Tag Archives: writing advice

Day 28: Camp NaNo Winner

It’s 28th day of April and I am pleased to announce that I met my goal of 50K words today. I am a winner! Drumrolls!!


My book, however, is far from complete. I still have 30K odd words to write before I can call it a finished first draft, but this is the first time I have been able to complete at least 60% of my novelling goal.

Congratulations to all fellow Campers who took part in Camp NaNo this April. Whether or not you met you goal, I am sure you spend time thinking about your writing project. Maybe you didn’t end up writing anything/writing only a little in the end, but the fact that you signed up for Camp is proof that you’re one step closer to your writing goals. Keep the spirit of the Camp alive in your heart and keep writing! To all the others who met their goals, when is the book launch party?

Here are a couple of things that helped me reach my goal:

  • An week of outlining – I was never someone who plotted before starting a project. I tried writing novels multiple times, but in the middle of a project, I wouldn’t know what to write anymore. Having an outline helped greatly. I spend the last week of March writing down the outline in a small pad. I didn’t follow it word by word, though – but in general, the theme remained same
  • A strong start – The fact that April 1 and 2 were weekends helped. I am not someone who writes everyday, so the two day warm up gave me a head start. I wrote around 5K on the first day itself. Once the habit formed, I found it easy to keep writing everyday
  • Writing almost everyday – I wrote for 25 out of 28 days in April. That is a big deal for someone who doesn’t write daily. I used to write in office every day after lunch – treating it as important as my other activities. I think once you get into the mode of writing daily, it is easy to keep up with the habit
  • Great cabin partners – As I have mentioned before, I was part of an amazing cabin this month. There were some really motivated people in there who kept going on towards their goal at an amazing pace. That boosted my writing like nothing else

That’s it for now. I guess I will go watch an episode of The Mentalist before I hit the bed. If you have some tips/learnings from your Camping experience, feel free to share in Comments below.

Until later!


How revisiting your old writings can help you grow as an author?

Dear Readers,

One June 20, I celebrate the first anniversary of publishing Bound by Life, my first ebook.

Normally, I do not revisit anything I have written unless I am editing. After I had published the book, I had kept it aside in a folder on my desktop, never bothering to read it again. When my roommate was reading it, she mentioned bits and pieces of the stories, telling me about which parts she liked. I felt a growing curiosity to revisit the stories. But I was certain I had done a below average work and did not want to upset myself with that kind of work. We writers are just so skilled at underestimating ourselves!

But a few days ago, quite late in the night, I felt a sudden urge to read one of the stories in Bound by Life. It was the title story.

Reading it for the first time in months, I realized how nuanced it was. The epistolary format attracted me always, and I felt it worked perfectly for this story. It struck me how the old man weaved the tale of his past with his present life. I especially liked how Sacred Heart, the home where the old man finally leaves for, becomes a character itself in the story – it is as if it has a personality of its own, like a haunted house.

That does not mean the story or the story-telling seemed perfect to me. I kept wondering if the voice of the old man was genuine enough. How did I want to portray him when I was writing the story? Did I want him to sound guilty because he had not cared for his son in a better way? Or did I want him to sound complaining, scathing his daughter-in-law? I do not remember the reasons exactly now. But one thing I know: through Bound by Life I had merely wanted to show how old men and women are mistreated by their children in the old age. My sympathies lay with the old man in the story and not the son or the daughter-in-law. Did I ever put myself in the shoes of the son/daughter-in-law and try to imagine what it might be to live with a grumpy old man like that?

That is what made me suspicious of the old man’s voice in the letter-story. If he were really apologetic, would he really write in such harsh manner, knowing that it might be his last communique with his son? Maybe, or may be not. For human nature is a mysterious thing, and it takes a lot of understanding to portray it accurately. But in some ways, at that point, I felt that the old man was merely a child in a big man’s clothes – not understanding, not sympathetic to anyone but himself. Even in his last days he was a selfish man.

Re-reading this story taught me a great lesson: a writer must think all his characters through – their inter dependencies, their emotional balances, before fleshing out a character. Because in the end you are striving to recreate reality, and the onus lies on you to be authentic and unbiased. In spite of how much pain motivates you to write a given story and feel sympathetic to the protagonist, all the supporting characters are as important. Once you have written them out, they cease to exist on paper. They live on in the readers, and the author must bear responsibility for that.

Have you ever revisited a character that you written a long time back and felt differently about his/her motivations? Share your thoughts with me in the Comments below.


A lot of you have been asking me questions on writing/magazines to send your writings to on my Facebook page and this blog. This June, as I revisit Bound by Life, I have decided to answer questions on Bound by Life, self-publishing, indie publishing and on writing in general. I would love to share whatever I have learned as far as writing is concerned with all of you. So this May, compile all your questions and email them to me at scribbles.arpita@gmail.com. Depending on the number of questions I get, I will be publishing a series of posts in June. Look forward to hearing from you!