Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott

Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott is a treatise on writing and on life, liberally sprinkled with hope and empathy. Narrated in Anne’s characteristic self deprecating wit, it explores vulnerability and grace in equal measures.

The book has a meditative quality, not to be just read but also re-read, giving the reader new perspective and depth each time.

On being a writer, she says,

“One of the gifts of being a writer is that it gives you an excuse to do things, to go places and explore.”

This in itself is gratifying, bringing a kind of validation to writing, something we do for our soul but can now tie with wordly benefits.

Writers often think that the acme of their careers or even their endeavours is being published. Anne says:

“I believed, before I sold my first book, that publication would be instantly and automatically gratifying, an affirming and romantic experience, a Hallmark commercial where one runs and leaps in slow motion across a meadow filled with wildflowers into the arms of acclaim and self esteem.
This did not happen for me.”

Once we are disinvested in publishing being the sole aim of writing (it’s still a very big part, of course), it becomes easier to find satisfaction in the process rather than the end.

Anne teaches writing workshops and being a writer all her life, her advice springs from practicality and even vulnerability that’s endearing and makes you feel human and glad.

“Sometimes, when my writer friends are working, they feel better and more alive than they do at any other time.”

And that somehow sums up, why we get back to writing again and again in our lives.

Talking about beginning to write, she emphasises the importance of short assignments and knowing that first drafts are always going to be insufferably bad (my euphemism for the ‘other’ word that’s used to describe first drafts). There the battle that sets you against perfectionism, the enemy of writing.

There are rich insights on character, plot, dialogue; Anne makes us see and feel things beneath the surface of our own consciousness and how we can be intuitive to write and develop stories.

While talking about the writing frame of mind, she talks of reverence and awe that helps us be open to things and experiences. Writing becomes meditation, a way of self discovery and of salvation.

Anne also talks about her own writing process, how she takes notes, how she uses her material, how she researches and what to expect from writer support groups.

Here’s something she says that stuck with me:

“They all look a lot less slick and cool … because helping each other has made their hearts get bigger. A big heart is both a clunky and a delicate thing; it doesn’t protect itself and it doesn’t hide. It stands out, like a baby’s fontanel, where you can see the soul pulse through.”

And this, for me, is the essence of the book. Compassion, acceptance, love. Life and writing merge and seem to feed each other.

I am writing book reviews this month for #BlogchatterA2Z.

What a Chance Photography Lesson Taught Me about Writing

Writers are constantly finding ways to get around a block that does not let them express the way they would like to. Either there is no writing or not enough in quantity and quality.

Being Stuck

Feeling stuck is a commonplace thing. We get into a routine and before long into a rut. Creatively, it has happened to me in my writing. I was writing well, being productive, finding much joy and then things just tanked. The creative pursuit became more of a predictable thing, the topics became similar, the flow of ideas and the structure of the writing pieces looked duplicated.

Once stuck, it is easy to stay stuck. It is also easy to dissolve in angst, when trying to look for solutions. But the angst and the self pity is so overwhelming and sneakily satisfying that it makes it difficult for us to find answers sincerely.

So, here I was, stuck in a writing routine, not having anything new to say, rehashing the same topics and lines of thought. To shake up things, I decided to just ‘be’ for a while, finding my connection back to my creative core.

Exploring Other Creative Outlets

I started taking long walks, enjoying the natural beauty and the architecture of the hill town I was living in, at that time and this started me dabbling in photography.

Capturing the mountains, the beautiful vistas, the sunrises and the sunsets was easy; everything was so picturesque. But no matter how much I tried, I could not take acceptably good photos of the imposing church towers, the Gregorian style architecture of the theatres and the buildings. I felt as stuck in photography as in writing.

Making Connections: How I Got Unstuck

I pored over articles online about how to capture imposing structures. One article talked about singling out interesting parts of a building and focussing on them. This made good sense. If I could not take a panoramic shot of the place, I could step up close, zoom in to the quaint lamps, a portion of the arches and just one towering window instead of them in a row.

And all of a sudden, it all came together. I was capturing the essence of places by focussing on the details.

I decided to use this lesson for my writing. When I was not able to produce pieces that spoke sweepingly of the human condition, I walked in close to one person, her life, her struggles and her spirit. This helped me get the attention of the readers. I could then back up, fill in the details and relate this one story to the larger picture of life.

We can find inspiration in unexpected places, we just need to stay open.

Which creative pursuits, other than writing, are you passionate about?

I am taking my blog to the next level with Blogchatter’s #MyFriendAlexa.

What to write when you are completely stuck

Disclaimer: I wished this to be a comprehensive, helpful, enlightening blog post to guide other bloggers to ways to get out of a writing rut/vault over writer’s block/get productive writing-wise. Instead this is a rant cum musing and it doesn’t help that the post has no headings or sub headings to help you skim.

This post title is so me. I face this conundrum every 3.5 weeks of active blogging. What to write about? Without further-ado, let’s take this head-on.

Do a recee: I hop over to the blog categories to recap which topics I write about most often and which ones do well. When I am stuck, there’s nothing better to do than the tested-and-tried.

Take a different angle: So I know which posts attract more readers. I try a different angle to these topics. Some of my book reviews do really well. So, I write a more detailed post on one of the aspects of that book, either focussing on the plot or the characters. Or even do a post on the various book covers a classic book has had ever since it was published. Or the fan-fiction it has spawned. Or the social changes it pointed to. You get my point.

Experiment with formats: Most of my posts are a fixed length. There is a switch in my mind that flips when that word count is reached. I intuitively know it’s time to wrap up. However, I change that consciously just to bring newness to my posts. I post a picture with a short caption a la Instagram. I write a funny piece. I write a listicle. I write a serious, longish, how-to-do post. On occasion, I have written posts with a bunch of pictures showing a journey or a walk in the neighborhood.

Write a book: Whaaaat, weren’t we talking blog posts? Those few months when I had no time or the mental space to write, I decided not to let weeds grow on my blog. I committed to writing one post a week, in the form of a listicle. A year later, I collated those listicles to publish an ebook. Later, when I got another writing block, I decided the subject of my next book. That gave me the impetus to start researching and writing shorter posts around the topic of my book.

Copy your heroes: There is the curious case of a writer who loves to type out the books of his favourite authors. What a waste of time? Not really. I don’t copy my favourite book verbatim but each book has a special element, each author has his own voice. Identify that unique quality. It could be the length of the sentences, a particular mood or visual imagery. I try to recreate that in my own writing. I may only write little pieces that way but it helps to get started. Also, I have used those little snippets as a starting point for other stories. This helps me the next time I feel stuck.

Prompts: There’s something about writing prompts that screams ‘forced’ to me. I used to be petrified of them to the point of avoiding them completely. But in the end, I made them work for me. I channelise my rebellion to write the opposite of what the prompt offers. If the prompt is about the mountains; I write about the sea. If the prompt is about something dead serious, I infuse humour in my story. If the prompt is about what’s outside my window, I write a story of the things on my desk.

Talk to the people in your head: I do that when the people in my life don’t want to listen to my ramblings. There are situations where I thought of a retort seven minutes too late. There are things I read where I want to give my two cents. There are the theories which I am sure would change the world when properly implemented. I write them all. It makes me feel better and in the end I can always crumple up the paper and throw it away. But yes, it gets me started on the writing path again.

What are your tips to looking for topics when you don’t know what to write?
P.S. If you can, please answer this existential question: if we can’t think of what to write, why don’t we just let it be??

I am taking my blog to the next level with Blogchatter’s #MyFriendAlexa campaign.

7 Reasons Every Writer Must Do the NaNoWriMo

Mention NaNoWriMo to me and my writer’s adrenaline gets pumped. I get asked about my NaNo experience rather frequently, possibly because I go ga ga over it, all the time.

For the uninitiated and the curious, NaNoWriMo is short for the mouthful National Novel Writing Month. Every year, in the month of November, thousands of writers all over the world come together (virtually) to write a complete novel in 30 days. This complete novel is quantified at 50,000 words.

Writing a complete novel (is it really complete? We will talk about that later) in a month is an exciting achievement. And yet, many writers I know shy away from attempting the NaNoWriMo.

Here I am, trying to convince the doubters and the non believers to just try this one time and be a convert for a lifetime.

So, why should you try the NaNoWriMo?

1. It’s Fun

Seriously!? Doesn’t it sound like hard work? Writing a novel in 30 days feels/sounds/is difficult.

The thing is that NaNoWriMo requires you to write, write and write without any inhibitions or editing at this stage. Also, because the writers are required to reach a particular word count, they have to loosen up and sometimes let the words take over. It is a lot of fun to let the novel write itself which is a rollercoaster of fun if you don’t get in the way.

2. You feel like a Bona Fide Writer

Finishing a novel in one month can be quite an achievement. Before I did my first NaNoWriMo, I had been blogging for some time. Most of my posts were below 1k words. I posted as and when I wanted. I wrote about whatever caught my fancy. So even though I had been writing, there wasn’t strict discipline in place.

It was only after I finished the first writing draft which cane to 50k+ that I had the confidence to call myself a writer who writes against all odds.

3. It’s the perfect way to build a writing routine

Most of us pledge every once in a while to start writing or to keep writing regularly. But life is busy otherwise and situations come up that require more attention than writing. So the dream of being regular stays just a dream. Deciding to do the NaNoWriMo means you are commiting to writing nearly every day to meet the word count goal. It helps you build a writing routine and by the time the month is over, you are one of those writers who ‘write everyday’.

4. You learn to find time for writing

So, why don’t we write regularly? Because we are short of time. Almost, everyone of us is. Unless writing is your job.

During NaNoWriMo, you force yourself to make time for writing, whether it is early morning, in the lunch hour, on your commute or late in the night. Knowing that this madness of finding time pockets in unlikely places is only going to last a month, we keep at it and before long we become pros at making time for writing, as opposed to finding time.

5. You understand your writing quirks and style better

A couple of years back, I would write as and when I felt like it. It was a hobby I could pick and ignore as per my whim.

Doing the NaNoWriMo made me see a pattern in my writing. I could see what tropes I used and overused and the things I avoided writing about. I analysed the places my writing fell flat, eg, I am terrible at writing dialogue. I also felt the need to be more prepared, to have an outline ready before I sit down to write. I understood that I was more of a pantser, ie writing on impulse.

6. You know how to work around the obstacles and to fill the plot holes

NaNoWriMo is a wonderful experience. But like a chameleon, it can change its colour sometime after the first week of writing and even morph into a monster. To wade through the wordiness and to make sure that what you write is part of a whole, you have to take an overall view of your writing. While this is not really required while you are racing to finish the 50k words, it is needed that you find and plug the plot holes once you are editing and polishing your work. This experience comes in handy in improving your writing skills.

7. You discover the pleasure of first drafts

Completing 50k in 30 days is a kick-ass experience. But do 50 k words a novel make? Not right away. You do need to stash away your work for a while and then come back to it with fresh eyes. Now is the time to edit and tighten the writing.
The words that you write during the month of November is the first draft. It is essentially putting down the story on paper. It may be tentative in the beginning but as you go ahead, your voice becomes stronger and the story starts to make sense.

Are you doing the NaNoWriMo this year? What are the things that you like best about this writing marathon?

7 Things I Discovered during #MyFriendAlexa

I am participating in #MyFriendAlexa campaign organised by Blogchatter for the month of September. It is for bloggers looking to boost their Alexa rank.

What is an Alexa rank, you might ask.

“Alexa is a global ranking system that utilizes web traffic data to compile a list of the most popular websites, the Alexa Rank. The lower your Alexa rank, the more popular (for example, a site with the rank of 1 has the most visitors on the internet)”.

In trying to take my blog and Alexa rank to the next level, here are some surprising things that I discovered this September.
(Ideally, this should have have been a month end post but the significant learning means I can talk about it now).

1. I can Read a lot.

I am a voracious reader and often read three books concurrently. When I found out that reading a few blog posts on a daily basis is a requirement of this campaign, I was cool.

But in reality, reading and commenting on a large number of blogs everyday, consistently, gets a little difficult. Add to that the writing I have to do for the blog. Add to that the book reviews that I have promised to write this month. And add to that the books I am supposed to read and finish before writing those reviews. Add a busy life, other than the reading and writing, to the mix.

It felt very difficult and yet I am finding that it is very much possible to do a lot of reading everyday if I put my mind to it.

Reading in slots comes to the rescue. I never realised I have so many little pockets of time in my day when I can quickly read a page or five of the books.

2. I can make time to Write.

Yes, you never have enough time but you have to make time for the things you are passionate about. All these motivational quotes are very good but in reality I was very apprehensive about the required twice a week posting schedule. Normally, this is doable, but this month was different. I felt being pulled in so many directions.

Usually, I need complete silence to be able to write contemplative, well crafted posts. I make time for these late in the nights or in early mornings. For some reasons, this was not possible and I was barely getting enough time to relax, let alone be in an expansive time frame to write.

It’s not that I had not planned my writing. I had plenty of blog post drafts lined up, ready to be polished and shared with the world. But when the time came to publish them, I didn’t like them at all. Nor could I edit my drafts in peace.

And yet, the beauty of the Alexa campaign is such that I have been able to maintain the writing schedule. Breaking my self conceived notions of when and how I write, I have been able to post twice a week. This knowledge is empowering; I don’t have to give up on my writing when the going gets tough or busy.

3. I understand the Real components of Blogging

Let’s take this step by step. Blogging is Writing and posting on my blog. Enough? No, not really. The content needs to be good quality, I should know my audience, I should put out evergreen and useful content, the title needs to be catchy or self explanatory, I should know SEO…
I discovered all this during Alexa.

Blogging is not just writing. It is also reading- others, commenting and sharing, making connections in the blogosphere. Alexa taught me the importance of being social in the blogging world. It makes a world of difference in my own perspective and on my writing as I discover and engage with varied blogs.

4. I can improve Blog Design

Blogging effectively is also putting my best foot forward so that my audience comes to my space and stays. The factors that make it happen are a good website/blog design, easy navigation, easy commenting, without many fancy sign-ups and pop ups. I had understood all this theoretically. This month, visiting so many blogs this was a great practical learning. Now I know which elements in blog design to keep and which to eliminate.

And knowing that I would get higher page views helped me make the switch to an aesthetically pleasing design and easy navigation and sharing (hope my readers feel that too), along with making sure that the site loads quickly.

5. I can implement SEO

The exhaustive topic that SEO is, it is important to know at least the basics. Again it has been on my wish list, to implement good SEO. With Alexa, I am not only motivated but also have found the tools to implement this.

I am learning how to write an optimised blog post. I am also exploring Keyword planning, alt tags, meta description and headlines, site structure, on page optimisation, link building etc

6. I must Plan Content

I know many bloggers follow a strict posting schedule and maintain an editorial calendar. I have tried to do it many times but I baulk at planning anything that is a few days ahead.
But with Alexa, I realise the importance of planning my posts, knowing which topics are topical and looking at the most popular days and time to post. I see bloggers maintaining a consistency in posting and really it reaps plenty of benefits.

7. I can be responsive to the Changing Face of Blogging

A decade back, blogging was more about putting up our writing from the journals to an online space. It was more of a heartfelt thing, more of an expression of self. Now, the scene is much more professional. A blog can be a place to showcase good content, have people coming back for more and a business that provides a good income.

Visiting a variety of blogs has brought this into a clear focus and I can see the efforts of bloggers in generating an income through their blogs.

As the month nears the end, I am sure I am going to polish up on and internalise these learnings.

What have been your learnings this month?

This post is part of #MyFriendAlexa and I am taking my blog and Alexa rank to the next level with Blogchatter.

My Blog to Book Journey

This post about my eBook is part of Blogchatter EBook Post Chain.

I take on the Baton of Blogchatter Ebook Carnival from Lavanya whose ebook ‘The Cockatiel Confessions and Other Collected Works‘ is also part of the mix.

About Lavanya’s ebook: Do you know why the moon is blue? Or why the cockatiel complains? A poor little rich girl & another girl who likes to gamble away her life credits. A tribal warrior & a time traveler. A celestial journey and a missing damsel.

My EBook Journey: When Love takes You Places

I am a compulsive list maker, in my daily life. I love writing listicles, in my blogging life.

For my readers who have been with me for some time, this wouldn’t come as a surprise. Last year I started a weekly listicles feature called Friday Listicles. I talked of how and why I loved listicles. I talked of books, of quotes that inspired me and the learnings in my writing journey. It was a busy time for me, non-blog wise and I was struggling to write regularly.

Sometimes I would wonder how to keep my inspiration strong. At other times, I struggled with being productive, having to juggle various projects. I was also editing my first draft of the previous year’s NaNoWriMo. Editing can be a frustrating and prohibitive experience.

I was sure that there were other writers out there facing the same problems as I did. Sometimes, I would settle down to think deeply about the writing itself, not just the words I was writing but the entire process of coming up with something I wanted to write about, keeping at it and making a good thing out of it. I realised that writing is not just writing the words but also the thinking, the researching, the editing, the rewriting. If I wanted to be good at the entire spectrum, I must acknowledge the stumbling blocks and know how to work around them.

My musings on writing came to the blog in the form of listicles. I was also aware that this would benefit many others who were struggling with some or the other aspect of the writing.

I wanted to put my blog posts in the form of a book.

When I joined Blogchatter this year, my dream seemed to be getting wings. Blogchatter is a community of bloggers on Twitter. It is an amazing place, a wonderful group of dedicated people who give support, provide information and opportunities for bloggers to grow better.

For Blogchatter EBook Carnival, bloggers curated content from their blogs to publish as eBooks. And that is how my own eBook came into being.

About my eBook

Finding Your Writing Flow will inspire you to pick your pen and explore your authentic voice to become the writer you want to be.

Simple and profound at the same time, the book guides you through self doubt, offering tips on recognising your passion for writing, finding inspiration when you feel stuck, staying productive in your writing projects, getting better at your craft and renewing yourself as a writer.

Experience a sense of calm, unleash the writer within and stay motivated with this book.

You can download the book from here. It is free for a limited period of time.

I pass on the Baton of Blogchatter Ebook Carnival to Mayuri whose ebook ‘26 Favourite Foods & a Little Bit of Me‘ is also part of the mix.

About Mayuri’s ebook: Food and Memories – that is what her book is all about. Food has the power to keep you connected to your past, even as it evolves to fit the future. Come walk down memory lane with her as she shares with you her favourite foods, and memories.

Do click on the links and download these excellent books and support the authors.

The Unglamorous half of Writing

If you are on a break from writing,
consider this-

You can don your best peaked hat in dark, brooding colours that makes you look intimidating and on the front, embroidered in purple thread is the word, ‘Editor’.

Don’t feel like writing? Never mind. You can always edit your work. Rummage through your drawers for those manuscripts shoved there weeks or months back. Straighten out the pages, flip through them.

You would be surprised at the quality of work. You might of course pull your hair in frustration at the lack of clarity or be glowing in the reflected glory of a well written piece.

But stop, don’t tell yourself that the words are yours. Till the time you are wearing that cap, don’t identify yourself with the story or the narrative. Better still, think it is some low life scum who wrote that and now is the time for you to teach him a lesson.

Take out the highlighters and the coloured pens that you keep stashed away. Use them with abandon. Strike out what is even a tad bad. You are free to use cuss words to tell the writer what’s really wrong with that writing. Laugh at the plot holes. Snicker st the pacing. Write all that you feel is wrong with the manuscript.

There, you are having so much fun. Editing is the other half, the hidden half, the unglamourous half of writing and even though you did not write any words today, you were still writing.

Feeling good, eh?

Finding my Writing Pace

My favourite grudge is over the writing advice I see plastered all over the place. Everyone has an opinion (and here I am airing mine). When to write, where to write, how much to write every single day. It all seems to boil down to discipline. Write every day. Write consciously. Write beyond your comfort zone.

I am not an adept writer. I should have put this disclaimer at the beginning. I am not published, I don’t get paid for what I write and I don’t have to manage rejection. I call myself a writer because this is something I am passionate about. I am besotted with words, etymology, nuances. I feel that words can move mountains or be the refreshing founts of peace.

But the very helpful advice that I encounter somehow makes me feel off my pace.

Write everyday. I try. But there is life. There are moods. And if I do not crank out a few hundred words at the end of a session i feel like a failure. Which makes me shrink back from the entire thing. Am I trying out others expectations as my size and disappointed that they do not fit?

Find a space that you can reclaim again and again as your writing nook. I have one of those. It doesn’t work everytime. I only need solitude. I can write on the bed, couch, floor, on the window stoop, in a crowded temple with blaring hyms. The only thing I need is solitude or a disconnection from the world around me and a connection with my own self.

Write at the same time everyday. I find that constricting. I need the expansiveness of space and time to be able to write. I want a flow and to get that I want to be unhurried, to be away from deadlines such as the one, ‘write for the next one hour and try to get down a thousand words.’

Am I creating art? With these rigid deadlines and guidelines, I am not. Do artists/writers need angst? Or do they need to sit down everyday with discipline and determination and write words?

I need discipline to grow but I also need a teeny bit of angst so that I don’t forget that writing is also a calling. With that, I find my own pace.

Which is the writing advice that you love to hate?

How to Get Back to Writing after a Break

Writing may be your passion but sometimes life or other commitments come in the way and writing drops off your radar. If you don’t write for a living then it is even harder to get back to it. It seems like writing is something you do for fulfilment and as a creative pursuit and heck, we do push back the me-things when other things are overwhelming.

It has happened to me time and again. One week I would be writing furiously, churning out words, ideas, dreams and then suddenly something would come up and writing would be the last thing on the agenda. These days grow into weeks and sometimes months and getting back just seems tougher.

So, what do I do? There are many ways I get back to my writing. Sometimes one approach works, sometimes the other and at times it has to be a combination.

Here they are:

Ease back into it

You know that you have to get back to writing. Pat yourself on the head (try not to be too patronising) and start small. If you are into fiction, write a 100 word story. Write a haiku if you write poetry. Flip through the pages of your WIP if you want to revise and edit. Give yourself the space and time to get back to the things you love.

I do this easing-back-in when I have had a tough time, strict deadlines and tiring commitments to catch up. I need the TLC not the discipline.

Just Do It

The exact opposite of the first approach, this involves sitting into that damned chair and not getting up till you write something substantial. You might require the assistance of finger snacks (non greasy), coffee at your elbow and some tissues (you might not cry at the unexpected beauty of your writing but you certainly need to wipe those crumbs off your fingers and blot out the coffee cup stain from the table).

This approach works for me when I have been procrastinating for too long and thinking up of silly excuses for why I am not writing. I don’t need sympathy, I need a kick in the backside.

Read and Write

Pick up your current read. If you haven’t read anything meaningful in a while, then dust off your favourite book and flip through the pages. The words would jump at you and soon you would be lost in the fictional world. The writing would impress upon your mind the sheer beauty of the written word and remind you (hopefully) of all the things that you yourself want to say. You realise that life is short (it would be good if your favourite book has a dying character in it) and you need to catch hold of all those grains of sand that have been slipping through the hourglass and write.

I am an enthusiastic reader and I generally have a book or two I can get back to (e-readers ensure that I don’t have to dust my books). But there are times when I have upto four unfinished books and at those times, I have to force myself to finish them (not off) one by one so that I can get back into the flow of the narrative and then on to my own voice.

Become a Copycat

Again, pick a book. Read a little, a couple of pages would do. Zero in to a passage you especially like. Judge it, by the choice of words, the length of the sentences, the cadence of the language, the tone of the story. Pick one dominating element and write your own passage using that element.

If you like the dreaminess of a work; write about the dreaminess of your unforgettable meal. If you are struck by the choice of short, powerful words in a passage, attempt to recreate that pace through the choice of similar words on a topic that is close to your heart. You’ll get back to your mojo in no time.

There are dog people and then there are cat people. I am neither; I scream at the merest proximity of even a beaked creature. The nearest I can come is to be a Copycat and it generally works very well to get back to my own style.

Take a Pledge

Imagine the Bible or the religious scripture you have an affinity for. Think yourself taking an oath with it being the witness. Decide now how much you are going to write and with what frequency. If you are back in the flow, stay in the flow. Don’t let this exercise at getting back be wasted.

Not overly religious? Never fear, think of foregoing your favourite pizza or the Netflix binge watching if you don’t stick to your writing goals.

I like to make a virtual promise for my writing goals. NaNoWriMo is a wonderful time and so is the Camp NaNoWriMo platform. I promise, put it into writing and post on my blog. There are a few friends who serve exclusively as my boasting boards and I make sure that I tell them of my promise so that the fear of looking small pulls me back into the writing chair.

I am collecting tips and tricks for getting back to writing after a break. Please share yours with me.

How many of the above tips resonate with you?

To BuJo and Back

When I started blogging, I would always write my blog posts first on paper and then type them out. Labour intensive yes, but I just could not seem to think well while typing. My ideas flowed better with a pencil in hand and the scratching sound on paper reassured me that something was happening. I was making progress.

Then came modernity. I wanted to be able to type long documents, not the office communication or the reports kinds but the imaginative ones. The ones that had stories or articles or posts. So I moved from the paper to the screen. Soon, I was doing very well for someone who could only write on paper. Thus started my journey into the world of typing on keyboards and keypads. Soon, even the grocery lists on paper were replaced by the ones on my phone. It was just easier and convenient.

But over the years, I found that I was in need of inspiration a lot of times and I was just getting very tired of looking at screens. One day, while going through my things I came across my journals that I have filled with my scrawny writing over the years. And the itch to write on paper started again.

I like things to be organised and my writing too and of course, I love making lists. That was the perfect recipe for falling for a BuJo. For the uninitiated (I don’t think there are any), a BuJo is a Bullet Journal, which is a simple and innovative journal designed to keep everything in place, aka the notes, the tasks, your progress. It helps keep you on top in terms of assignments, to-dos, the social calender etc. For me, it also meant not letting go of those creative ideas and the little moments in a day that I could write about.

BuJos beckon the artistic and the organised. It is like a person’s mind, on the page. I had always wanted a journal that would carry Everything that I had ever wanted to write and that had ever crossed my mind. There were the lists, the random things that struck me through the day, the useful resources that I discover, the facts that I uncover from long time mysteries. There is the progress on my daily, weekly and monthly goals. There are the new ideas that just cannot go cold. There are opportunities and there is potential waiting to be tapped and I have to write it all down. And yes, there are my emotions and blog post ideas and things I must share with my group of friends.

I tried creating a very beautiful looking, artsy Bullet Journal. But the entire planning process took days. It was more of a balancing act, writing what, where and at the same time to not let it descend into chaos and an overwritten page.

I know that half the world is crazy about BuJos and the other half is just the ignorant lot. But, somehow, the planning took away the spontaneity.

I got back to the ordinary notebook, grateful for the simplicity. I now carry a bunch of them around with me; colour coded into sections so that I can find what I want without the option for a digital search. My pencils are right next to them and I am happy with the scratch of the pencil on paper.

How much do you write by hand? Do you have a journal? Do you do a BuJo? What have your experiences been?