Saturday, March 5, 2016

There’s only one rule of writing — write every day

Writing is more than using stationery—pen and paper or laptop and Word document—and telling your story. Writing is first collecting your thoughts and then laying them down in chronology. Arrange your thoughts, words, and sentences in a logical and progressive order. Together, they should set off a sequential chain of events—a domino effect on your writing, but in a good way.

Thoughts are like a military parade on Republic Day. Each thought, each idea, is like a soldier in a well-ironed uniform and polished boots, marching in tandem, never missing a step, and giving off a smart salute. Picture the parade as you think and write. Visualise your thoughts forming into words and words into sentences and so on. This is the basics of writing, anything.

If you are not clear in your mind about what you want to write, you are not going to write much and that ca
n be awfully frustrating. No writer, famous or otherwise, likes to stare at a blank page and develop a complex. So clarity of thought and purpose are two important elements of writing.

However, before you acquaint yourself with clarity, do your homework and do it well. A little research backs up a story a long way. If you are writing a news report, get your facts right, cover your tracks, don’t leave any loose ends, and capture both sides of the story. There are always two sides to every story. It’s only ethical that you do this. It makes both you and your story credible.

Writing is as much about credibility as it is about readability.

Once you are clear about what you want to write and your thoughts are in almost perfect order, you go to the next level—you start writing, or t
yping, and give coherent shape to those ideas inside your head. If it’s a report, an essay or an article, try and finish it in one or two sittings.

Here’s a golden rule to any kind of writing: stay away from social media. It is the single biggest distraction, not to mention obstacle, to writing. You will never get any writing done as long as you keep fussing over your statuses and updates every few lines.

Writing requires a lot of patience and a lot of perseverance. You are not going to be a paragon of either if you don’t switch off your phone and disconnect the wifi and concentrate on your writing. The only way to write is to sit in once place, preferably undisturbed, and write. There is no other way.

American writer E.B. White once said, “Writing is an act of faith, not a trick of grammar.”

Here’s what I think he meant.

A dedicated writer will resolve to write a certain number of words every day. Most of us at some point in school resolved to study by the timetable, particularly during exams, and stuck to it. Similarly, draw up a timetable for your writing: let’s say 300 to 500 words on weekdays; maybe a 1,000 each on weekends. But don’t be too finicky about the numbers. Less or more doesn’t matter. The important thing is to write every day. Pick a doable target.

Many published writers and authors of short stories and novels swear by a first cut or draft. They don’t look at their manuscript till they have written it all down. The prevailing trend, however, is to read through and revise what was written the previous day. Some consider this a waste of time, as it breaks the chain of thought—akin to losing the plot—and spending an entire day with the manuscript. What this effectively does is you write new stuff every other day.

Writing also has a wretched foe called procrastination, which can have a bad influence on the writer in you. Just try putting off your writing by a couple of hours and see if you get your magical spell back. Those few hours often turn into days and days into weeks, and you suddenly realise that you have lost the spirit to write again. The only way to overcome this common problem is to never let even a day go without writing.

If you are serious about it, you won’t let anything come between you and your writing.


  1. Procrastination. I know it better than I'd like to

    1. Hi Charles, thanks for dropping by. It has been my bane too. I think, Librans are the worst procrastinators of all.