5 ways to Greater Creativity 

As writers, we string together words and put our hearts and souls into them so that we may find catharsis and resonance. 

We have the ideas. We have the words. We know what we want to write but do we sit down and write? Are there not times when we hit the block, or times we just don’t find the time or times when what we want to say does not come out right or times when we feel too lazy and that makes us go out of practice or we encounter a boredom so deep that we question our abilities or worse still our desire to write. 

There are ways to stoke our creativity so that we can continue to be the creators, bringing forth beauty and even feel drunk on the joy of creation. How to reach that stage? How to create or write (because I am addressing writers here) so that we are consistent and content with the process? 

How to put the words to paper? 

1. Don’t let go 

Don’t let go of your passion, of what nurtures you. Don’t be satisfied and rest on your laurels. Don’t be stress free all the time. Writing is meant to bring joy but if you stick at the easy, you won’t challenge yourself ever. When there is no challenge, boredom sets in and that feeling of wanting to write dissolves fast. 

If writing is important to you, then keep at it, even on the days it feels like a chore. Step away for sometime and you might have stepped too far. 

2. Stay open

We rush through our days. Time is short and the lists are long. There is always a sense of urgency. We like being busy. It makes us feel that we are productive. And yet these are the very days that are a blur when we look back. We don’t remember them for the joy of creation. In being busy and in living with a purpose of accomplishing more and more, we might forget the real meaning and the purpose of our lives. These busy days are the ones when we are closed. 

So, stay open. It is not possible to clear our calendars. But it is possible to carve out a state of mind where creative thinking can flourish. This state is when we are not ticking off things on a list. It is when we are content to ‘be’. At its best, the open state is when we are in communion with our deeper selves and we are open to new thoughts, perceptions and ideas. 

3. Time and Space 

To be in a open frame of mind, carve out some time for yourself. It could be early mornings or late nights or the lazy noons when things are not so rushed and can slow down and watch your thoughts. Make space for your thoughts. And in a literal sense, have a physical space where you can be in peace and harmony. 

It could be a walk path that works for you, early in the mornings. But these are the places and this is the time when you find your thoughts expanding through the perceived barriers of your deadlines. Cherish these times. These would help later with the flow of words. 
4. Have fun with mistakes 

It is needed that there are no worries about mistakes and there is no room for doubts when you write. Sure, there are second thoughts but do not be hemmed in by expectations or your perceived limitations. 

Take courage in your hands and experiment. Prepare to fail. There, at the other end of the spectrum lies real magic. 

5. Stick around till it is done 

Don’t give in fast. You owe it to yourself. The idea is to challenge yourself every now and then so that the going does not stay easy and lead to boredom. Step out of your comfort zone and grow. 

Thanks to Rose for the discussion on writing and for suggesting the subject of this listicle. 

Is there a particular listicle that you have always wanted to read but could never find it? Let us talk of them

This listicle is part of Friday Listicles, a weekly feature that professes our love for anything that is presented in a numbered or bulleted form, paving the way for a happy weekend. 

5 Ways to Bid Adieu

Bidding farewell is always hard, unless you are longing to move on from your present circumstances. Usually, the pull of ‘status quo’ is too strong and all we wish is to stay where we are, with people we are used to and with our routines that we have stuck to.
It has happened to me often that I have had to bid adieu to places. For all of my childhood and much of my adulthood, I have hopped from one place to another and in the process had a rich life of new experiences, different cultures and mind expanding circumstances. I am ready to move on, to adapt, to see the new, to view the different all because of the valuable experiences that change brings.

 
Due to a quirk of fate, the past few years saw me moving less and less. Although, I was always ready to leave, one foot in the door, always looking at what lay beyond, I had started putting down roots. But life is nothing but a movement and there is a time when we have to move on.
Even though it is painful to go from places that we invest so much in, it is also important to say goodbyes completely so that we can look back after a few years and remember only the good.
In the process of moving on, here are the things I wish we can do for peace. 

One
, say goodbye to the people that have mattered. Deep and close relationships are the bedrock of a stable and fulfilling life. Even though the world is networked as never before and talking to someone is as easy as the push of the ‘call’ button on the phone, yet to cease sharing the most insignificant details of your life with someone and let the frequent belly laughs subside because you no longer go through the same days can feel bad. So, acknowledge that this is going to happen and that your relationship is going to change. Say thank you to all those who have shared your world. And pledge to stay in touch and have a deeper relationship that defies distance.

Two
, say goodbye to the places as well. It may seem weird but we are as attached to the places we visit frequently. So, say goodbye to the parks you frequent, the restaurants you loved eating in, the theatres and the art galleries you have lingered in and the bends in the road that give you the first glimpse of your favourite landmark.

Three
, take memories with you. Of course, you have been making memories all along. Now, just gather them in your camera, in your scrapbook and as souvenirs. For you and your new friends.

Four
, plan to come back. Never say never. Life, with its unexpected twists and surprises may just bring you back. It has happened to me and with very pleasant results.

Five
, stay Grateful. Say good bye and at the same time, stay grateful for the wonderful memories and the learning. You were meant to be here and you were meant to move on. It is all a part of the Universe’s grandiose plan for you.
I just wish that this time I am ready to let go with grace and love. 

Dear Reader, tell me of the times that you have had to say goodbye to the things that mattered. Tell me how you managed. Tell me how to be accepting and graceful. 

This listicle is part of Friday Listicles, a weekly feature that professes our love for anything that is presented in a numbered or bulleted form, paving the way for a happy weekend. 


3 Lazy Ways to be Happier

I like to be ‘lazy happy’, just as I like to be ‘lazy busy’. The keyword here is ‘lazy’ in both kinds of mental states. It is an attempt to be things we are meant to be, without trying too hard. 

Spiritual guru, Deepak Chopra, in his book, ‘The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success’ emphasizes on spontaneity and an effortless sense of well being. He maintains that success does not come through working hard but by relaxing into who we are and by understanding the principles that govern the entire existence. When we are in harmony with the Natural Law, abundance springs forth easily. 

Looking for Happiness can be easier than working on our behaviour, attitudes and motivations. Most self help literature suggests that to bring about a change in our circumstances, we must drive the change. And yet plenty of recent research suggests that there are ways we can manifest success and happiness in our lives without trying too hard. 

Here are three effortless ways to feel happier and to be more successful. 

1. Like Other People 

Success and Happiness are influenced largely by others, the ones we interact with on a daily basis – in our homes and at our workplaces. Happiness is a state of mind and positive interactions can accelerate the feeling of positivity and bring in trust in relationships. We don’t want to be happy alone. We want the world to celebrate with us. We want to walk in tandem with the people we care for. 

The simplest and the easiest way to improve these relationships is to like people more. Once you train yourself to consistently like and to appreciate people for what they are now, you bring in a positive bias when dealing with them. 

Also, when you assume positive intent from people, it leads to greater cooperation. It would mean that you are more open to feedback from people and every criticism would be construed positively. 

When you like people and are liked in return, it also improves your sphere of influence. 

2. Accumulate micro moments of positivity 

Turning most of your emotions into positive ones and finding pleasure in the little things ensures a greater feeling of well being than even large positive occurances. 

Why wait for a promotion or a vacation or acquiring a new house to feel good and fortunate? Seize the chance to feel good every little while by the small things. Engage in small talk or say a hello to the people you meet everyday. Take a path through the beautiful park on the way to work. Feed the birds in your lunch break. Savour a simple meal. Celebrate your kids ‘ good performance at school. Be generous. Help someone. 

Each day brings in new possibilities which you can turn into joyful encounters. These little moments of positivity accumulate and have a far reaching impact on a feeling of well being. 

3. Share the Joy 

People are the greatest influencers when it comes to life. Surround yourself with people who are happy, positive and who bring a lot of energy and commitment to whatever they do. Their attributes rub off on you. Your network and the people you spend the most time with indicates what you would become. So, get the good people and let them do the job of transforming you. 

Add wonderous joy to your life by sharing positive emotions and experiences with your friends. It is considered to be one of the best ways to foster a sense of connectedness. Watching a movie or a game together, going for a walk, sharing a meal or even sharing a bit of good news is considered to be a great mood booster. 

Savour the good moments in your life and share them with happy, exuberant people. 

And that’s it. You are happier! 

Try the lazy way to greater happiness and share your thoughts in the comments below. 

This listicle is part of Friday Listicles, a weekly feature that professes our love for anything that is presented in a numbered or bulleted form, paving the way for a happy weekend. 

11 Reasons I Write

Here are the compelling reasons that make me write. 

  1. There are a lot of emotions out there that are the undercurrent of human existence. We don’t explore them enough collectively. Writing is a way to nod and say yes, I feel that way too.
  2. Writing helps me to sort out things for myself. Conflict, despair, misery… I have been able to keep them from overwhelming me in difficult times.
  3. I want to be among the blessed ones, the hallowed ones, the ones who can create beauty and heartbreak through words alone. I have had writers do that to me and I want to emulate them.
  4. Writing gives me a sense of purpose. It is not my bread and butter. Not does it provide tangible benefits. But it gives me direction and happiness and a feeling that life is worth living.
  5. Writing is creating. It may not produce a sculpture. It would not produce a movie. My writing might not even produce a book. There might be blog posts or there might be overflowing journals. But the writing could be a personal experience for some. It might not win accolades but it might resonate with some minds and hearts.
  6. Writing is my way of self expression. It is a heartbeat encapsulated in words. I do not have to keep the unsaid within. In attempting to say what is a swirling mass of emotions in my heart, I say it to the paper for catharsis.
  7. Writing helps me find my way out of life’s conundrums. It helps me find my voice in the doubts and lights up my way through words.
  8. Writing helps me to celebrate the ephemeral and the transient. There are moments and emotions that are fleeting and yet so powerful, just like truth.
  9. Writing brings out the worlds in me, the ones populated by unlikely people, leading extraordinarily interesting lives. Through setting forth improbable combinations in the lives of these imaginary people, there is magic and reality all intermingled to make me feel like a Creator.
  10. Writing helps me explore my own narratives and my influences so that I can understand my viewpoint objectively, once it has been written down. I can choose to evolve my perspective.
  11. Writing helps me face my mortality. It makes me confront the transience of life and the little time I have been left with, in order to write all that I want to.

What are your reasons for writing? Do share. 

This listicle is part of Friday Listicles, a weekly feature that professes our love for anything that is presented in a numbered or bulleted form, paving the way for a happy weekend. 

4 Surprising Tips for Self Editing your Writing 

Image courtesy: http://www.gsc.upenn.edu/navdiss/

To write is human, to edit is divine 

– Stephen King

1. Create distance 

Before tackling the difficult task of editing your work, create some distance first – between yourself and your important manuscript. Give it the gift of of time. Step away for a pre designated time from your work. It could be sleeping over your article or putting it aside for a week. For a longer piece of work, a few weeks might be required for you to look at the work with fresh eyes. 

Metaphorically, create a distance by working on another project or piece of writing. Periodically, take a look at your resting manuscript. When you are surprised by what you have written, by the style or the pace or the narration, it is time to take out the editing pens. 

2. Listen to your instincts 

Once you start reading your work and are getting ready to cut out sentences and passages or to rewrite, focus on what you feel is right and how some things do not sound right. It could be a character that you have spent days crafting meticulously but she still does not sound authentic. Some scenes might seem forced and certain parts may feel too drawn out and boring. Make a note of whatever it is that you feel instinctively to be in need of improvement. 

Technically, or going by the book, you might have done well in creating a conflict in the story and in resolving it towards the end. Yet, if it sounds false to your ears, it is time to take a second and a closer look. 

3. Identify the Story 

The story or the underlying premise of your article is the reason you are writing. For a piece of fiction, it is the story that is paramount. The themes, the recurring motifs, the setting, are all secondary to what you have set out to tell. Even if it is a slice of life or a stream of consciousness kind of work, pare it down to its bare bones, strip away the meat and find out if the barest version makes any sense. 

Remember that the first draft is usually telling yourself the story and it is only for you, the writer and the creator. At the next part of editing and rewriting, the ‘other’ or the reader comes in. This is where you examine the story to see if there is coherence underneath the words and the imagery and the setting and the action. 

4. Keep the Joy 

It is easy to get disheartened when you come back to your supposed literary masterpiece after a while. It could look insipid or an uninspired piece of writing and there would be many many things that you can see are wrong. The basic plot may be disjointed, the storyline unoriginal. The characters may seem to be mere caricatures and the pace may be in jerks and starts. This is the time when you can easily get disheartened and abandon your work, thinking that no amount of rewriting can improve it. And yet, it is never a good idea to let go of any writing just because it does not seem imaginative enough or technically sound at that point of time. 

Take a deep breath and think back of the joy that you experienced while creating the first draft. Think of the sense of potential and the plethora of possibilities that you felt while putting down on paper your wildest thoughts and deepest emotions. Will back the joy and you would get your sense of purpose back. 

What things do you keep in mind when you are editing your own work? Please share your tips and tricks. 

This listicle is part of Friday Listicles, a weekly feature that professes our love for anything that is presented in a numbered or bulleted form, paving the way for a happy weekend. 

9 Quotes on Writing by Writers 

1. There’s no such thing as perfect writing, just like there’s no such thing as perfect despair.

Haruki Murakami 

2. Writing every book is like a purge; at the end of it one is empty … like a dry shell on the beach, waiting for the tide to come in again.

Daphne du Maurier 

3. All great literature is one of two stories; a man goes on a journey or a stranger comes to town.

Leo Tolstoy 

4. An idea, like a ghost, must be spoken to a little before it will explain itself.

Charles Dickens 

5. The idea is to write it so that people hear it and it slides through the brain and goes straight to the heart. 

Maya Angelou 

6. So usually even if you like a sentence or a story or something, it won’t come out that way – it’ll come out years later, and in a different way, and you don’t really control that.

Keren Ann 

7. Writing down thoughts is like making marks in the wind. The wind in turn makes kites fly even as we cannot see the strings. 

Nicoletta Baumeister 

8. To me, the greatest pleasure of writing is not what it’s about, but the music the words make. 

Truman Capote 

9. There are two kinds of truth: the truth that lights the way and the truth that warms the heart. The first of these is science, and the second is art. 

Raymond Chandler

This listicle is part of ‘Friday Listicles‘, a weekly feature that professes our love for anything that is presented in a numbered or bulleted form, paving the way for a happy weekend. 

Friday Listicles : Top 6 Literary Fixes


Being a voracious reader, I like to read book after book, with scarce a pause in between. I can be reading up to three different books at a time. When I am full of one, or overwhelmed with the thought thread in another, I only have to turn to yet another. Good books nourish the soul.  But there are times when I need some mindless reading, or something that is not too much effort but is good reading. I call such reads my literary fixes as they fill the gap in my reading and they are light and pleasant.

Here are my Top 6 Literary Fixes :

1. Re reading Classics


Classics are considered ‘heavy stuff’, with archaic language and difficult to follow plot line. Yet, there is nothing more comforting for me to turn to the familiar characters I have grown up with (I started reading classics at a very young age and had read many of them by the time I finished school) and relive their lives, struggles and emotions. I go down the familiar lanes, see the landscapes once again and wander the mansions. It is something I cannot do in real life, for people and places change every time I blink.

2. Western Novels


The wild, wild west attracts me like nothing else and because the uncertain, danger ridden, pistol toting, knife wielding characters always live on the edge, it is a perfect antidote to my staid lifestyle. Any time, I pick up a Louis L’Amour book and follow the protagonist across the deserts or on mountain trails, I come back rejuvenated.

3. Travel Literature


The Lonely Planet magazines are my best friend. They are always perched on my shelf just within reach. I pore over the articles and the magnificent photographs and sigh and dream. Well, some day….

4. Romance


The girl is lovely, simple, sincere and the guy is rich, arrogant and seemingly too good for her. Yet, ‘feelings’ develop and they inch towards a commitment. The key words are ‘simple’, ‘feelings’ and ‘inch’. These are the features of the romance novels I like. Yes, Barbara Cartland, Georgette Heyer…. They are old world and so am I. But, sometimes, books like Twilight seem too interesting and… delicious!

5. Humour 

P G Wodehouse would take the credit anyday for cheering me up. There have been train journeys, when I caught up on my reading of the pile of Wodehouses I owned, laughing uncontrollably all by myself and attracting queer glances from my co passengers. There is just something about the humour that is slapstick and yet delivered in the most understated manner. 

6. Good Housekeeping


This is the last but definitely not the least. Any time, I am fed up of the chores, the endless running about, the loooong list of things to be accomplished, I plonk down in a comfortable chair and check out the online version of Good Housekeeping magazine. The pristine houses and beauty of living spaces makes me forget my own shabby surroundings, badly in need of dusting. In my mind, I am repainting the kitchen cabinets a gorgeous red and getting the perfect floral centerpiece.

I would love to hear from you, my dear readers, about your literary fixes.

7 Surprising Pick-me-ups

A pick-me-up is something that makes you feel better instantly. It stimulates or restores, according to the dictionary. And this is something that we really need to counter the stress, challenges and even the ennui of our lives. 

Here are a few ways to take charge once again. 

1. Get Moving 


Exercise boosts the feel good hormones and a good workout stimulates both the body and the mind. Apart from the obvious and much touted benefits for your health, sweating it out helps build mental toughness and stimulate creative thinking. It could be your go-to option for overcoming that mental block or working around that niggling problem. 

2. Flow experiences 

Flow is the mental state of being completely immersed in an activity. The enhanced focus leads to a great degree of involvement, leading to a deep satisfaction and ultimately happiness. 

The activity could be playing a piece of music, being engrossed in gardening or climbing a mountain. What matters is that there is a complete involvement and the action seems nearly effortless. 

3. Create 
What we create is the output of our experiences and subconscious learnings. We read, watch and listen. These things provide the input. We write, analyze, play music, prepare a presentation. These activities are our output. Let the ratio be heavily in favour of the output. It would instantly make you feel better. 

4. Affirmations 


Affirmations are statements that help in practising positive thinking leading to a feeling of empowerment. They help focus your thoughts on what is good now and what can be good in the future. They also restructure your beliefs, especially the self damaging and self critical beliefs that pull you back from realizing your dreams. Affirmations help you feel better immediately by reminding you that you are in charge of your thoughts, mind and attitude. 

5. Be rhythmic 


Create a rhythm through dance steps, singing or playing the chorus, doodling the images and the words that rhyme. Create something with your hands, knit or crochet, sculpt or paint. Just get into the repetitive pattern of a beloved activity where you are at least mildly proficient. 

6. Breathe 
Breathe in, breath out. Just be. No doing, only being. In the moment. Sharpen all your senses and feel every little sensation. Bring your awareness to your body and watch your emotions. Accept. Every circumstance. And yourself. 

7. Accept the worst 



When stress bogs you down, think of the worst that could happen in a situation or in an interaction. Then accept it. Feel the disappointment and the fear. The dreaded consequences would not feel so fearful after all. From that position of no hope, think of ways you could move forward. It would bring you out of your paralysis and clear a way for your mind. 

What are the ways you use to reenergise yourself? Please share. 

Friday Listicles‘, are running into their second month. It is a weekly feature that professes our love for anything that is presented in a numbered or bulleted form, paving the way for a happy weekend. 

6 different moods in poetry that I love 

There are so many emotions and moods that the poetic form expresses, bringing us closer to the deeper feelings within. Here are some of the poems that I love for the moods they evoke. 

1. Love, the emotion that makes the world go round. In How do I love thee, let me count the ways by Elizabeth Barrett Browning, the poet talks of love in many different ways. This sonnet is about the quality of love, the sublime heights and the unfathomable depths of feeling. It is about the beloved and yet it transcends a person. The spectrum of love that the poem covers is amazing and is described so maturely. 

I love thee to the level of everyday’s Most quiet need, by sun and candle light. 

Read the complete love sonnet here

2. Transcience, as depicted by time, the great healer, the quicksilver entity, the unit that we use to measure our lives. Time can be fickle, it can be on our side and it can slip away while we wonder what happened. Dog Days by Derek Mahon examines the ways we live our lives, how days seem never ending and yet the years fly by. It hints at the regret men have as they dream and never get down to doing the things that they dream of. Simply, gently, the poet reminds us of the clock that is ticking away. 

When you stop to consider

The days spent dreaming of a future 

And say then, that was my life. 

Read the complete poem here

3. Pretension, the thing we do when we try to come up to others expectations and the norms set by society. In the little epigram, To Someone Who Insisted I look Up Someone by X. J. Kennedy, in just three lines, the poet talks of travel, friends and pomposity. Humour and brevity marry! 

Read the poem with another two epigrams here

4. Acceptance, what we as humans need the most. Love, appreciation and acceptance are what we crave for. This poem, Masks by Shel Silverstein, written for children, has a profound message for adults as well. It underscores acceptance; self acceptance, acceptance of others and knowledge that should be shared. 

5. Absurdity, the implausible and the incomprehensible. Much of poetry is like that to the readers especially when the verses are profound. And yet, written for children, The Walrus and the Carpenter by Lewis Caroll, the absurd and the impossible happen through the story of a walrus, a carpenter and oysters. There is personification of these characters and the nonsense verses are fun. This narrative poem is recited by Tweedledee and Tweedledum to the protagonist Alice, in the book, Through the Looking Glass. 

The sea was wet as wet could be, 

The sands were dry as dry. 

You could not see a cloud, because 

No cloud was in the sky: 

No birds were flying overhead-

There were no birds to fly. 

Read this long poem here

6. Character as in Ethics, the principles that we live by. There is no comprehensive description of the guiding principles that a man ought to follow than in If by Rudyard Kipling. 

If you can keep your head when all about you 

Are losing theirs and blaming it on you 

Read this moving poem here

Which poems do you love the best? Do share your favourites! 

Friday Listicles‘, are running into their second month. It is a weekly feature that professes our love for anything that is presented in a numbered or bulleted form, paving the way for a happy weekend. 

How to say Goodbye in 5 ways; in 30 days

Bidding farewell is always hard, unless you are longing to move on from your present circumstances. Usually, the pull of ‘status quo’ is too strong and all we wish is to stay where we are, with people we are used to and with our routines that we have stuck to.

It has happened to me often that I have had to bid adieu to places. For all of my childhood and much of my adulthood, I have hopped from one place to another and in the process experienced a rich life of new experiences, different cultures and mind expanding circumstances. I am ready to move on, to adapt, to see the new, to view the different all because of my peripatetic existence.

Due to a quirk of fate, the past few years saw me settling down in one place. Although, I was always ready to leave, one foot in the door, always looking at what lay beyond. But the charms of the place I lived in started weaving its magic and as months went by, I wished more and more to stay on. In time, I almost put down roots. But life is nothing but a movement and the time has come for me to move on.

It is painful to go from this place that I have fallen deeply in love with. The clock is ticking and it shows a month. It is also important to say my goodbyes completely so that I can look back after a few years and remember only the good.

So, here are the things I wish I can do for peace.

One, say goodbye to people that have mattered. Deep and close relationships are the bedrock of a stable and fulfilling life. Even though the world is networked as never before and talking to someone is as easy as the push of the ‘call’ button on the phone, yet to cease sharing the most insignificant details of your life with someone and let the frequent belly laughs subside because you no longer go through the same days can feel bad. So, acknowledge that this is going to happen and that your relationship is going to change. Say thank you to all those who have shared your world. And pledge to stay in touch and have a deeper relationship that defies distance.

Two, say goodbye to the places as well. It may seem weird but we are as attached to the places we visit frequently. So, say goodbye to the parks you frequent, the restaurants you loved eating in, the theatres and the art galleries you have lingered in and the bends in the road that give you the first glimpse of your favourite landmark.

Three, take memories with you. Of course, you have been making memories all along. Now, just gather them in your camera, in your scrapbook and as souvenirs. For you and your new friends.

Four, plan to come back. Never say never. Life, with its unexpected twists and surprises may just bring you back. It has happened to me and with very pleasant results.

Five, stay Grateful. Say good bye and at the same time, stay grateful for the wonderful memories and the learning. You were meant to be here and you were meant to move on. It is all a part of the Universe’s grandiose plan for you.

I just wish that I am ready to let go with grace and love.

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Journey On...