For me, the thought of writing is fascinating. But the actual exercise a nightmare. I find it very hard to sit down, collect my thoughts and then just go at it. But when I do, I usually don’t think much about it, but write as it comes to me. I don’t make plans, or strategize what which character is going to say or do. I just write as it happens in my head, in that moment.
Long periods of writing nothing have taught me that sometimes, cliché as it sounds, reading is the only way to get inspired. I read when I have nothing to write about, or can’t get myself to articulate what I am thinking or feeling. But I don’t just read anything. I re-read. I re-read books I have loved along the way, books that made me want to be a writer. I read books that comfort me, either with their stories of lovers and families, or with lines and passages that are so beautiful that I am struck by what wonderful people writers are and how much the world needs them to make sure we never lose that loving feeling.
And so I often find myself reading Jane Eyre, that dysfunctional, melancholic tale of a girl who never just gets a break, even when she falls in love. It may be a sad love story, but it is also one that says, that love triumphs everything. I also read Rebecca, which is so beautiful in its sadness it makes my heart stop. It deals with that familiar emotion – the feeling that we can never match up with a person our lover once loved.
I also re-read Agatha Christie’s classic and brilliant book And Then There Were None every time I want to be reminded of the fact that writers are geniuses. They can do anything in their books! I also read any of Haruki Murakami’s books, just to know that a writer has the capability of changing lives by just a sentence.
Once I am inspired by these great writers, it’s easy to get back to writing. I realize that I am doing something that very few people get to do – put my thoughts and feelings on paper. And if I touch somebody’s life by doing that, well, then it’s the cherry on top pf the cake. Writing is hard, but it’s also cathartic, and when you write, you can be anyone, and do anything. So, writers, don’t give up. Your book could speak to someone miles away from you. Write for them.
I know right now, you must be feeling tense and nervous, and even overworked. It’s tough to stick to deadline and word limits. Nobody knows that better than me, a journalist who has daily deadlines. But get rid of the self doubt and just keep your focus where it’s needed most: on the writing. Pick a time in the day where you have nothing else to do, be it early morning or late at night. And just start writing, whatever may flow from your fingers. You can revisit it later and edit. Know that, at the end of it all, you will be proud that you wrote so much. And it will give you the push needed for the next project.
Best of luck.
About Aastha Atray Banan:
Presently an assistant editor with Sunday Midday