29/03/2015 8:11 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST

So You Think You Can Write

"Paper is versatile and malleable. From napkins to origami, it's all around. Make a photo of something made of paper."
Sharon Drummond/Flickr
"Paper is versatile and malleable. From napkins to origami, it's all around. Make a photo of something made of paper."

So what's your advice to upcoming writers? It's a question I've been asked in every interview I've done so far. And my answer is usually concise; believe in yourself, write every day and never give up. While the short version is true enough, there's just so much you learn once your book hits the stands, that no one prepares you for. Fortunately, for all you budding writers out there, I've decided to share my pearls of wisdom with you!

- If you have a good idea, start writing already! And start today. It's a known fact that writers are procrastinators. Heck, I meant to write this post this morning (it's now 2 AM). Of course every time I sat down to write, I simply had to get a snack, or coffee, or answer the door (something I usually avoid if my life depended on it). We all find ways of pushing writing our great masterpiece until tomorrow. And the day after that. But, before you know it, another year will go by. You won't know if you're the next Jhumpa Lahiri unless you start writing, right?

- Patience, patience, patience: If you think you're going to write your bestselling novel in one night, boy are you mistaken. Writing is all about editing. And re-editing. And re-re-editing. And so it goes until you burst into tears and beg your loved ones to get the damn manuscript away from you. But the worst part is that the waiting doesn't end there. Once you've completed your manuscript, you have to send it to publishers. And wait for them to get back to you. And wait some more... finally, after three months of sending your manuscript across, when you've given up on it ever seeing the light of day, you get an email informing you that you're finally going to get published! Hallelujah! Except that once you've signed the contract, you have to wait some more before the editor from the publishing house begins working on your manuscript. Oh, what's that? They want you to re-write some parts and completely delete some parts? And then do two more rounds of that? Somehow, you get through the cycle of editing. And then begins the fun part. You get to choose the cover you'd like and finalize on a title. It finally hits you-you've written a book! The day you've dreamed of finally arrives; you shake off the nervousness and launch your book. It's a surreal feeling. You're friends and family all wait in a queue to get a signed copy of your book. And you feel like an absolute rockstar. Now your book becomes a bestseller on its own. Except that it really doesn't. Guess what? You've got to wait some more. You have to wait for people to read it, comment on it and write reviews on it. Which brings me to my next point.

- Push, baby, push! So you thought your publisher would market your book and you'd just sit back and revel in your fame? That's cute! One of the most challenging aspects of being a new author is getting people to read your book (you only have that many friends and family you can emotionally blackmail to buy your book!). Readers want to pick up books by authors they're familiar with. Picking up a book by a new author is a gamble, so a new writer has to work extra hard on marketing his/her book. You've got to be very active on social media. And you've got to look for opportunities to showcase your talent and network. So you'll need to get in touch with literary fests, the media, other authors, book clubs and schools and colleges. You'll eventually get exhausted of marketing your book and will decide to give up. But then you'll start getting emails from people who've read and loved your book. And this will motivate you to keep stalking influential people and keep pushing your book (why won't Chetan Bhagat tweet about my book already?).

- Show me the money: When you receive your first royalty check you'll want to laugh and cry at the same time. You'll laugh because the amount is equivalent to the salary your friends/partner make in a month. You'll cry because the amount is equivalent to the salary your friends/partner make in a month. Were the tears, sacrifices and sleepless nights worth it? You'll consider giving up on the career altogether after receiving that first check. And then you'll see yourself smiling back from a picture in an interview that you just gave to a leading paper. And you'll see the scores of five star ratings your book has received on Goodreads. And an email you just received from that a fifteen-year-old fan in Ranchi who looks up to you. And you'll try to imagine a life where you don't write. And you won't be able to.

So you'll sit in front of your laptop and start typing away. And you'll edit and re-edit. And you'll go through the cycle until your second book hits the stores. And you'll feel the butterflies in your stomach on the day of the launch again. And when anyone asks you, you'll tell them deciding to become an author was the best decision you ever made.

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