SO YOU WANT TO DO YOUR OWN THING?

This article is for all those of you out there who have been wanting to strike out and do something of your own: be an author, a painter, a musician, or run an independent business. When you choose to go your own way, without the security of the paycheck, you are choosing to be an entrepreneur. And this article is for each one of you out there! Enjoy.

To go from learning to performing – how quickly can you do that? That is what entrepreneurship is all about. What a lot of wanna-be entrepreneurs do is, after they have their big inspiring idea, they wait around, share it with friends and guess what? It dies a natural death. That’s right.

The problem with entrepreneurship is that it has a huge element of madness in it, a huge amount of risk, where you choose to walk away from your safe haven and strike out into the unknown. 99% of the people you know will tell you what a great idea it is, and yet, how there are a million chances that it will fail.

If you are a wanna-be entrepreneur and have shied away from starting your own venture one time too often, the thing for you to do, is keep your ideas to yourself.

Think out your idea in your head, plan the massive action that you need to take and on a pre-defined day, JUST DO IT. You don’t need approvals, you don’t need suggestions – enterprises are meant to rough it out.

The best thing about most enterprises is that you can start small and keep changing course as you progress in your entrepreneurial journey. So if you are among those that have been watching from the sidelines, keeping your safe little job, well, step out into the rain. That’s where the action is. Get that water on to your skin, soak it in, run with your idea, and run like mad. It is one of the best things about being an entrepreneur – when you are running hard, you can’t hear the naysayers… so you just keep going.

And when you keep at it, rest assured, you will reach your destination one day. Remember, don’t let anyone tell you, you can’t do it. The truth is, they can’t, and that’s why they assume you can’t either.

The only voice you need to listen to is the voice that is inside of you. And it will lead you to be the entrepreneur you have always wanted to be. Wishing you the wildest luck on your entrepreneurial journey!

~ Bharti Athray

image source: https://www.pinterest.com/dinglemor/the-joyful-jog/

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TOUCHED BY INSPIRATION

It was just one of the long lonely days when I felt I must say something, but had nothing to say. I sat at my computer waiting for the inspiration to arrive. It never did come.

I finally walked away from my computer; out into the lobby of the floor on which my office sat. Sun spilled into the lobby warming my air-conditioned, numb body. I liked walking in the sun, always did. I did a couple of rounds around the block, playing hide and catch with the sun. Finally I had to come back to my table. My break had been a long one.

I sat, remembering the feel of the tropical afternoon sun on my skin and knew inspiration had just reached out to me. This little sharing is the result of that brief walk, my short interlude with the warm afternoon sun. I hope you have yours too, soon.

~ Bharti Athray

Image Source: hisgloryinourstory.com

A DAY TO FORGET

The little girl ran across the road, chasing a small brown puppy she had just fed. Cars on the road screeched as they swerved to avoid the little body running across the road recklessly. I stood at the bus stop nearby, my heart beating fast as I watched the girl narrowly escape accident twice. While the drivers yelled from behind their wheels, she crossed over to the footpath, and managed to get hold of the brown pup.

Her messy ponytails fell forward as she leaned to pick up the jumpy fur ball. She was scolding him for being naughty or so it appeared to me from where I stood. Slowly my heart calmed down, knowing the girl was safe. As the child continued reprimanding her little friend, completely oblivious of the chaos she had caused on the road, the onlookers slowly shook their heads and moved on.

The world returned to its busy-ness.

I wondered at these strange moments of life, where one wrong step, a second’s delay in braking from one of the many drivers could have changed so many lives in an instant. It could have become a day none of us there would ever forget, in a bad sort of a way. But it had not, the girl, her puppy and the drivers were all safe. And the sun shone pleasantly, making this yet another day I would soon forget.

~ Bharti Athray

THE SUSPENSION OF TIME

A moment in time,
Stands still. Like stop motion photography
In an action thriller.
I see it – right there in front of my eyes
That single drop of rain, reflecting the green leaves around.
It hangs in mid-air by a string I cannot see.
My mind, my thoughts are in a limbo
Hypnotised by the rain drop suspended in time.
I dare not breathe. I dare not blink.
I fear I will break the spell. In that single moment
I experience thoughtlessness. Emptiness, that Osho speaks of.
At long last, I breathe out, the spell is broken.
The falling rain continues in straight lines from the sky.
My moment of magic is done.

~ Bharti Athray

WHY DO YOU WRITE?

Listen to any of the talks on creative writing and this is one question that successful writers tell you to find an answer to, repeatedly.

So after a fair amount of introspecting, here is what I came up with.

  1. I write because I can.
  2. I write because I enjoy writing, I have done it ever since I can remember.
  3. I write because it’s the only way I know to get my chattering mind to shut up.
  4. I write because it lets me have a dialogue with all the multiple voices inside my head, and listen to all their perspectives. That’s a little difficult to do when all I am doing is listening.
  5. I write because it allows me to create something from my thoughts, it gives me a sense of accomplishment.
  6. I write to share, to reach out to others who also enjoy writing and reading.
  7. When I write, it is a call I send out to the universe – my silent SOS message – to reach out to others like me.
  8. I write when I feel sorry, when I feel something is not right with the world. I tend to write better when things are not as they should be. Unfortunately, that means I need to be sad or morose when I write.
  9. I write because I am upset with the world and have no other way of expressing my anger, my despair, my hurt.
  10. And at times, I write. Just like that.

Why do you write, what are your reasons? Do share.

4 SHORT TIPS ON LONG CONTENT WRITING FOR ASPIRING WRITERS

At the risk of sounding absurd, I would like to share some fairly obvious pointers for aspiring young writers.

I had the opportunity to interact with a young writer recently and realized that things have changed considerably since I got out of writing school. Students don’t write as much they used to; they are spending a lot of their time on social media, What’s App and Instagram. With all of these being short content media, most of these young aspirants don’t really get into long content writing space. Yet, they aspire to become writers.

If you happen to belong to this club of millennials, here are a few tips that may help you get started on doing some serious writing. After all, you do need a portfolio to share if you are looking for a gig as a writer. So here goes:

  1. Read long content writing. It could be in the form of blogs, short stories, ebooks on kindle, or just plain old novels – the kind we read in the pre-internet era. Some of my favourite writers of all times, especially if you like to finish a story in one sitting include Edgar Allen Poe, Guy de Maupassant, Roald Dahl, Anton Chekov, to name but a few.In the blogosphere, I follow and thoroughly enjoy posts by:
    Anthony Wilson (http://anthonywilsonpoetry.com/lifesavingpoemsblog/);
    Stuart M. Perkins (https://storyshucker.wordpress.com/)
    Andrew toy (https://adoptingjames.wordpress.com/)
    Ian Brodie (http://www.ianbrodie.com/welcome)
  1. Analyse the work you read. A serious reader shared this tip with me early in my writing career. Just because you are reading some famous writers, it does not mean you need to accept everything they say without questioning it. As a writer, you need to look at what you are reading from different perspectives. If you find something of particular interest, read up more about the incidient, story, reference as shared by other thinkers and writers of the time. This will give you a more holistic view of what’s the incident was really all about. This is a great way to broaden your horizons and increase your understanding of the topics that you read.
  2. Read autobiographies of the authors that interest you. The stories of their lives will shed new light on their works as most authors draw on their own experiences however remote the references may seem.
  3. And last but not the least, WRITE long content. Set up a blog – you are pitching to be a writer, put up regular posts. Sure, ideas and creativity are the soul of contemporary writing, but writing is a skill, just like sketching or playing the piano.

You need to work on the skill and the ‘wordsmith’ing to be able to write smooth flowing content; especially if all you want to do is write a brilliant tweet or create a smart FB post that you are hoping will go viral.

Great copy and crafted headlines are usually the result of long hours of thinking, and crafting away at a few words that sound perfect when you get them right!

What are your tips for aspiring young writers to help them get started on their writing careers? Do share in the comments box below!

~ Bharti Athray

HOW TO DEVELOP A DESIGN STENCIL FOR CSR REPORTS

One of the reasons that companies reach out to external communications agencies to compile and design the CSR reports is the look and feel of the report. In most of the projects we have handled, the client has the content in word documents – sometimes well edited, other times not; there are some photographs in various folders, attempts made by the inhouse CSR Lead to develop the report into a readable, presentable document – while this may not always be successful.

When the agency steps in, this is what you can expect as the client.

  1. The agency must know how you wish to present the information: company-wise, chronologically, or event-wise.
  2. If you have a logo or public identity for your CSR initiatives, share them with your agency in the first meeting itself. The agency may want to work around your logo forms or colours during the design process.
  3. If your agency has not handled too many of such report design jobs, help them by laying out a set of guidelines.

Guidelines for the design team

  • The pictures are the most important part of such a report; second is the content. The design is at the tertiary level. Often agencies with a background in designing brochures get fixated on layout and design and may end up compromising the seriousness of content.
  • The design team must remember that beyond a point, content cannot be edited to fit into design. The design will have to adapt to the content.
  • While content with activity details is important, your report must have adequate visual breaks. This could be in the form of factual insets, info-graphics, or a break in the page layout.
  • Most ‘CSR only’ reports range from 24 pages to upto 70-odd pages depending on the oragnisations activity in this space. The design team would do well to work on a family of 4-5 different templates for the layout.

These templates could be:

  1. Full content page
  2. Full image page with content as caption
  3. Content page with images (2-3 on a spread of 2 pages. Here, define the photos sizes and format of captions
  4. Use of insets on the page
  5. 1, 2 & 3 column layouts can be worked and used with discretion in the report especially if the number of pages is over 40.
  6. The style of illustrations in the info-graphics must be shared & approved at the initial stages of the project.
  7. Define the design & layout stencil in the first round itself. If content needs to be edited, it is easier to work with a defined word-count, once the stencil is fixed.
  8. The agency must have the leeway to rewrite your entire content if they feel the language of the original inputs is varying and not consistent.

While this is definitely not at all-encompassing list, it will definitely help you understand the process through which a design team works to deliver your expected results. Knowing the process and keeping them in mind during interactions can lead to smoother and quicker deliveries.

~ Bharti Athray