hobby has brought me closer to hundreds of people all over the world; people who respected my thoughts and work.

Benefit #5 Life is made beautiful

Just as you can create a beautiful story by visualizing about it in your mind and typing it away, I have begun to believe that I have the power in my hands to make my life beautiful. One particular evening, I crashed into the sofa in our living room, feeling burned out and restless. Our house looked stuffy and messy with all the furniture and items thrown around but my kids still played away cheerfully, creating more mess in the process. I was about to shout at them, but held myself back, wondering why I felt so low; why did this feeling of helplessness threaten to overcome me numerous times. So, instead of ordering them to cleanup, I sat there for a few minutes and dwelled in self-thought. I had a say in choosing our house; in choosing the furniture around me. Most of the stuff that I seemed to hate at that moment, were purchased or approved by me. In hindsight, I should have not stuffed our house and left some open space. I should have removed the clutter at regular intervals and reduce buying. My kids made a mess but I never truly taught them organization the right way. I myself lack discipline often, so how were they going to learn from me? I decided that I will make my house and my life beautiful and clutter free. However, I will treat each moment as precious and beautiful, even when there is mess all around, for it’s the journey that matters, as that is all there is to life. What we think of goals are really checkpoints; there’s always a next destination to reach.

The journey continues

Ok, it’s been a long time since I posted anything on this website. A lot of changes have happened in my life in the last year and I have been running around just to… keep up with life… perhaps.

But over this time, I have had an excellent critique, Elizabeth Redd, edit and review my book and was fortunate to receive a thorough feedback from her. I have now gone through another round of corrections to the script.

I am getting the cover redesigned by a professional. Crossing my fingers about how it would turn out. I am also working on the final touches and figuring out how to get reviews for my book. Basically creating the marketing plan.

Need to decide if I should give Kindle Select a try or keep my options open with all venues. I am leaning towards not going via kindle. Too many difficult choices out there!

Journey of “The Independent Girl”

The story, ‘The Independent Girl’ was first posted on Wattpad in 2012 as I wrote it. I edited the first draft and by April 2013, I thought it was in good shape and was eager to self publish it. I realized later that it was a blunder. I did manage to sell a few eBooks but since I myself saw flaws in my book, I didn’t feel confident enough to market it. Especially since I learnt some new things about editing and realized that it needed more cleanup.

Here is the link to the wattpad book by Angela Stevens that made me rethink how much editing my book needed:

http://www.wattpad.com/story/14529600-edit-yerself

By this time, I had already put up my story in smashwords and amazon and even had a couple of 5 star reviews on smashwords with amazing comments (no, these reviews were not from friends and family!)

After researching more and taking advice from helpful authors such as Robert Bidinotto (http://www.bidinotto.com/) and Priyanka Yadvendu (http://PriyankaYadvendu.com), I decided to unpublish the book, get it edited and republish it.

This has been a difficult phase for me, as it took me almost a year to get there. I went through the painful process of editing and even used the tool, Prowritingaid to catch issues with my writing. I had no idea that I had so much of love for the word “felt”. Yeah, I had it everywhere… he felt… she felt…get it?

After doing all the improvements that I could think of, I got it edited professionally by Emily Nemchick (http://www.emilynemchickediting.com/) and was very happy with the results.

Finally, I got three copies printed and distributed them for proof reading. This gave me a chance to see how the physical book looks like and if I needed to adjust the text size/ margins etc.

And yeah, I also took the plunge and created this website. So far, I have a wattpad account, a twitter account, a facebook page and a website. Hope this is enough to build my author profile? Frankly, this all seems to be too daunting right now. But hopefully, this is all worthwhile.

Next steps:

Cover redesign.
Decide on printing options [Want to make printed book available as well].
Book formatting and conversion.
Figure out a book release date.
Get reviews.

Girl Rising

I happened to watch a part of the movie, “Girl Rising”, when my employer sponsored the screening of it. It is a movie which depicts the true stories of girls who are fighting against odds to become educated and stand on their own feet. The image of a six year old girl forced to wash dirty utensils brought tears to my eyes. My younger daughter is seven. It is ironic that we see such stories in our own life, yet we turn a blind eye and not consider taking any steps. During my growing years, I have seen many girls aged less than ten, working in houses as maids and I know that it is still happening. I had taken one step towards helping a child get educated last year. I pray that I get the courage to stand up and do what I can the next time I encounter child labour and I hope that you do the same. If you are reading this post and want to help but are considering to start helping once you are well off or when you retire, I urge you to think again. The meager amount that you spend today on a child will be invaluable compared to the amount you may be spending ten years down the line. For in those ten years, another child would have lost his or her opportunity to get educated.

Here is the link to the trailer of the movie, Girl Rising.

 

Image Source: Wikipedia Commons