How to Write in Chaos

How to Write in Chaos
I’ve been a serial stalker of good places to write. Over the years, I’ve been obsessed so much about these literary camps and writer’s retreat that I know when are these camps happening and where. And I could really compile a list of those, but some other time. I found these camps terribly over-priced for the profession that they are catering too. Rs. 18000 for 3 days, Rs. 54000 for a week, so and so. These are there in the best of the locations in the country, they provide with some guides/mentors and fellow writers too. But perhaps you could do for cheaper, on your own, if travel and writing were your purposes.
I understand the feeling of wanting to run away. Apart from the fact that it sounds fancy, we haven’t otherwise been taught how to deal with chaos. Nor have we been taught to deal with solitude. That’s why we think that running away might help us write or do things we truly want to do. It might truly be the case. But you need to see how much bandwidth and energy you have to keep running.

But My Main Point is: Why Run Away?

If you have a terribly tormenting family (physical and mental violence), have no friend’s place where you can hangout, no public places or cafe; and absolutely miserable situations- you can run away. But otherwise (which is the case with most of us) you don’t need to run away.
Saadat Hassan Manto, one of the greatest short story writer of the century, used to write in the chaos of a Bombay chali (slum house).
From the Play, “Manto Se Miliye”
A film about him is being made currently with Nawazuddin Siddiqui playing the lead and directed by Nandita Das. There would be kids roaming around, his wife calling out, and all sorts of chaos possible. At times, he would get worked up but most of the times, he was in love with this chaos. It actually helped him write better.
I’m lucky to have a senior Gujarati journalist as a friend and it’s absolutely inspiring how he works. He travels from Mahemdavad to Ahmedabad (2 hours in train round trip) and he spends that time in writing. The chatter of the neighbours, the infinite distractions around and the deafening sound of the train- nothing interferes with him. In a strange way, it somehow stimulates him to write. He has been a journalist for 21 years, a writer of 4 books and has a publishing house too.
The very idea is thrilling. If you look at the history, the greatest of the writers have transformed their individual misery or the circumstances they were in, to be a boon for their writing. Writers have written during-after-about Wars, Genocides, Rapes, Poverty, Emergency, Dying, Diseases, and what not!
Imagine, if chaos could not distract you, wouldn’t you be unstoppable? Plus there’s so much your writing can derive from the crowd, people, and observations.

List of Places That Could Work Out

  • Corner in the House
  • Terrace
  • Public Transport
  • Gardens
  • Cafes, Restaurants, Clubs
  • Friend’s Abode
  • Libraries/Reading Rooms
  • Beaches, Hill-top, Mountains, River Bank, Pool Side
  • Choose Your Most Productive Time
Some people say, “I am a Morning Person” and other say, “I’m a Night Owl”. Whatever works best for you, should be the designated time for your writing. Squeeze a space, make a habit and keep going on. Turn the WiFi off (if your writing doesn’t need it) and see the magic. I’m writing one blog a day since Mar 1, 2017. For a person who couldn’t even write one post a month, this was pretty much overwhelming, to begin with. But it worked.
For a Fact: Amitabh Bachchan wrote his first blog on 17th Apr 2008 and has written one blog each day for 9 years! Basically, if you can make it a habit, nothing like it.
However, it is difficult to do this on Day 1. You may have to talk to your loved ones and teach them how to respect your writing. You may have to turn your notifications off and focus on just that. It happens slowly and gradually. But it begins with accepting the chaos, and not getting irritated with it. Initially, it could seem to be as difficult as letting a fly sit on your face and doing nothing about it. With time, it may get easier.

Happy Writing. Let me know if this helped or didn’t. I’m also in the same pursuit. 

How Interviews are Just About the Power Game

Meetings are about the art of role-playing. Almost all of them. Apart from, of course, the ones where you meet your closest confidants. Even friends group have clear power equations. I had read somewhere that it takes 10 seconds for a person to decide the power equation in any conversation. I would say it takes 5 minutes if you play an underdog. But it is difficult to drag beyond that. Your body language, confidence, smile- everything gives strong signals and may very well work or go against you.
During my time at CollegeBol, I’ve interviewed many hundreds of candidates. Everyone has a different interview style. Some people like to sit with the candidate for 45 minutes and then ask them to come once more. Mine was different. I would sit with them for 20 minutes at max. I would prepare beforehand what I would want to know the person. When in an interview, I would always observe more than responding. If the person is terribly nervous, I would make the vibes a little more comfortable. I wouldn’t want to miss a really good candidate just because he/she was nervous on a particular day. If the person was over-confident, I would try to dissect and break it. As simple as that.
While Over-Confidence can kill, Self Assessment is the best. One must have an indication of whether one has an Upper Hand in an interview. At times you can know about it beforehand. If an urgent hiring needs to happen, etc.
 

Continue reading “How Interviews are Just About the Power Game”

What Being Bed Ridden Teaches About Life

What Being Bed Ridden Teaches About Life

As far as I can remember, I’ve had a very good immunity to diseases (no touch wood). Hence, before 2012, I had never been bed-ridden for a continuously long period. In 2012, right after the month, I graduated from college, I met with an accident. I don’t remember how it happened (even today). I woke up in the hospital with a nice lady by my side, asking me to relax. She was the one who had taken me from the road and brought me to the hospital. But I didn’t know a thing. Basically, the accident. those twenty minutes of my life have been erased from my memory. They say I had made 4 calls in that period. I called Papa and also told him to come and see me. I don’t remember a thing of that sort. A lot of people express their shock at this but medically it’s a very normal thing. This is your brain’s way of absorbing shock.

So ya, this accident made me bed-ridden/jailed for more than a month. My face was destroyed (And to my mother’s shock, no doctor was giving any guarantees of recovery. The badass that I was, I didn’t give a damn about it.), my lips were swollen to the point that we couldn’t check if my teeth were fine (I couldn’t eat for a week), there were stitches below the nose- above my lips, my knee was badly hurt and I could not get up or walk without support. It would have been fun to post the pictures from then but I don’t happen to be a sadist so won’t.  Continue reading “What Being Bed Ridden Teaches About Life”

Why Evernote is my Productivity Machine

A new document is like a blind date. You know that if it works out, it will be amazing but your mind tries to block it as much as possible. You feel nervous and anxious. Especially for writers. Writers Block is the ultimate reality. Life is a block. Writing happens somewhere in the middle.

 

But it’s not just the writers who need to write. Note-making, journaling and task list making should be a part of everyone’s routine to be the most productive.
Evernote is an app that can be downloaded on your laptop and your phone. Everything you write gets synced at both the places.

 

Here are the reasons why Evernote is my favourite app:

Works as a Diary, Task-list, Journal: You can constantly make notes on Evernote, create task lists and mark them as complete when done. It also acts as a documentation of your work.

Syncs with Laptop and Phone: You just note down something, somewhere on the way, and when your computer is connected back to the wifi, whenever you open it, you’ll find it synced to use.

 

Notebooks: You can maintain various notebooks such as one for work, one for personal use, one for journaling, etc.

Saving Web Pages, Articles Offline: One of the best utilities of Evernote is that, it gives you a Google Chrome Extension, “The Web Clipper”. Once you add it to your chrome, you can get Web pages or articles saved to your Evernote, for whenever later you want to read them. And yes, these articles get saved offline too!

Articles Saved Offline in One Click

Psychologically Stress-Free: Easy to use; technically, you don’t have to ‘open a new document’ on Evernote. Nor do you have to SAVE anything. Anything you write gets Autosaved. It doesn’t create a build up and lets you write. You don’t have to OPEN documents if you want to check something. You can just scroll through your written works. Everything is open already. So it’s like all your work until now is there for your support!

No Need to Save or Open

There are so many more things. You can tag different documents, share them very easily. It has a paid version too with more features. But I’ve loved the free version and it works out well for me. You can set a password on the Evernote app on your phone, so it stays safe. The Laptop they don’t have a password system for the free version. Also because it is assumed that your laptop itself has a password of its own.
In 2016, I read a Life Hacker article by Maria Popova, the founder of the popular content company, BrainPickings. She had mentioned how Evernote helps her write better. I thought to give it a try and it worked! Evernote has helped me write much more and be more organised. Nothing substitutes my love for physical diaries and writing in hand. But yes, Evernote is the other best friend.
To each, their own. The point is to find your own hack!

Why Grandparents Worry So Much and Other Strange Facts About Old Age

My grandma is 76 (since 2-3 years) and she won’t sleep until I am home. If it is after 10 PM, she will stand near the balcony, constantly peeping to check if I have reached. But she won’t call. Somehow she has this weird mental image of me meeting with an accident because of her phone call. I found a solution. I started messaging to her when I leave from a place for home. (My Grandma is the ultra-modern woman who uses Whatsapp, Facebook, Skype and other apps). But that also means that every moment after that message counts.

This year, I read the book ‘Being Mortal’ by Dr Atul Gawande on the recommendation from a friend. Dr Atul Gawande is a best seller in the US and he’s also a celebrated doctor-writer (a doctor who’s also a writer). This book is about Old People: What happens to us when we grow old, how we respond to things, what is the science doing about us, etc.

After reading this book, I realised we live in a world of myth. We think old people worry so much just because they can’t control their emotions. We want them to practice restraint and not worry so much. We wondered if they underestimate our abilities to survive in this dark world. But actually, we are stupids. Hypertension is a symptom of old age and it is more physical than emotional. So is the feeling of not being loved or cared enough. Atul Gawande tells us why,

To maintain the same volume of blood flow through our narrowed and stiffened blood vessels, the heart has to generate increased pressure. As a result, more than half of us develop hypertension by the age of sixty-five. The heart becomes thicker-walled from having to pump against the pressure and less able to respond to the demands of exertion. The peak output of the heart, therefore, decreases steadily from the age of thirty. People become gradually less able to run as far or as fast as they used to or to climb a flight of stairs without becoming short of breath.

 

Continue reading “Why Grandparents Worry So Much and Other Strange Facts About Old Age”

How Comfortable People are Scary

How Comfortable People are Scary

Towards the end of it, you will regret of living too much of a comfortable life. They tell you. Well, towards the end of it, you will also regret never being comfortable at all.

This happened to me a few months back, at one of my favourite restaurants in the city of Ahmedabad. I had gone there for dinner after watching a wonderful movie. If it matters a lot, I’d mention that I saw the movie alone, I don’t think it matters much. I took out my Kindle and began reading this wonderful book. The waiter served the water and gave me the menu card. Then he waited for 10 minutes and looked at me from a corner. Uncomfortably, he came and asked me, “Is anyone coming?” “Nope, no one is coming,” I smiled at him to ease the tension. He nervously smiled back at me and began clearing the other half of the table- the mats, the napkin, etc and then took my order.

There was a group of young college boys next to me, and while they saw my dinner being served, I could see sympathy on their faces (in spite of me being totally comfortable, reading an interesting book and eating the best thing on the menu) and they were whispering to each other, perhaps something like, “Do you think I should join her? Poor girl..she’s alone here.” I really don’t know if that’s exactly what was said. It felt that way. Well, this poor girl was just out on a dinner date with herself, big deal! Continue reading “How Comfortable People are Scary”

Life, Death and the Choice

 

I am darkness
I have been inside the mind
And the corners of the heart
Of this person
Who decided to call it quits
Just yesterday.

I saw there was pain
Prolonged suffering
And healing that never happened
Perhaps a hug would have stopped him
Perhaps a walk would have
Or a talk could have.

I tried to wave at the homies
Even the friends
See me.. Save him from me
Love him, take him out
Love her, take her for therapy
But they couldn’t see me.
Continue reading “Life, Death and the Choice”