How To Spot Ideas and Write : Women Writer’s Fest by SheThePeople is the world’s largest travelling festival of female writing. It put across an important question at a recent edition – why do bestselling authors write? What compels them to put pen to paper and share the inner most ideas with the rest of the world?
Meet Shaili Chopra, the author of Feminist Rani, Parinda Joshi, the author of A House Full Of Men, and Andaleeb Wajib, the author of No Drama, No Queen. Moderated by SheThePeople books editor Archana Pai Kulkarni, this discussion looks at honest reasons why these authors choose books as their medium of storytelling.
On making time for your writing and overcoming distractions :
“I usually write about real stories that go unheard, and bring out the nuances of society where women are in fear or hiding. I want to share the voices of people who fear that they cannot tell their stories on their own. That’s my motivation to write.”
The Feminist Rani author has no specific routine per se but she just “puts herself on a writing desk” to make the start. Out with her fifth book soon, Chopra invests time in research and makes a special effort to put ‘an everyday lens’ to characters so the readers can hear the real people’s stories.
Chopra says she predominantly learns from what she sees.
This bestselling self-published author once published 12 books in 2 years. She feels that the Indie publishing world is quite different from the other publishing industry. “It’s a different game where you straddle both worlds and strike a balance.”
Wajid is a champion of going it alone. She shifted to self-publishing for financial reasons and she says that she treats it like a job that must be done well. “It works out when an author has a series as they write one book and build a character leaving the reads wanting to know more.”
Wajid had always wanted someone to pay her to write books. Despite the avenue always being present, she did not realise how to do it until she finally self-published her first novel My Brother’s Wedding.
She says she has to sort of balance between the creative side and the business side as she is both an entrepreneur and a writer which requires striking the balance as there are no gatekeepers that the non-self-published authors have.
Joshi had no role models in writing as she was an accidental writer. “Just had a blatant desire to write” and so she went after it.
She taught herself a lot by reading books, becoming part of a writers group, and through the critiques. She also attends a lot of world-class expert sessions to learn from them. She has a group of early readers as it is easy to go into a habit hole when you are writing alone.
Writer’s sanctuary and spotting ideas :
How do writers go about writing and finding the moment to put pen to paper. Chopra who often stays away in the mountains says that she does not necessarily need a sanctuary, she can find a sanctuary where she is. “It’s how I focus.”
Wajid also uses her phone to note down snippets of the ideas she thinks of. Sometimes she forgets what she had written but re-reading it sometimes just triggers that very moment and thought.
Joshi says that stories sometimes ideas ‘fall on your lap, you should just be deceptive and other times you have to go and seek.’
She adds that “being on phones all day, we block our environment and miss out on ideas. If you keep your mind open and engage with your surrounding, every person you meet is a full-length novel in themselves.”
On deadlines and preparations of writing :
Chopra firmly believes in catering time to research as it helps one get better at their work. Being a journalist she claims has helped her jot down strong and firm opinions but she often goes ‘back to it to improve.’
She adds that the deadline pressure is present everywhere and it should be as it improves one’s ability and pushes them to do better and make most of that in that little window that the person has.
On pandemic and writing :
Joshi usually writes light-hearted stories and working from home has caused her to miss her connections and interactions with people.
Her characters are messy and raw in order to make it relatable which requires her to draw from people and places around her so she is unable to dig much.
On writing advice:
The best advice received by Joshi was “to dig deeper” as she is not every emotional person she valued that advice a lot.
She advises everyone “ Observe the world around you and let it in If you want stories, cut out the small talk and ask them random questions. Don’t do the routine. Do different stuff. You’ll be surprised at the insights and stories.”
Suggested Reading :