Advice to Budding Authors

Many budding authors send me their manuscripts. I am always surprised to see how many are written by MBA graduates.

The first possibility that comes to mind is that there is an artist hidden in each one of us. But due to the pursuit of ‘safe careers’, very few are willing to take a risk and pursue artistic professions. It is only when they have settled down, got the degree, designation and monthly paycheck that the urge to ‘be creative’ surfaces.

But the majority of these manuscripts are lifeless. I mean, when you read the words, you don’t feel a thing. After a few pages you don’t even want to read further.

So what went wrong? Clearly, the author has put in time and effort. And has intellectual capacity. The trouble is, the book is written MBA-style – all from the head, not from the heart. Hence, the characters are flat and uni-dimensional. The plot is predictable. The language is correct but stiff and no fun to read.

In short, there is no ‘flow’ in the writing. And this is because the author has heavily relied on the Left Brain. An obedient slave and faithful servant, the left brain is logical, rational and extremely useful when you wish to clear an entrance exam or create a complicated spreadsheet.

But it is an impediment, if you want to do anything in the realm of art.

Art is an expression of one’s innermost being. At the same time it is a reminder of the tiny, insignificant human self. Singers and dancers perform, writers and painters create. Yes, the paintbrush is moving, the fingers are typing but the artist knows, it’s not just ‘me’. I am an instrument, through which thoughts and ideas are flowing. I am connected to a higher source.

This is why creative people often appear to be ‘lost’ – in themselves, in that Other Dimension. Where your ‘book’ is waiting to be found.

Robert Louis Stevenson (‘Treasure Island’) conceived of entire novels through dreams.

Elizabeth Gilbert (‘Eat, Pray, Love’) has given a brilliant TED talk in which she argues that creativity is divinely inspired.

Amish Tripathi says that writing his books is like a ‘joyful ride’.

The book itself would just keep coming. The only thing I had to do was to listen to music, which (matched) the mood of the moment that I am writing in. So if I were writing a war scene I would listen to the music of Eklavya (starring Amitabh Bachchan, Saif Ali Khan and Vidya Balan). And somehow that used to help the flow. When I would write a love scene I’d listen to the music of Don (starring Shah Rukh Khan).

That’s all I had to do: play music and somehow the story would just start flowing. And there wasn’t any logic to it. Sometimes I would write chapter 25, the next day I would write chapter five. The next day something of book three would come. I learned not to question it and would write just what came to me. I first wrote summaries of the three books and then I started expanding them into the books.

So that’s the first and most important lesson for an author. Find a way to ‘get connected’ and to let the words flow. One classic book which may help you in this quest is ‘The Power of Your Subconscious Mind’ by Joseph Murphy. Written over 50 years ago, this book was a revelation to me when I first read it. Could my mind really hold such infinite power and untapped potential?

There’s only one way to find out – start using it!

Next: Does every writer need a routine?

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