Tag Archives: being a writer

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

Advertisements

What is the one thing that you stand for?

We have all heard this a million times over, yet when it comes to implementing the same, somewhere we fail.

In this post, I invite to you to give this question a think: what do you stand for?

I believe if you can find the answer to this question as it applies to the many levels you operate on, in your everyday life, you would be a more successful person than you are today.

The problem is, most of us are trying to be everything to everyone, even when every marketing guru tells us that it is a surefire route to failure. Yet that seemingly safe path is what we pursue.

Today, I invite you to take a few minutes and think out what you stand for in your many circles of influence. And also ask yourself whether that is how the world around sees you.

What do you stand for:

  1. In your family
  2. In your circle of friends
  3. Amongst your colleagues
  4. To your organization
  5. To your clients
  6. To your community
  7. To yourself

Take a close look at the many roles you play and do an honest analysis of whether your world knows what you stand for in each of your circles. At the risk of sounding contradictory, the fact remains that we are all different people in different spaces. But the effort here is to recognize your stance in a given circle and live in truth to that stance.

Build on your belief and let the people know. Make it your identity and let people reach out to you when it comes to specific issues, where your beliefs could provide the solution.

Explore, analyse, stand for who you really are.

I would love to hear from you and know what you stand for in the many areas of life. Leave your answers in the comment box below!

This post was inspired by an article by the famous marketing guru, Al Ries, titled ‘Is There a Marketing Lesson to Be Learned From Donald Trump? Here he shares names of the politicians who worked hard at being everything to the masses and were forgotten.

~ Bharti Athray

The Poor Soul

The World is chasing a Poor Soul to the very ends of the consumerist universe. Somewhere along the way, the Poor Soul reaches the edge of a cliff. The rabid World came closer and closer, its loud ads, the life sucking entertainment, the terrifying mind-numbing apps are now within a killing distance. The Poor Soul must choose: to jump off the edge of the Universe as he has always experienced it or be murdered at the hands of these merciless capitalists whom he has rebelled against all his life.

He looks back, the madness in the eyes of those who make up the capitalist crowd is terrifying. In that second, the Poor Soul jumps off. He chooses death of life as he has known, leaping off into the unknown, arms flailing, his heart seemed to have stopped beating… yet the barks and screams of his hunter reached him… standing at the very edge of the cliff.

The cold wind of the unknown, the dark hollow of a space unexplored hit his face as he fell. Something burned deep within him, tearing his insides, cutting through his muscles, and it hurt. All he wanted in that moment was to feel the world he had left behind under his feet. He cried out loud as the realization that he had jumped into nothingness rose in him. He fell, uncontrollably, like a stone from a 30 storey high-rise. His arms tried desperately to clutch at something – anything, but nothing changed. He continued to fall, the cold dark wind coarsely brushing against his skin, when suddenly the fall slowed to a float.

He sensed a warmth of another atmosphere, not completely unlike where he had come from. The sense of familiarity, inspite of the darkness made him feel a little better inside. His chest was not burning anymore, the knots in his stomach loosened, he could control his movements. Even as he floated downwards, he noticed little dots of blue lighting up the pitch dark space around him. Gently, ever so gently the floating motion led him downwards, rocking him into a tired, exhausted sleep.

~ Bharti Athray

Image Source: darknightrp.wikia.com

Five things I learnt while running my own business

At the advertising agency where I work, I have been a partner for the last 8 years, which is like a pretty long time. During this period, I have gone through a transition from employee mindset to business owner’s mindset. I share these learnings for those of you in the creative space, working as freelancers, as independent creative agencies, and hope you will see the truth in these faster than I did. I had to lose a couple of really good clients, before I began to accept these as entrepreneurial truths.

  1. You never, ever argue with the client. The moment you argue with the client, you have lost her. If you want to get a point across, do so in a calm, composed and civilized manner. Never argue, no matter how friendly your equation is. Never forget, you are still a hired professional.
  2. When at the negotiating table, say nothing. Once you have made your offer, be silent. If the conversation continues, feel free to talk about the actual job and the deliverables, do not approach the numbers talk again. The other person gets the message that you are not willing to negotiate any further.
  3. A client typically hires you for what he thinks you know. Unless you have done some other kind of work for a common contact in his network, it gets a little difficult to upsell a client on your other services. Be ready to prove yourself in another space, when the opportunity (emergency) arises!
  4. Do the thinking for your client. Too often as creative people, we wait for the client to give us a brief and other comprehensive details on the job. In my experience, most of the time the client is really clueless about what he wants.
    He needs to see the draft creative to be able to say, “No, this is not what I was looking for, I want it like this.” I try to think out my clients’ needs as much as possible, so then all he really has to do is make minor corrections / tactical changes.
  5. Be ready to go back to the drawing board. While you are thinking for your client, there is a good chance that you haven’t really understood the client’s perspective on the communications piece. It happens even to experienced teams every once in a while. So after putting in a fortnight of hard work to come up with that brilliant creative, you have to be ready to start again if the client rejects the lot.

What have you learnt during your stint as a freelancer or a self employed creative? Do share your inputs below.

Hang on to your dream.

ANDERS-Ernst-2It is difficult sometimes, when there are so many things for you to do. You have a job to hold on to, run your home, catch up on your tax filing, take the kids out on weekends, watch your favourite comedy show late in the nights… your life is just like so full. So where is the time to pursue your dream; forget pursuing, there are many of us who have just dumped it in the back-drawer of memories and just forgotten all about it.

Every once in a while, when you are doing some spring cleaning (mentally), you find that dream – now withered, corners at the edges turned up, the words and visions slowly fading away. You look at it with love, turn it over in your mind and wistfully wonder how your life would have been if you had actually pursued it. And then, the phone rings somewhere, bringing you back to the present. You hurriedly pack away the dream and there it goes – into the back-drawer till the next session of cleaning.

This is what has been happening to my dream of being a writer for the last 20 years. Yes, that is a long time, but well, I am a hoarder and as I mentioned elsewhere on this blog, I hold on to my diaries that I have written over 20 years ago. So my dream sits, carefully packed in my cupboard of life. Till this spring, when I took it out, dusted it off, and decided to actually make it a part of my everyday life.

This blog is a small but earnest attempt at living my dream. It invites me to write more often, get it up and share it with my readers. Sure, the numbers are small yet, but they are growing. With each post I put up, I have 2-3 new bloggers choosing to follow me, a couple of older ones who sweetly stop by and leave a comment or like. To me, that is part of living my dream, to know someone somewhere has read what I have written and expressed.

It makes me happy, to know that while the road may be long and tedious, I am walking towards my dream of being a published author: self-published or otherwise… one post, one page of my story, one poem at a time.

For those of you who are on the same journey as I, let me reassure you, being an artist, a creative person is a lonely walk to the horizon. If you have set up a blog or a website to share your work, keep at it. With all the millions of people surfing the internet every moment, you can be sure, your work will strike a chord with someone somewhere. Hang on to your dream; it will come true. It may take a while, but it will come true.

~ Bharti Athray

Image Source: lalitoutsimplement.com

Avoid the Newspaper Syndrome

easter seals kids art

Repetition works great in art; not so much in writing.

Have you opened the newspaper only to want to close it again? It happens to me very often. I know it’s not right, but sometimes I feel the amount of media blitzkrieg that happens on any topic that is currently in the news deadens me to the subject completely.

You can’t read the same old headlines and words and issues over and over again every single morning and hope to be inspired to action. I think somewhere that approach of the media does not work. It’s the same for creative writing too.

You know, as writers we all have our favourite words, and tricks and ideas of how to get the plot from point A to point B. And we use it when we can’t think of a smarter new route. I call this the Newspaper Syndrome: rehashing the same stuff over and over again.

But what you need to remember is this: just as you are smart enough to create a structure and dress it up with new characters and situations; your reader is as smart, if not smarter. She can as efficiently undress your entire story down to its bare structure within the first few pages or lines, depending on what you have written.

You see, the reader in my opinion is a curious being by nature. When I read a story, I look for a pattern. My mind works furiously at discovering the REAL story behind the story. And the human mind is trained to detect patterns for that is what we live by.

So when I read multiple books by a single author, I seek out his underlying philosophy, how he presents his story. Now my guess is, if this is how I read, there must be others who do the same. Hence, if I want my readers to read me regularly, I must avoid this trap of hashing out the same old story and plot every time. The effort has to be conscious to create and discover new storylines, new concepts and new lives that your reader can explore along with you.

This element of newness, of surprise is what I feel makes a writer really popular. Whether it is an email campaign that gets delivered to my mailbox regularly, or a person writing online stories or poems, my mind seeks out the different. If I know there is something new for me to feed on with a certain writer, I will visit their blog regularly, I will open their mails. But give me the same stuff over and over again… and I will just skip the page, the story, the mail. Just as I do with the newspapers.

Something for me to remember when I do my writing.

~ Bharti Athray

Image source: monkeymucker.blogspot.com