Inspiration

Hear me out, a writer I am
with clues none whatsoever
in an investigation of tales
for when inspiration strikes
it strikes hard as a storm
hurling thoughts all amok
swirling in my own mind
scenarios for a scenic event
of monologues and dialogues
and a criminal plot twist
so moving the loveable crime
with a perfect metaphor
some puns and clever idioms
never one to miss a rhetoric
a character arc so gullible
worthy of a Clooney cameo
whirling on as a tornado
a tale possessing my being
from start to almost the end
a narrative spread as jam
and so smiling I ink my pen
ambitious to impact the world
to tell a story to the masses
of the man who beats them all
letting the first drop drip
I watch mute, feeling destitute
sensing the tornado move
from the edge to the eye
oh, what sudden change
a severe calm in my mind
the once-swirling thoughts
once wailing, now silenced
as the second drop drips
I wait in patience still
alas, the mind’s wiped off
thoughts gone with the wind
blown away just as it’d come
in a flurry—inspiration tornado

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Morning, sunshine

I awake to the sound of my favourite music—to the rising tunes of a strumming guitar. I snooze. It’s ok, I tell myself, for I’d worked late the previous night. I deserve more sleep. Before I know it, the alarm goes off again, this time more annoying than soothing. Sighing, I get up only to lean on the wall, palms resting on my chin. It doesn’t seem like a good morning.

As I force myself to brush my teeth and crack my knuckles, I feel a little more awake than before. Clinging on to that feeling, I begin my workout routine and feel better with each stretch. Now it’s starting to seem like a better morning. There’s still a long way to go, though.

Finishing my routine, I make a pot of coffee and slump into the chair—it’s browsing time. I scroll, without a second thought, through feeds and stories, watching but not caring about the lives of my connections and friends. It’s just a way to pass time while drinking coffee—nothing more, nothing less. Drowning the last of my coffee, I head for a shower. I let the cold water wash over me, feeling the heat evaporating as steam over hot cocoa. Soon, I’m ready for work. I plug in random trance music, as I leave, to help cope with the terrible walk to work.

With the slight buzz in my head, I reach office in a piece. I’m ready, sleep-deprived but not yet drooping, to face the day. Perhaps it is a good morning, I tell myself. I wave to my friend at the security desk, take the stairs two at a time, and arrive at my desk with work in mind. I prop up my laptop and open up the word editor—to write today’s blog.

Blank.

A morning. Blocked.

Vintage typewriter at the American Writers Museum in Chicago

Why she writes

A slice of her breast

upon the world to bestow

writer’s soul beckons


Image: Vintage typewriter at the American Writers Museum in Chicago

The why of writing

“So I heard you have a habit of writing every day?”

That’s the clear winner if there’s ever a contest for the silliest thing you can ask a writer.

And yet it still confounds many that a writer would, after all, write. Although I can see how the confusion arises, it’s surprising that we’re now part of a society where corporate copywriters aren’t writers in real life.

It all started with a colleague who raised their eyebrows as I admitted to writing every day. They couldn’t understand the reason. Why would I spend an hour or so every morning writing, before I started work which was also—writing?

As I stood there, stumped, I realised I didn’t have a ready-made answer. No, it wasn’t because “I love writing” or because “I’ve always imagined myself a writer” or because “I don’t know anything else.” Although those statements ring true in many ways, it’s also true that they’re resumé answers—something you’d say to impress a potential employer into giving you the job.

I have different reasons.

For one, it was my writing habit that landed me a career as a copywriter. And despite writing countless types of pieces at work, I still don’t write what I want, the way I want. And for a good reason, too, because a corporate copywriter shouldn’t possess a powerful personal tone that disrupts the business’s tone. Therefore everything I write depends on the company, its offering, and audience. When I come home after a day of such scrutinised writing, all I can think of is work. Not only do I don’t have time for myself, but my thoughts revolve around work as well. The mind goes around in circles in constant debate and debacle—”perhaps I should’ve used a better title for the blog, or added a banner image, or tweeted it out with a GIF.”

Dabble in this long enough, and you’ll wane. A writer who’s lost the ability to expand beyond work isn’t far from losing the ability to write altogether.

Consider those who write only emails all day. They become accomplished at conveying their purpose in an email, but when asked to write something different—a comment on social media, a guest blog, a webpage, or even a catchy advertisement—they’d crumble under pressure. The reason? They no longer have the creative spark to think outside email jargon.

A full-time copywriter isn’t any better. The longer they seep in familiar territory, the more comfortable they become. They get used to using certain phrases and styles and avoiding others that don’t sit well with the business they write for. And it’s often already too late when they realise they’d forgotten how it feels to come up with something unconventional. When a writer foregoes the spine-tingling sensation that results from framing an excellent metaphor, or the jubilance that emanates from dropping a witty pun, a writer ceases to exist. What remains is the shell of a person who can create ideal corporate content.

That’s why I write every day—to keep the chaos within alive. I don’t write flawless pieces in my blog. I don’t put forth impeccable grammatical sentences or distinguished vocabulary. What I do write, instead, is random thoughts, scribblings, and haiku—all the things that help me remember why I still write.

A little less introverted

Last time I was in the US, I presented a talk to a roomful of people who intended to hear me speak. And I delivered that presentation across four cities. It was a work thing and I, along with my colleagues, helped customers figure out better ways to use our product.

It wasn’t my first time, so I wasn’t as stressed as I thought I’d be. On my first time, however, I spent weeks sleepless, burning myself out, almost to the point of hallucinating. But even then I managed to stand my ground facing an audience of about 75-100.

And during yet another trip, I attended an event called ISTE. It was a global conference for educators, and my goal was to talk to as many people as possible, understand their pain points, and identify ways to pitch our product to them. I initiated conversations with hundreds of strangers without creeping them out.


I want to say I was tall and skinny at thirteen, but I wasn’t. I was short and quite plump, and I enjoyed school life. The internet wasn’t in my life then so I had plenty of time to spend watching cartoons, reading, musing about my life, and creating random verses I called poetry.

At seventeen, things had improved a little. I was online at last and made my first contact with the alien world of Facebook. Not long after, I set up this blog (thanks bro for naming it and paying for the domain). I soon transitioned from journal writing and self-pity poetry to more general writing. As if in an epiphany, I realised I could write about anything and with practice, become good at it. Every day became a hunt for a writing prompt, and I craved more to publish blog posts than to meet friends outside of school. Social life? Near non-existent.

How, regardless of all that, I landed a writing internship at nineteen is rather surprising. But I took it, and eight months later, joined the company as a marketing copywriter.


By the time I was twenty-two, I had presented in front of an American audience. For the first time, circumstances thrust me into a room full of people I’d never met before. And it was fine.

I’ve come a long way since my high school days of scrawling in my journal. From being a timid teenager who preferred to stay away from people, who believed the stereotypes of introversion and revelled in being one, I’ve seen a drastic change in myself.

I’m still an introvert. I sometimes even take the long way to avoid running into people or stay in on weekends instead of partying with friends. But I no longer try and fit myself into other people’s opinion of an introvert.

There’re countless articles online that try and decode an introvert’s behaviour, all the while enforcing new guidelines for being one.

My work life changed my perspective on introversion. Being forced to meet people, I learnt that I enjoy working with various personalities. I saw that I was even good at making lasting connections. “Understand the introvert” type of articles will tell you most writers are introverts, that we live in a bubble, and aren’t conversation starters. That’s not always true. I write for a living, and I don’t shy away from extending the first word, but that doesn’t make me any less of an introvert.

We all face apprehension in life. I did too when it came to communicating with people. Tying that to introversion is unwise to say the least.

Introvert or not, some people need time and exposure to become a better communicator. Simple as that.