Author Ashwin Hariharan
Jun 3, 2016 . 6 min read
Life Lessons loyalty
Habit Formation loyalty

The Journey towards Creative Writing

Note: Originally published on Medium.

I must admit, I’m kinda late to Medium. And I wish I had joined it sooner. A very good friend of mine recommended it to me. Mostly to follow tech blogs, because I’m a techie. He told — “Dude, all the cool tech writings are on Medium”. So I finally created an account. During the process, I discovered all these other cool tags which got me really interested, so subscribed to them as well. And now I read more non-tech articles than tech articles.

So, why am I writing this?

Lately I’ve been spending more time on Medium than Facebook or Twitter. And it’s a good thing, right? Of-course it is. Got me addicted! I read such awesome articles every-day; awestruck by people here, their insights on things like startups (I work in a startup, so it’s really helpful), on psychology, on emotions, thoughts and feelings, on every day life…and also on writing.

And thought got me thinking — I’ve been reading my whole life, why not try to write? It seems fun. Seems creative, something totally different from my day job. I gave it a lot of thought. And kept thinking and thinking about writing for days, but never really got to it. And that’s precisely the problem. Sometimes, we just keep thinking about stuffs without actually acting on them.

Anyway, I decided one day to first do some reading on how other writers do it — how they manage be so creative every single day. For the next one week, I just kept reading stuffs related to writing.

There’s been some really helpful articles on Medium on how amateurs like me could begin to write and hopefully one day can write well too. And they have some really helpful tips, tips that I’ve been trying out for couple of weeks. I’ve bookmarked some of these, which I’ll share here —

  • The Spark File. An awesome read. I started to keep my own spark file, where I jot things down whenever I feel like it. Helps me capture my thoughts, to prevent them from fading away into oblivion.
  • Things I’ve Learned from Writing Over a Million Words in 5 Years. A very sensible article. This helped me take the first baby steps towards writing and towards forming a habit. A lot of the advice in this article could be applied elsewhere too.
  • How Writing 1000 Words a Day Changed My Life. This one will motivate you. A lot. I stopped caring about what kind of garbage I’ll produce while writing; it doesn’t matter as long as you just fucking write something. Just the right kind of advice that I need to get started.

Well, I have all the necessary ingredients to get started with. The desire to write (this is kind of important, so if you don’t have it then don’t even bother), the techniques to develop a writing habit, and some inspiration as well. So, I got started!

I combined all the techniques described in the articles that I shared, adding some of my own as well. And I’m gonna describe everything that I did, step by step —

  • The night before Day One — I followed the advice from the second article. To make necessary changes to your environment, to decrease the number of steps for the behavior that you desire. So that’s what I did. I logged out of Facebook and Twitter. I even disconnected from the internet. And opened Sublime Text…and left it just like that before going to sleep.
  • Day One — First thing I did after waking up is to immediately jot down whatever came into my mind in my spark file. Wrote just one paragraph — maybe about 5 sentences. That’s it! And then I went about my day, freshening up, going to the gym, then later to work…and then back home by evening. Spent an hour reading on Medium.
  • Day Two — Wrote another paragraph again, about 5 or 6 lines. However this one was on a completely different topic. So, I though — let me keep bullet points, one for each day. I wanted to find out just how much new stuffs I could come up with, even if it was total garbage. And again, the rest of the day was pretty much the same.
  • Day Three — Wrote another one, this time around 15 lines. And I figured, won’t it be fun to one day just look back on the progress I made, right from the first few paragraphs? So I thought of using Git Version control. One new commit for every time I wrote something new to my spark file. And I did that.

Kept repeating that… for the next two weeks. And I was enjoying the process…a lot! I also made few sections to my Spark File, like -

  • Quotes on Creation/productivity/psychology — When I see some really meaningful phrase while I read, I just copy paste that into this section
  • Interesting Conversation Starters
  • Hunches / Ideas for writing
  • Quotes from TV Series / Movies

And finally…

  • Articles!

At this point, I’ve written about 10 articles. The last one has three paragraphs, and the effort it takes to write seems to be getting lesser and lesser everyday. I’m really enjoying the process!

So, what’s the purpose in creating this publication today? What am I trying to do?

To try something new, perhaps? It’s been so long since I’ve done anything creative — my job requires me to use my thinking and logical skills more than anything else. I needed a change in my routine, I felt the need to try out something different, something I’ve never done before. And this shift in thinking, from being logical to trying to be creative…it feels quite refreshing. After all, variety is the spice of life, isn’t it?

So, I’m gonna continue with this little experiment. And see how it turns out. Will this grow into something big? Will I become popular? Will I get better at writing? Will I even write everyday? I don’t know! It doesn’t matter how many people read this — because this is one of those things that you do because you want to do, because you enjoy it… and someday when you look back, you won’t think — what if I had just given it a shot?

What’s with the name of this publication?

I love watching movies. I mean, good movies. Some of their titles are pretty great. I’m pretty sure you would have guessed from where I derived the name, but in case you haven’t — the movie is called Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. It’s a great movie, so if you haven’t watched it, then do watch it!

My mind is not spotless. It’s messy. The thoughts and emotions that come, the moments of creativity, imagination and clarity are not eternal; they fade away. Hence I find the need to pen them down. Or type. And that’s what this publication will be about.

I plan to continue writing in my spark file, and every once in a while when I find some gold in the garbage, I’ll be posting it! I’ll try to write on different subjects — on things like emotions, on the startup life, I might give a try on satire as well.

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