Thursday, 7 August 2014

Writing lessons from the Indian Festival of Colors

 

Writercommits - Writing lessons from the Indian Festival of ColorsAs soon as we hear the word “festival”, our heart gets filled with joy and profound happiness, as festivals signify celebration and family time. Festivals give us the much-needed break from our monotonous hectic schedules and mundane tasks, and allow us to be with our near and dear ones, and do the things we love to do, or are rather longing to do.

There is a popular Indian festival of colors, called HOLI, which is celebrated every year around February or March with great fervor. It’s quite similar to the Spain’s “La Tomatina Festival”, with the difference that it’s played using organic / artificial colors in India, rather than tomatoes!

We can learn a lesson or two from everything in life, and Holi is one such festival that not only spreads happiness but can also help us become a better writer.

5 Things to Learn from Holi:

1. Embrace unity - Holi soaks everyone in the colors of life; be it children or adults, and unites people irrespective of their caste, creed or financial status. Write a content that is universal in appeal and unites people, rather than creating boundaries or anguish among communities (stay clear of cultural stereotypes while writing).

2. Use all possible colors – Imagine wearing one color all your life! Life becomes boring if it is monotonous, and so does writing. Add different colors to your writing by displaying different emotions in the written word. Be informative, add suspense, sprinkle a touch of humor, preach a little, and be silly sometimes.

3. Organic is the way to go – Artificial colors ruin your skin, and that’s what plagiarized content does to your reputation. Be organic in your thoughts, though you can seek inspiration for writing.

4. Be unpredictable – The charm of holi lies in its unpredictability. You never know when someone is going to splash color on your face, throw water or give you an impromptu hug. Similarly in writing, you started losing it the moment your readers start making predictions about your next topic. Surprise your readers, and offer them content they were not expecting out of you.

5. Have Fun – Last but not the least, have fun while writing just like you enjoy celebrating festivals. Don’t write just because you have to, but because you love doing it, and you will end up creating your best work!

Happy writing,

Neha Agrawal.

Saturday, 27 July 2013

15 Tips To Become A Better Writer in 45 Days

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="290"]Image 15 DIY tips to become better writer[/caption]

Even as a child, I was intrigued by the written word, so much so that it looks as if I have been reading and writing since ages now. While growing up, I remember reading stories that transcended me to a dream land where fairies & flowers were my friends, and stars lit up my room. Books soon became my best friends, as they answered everything I was searching for. They made me smile, feel sad, anxious, joyous all at once, and helped me learn life’s most important lessons while familiarizing me with the world and worldly manners.

Since then, I have realized the beauty of words and the power they command, and harbored a secret desire to be able to write like one of the several writers I cherished reading. I am not sure if I am there yet, but certainly over the years my writing has tremendously improved. I am better with words now, and know what it takes to polish ones writing skills. So, if you aspire to do wonders with your pen, you have landed up at the right place.

Why reinvent the wheel when I have already figured out 15 tips that can help you improvise your writing skills in 45 days.

1. Read – You are what you read! Everyone needs inspiration for writing, including you. Read work of writers you admire, and over the time, their excellent writing style will rub off onto you

2. Write What You Read - In the beginning you may have difficulty in starting off. So, start writing in long hand, what you read from your favorite writer. It will help you get into the flow and develop your own unique writing style

3. Get Started - Quoting Mark Twain, “the secret of getting ahead is getting started.” Just take a pen and paper or your laptop and start scribbling for at least 30 minutes daily; you will find noticeable difference in your writing and new found confidence with words in less than 20 days

4. Meet the Deadline - Writing every day is a must to achieve your dream. Make a realistic deadline (say, 500 words by 3.00 PM) and make sure the deadline is met

5. Experiment – Keep a writing pad ever ready, and put down your thoughts on paper as soon as you get an idea. Then experiment by presenting your idea in different styles, voices, and words

6. Avoid Repetition - Learn different words and their usages, and try using those words while writing. You can even edit your previous articles by using new words

7. Learn the Rules - Good writing follows pre-determined rules. Learn those rules, and then learn when and how to break them

8. Avoid Loquacity – Follow Professor Stunk’s golden words: “A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts.”

9. Use Vocabulary - Make the best use of your vocabulary, and use thesaurus to learn new words and their meanings

10. Don’t Edit the First Draft - Creating and editing are two separate processes that use different grey cells, so don’t mix the two. Never edit while creating your first draft, and feel free to express your thoughts without someone (including you) judging what you are writing. Better, switch off your monitor while typing, as you can’t edit what you can’t see

11. Ctrl S and F7 – Make a habit of pressing Ctrl S (save) as soon as you finish a line or paragraph to make sure your hours of work is saved. Also, don’t forget to hit F7 (spell-check tool) to auto-detect grammatical and language errors

12. Read out Aloud – Errors and awkward sentences come to life when you read them aloud. It even highlights the errors that slipped out of your mind in the initial edit or spell check

13. Grammar - Punctuation, correct use of commas, and periods is essential. Remember, Let’s Eat Mom? Punctuations regulate your thought flow, and can leave your text confusing when not used judiciously

14. Relax – You may be ignoring obvious errors if you are used to editing your written text just after writing. Set aside your write-up for a day or two before editing. Trust me, you will be able to look at the write-up with a fresh pair of eyes, and find errors that earlier seemed non-existent

15. Take Criticism in Your Stride – You can’t become a Stephen King or Jeffery Archer in a month or so. They too had to labor a lot to develop a distinct style of their own. While you will certainly better your writing if you write regularly for 45 days and follow mentioned above tips, but do seek opinions of fellow writers or friends on what they think about your writing. Don’t get upset or offended if the criticism is harsh, but use it constructively to amend your mistakes. Trust me, it works

Making mistakes is not always bad, as, to err is human. But you need to at least get started to commit those errors. So, start writing and commit mistakes, because even they will teach you a lesson or two!

Happy Writing,

Neha Agrawal.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Pause, Reflect, Excel

writercommits-pause-reflect-excelYou must be wondering where I have been for some time. I was taking the much needed break, to seek inspiration for my writing and recollect my creative juices. It’s not only the machines that need constant maintenance and oiling; humans too need some time to rejuvenate and relax.

When we keep on doing the same stuff on a daily basis, it becomes a part of our routine, and routine tasks often turn boring. This is extremely bad for professionals, as it hinders creativity and soon without our notice, our work starts losing its sheen. This situation can be alarming for ‘Writers’, the thinking and creative lot.

Therefore, sometimes it’s better to push the Pause button in your hectic life and enjoy things you were missing out due to strict deadlines and important projects. This will benefit you in the following ways -

  • Sense of Fulfillment - You have been procrastinating your hobbies, social life and other such enjoyments to pursue writing all this long; so stealing some time for things that you really love to do apart from scribbling will give you a sense of fulfillment

  • Clarity on Your Objectives - It will help you reflect on your shortcomings or growth as a writer over the years, and help you rationally think if or not you are on the correct path

  • New Inspiration - Doing something off the routine will provide you with unique inspiration for writing

  • New Enthusiasm for Writing - Last but not the least, it will help you prioritize your work better and realize how much you love writing


We all have it in us to escape from mediocrity and keep on doing excellent work, all we need to ensure is that we don’t exhaust our energies too easily, and make good use of it to excel in our career.

Here are few tips that will keep you relaxed and better concentrate on your writing/work:

  • Don’t Skip Meals – Like your car, your body need energy to function; so, never skip meals with an excuse that there is urgency of work. You can always take out 5-10 minutes no matter how busy you are!

  • Relish Your Surroundings - Nature is the best medicine. Sometimes you can get solution to a problem that has been pestering you all day long while taking a stroll in your garden or just looking out of the window; while that may not happen while you are in front of your computer! Take out some time to soak in your surroundings; keep all electronic equipment at bay for at least an hour, you will not only feel relaxed but also be able to concentrate better on your work


Sometimes all you need to excel is Pause and reflect on what you have been doing lately!

Live and love,

Neha Agrawal.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Need Inspiration for Writing?

writercommits-writing inspiration

Motivational gurus are prospering because we all seek motivation and a little push to achieve unbelievable heights. Inspiration is great form of motivation that encourages us to try something new that can in turn inspire others and satiate our creative instinct.

Writers often suffer from writer’s block, and seek inspiration in some form or another.  Often we are stuck at finding a suitable title for our post, or are uncertain on what line to start our essay with.

If you are suffering from writer’s block, it’s time to chill, grab your IPod, and listen to your favorite song/songs! Yes, you heard it right, trust me, it will work!

Take a line from a song that you love or connect with. Now forget the song, and turn that line into the title or inspiration for your post.

Writing is not as difficult as it may look! Give it a try at least.

 Live and love,

Neha Agrawal.

10 Things to Do – Before You Start Writing

10 things to do before you start writing

Writing and Blogging is a great trend, which is fast picking up in people irrespective of their age, gender, or location. These days I see a lot more people coming out of their cocoon and giving the world a glimpse of their thoughts.

Netizens are sharing info about their personal experiences, food recipes, books they like to read, places they visited or want to visit, movies they loved or hated, and everything that is happening around them, which is pretty cool to read. It helps me understand people better and get a tab on what’s going on in my surroundings. However, this is not the reason why I am highly appreciative of this trend.

I admire writing and blogging as it allows people to share something they are really good at, all for free! That’s my idea of sharing knowledge and happiness with others, and paying back to the society we live in. I am sure that you must be excellent in your own area, and can contribute in a bigger and better way to the society by penning your thoughts and sharing your work tricks that always click with your boss.

I admire and encourage people to write, but not rap their keyboards as if they had participated in some NaNoWriMo. If you are planning to give your writing ambitions an air, following tips will surely do you some good, have a look:

 10 Things To Keep In Mind Before You Start Writing:

1.      Do Your Homework - Never publish anything and everything that comes to your mind, plan on what you need to write, and ask yourself, “whether it is worth writing”.

2.      Cut The Crap – It’s easy to stray from the topic and deviate while you start writing. So, stay focused and to-the-point.

3.      Keep The Interest of Your Audience In Mind – Sharing your thoughts on FB is different from writing a full-fledged informative article. Understand what your audience expects out of you, and cater to their needs.

 4.      Decide on the Tone - Decide the feel and tone of your write-up based on the reactions you want to generate; Generic, Informative, Persuasive or Negative.

 5.      Decide on The Length – This one is tricky. Some readers won’t like reading long posts while some will find them highly researched and thoughtful. So, follow the middle-path and keep your post around 350-400 words.

 6.      Check Punctuation and Grammar – This is what separates a mediocre piece of writing from the one that is appreciated by people.

 7.      Pay Heed to Formatting and Indentation – Your readers can forgive you for this if you are giving quality information, but it hampers readability. So, it’s always better stick to correct format and indentation to ensure better readability.

 8.      Proofread once, and forget about the Article for a Day or Two – After you finish writing, proofread it once, but DO NO PUBLISH. Right now, you won’t be able to find mistakes as the article is still fresh in your mind, you will jump through the errors, so give that article a break.

 9.      Go Through the Article Afresh – Go through that article with a fresh pair of eyes, I am sure you will end up doing some editing now.

 10.  Hit Spell Check Before You Publish – Once you have proofread your article for the second time, just hit the spell check to ensure it’s free from spelling mistakes, and your article is ready to be published.

Hope these tips will help you in creating a perfect write-up. Please share your views and suggestions on these tips, and other things you feel should be taken care of while writing. Your feedback is always welcome.

Live and love,

Neha Agrawal.

Thursday, 31 January 2013

Keep Your Writing Simple

Writercommits-keep your writing simple


I like reading works of accomplished writers, but what makes me really happy are the stories meant for kids! I am not kidding, that’s true…

I guess it’s the simplicity of these short stories that hook me and make me happy. We all know difficult words and jargons, and keep on reading them every now and then; but sometimes it’s great to send your grey cells on a short vacation and enjoy free flowing content. It’s like relishing your favorite Ice Cream Sundae when everyone else thinks you are on a diet!

The basic idea of writing is ‘sharing thoughts’; and if usage of heavy-duty words make your laborious piece of writing incomprehensive, what’s the point in taking so much pain?

If you want to make your writing strike a chord among your readers; KEEP IT SWEET AND SIMPLE!

Don’t confuse your readers with multiple plots, rapped slangs, oxymoron and abbreviation; transform your ideas into simple plots and present them in the form of a simple yet captivating story.

We all want an easy life, hassle free work environment, easy money, and simple & sweet friends. Don’t we? Isn’t it the simplicity that all of us want in our lives? Then why should your writing be all complicated?

KISS principle not only applies to designing, it finds coherence in all walks of life, and the same is true for writing as well. So, let your words flow straight from your heart, like an uninhibited spring from the mountains; I guarantee you will be astonished by the impact it creates.

Words and people are best appreciated when they are simple!

Live and love,

Neha Agrawal.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Let’s Eat Mom

[caption id="attachment_58" align="alignleft" width="284"]Punctuation Can Save Life Punctuation Can Save Life[/caption]

Being an editor, punctuation are always at the back of my mind. I acknowledge their importance, and the void they create when they are out of sight. But, never ever in my fondest memory, I realized that punctuation can save lives as well!

Don’t be aghast, I am not making any bold statement. IT’S TRUE!

If you don’t believe me, or are wondering if I am out of my mind, read the blog post title again; maybe you could grab what I am trying to convey.

‘Let’s eat Mom’ and ‘let’s eat, Mom’ are as different as chalk and cheese!

While the former smells like a conspiracy to eat Mom right away, the latter is an invitation extended to Mom, to eat.

Anybody can write, and I dare say that penning down thoughts is the best way of expression; but, only if you mind little grammar. Incorrect grammar, missed punctuation, wrong spellings, or logic flow going haywire, can take away all the fun from your writing and convey a meaning that is totally different from what was intended.

While writing, remember to pay little attention to punctuation. These are tiny creatures, but have the capacity to spread rumors and create melee.

Live and love,

Neha Agrawal.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Are You Sure You Want To Become A Writer?

[caption id="attachment_61" align="alignleft" width="221"]Are you sure you want to be a writer? Are you sure you want to be a writer?[/caption]

HR recruiter looked perplexed at my degrees that proclaimed ‘First division in MCA’ from a reputed university and past experience that talked about a software engineer who has worked on websites using latest web technologies and done coding using some really complex programming languages. Then she finally asked what I was anticipating, ever since I entered that office.

Are You Sure You Want To Become A Writer?

And I said YES...

It was so hard for her and everyone around to believe that why the hell someone after reading everything about computers will switch to writing. Their concern was valid, as that was soon after the notorious recession of 2008, and they believed that like many IT freshers who are not getting a dream job and trying different careers, I was trying my hand at writing and using their organization as a breakthrough.

More than that they were worried how long my ‘so called love’ with writing continue, when I will see my ex-flame in front of my eyes each single day while typing. They were sure that I will someday run back to the arms of my old love and leave them shattered and lovelorn.

To be honest, I was not very sure of making writing as my career, even though I loved it; as my big degrees and people who cared for me forced me to repent my decision. But, luckily I didn't relent and made my hobby my full-time career, and today, I am happy and earning good for myself.

The reason why I am sharing this with you is not to brag about what I earn or not, it’s just to say that there is a lot more that you can do beyond grabbing that high-profile degree or becoming a Doctor or Engineer.

Life gives every one of us a chance to realize our dreams and do something that we really love to do, no matter what it is. You can really achieve much more with your life if you do what you really like doing and are good at. It is important to follow your dreams and do whatever you aspire to, as you only have one life to fulfill your ambitions.

REMEMBER:

If you want to become a COBBLER, become one; just make sure that you become the BEST COBBLER IN THE WORLD. 

Live and love,

Neha Agrawal.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Hello world!

[caption id="attachment_64" align="alignleft" width="297"]A Big Friendly Hi to All of You :) A Big Friendly Hi to All of You :)[/caption]

writercommits-hello

Hello,

A great welcome to Writer Commits, a platform through which a writer commits  to share her knowledge, learnings and random thoughts about life, people and places. It's a baby step towards something big,something more eventful and important in my life, which you will come to know, but, gradually.

With this blog I want to convey one message loud and clear, that learning ain't always boring, and can be fun, if  presented with all heart and soul. I personally believe that nothing is impossible in this world and we all have the power to make our own destiny if we desire so. All we need is a push, a strong determination to do what we actually want to do. We all have the power to create history and take control of our lives.

I know that all what I said is easier said than done, but trust me that it may be difficult but is not impossible. And I am the biggest example in front of you. I was happy sleeping on my vacation when I thought of making a better use of my time and see I am not doing a bad job.

I know what to do in my life but am not able to do all, as I know that I am a bit lazy. I always need motivation to ignite that fire in me which makes me do something worthy.

So here I answer the BIG QUESTION: WHY AM I HERE?

Well there are thousands of people around me who have the power to make remarkable difference in their lives, but need somebody who can constantly motivate them. This blog is my initiative to bring forward the thoughts and experiences that inspire me and encourage me to act differently, in a more positive way.

In this blog I will share the stories that make me smile, cry out loud, feel happy, but most importantly make me think. It will have small but important learnings.

Hope you will like it. I need your constant support in my endeavour.

Cheers,

Neha Agrawal.