[RANT] 020821 – Morning Pages

A ranty post on the first-world problems that I am afflicted with.

5:20. Woke up a few minutes ago. Yesterday I slept at some 8:30 or something. I wasn’t feeling too well. I was on a podcast and then on a call and I could barely keep my eyes open. People on the other side could see that I was unwell. Through a Zoom window. Sigh. I think I was probably gassed, bloated, sleep-deprived, and tired.

So, what happened was this – a friend and I decided that we would go for a long walk on Sunday. For that, I had to be out of my house at 6. And that meant I had to wake up at 5. And that meant I had to sleep by 10. But I slept at 1 or something. I had some work to be done. So I was sleep-deprived. Plus right after the not-so-strenuous walk, I ate from Pancham Puri (the best damn place to eat kachra that gives pleasure to your senses). The very mention of it is making me salivate! The food we ate was so well “oiled” that I could see a thick layer of oil floating over the gravy. And then I ate some more crap from random places. And as a result, I was full. And despite that, I kept loading myself with chocolates and water and I dont know what all. And thus I was pukish. And it showed. Not just to me. But to others.

In fact, this seems to be a trend. Since I started walking. Once I am done with my walks, I sort of eat far more than what I am supposed to. And as a result, these walks are probably doing more harm than good. So, need to control these. And fix things. From today on, come hell or high water, if I can’t eat food made at a home, I will not eat. Enough of ordering from out.

I also need to stop ignoring that all this walking around is probably taking its toll on me. You know, it’s making me tired and sore (without any massage or stretching) and I need to let the body recover. Starting with sleep. Need to stop compromising on it.

So that.

In other news, the joy from life seems to have disappeared. You know, there’s not Joie de Vivre! I am not even playing chess, the thing that I had found comfort in after I realized I am friendless and loveless. In fact, I was talking to AnPa on Saturday and I realized that life seems to be going ok but there aren’t any large exciting things happening that I could live on top of. You know, there’s no dopamine hit. There’s no hedonistic treadmill that am riding on. I mean there’s nothing wrong with life per se. There’s some money coming on. Most things I work on are what I like. Side projects are going well. The friends and family column needs a little nudge but that’s ok. Or maybe that’s what I need to work on? Let’s see.

Moving on.

There’s less than 45 days to go for EBC. I am still not working out. Neither am I getting any breathing exercises done. Must start with Surya Namaskar and Push-Ups. Thing is, I am most productive in the morning, and if feel as if I have wasted my time and all that. I dont know the fix for this ๐Ÿ™

Ok. Enough of rants. Lemme talk of other things that are, well, not rants.

Over the weekend, while I couldn’t do a lot of work, I did record a couple of podcasts. Each of those taught me so much and allowed me to learn so much. I am wondering why I dont do more of these. Probably the laziness? I am not sure. Must fix this!

Then, I talked to someone who’s living the life I want to live. You know, works at the intersection of writing, strategy, teaching, travel, and more. He is doing exactly what I want to do with my life. Makes money. Hold intellectually stimulating conversations. Knows people at “higher” places. He even told me about a VERY VERY famous writer on his writing style. He said the writer would spend a year or two researching his next book. And then check into a hotel for a month and crank out the manuscript of 100,000 words. I think that’s fabulous. I must do the same. Take a month out each year and take a break for a month. And come out with a book. The other lesson I took (and got reinforced) from this chat was that the world celebrates success like nothing else. Need to get there.

Then, I gave gyaan to another aspiring entrepreneur about writing and books and all that.

Ok. Enough. It’s 6:29. More than an hour since I started writing. Need to get on with the day. Here’s streaks.

  • OMAD โ€“ 0
  • #book2 โ€“ 0
  • #noCoke โ€“ 144
  • #noCoffee โ€“ 0
  • #aPicADay โ€“ 0
  • Killer Boogie โ€“ 0
  • 10K steps a day โ€“ 1
  • Surya Namaskar โ€“ 0
  • 10 mins of meditation โ€“ 0
  • Minimaslism Counter โ€“ -2
  • Morning Pages / Meditations โ€“ 234

PS: Starting today, I will mark all ranty posts as [RANT]. I want to see how much I crib and rant and cry.

260721 – Morning Pages

I talk about how I am lagging on the road to EBC, some gyaan I doled out about writing and some random rant.

8:46. Starbucks, Versova. Woke up late. Slept late. I am playing too much chess. No, I am not good at it. No, I dont like it that much that I am playing it all the time. Just that I play chess instead of scrolling Instagram and Twitter mindlessly. You know, mind games :D.

The dark clouds dont seem to dispel. I know it will heal with time. I know time will take its own sweet time. I know I need to remain patient and wait for acchhe din to come back. I just hope they come back soon.

So, that.

Ok, the road to EBC is not smooth at all. Here’s my progress from the first week when I started thinking about it seriously.

Week of 19th July

The first few days were good. And then the next 3-4 were all downhill. In terms of what I am doing (eating!) and not doing (working out / walking etc). Apart from the walk goals, missing on all others. Need to pull up the socks. I don’t want to die on the mountain!

The only silver lining would be last night when I walked 24K steps (to complete 100K in the week). I think there are two things at play here. And I have to mention those.

A. AnAg created a group with a few friends on an app that tracks the steps that each person is putting on. I use that app to give competition to myself and that helps me do better. I’ve realized that I am hyper-competitive and I must keep this lesson in mind. Damn, this social proof is a thing!

B. I happened to hear Disha talk about her experience as a triathlete. And then she talked about other women that are mothers and yet find the time and energy to be competitive triathletes. She wrote a book about their stories. Here. I heard her talk while I was walking and I told myself that if there are people that can battle personal issues, societal biases, lack of money, and all that, why can’t I put in the 24K required to reach 100K!

I wish I was this competitive about making money. Or about using my time judiciously!

Anyhow. Moving on.

I spent some time with a few young writers that are helping me put a content engine at Podium. While talking to them, I realized yet again that I am a coach material than anything else. Or may be I am not and I am merely rationalizing? I dont know. But it was great fun to give gyaan. Here are the top three things that I told them…

a. Create a sacred space that you use specifically for writing. This could be within your house. Or could be a Starbucks. This space should not be mixed with other activities (specifically recreational) and each time you enter the space, you get in the zone. Think temples, churches, mosques etc. Each time you enter, you know you are now expected to behave in a certain manner.

b. Make writing your bitch. Simple. Inspiration must strike you when you want it to. Not the other way around. An easy way to do this is to ensure that you write every day. I picked this from Julia Cameron. And today is the 228th day on the trot that I have published a piece. So, clearly it works!

c. Don’t write to impress. Write because you want to express something. If you think words are not flowing, assume you are writing a longish message to your best friend. Or a colleague. Even if it’s a regular update on how the coffee today sucked, you better write. Plus, you should be ok if no one reads. The intent is to not get read. The intent is to write. Publish. The audience is the unintended side effect. Of course, at a point, you want the audience as well. But for the time being, write for yourself.

So that.

Guess this is about it for the day. Need to get going with things. This week is a busy one. And no, no photos from yesterday to show off. Should’ve clicked some.

Here’s streaks…

  • OMAD โ€“ 0
  • #book2 โ€“ 0
  • #noCoke โ€“ 137
  • #noCoffee โ€“ 0
  • #aPicADay โ€“ 0
  • Killer Boogie โ€“ 0
  • 10K steps a day โ€“ 2
  • Surya Namaskar โ€“ 0
  • 10 mins of meditation โ€“ 0
  • Minimaslism Counter โ€“ -1
  • Morning Pages / Meditations โ€“ 227

The Ultimate Guide to Writing Better

If you want to write better, look no further than this ultimate list of tools, tips, tricks and more from some of the greatest writers ever.

Bob Dylan, one of the most epic storytellers, songwriters, activists, and of course musicians once use these few words, “Come gather ’round people, wherever you roam”.

Thing is, writing well is a superpower, and it’s a gift that continues to give, even long after you’ve done the work. At least I have benefitted immensely from my love for writing. I can’t say I write well. But I know that when I write and when people (friends, families, and even strangers) read what I have written, they are deeply moved. May be they are lying, may be they are being polite. Maybe it’s a random occurrence.

Irrespective.

All I know is that a lot of good has come out from my writing and I sincerely think more and more people must write. Write more. Write in public. Write to publish. To achieve immortality. To be able to reach out to more people. To get access to the hive mind that you will never get if you keep your thoughts closeted.

In fact, I am sort of an activist that keeps telling everyone I know to go write whatever they can, however they can and wherever they can. And to do that I have a few things running right now and this page will archive all those.

Hope this helps.

A. A list of recommended books / guides that I think are useful.

These are not in any order. And this is an evolving list.

  1. On Writing. By the legendary Stephen King. Must add that King has written one of the best pieces of film that I’ve ever seen.
  2. Consider This. By Chuck Palahniuk. Of the Fight Club fame. Enough said.
  3. Julian Shapiro’s Writing Well Handbook. Julian has to be among the best polymaths I know. He goes deep into things that excite him, becomes a sort of master at those. And then he condenses the process into easy to consume guides that are better than the most authoritative guidebooks on that subject. Best of all, free! ๐Ÿ†“ ๐Ÿ†“ ๐Ÿ†“
  4. What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. By Murakami. If there’s one writer that I can’t understand and yet the world can’t stop raving about, it’s Murakami. I don’t know what is it about his writing that moves people. When I started reading, I would pick up his books and marvel at the worlds he would create. I would try and make sense of the fetish people have with things as ordinary as the shape of the ears and paintings and distant Japanese prefectures. But alas, despite me trying, I was unable to understand what he said or spoke. However what he talks about in What I Talk About When I Talk About Running makes a lot of sense. As someone who wants to learn writing. And as someone who wants to learn running.

B. A WhatsApp Group.

I run a WA Group where I often share whatever little I know about writing. This include links to various articles that I find helpful, some prompts, tips from acclaimed writers and more things.

Some things that I have posted there are…

In case you want to join the group, it is here.

C. Misc.

Again, this is a WIP list that I will keep adding to / removing from.

  1. ship30for30.com. I have NOT taken this as a challenge as yet. I would have loved to, it not for the prohibitive price. I wish I had the money. In fact, I am tempted to something similar for people that have weaker currencies.
  2. Twitter List (maintained by me). This is a list of other writers that I admire and love. I follow these people religiously for the writing advice they give out.

So that’s about it for the time being. Will continue to work on this.

Oh, I must say, while you may consume all the resources and read all the books and all that, the best way to get better with writing is, well, by writing more!

All the best!


Disclaimers…

  • Last updated on 22 May 2021.
  • In case you want me to add/remove something to this list, please do let me know.

33rd day of 30 days of writing challenge

Commentary on the 30 days of writing everyday challenge that I took in Nov 2020. I reflect on the experience and I talk about what next for me.

Time flies. And how.

I did not realize when these 30 days that I was supposed to write for every day got over. I started on the 30th of Oct and published 23 posts (including this over) over the last 33 days.

Like most projects, the first few days were exciting. The next few, drab. And the last few, a pain. As I end this project today, it’s time to reflect, catalog some thoughts, gather some ideas and move on.

Here we go.

The Project

I’ve always known the importance of writing well. And one of the key components of writing well is to write often. It is exactly like building muscle, running, or meditation. You cant reap benefits if you do 24-hour sprints. You have to do it every day. Slowly, deliberately and with intention. As Will Smith calls it, brick by brick.

The idea of this project was to develop a deliberate, regular writing habit. Stack them bricks. On that count, I think I did ok. That was the primary benefit I was seeking. So, Check!

The secondary benefit I wanted was to get active on this domain (saurabhgarg.com). I have my content scattered all over the internet and if I were to point people at one direction, I don’t think I’d be able to. Plus, increasingly, our personal brands are getting more and more important and thus it was imperative to create a homepage for self. I am not sure if I’ve met that objective. So, half-check.

Finally, I wanted people to read what I write, send me feedback, and help me get better. Even though I wrote a lot, I haven’t been able to get that. So, fail.

While I can end the post here, I do want to take the opportunity to talk more about the project and a few things that I am taking away.

A. On Writing

I have been writing and publishing my thoughts online since 2004 (on my personal blog) and it has helped me in numerous ways. I have made friends. I have learned new things. It lead me to a book! It has allowed me to expand my world. It has opened new work opportunities.

However, it has remained a mere hobby that I have been damn serious about. Also, I think writing keeps me sane. Writing allows me to feel that I have someone to talk to (#foreverAlone). It gives me that voice that I think is getting heard by someone, even strangers, in this world full of cacophony. Even if no one is responding to what I write. I write for the sake of writing. And then everything else (connections, lessons, opportunities, etc) is like a cherry on the cake. You know what would be the icing on top of the cherry on top of the cake? Ability to make a sustainable and lavish living with what I write! In fact, I’ve thought often about pivoting to becoming a full-time writer but it has remained a thought at best.

Three reasons.

  1. I am harsh af on myself. And I know it. To a point that I am critical. If I were my own mentor, I would have broken down. That bad. And that means even if I write a line that I think is as good as the worst that Bukowski wrote, I would consider mine as pathetic. So I am not sure if I can deliver. And thus, I am not active about seeking writing opportunities.
  2. I am not consistent. I have these bursts of creativity where I am freakishly productive and I can push out a tome in minutes. Words flow like tears flow in saas-bahu serials. Ideas are aplenty. Fingers fly on the keyboard to a point of producing literal sparks. And then there are days, even weeks when I just want to disappear under a rajai and not come out. Everything looks dreary. Dark clouds don’t seem to dispel. I think most artists suffer from such bouts and fluctuations (taking the liberty of comparing myself to an artist). And I don’t know a solution. The only advice I give myself at such moments is that old adage from Fitzgerald I think – live a rich life when not writing and retreat into a boring world when you write about that rich life.
  3. I never had the luxury to take long breaks to write. I’ve had to run my house. Luckily I do not have a lot of responsibilities but I do not have a freewheeling life either. Writing, thus, has always been the second or even third thing I’d do. Even these 30 days that I wrote, I would steal time after the day’s chores were done. PS: The lockdown did give me an opportunity to write. And I tried to be honest. But I could not sustain. I have nothing to blame but my laziness. So that.

While I know of these three issues and trust me when I say this, I have tried to fix these, I haven’t been able to. If you know of a way out, please do let me know.

Oh, I must mention that I believe writing can help me reach one of my #sgLifeGoals of impacting a billion lives. And this also fuels the on and off seriousness about writing. Every time I slack, I pick it up thinking writing is my shot at changing the world.

B. Traffic / Quality of writing

Like I said I have not been able to grow my audience, lemme talk more about it.

The dismal traffic on the website, despite my attempts at marketing it, tells me that either people are not keen on reading what I write or I am lousy at marketing. Lemme give numbers.

As of writing this, I have had 158 unique visitors and 600 odd page views to the website (as per Google Search console). One of these 158 is me. The second is Arti (I’ll talk about her towards the end of this post). And then there are 156 other people. And if I were to do simple maths, on simple average, it translates into 5 new users per post and 4 page views per reader. That means even the ones that read a post or two do not come back. So, dismal.

Lemme decode this.

Of course, I don’t want to be harsh on myself and I believe I am good at marketing. So, it has to be the quality of content.

This means that if I want to make a living off what I write, I need to get better. This also means that if writing has to be the tool that I use to make an impact in the world, I am failing at it. And bad. And I need to get better. And I do the word required. I read advice on writing. I practice it often enough (guess need to be more “often” with it). I follow other writers that are as widely read as the ones that wrote Geeta, Bible et al. I feel I am fairly deep with my ideas and I can explain those well to even a six-year-old. I write from the heart and I am probably as authentic as Corona beer is. I even publish often and I try to market what I write!

But, it’s not happening. I am not reaching more people. I am not expanding my world. Maybe I am in the second year of the 10-12 years it takes to be an overnight success? Maybe I am in the ninth. Who knows.

Or maybe, just maybe, Google is wrong?

C. Write AND publish thrice a week (and not daily)

Howsoever hard I may try, with all the things I do, I realized it’s impossible for me to write every day. But did manage 23 posts in 33 days. This tells me that I can definitely pull off writing every alternate day.

So when I start the next series of posts, I would aim for a 3-times-a-week cadence. I would try to better it but the thrice a week would be the bare minimum I’d want.

Oh, when I say write thrice a week, I mean I would publish thrice a week. I AM, I WAS and I WILL write every day. It could be a tiny scribble that gets lost in between the pages of notepads or it could be 2000-word posts. But I write every day. It’s the publishing that I am talking about here.

D. Acknowledgments

Oh, I can not end this post without thanking Arti. One, for painstakingly checking each post for typos. I don’t think in all the posts that I wrote, there was even one where she did not find a typo. She’s got that keen an eye. Second, the days that I did not send her the draft, she would pester me to write. Often there have been days when I wrote just because I did not want to disappoint her. I need more Artis in my life. Three, she did all this without expecting any remuneration or credits. I am not sure such selfless, such good people exist.

So yeah, thanks, Arti!

You’re awesome. The world needs more people like you. Dare you to find a typo in this one!

Other people that I have to mention here are Prakruti, Pradeep, and Suresh. For being the bouncing boards and constant encouragement nagging!

Honorary mention to the entire LFW Gang for reading and feedback.


And with that, its over and out from this one. I will be back with the next project soon. Till then, do let me know how I can improve my work. And do follow me on Twitter ๐Ÿ˜€

Over and out!