True test of a writer.

The true test of a writer is not how possessedly he writes when he is in flow, but how he manages to write when he is creatively crippled.

Writing is a challenging art form. How many books could you write in your lifetime? Or, how many would you want to write?
How old are you now? Till when do you expect to live?

Calculating the number of years you’ve got left, do you still think you can write the number of books you would want to?

A painter may finish ten paintings in a day. Or, a dancer maybe give three back to back recitals. But, only in case of a writer, we hear this thing about CREATIVE BLOCKS.

Aren’t other artforms supposed to be creative? People speak of wanting the right kind of environment to trigger the flow of words out of their pens.

I feel that at the end of the day, it is pure mathematics. I’m 22 years old right now. Given the amount of chemicals in my food now, and my semi sedentary lifestyle, my best case scenario would be to be alive till 70.

That leaves me 48 years to create my life’s work. So much for passion, life’s true calling, and the love of writing.

48 years. Make it or break it.

If you didn’t start younger than me, then probably you have less time than me. You think 48 years is enough, but how many years it would take you to complete a novel and then to get a publisher – 5 years atleast?

That gives you a book count of less than 10 books in your lifetime.

This happens primarily because of two reasons.

One, because we choose writing too late.
Take me for example, I chose writing at 20 and I haven’t done anything significant till now.

Chances are it’ll take me three more months to actively start work on my first novel.

Two, because we give ourselves excuses.

Today is a Sunday. Who writes on Sundays?

I have a headache. It’s too cold.

I can’t think of anything to write about.

Most novelists wouldn’t reach that quota of 10 novels. Those who do certainly have the quality of persistence and being widely read.

But, as I see it, there is no magic recipe to being a writer. It’s about tucking yourself in, shutting the doors and windows, and writing.

Enough has been made about the two words CREATIVE BLOCK. They say, if you can’t think of anything, look around in your room.

For example, I see a lizard. Now I’ll write something about the lizard – describe it, praise it, eulogise it, criticise it for being on my wall – WHATEVER.

After having done so, I’ll try to bring this lizard piece in my story – maybe an imaginary conversation between my character and a house lizard. Atleast it provides for laughs.

Something is better than nothing.

The true test of a writer is not how well he writes, but for how long. Talent is so overrated. It’s about persistence and determination.

Too many talented people have stopped in their tracks after hitting roadblocks.
It’s the average guy who makes it, more often than not.

This entry was posted in My take.

10 comments on “True test of a writer.

  1. greenembers says:

    Yes! I 100% believe this. I love the end summary, it’s not just about talent but hard work. 🙂

  2. Beechmount says:

    I you can write but a single book in all your life and it becomes a classic best seller and remains popular for generations, you have been more successful than thousands of writers who wrote nothing but ordinary novels. Quality over quantity.

    • In a way you’re right, but, quality only comes when you get one with it. You’ve got to keep moving.

      • Beechmount says:

        There is a measure of “practice makes perfect” in all forms of writing and you will learn that as you go. The “soul” you put into your writing will be unique to you. No-one can teach you that.
        Cheers from Grandpa—- –and keep that nose of yours into the math books. I won’t mentor you in English until after your graduation (with top marks)

  3. Jessica says:

    I again agree with Grandpa. What does it mean to be a writer? If writing means shutting yourself away for your entire life so you can pound out words, well, then what kind of a life will you have lived that non-writers can relate to?

    I had my rock-climbing accident ten years ago. In college, I wrote short essays about it. My recent series is by far the most I’ve written about it. Have I been lazy? Shouldn’t I have finished writing about that long ago and moved on?

    Writing is about living. You have to live to write. I have grown tremendously since I was 19. Even since I was 22. Along with growing personally, my writing has grown, too. I was able to do a much better job writing about my accident now than I could have ten years ago.

    If I publish even one GOOD book in my lifetime, I will consider that a success. And even if I don’t. I never set out to be an author. The most important key to being a writer is having something to say.

    • Beechmount says:

      Using a form of address that was common nearly a hundred years ago

      My Dearest Jessica,

      How I truly love the way you speak of how you HAVE GROWN SINCE THE AGE OF 19–EVEN SINCE THE AGE OF 22. If you only could see things from where I stand-or sit for that matter, you would realize that you are so young-so young-with a whole life ahead of you.

      You say you have to live in order to write. That’s ever so true, only I would like to also put this in the past tense –you have to have lived in order to write. When you live life and let it guide you into the world you want to be a part of, then you build up, or perhaps I should say “collect” memories. Many times, when a particular life event happens, you think nothing of it at the time. Much later in life, when the rear view mirror takes the place of the crystal ball, many of the events you thought nothing of when they happened, will all of a sudden become part of the book of good memories that you treasure. I think you will find many of those memories can serve as a background for a good story.
      I began writing short stories from childhood memories a while back and have so far published several on my blog, the latest being “The Old Oak”

      Become a collector of good memories and you will have the basis for a happy old age and many things to wite about.


      • Jessica says:

        Dearest Grandpa,

        Thank you so much for the kind comment, and forgive me for taking so long to reply! Also, Happy (belated now, I think) Birthday!!!

        I realize my comment seems silly when looking at things from your perspective. You are so right. Live in order to write. And that’s what I hope to do. I am always being reminded of things from my early youth and time in Asia even when those days have passed away. (Although I hope to travel again… very, very soon.)

        I enjoy hearing your perspectives and agree with Subh that you are an amazing man. Thank you for your interest in India and in good writing, and, mostly, in people.

        Best Regards,


  4. Good points. But think about this, you’ll write a better post about your accident when you are 40, and then at 50 and so on. That is the nature of life. But if you’re gonna wait for perfection it’s gonna be a long time. Again what is a good book? The book that I write at 20 is gonna be different from the one I write at 30. They’ll have different audiences too. But you’ve got to trust your voice.

    You have to get that book out to know what good or bad you are. And it is often procrastinated.

  5. To be a writer, one must write. It doesn’t have to be good; it doesn’t have to appeal to everyone; it doesn’t even have to be published. I think we need to evaluate the why of writing. Do we write to make money? Do we write to entertain others? Do we write because the characters must have their stories written?

Let me know what you are thinking. . .

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