How to become a published writer

So you want to be a writer? But how do you go from the fuzzy ideas in your head to having a published book?

The session, 'Maps for Lost Writers: Nurturing Creativity', sought to address questions that puzzle aspiring writers.

Authors Anosh Irani, Prajwal Parajuly, Hindol Sengupta and Aita Ighodaro discussed the often-daunting course of writing a book, and the craft of writing itself.

The one advice that emerged unanimously at the end of the session was - just write.

That's where you begin, but the process is more complex than that. For example, how important is discipline for a writer?

"Writing becomes a chore, if you think of discipline," said Ighodaro, the author of Sin Tropez. However, the UK author admitted that she liked having a clear structure before beginning to write.

But the panelists agreed that daily 'word targets' - writing a minimum number of words every day, generally touted as a must for writers - did not work for everyone.

"There are stretches when I write and those when I don't," said Irani (The Cripple and His Talismans). "There is no writer's block, only writer's impatience. I have trained myself to be patient… The words will come when they have to."

As Parajuly, the author of the short-story collection The Gurkha's Daughter, said, "After you've been writing, you realise what works for you".

Every writer has to make her or his own map.

But once you have a manuscript, where do you go from there?

The panelists admitted that it helped to have a literary agent, though it's not too common yet in India - with the exception of Sengupta, who said he just walked into the publisher's office. And rejection happens, said Ighodaro.


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