Jash Sen: How I Write

Our guest blogger today is Jash Sen, whose first novel The Wordkeepers, the first of a trilogy, has just been published. Jash writes of her daily schedule and the discipline required to be a writer.

I write every day. My preferred time is early morning, because I warm up my writing as I wake up. By six a.m. latest, I’m sitting with my first cup of tea, showered, writing away. I try to do the minimum three-pages-and-a-bit quota in one sitting, but there are days when I am truly lucky and can achieve double, maybe triple the number of pages. There are also days when I fail miserably and start fidgeting after five hundred words. But some words on the paper are better than none at all, so I make sure I still write those five hundred.

I break at about ten a.m. By that time, I have breakfasted at my desk while writing. I usually log on to the net at this time and go to my facebook page where I obsess about writing and books. I also check my e-mails at this time. A word to the wise on net surfing–it can seriously deter you from writing.

After this, I head down to office (my husband and I run an architecture practice and I help out with all his general management needs, being an MBA) and work till for a few hours. Then I break for lunch and nap.

My second spell of writing is a shorter one–after waking up to a cup of tea at four in the evening. This is when I either finish my quota, or do research, or tweak my website. If office pressure is high, I give this spot up to ‘real’ work. Then I go for a walk. I walk about three and a half kilometres every day on a fixed route. I know this because I made a cabbie drive me through the same route and measure the distance. I don’t walk fast, I amble, with many stops at interesting shops on the way, but its my only exercise at present, so I make sure I do it.

I don’t write in a linear fashion. Some days, I want to take up the story from a different point and I give in to the temptation. I have terribly swashbuckling dreams, they are never mundane, so sometimes I run to the desk and write them down and then figure out where to fit them in. Sometimes they are a bit too over the top for my editors and have to go.

I wrote The Wordkeepers almost entirely on instinct. For the second and third one, I’m following a plot structure. I am gradually learning that the best strategy is to walk the path of the plot structure but to trust my instincts on when to let go. Not too different from real life.

As I write more, I find more interesting ideas coming to me. I think they wait and watch in that silent world where ideas live and check out if you’re serious first. Then, when they know its not a whim for you, then they reveal themselves. I am glad they think I am here for the long haul.

I don’t believe in writer’s block. I think its just a posh name for that age old excuse: I don’t feel like working today. It works with a lot of people who don’t think writing is a real job, but never with people to whom its a serious thing. We all have to work in our chosen professions, don’t we?

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