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Writer's Note

Have you ever met a guy who introduces himself as a writer? They always have this narcissistic air of self-importance and elitism. I would know. My name is Abhay Gupta and I’m a writer. And I happen to be better than you.

Relax, I don’t really believe that. Honestly, I don’t think you can qualify yourself as a writer until you’ve written things that people can appreciate as good work. It’s pretty simple. You don’t attach an MD to your name just for knowing how to perform CPR or administering first-aid. You need to earn that glorious insigne in order to call yourself a writer and that requires incorporating a simple set of skills that differentiates you from a guy who writes. Well, what makes a good writer? Verbosity? A command over the English language? The ability to flawlessly plagiarize works of those who are well established in the field?

Well, let’s start simple. What are you writing? If you’re writing an article, you need the necessary rhythm and flow. Construction is the key here. Collect your thoughts and understand that paragraphs are not blocks of text that people use to make their articles look pretty and neat. They’re singular building blocks of information that construct the entire article. They need to consistently illustrate a point without disconnecting from the overall idea or theme of the article in question. At the same time, they need connectors so that the entire article flows in a smooth fluid manner. Don’t vomit your ideas all over the article, collect the similarly themed points and construct them within a paragraph. Pick a rhythm. Your written words are your readers’ dancing partners and it’s up to you to decide what music’s playing. You may provide the hottest prom date in the world with some great thoughts penned down but you can kill the mood if you lack rhythm. Like playing Tubthumping in the background.

The next step is to be clear about why you’re writing in the first place. Are you doing it because all the cool kids are doing it? Are you doing it because it’s easier than getting a bachelor’s degree in Engineering? (Nb: Just so you know, Abhay wrote this column and I helped with the editing and both of us write because we are disgruntled engineers to be!) Like everything else in the world, you put your best works out when you’re doing it because you’re passionate about writing. You feel for whatever it is you’re translating into text. Writers write because it’s their ideal and most channelled release of the ideas, thoughts and emotions that they have bottled up inside of them. It’s all about expression. Express all that you feel and think about what you’re writing and you’ll find that writing is really an effortless skill if you’re doing it for the right reasons. Paint a canvas with your words. Create a world of imagination and invite your readers into it by structuring your words in the most tantalising form possible.

While writing is undoubtedly a skill, a good writer will always recognize it as an art form. Are any of you reading this fans of art? Yeah, me neither. I don’t get it. Some paintings are just scribbly colours or abstract images that probably mean something profound but need a little explanation or the right amount of LSD to understand. Once, I walked into an art exhibition and there was a painting of a blue background and a giant red dot in the centre. That’s it. That was the whole painting. It’s like walking in to a Foo Fighters concert and finding Anu Malik singing on the stage! I asked the artist what it meant and he gave me some artsy jargon involving a tragic love story and the fight between good and evil. Honestly, I just saw a big fucking red dot in the middle of a lot of blue. My point to this is that any and every article is as open to subjectivity and opinionated interpretation as a painting would be. If you try too hard to make an article abstract and full of hidden meaning, you stand to alienate a lot of readers by confusing them silly. If you don’t put in the right amount of effort into it, you’ve made the writer’s equivalent of a finger-painting.

Finally, mould your own style. Understand your own strengths and weaknesses as a writer. If your vocabulary’s weak, don’t fret. Some of the best articles that I’ve read used the simplest words and sentence structures. The trick is to find a style that’s both natural for you and appealing to your readers. Adapt. Incorporate new things into your writing and pay attention to what works for both yourself and your readers. Never shun criticism in any form. Criticism is good. It means someone actually paid enough attention to your article to realize where it’s inherently weak. Remember that your articles are a reflection of your skills as a writer. If there are holes in your article, there are holes in your technique and you have to revise your technique if you want your future articles to get better. When you’ve grown into your own customized style of writing, you’ll find that you’ve established your signature and groove as a writer and it becomes a part of who you are.

So what have we learned today, folks? Is writing a skill or an art form? Is it structure more important or vision? Is it important to write the way you want to or to appease and please your readers? My personal opinion is a big black tick mark in the box next to ‘YES TO ALL’. Seriously, it’s like trying to answer “Does breadth contribute more than height does in calculating the area of a rectangle?” (Nb: That’s how good we are at engineering. Neither of us could come up with anything better than area of a rectangle!) Just write the way you want and work it out as you go along. That’s the fun of it all. And if you ever find yourself hitting writer’s block, understand that a true writer would see it as a momentary pause in their thought flow and not a full stop. We writers are obnoxious and pretentious and believe we’re better than everyone else because what we do is more than just scribble some fancy words for you to read during your bathroom breaks. We consider ourselves elite members of a society whose primal task is to influence the way you think using something as basic as a pen and paper. The pen truly is mightier than the sword. Unless you’re in an actual sword-fight, because then you’re a fucking idiot for bringing a Cellopoint to save your sorry ass against four and a half pounds of chiseled steel. Words of wisdom for you, kids.
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Abhay Gupta
What about me? Well, I don't know really. I could be brooding and nihilistic or bouncing off walls like flubber on crack. I categorize and analyze everything because I get bored easy. I'm a tv buff, movie buff, comic fanatic, atheist and meme-literate. I follow the words of a wise and all-knowing philosiraptor who once said: If one enjoys wasting time, is that time really wasted? And finally, cheesecake.


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