I always imagine it as a messy bobble of wires interspersed with twinkling fairy lights
Yes — that’s right; a messy bobble of wires interspersed with twinkling fairy lights. That’s how I think of a writer’s mind. There are just so many ideas jostling for space at all moments in time and yet there are these absolute beautiful moments — when you are able to stop writing and read a book, or read something online, record an audio or a video — and all of it only adds to the experience of being a writer.
It reminds me of something that they do in my son’s school called Drop Everything And Read. At any moment, during the day, the children were asked to drop whatever they were doing and read a book. I always thought it to be an amazing idea. It also meant, you would have to have a book on you at all times. Which writer doesn’t? So, I incorporated it in my writing life, too. There are moments in my day when I just stop whatever I am writing and pick up my Kindle and read for a few minutes. It works like a charm.
What I love about writing and being a writer? No experience, however huge or small, takes away from it. It keeps getting added to the repertoire. Which is why we should pay attention to the hundreds of experiences we come across every day — because if not a story, they would be a sentence somewhere down the line, or maybe a 100 k book.
I call it — Bring Back the Notebook and Write
And I learnt this from my late father-in-law, who was a critically acclaimed writer. He went around with a small notebook in his hand — and anything that would touch him during the day, he would just make a quick note. And often, I found these jottings in his poems and other writings — maybe as a sentence or a phrase or a whole paragraph.
Two weeks ago, I found myself in a very disorganized place. I had suddenly taken on too many things. I was doing this newsletter, I was maintaining a Medium blog and a twitter thread and a weekly podcast. I was struggling to do it all and do it well — with the same enthusiasm that I started them with. Now, the point is that I love all of these things that I have taken on and I want to do them well — because when I do them well — I feel happy and satisfied. But doing all the free stuff was actually eating into my paid work and I was feeling frustrated and irritated and I was losing momentum.
So, I tried something out. I set aside four days of the week for my paid work and Fridays for doing the things which doesn’t pay my bills but which sustain and power me through my week. And it worked perfectly. Last Friday, I dedicated a few hours to my podcast — for once I was not rushing through it. I enjoyed the recording, the editing and the final coming together of the program. And then I worked ahead at the newsletter — and again I enjoyed it much more than when I am trying to do it last minute on Tuesdays.
The lesson here is that, a disciplined approach to writing always works much better than a hap-hazard one. Compartmentalizing works great, too. Once I decided to set aside a day for the things that I enjoy doing — I was less harassed, less all-over- the-place. I was pitching, querying and writing better.
As I writer, self care is very important. Self love, too. I always make sure that I am giving myself a break, cutting myself some slack but also pushing myself beyond my comfort zones the moment I feel I am taking it easy much too much, and keeping my mind disciplined and organized.
Writing is about discipline — and yet it is also about letting go, letting the mind wander. It is about carrying your own corner with you, wherever you go. And with all of its contradictions, the fact that the wires are interspersed with fairy lights — is the most beautiful and exciting facet of being a writer.