Tag Archives: creative writing

A morning with Sherry

The fresh morning sunlight glided into the office and there was a pleasant buzz around the space. The clock showed 9.30 am and slowly the staff started walking in. It is going to be a busy day, but a satisfying one, thought Sherry to herself. She loved this office, she has always been one of those people who was proud of the work she did. She was happy when there was loads of stuff to be done, articles to be written, poems to be composed.

She breathed in deeply of the fresh air as she looked out at the sea that waved to her from beyond her window. The sea took her back to memories of her earlier life as an advertising writer. It brought a wry smile to her face and she wondered why it has taken her so long to shift to creative writing. She could have done it at any stage in her life, and yet she had wasted so many years writing ads, and brochures – often rehashing some old content of clients. At the time, she believed that was what being a writer was all about.

But then slowly as a sense of disappointment, a sense of lack lustre routine began to gnaw away at her, something within her pushed her to create something new and she did. She began writing short stories as she had during her college days, she committed to creating a book of poems, a book of well researched articles on teenage suicides and why the teens are such a highly criticized species of the human race.

It was in these projects, these assignments that she discovered her voice, found the person she had lost touch with decades ago. She didn’t quite recollect when that last time was, but the more she wrote and easier it became to have conversations with this inner being. Silence was the secret. That was a huge challenge to Sherry; in her earlier advertising life, she was used to chaos and phone calls all day. She longed for a few moments of peace when her mind was not jumping around looking for things to do or say.

search-for-truth

But over time, as she opted increasingly to write for herself, to create in the true sense of the word, she began to find peace. She could work for hours at end without feeling the need to exchange words with her colleagues. There was a stillness around her, within her. She felt she had even begun to move slower afraid of disturbing the inner stillness that had been gotten with so much difficulty.

Slowly, her thoughts came back to her room, to the sea. Having had her fill of the lovely visions of nature, she got her cup of filter coffee, sat at her machine and began her day’s work.

~ Bharti Athray

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

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

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

This advertising technique can help you create new storylines!

The ‘NEW’ story is the elusive holy grail that writers are constantly searching for. And just when you think you have it, it slips through your fingers like sand. In this post, I share a technique I often use to come up with a new take on an old story.

Learnings from Advertising: The technique has its foundation in my advertising experience. In advertising, we believe that there are only so many ideas and almost all of them have been done. To come up with a completely new idea or a USP of a product or a service is usually a very challenging task, especially if you are working on a me-too product. So what we do is, we try to find a new angle : it could be new users, new markets or a new way to use the product. We then re-package the existing product with a whole new look, and relaunch it to a completely different audience.

A writer’s struggle: I believe this applies to the task of creative writing as well. Every relationship between humans, animals and other beings of our imagination has been explored to death. So as writers, when we sit down to write, we often wonder why someone would want to read our writings. At the end of the day, you would be writing about some relationship, some observation about your surroundings, or some experience that has left an impact on you. Writers before us have written such profound thoughts, that it is only natural for us to question our own work. Often this questioning makes us leave the writing half way, and we give up the piece in the hope of finding something completely new.

Use the technique, find a new perspective: Well, if this sounds like the struggle you face every time you sit down to write, here is how you can use advertising’s creative strategy to come up with a new story. Change the perspective from which your story will be told. Re-package it for a completely different audience.

An illustration
When you look around you, you will find several common storylines, usually written from the point of view of a couple of main characters. Let me illustrate what I mean.

Common storyline: Boy meets girl, boy falls in love with girl, girl is not interested, boy chases girl ardently, finally convinces her to marry him.

Obvious perspectives: This story can be told from six very obvious perspectives: that of the boy, the girl, the boy’s mother / father, the girl’s mother / father. And several stories have been woven around these perspectives. The friends of the hero and heroine are other two POVs that can make for interesting reading.

Retelling the same story with a difference: So given that these 8 perspectives have been done to death, with some classics having been created out of these, how do you go about telling this story with a difference?

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Well, I search for yet another perspective, I look at relationships around me in the real world, and try to find perspectives that lie beyond the obvious. For instance, for this story, I could write from the perspective of a plant that the young girl speaks to when she is alone, or it could be the café owner where the young couple meets up regularly for coffee as the boy tries to convince the girl; or it could be a mentor or a teacher who has watched one of the two protagonists grow, coached the person for a goal and now finds him / her completely out of sync due to this relationship.

Choose from the kaleidoscope of relationships: As you will see, the perspectives can be endless, pretty much like looking through a kaleidoscope, where the pattern changes every time you turn k’scope even slightly. As writers and readers, we are fascinated by human relationships, reactions and responses; and it is interesting to see how the same situation is interpreted so differently by each individual. Each of us deciphers the situation based on our understanding, our past experiences, our belief systems.

What may be acceptable for one individual, may be complete sacrilege for another. How would your narrator view a certain incident given his / her upbringing and character – it is when you start exploring these unique individual perspectives that you arrive at a new way of rendering the ancient storyline.

Do: Take a relook at some of your favourite stories, visualize the narrator, and then imagine if the same story was to be told by another character of the same story. You will see the story will change.

Finding a new story: Changing perspectives, then, is a key tool I like to use in my work when I write, whether it is a poem, a short story or an ad. It gives me a new angle to look at things from, it changes an old dead beat story to something novel and fresh.

If you give this approach a try, I would love to know how your experiment turns out. Do drop me a mail, or share your piece here.

~ Bharti Athray

Image source: http://fineartamerica.com/