Writing as a Career Option


I’ve been asked more than once when my book was getting published.

“I am not writing a book,” I said.

Yet, I am a writer.

There are many stereotypes attached to writers and the craft of writing. Not all writers are novelists and not all writers have an epiphany from heaven to create memorable pieces. Well, if they do, I haven’t heard of any. While writing, they also do not revel in silks and stroke a furry feline and neither are they constantly mired in their own thoughts and removed from the society. But we will let these ideas coexist with the fact that writing is one of the most versatile of professions.

If you are considering writing as a comeback career option, make a candid evaluation of your writing and storytelling skills first.

Do you have what it takes?

Are you a natural at this? Do friends praise you for your witty or insightful updates? Are you the default communicator for the PTO ? Do you always have a story running in your head while doing chores?

Facts for the aspiring writer:

The good news first – you do not need a formal education in communication or journalism to get a job as a writer, though it helps. A flair for writing, good grammar skills and the default ingredient called passion are good enough.

Content that counts – Start with writing about what you know best to build your writing repository, whether it’s food, politics, health or parenting tips.

Options, options – Understand  your style of writing and then determine which industry it fits best. If you have a science background and the ability to write a clean copy, you might consider the field of medical writing. An aptitude for descriptive renditions could open doors to real estate writing. There are numerous options in PR, Digital as well as Marketing, like ad copy and printed materials.

Showing it off – Should you have a portfolio? Yes, but you don’t have to be intimidated by the thought of putting one together. Web links to your published work, or samples of unpublished pieces as attachments to your resume would do very well. Build writing credits one piece at a time.

Check out some of the best web-based portfolio sites for writers here.

How can you hone your craft?

Write! There is no other way to learn this other than to JUST write.

Drop everything and make notes when you get your ‘aha’ moment, and believe me, you will! At places and times you might never imagine the muse will visit you. Grocery receipts have come in handy many times for me. Phrases, memories, visuals, jingles, anything could lead to a full- fledged story.  Just remember to jot them down the old fashioned way, using a pen and paper (believe me, this works), or send a recorded message to yourself in their absence.The Notes App on most Smartphones is also a great tool. Do remember to file away all your divine or otherwise revelations later.

Read! You can’t be a good writer without being an avid reader.

Set deadlines and stick to them. Oftentimes the longer you fuss over a writing piece, the worse it gets.

Identify a mentor, partner to inspire you or co-write with and use Apps like Google Docs for shared work. For a free tutorial click here.

Refine! Keep the piece aside and revisit after a day or so with a fresh set of eyes.

Kill  your darlings! Don’t fall in ‘forever love’ with a phrase, paragraph or a character. Every word in a short piece should serve a purpose. If not, delete it.

“When your story is ready for rewrite, cut it to the bone….”—Stephen King, WD

The true mark of a good writer is a commitment to the craft, perseverance, and the ability to read, revise and polish until it reads just right.

Ernest Hemingway said it best, “We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.”

So go ahead, tell that story. And remember – the worst thing you write is better than the best thing you didn’t!

Watch out for Part-2  on the How-to’s and Job Prospects for the aspiring writer.

You can also read this and other insightful articles pertaining to your ‘return to work place’ at Maroon Oak


What Italy Taught Us

The cobblestone road that let millions  walk on its uneven, hand-laid stones for centuries also allowed us to tread on them. The feeling was surreal.  Michelangelo, Casanova, Bernini, the Popes, prisoners, lovers, criminals and sages had left invisible footprints on them.

Inhaling deeply and feeling the charisma of old world charm around us, we walked in a narrow alley close to the Trevi Fountain in Rome. Out of nowhere came an SUV, speeding towards us. Our first thought was that someone had made a mistake and was driving where driving wasn’t allowed. We quickly aligned ourselves with the stone walls to avoid being hit, but to our dismay a Vespa came from the opposite direction and both the vehicles crossed each other simultaneously and managed to not even touch us. We were relieved and fascinated. Struck by the smallness of the alley, the carefree attitude of the drivers and our own acceptance of the whole scenario, we walked on. We were loving the MAYHEM.

Amid the fumes of the vehicles, the chatter of the tourists and the insistent calls of the vendors, we sat down for our first meal in Italy, on tables that spilled into the narrow alleys. We were surprised as to how little space do we actually need and how we are used to spreading out in the US. When our meal came, we noticed the difference in portion sizes. Are we served like we are giants back home? The portions were small but when we were done, we felt they were just enough for us. Not a morsel wasted or stuffed. Food was flavorful and did not come with any sides. Adequate seemed to be the norm. Another norm was bottled water. “Still or sparkling,” we were asked everywhere. Tap water wasn’t a choice.

Also noticeable was the presence of fear of the boss. The man at the reception in the Venice hotel was scared to death to call the hotel manager when we asked to change our rooms. Our dissatisfaction and his reluctance reached a point where we asked to call the police. Back here, the hotels (as expensive as the Venice one), would want to take care of their guests and the

reputation of the hotel. Over there, we were told to —-off! Yes! That exact phrase. We had paid in full months ago so we could not go elsewhere. Besides it was ten in the night and we were hungry and the manager, who finally came cursing, blamed us for making her miss a dinner with her friends. Customer service wasn’t exactly what we are used to.

There is not much fear of getting sued I think, as a result, not a cone in the bathroom of the Vatican Museum where the cleaner poured mugs and mugs of water from a bucket on the floor to clean while we were waiting in line. We used one stall while she cleaned the other one.

The best was being used to people bumping into us and us into them. But Hey! There are throngs of people visiting the city at any given time and this is bound to happen. It is okay and in fact we were relieved to know that people didn’t mind it as much as they do here.  After all, it is not easy to peel one’s eyes away from such astounding architecture.

The most memorable things about the city – the architecture, the paintings, the murals and the frescos, were not necessarily kept under closed windows. We noticed open windows in museums and palaces to let in fresh air. Very few historical buildings were air conditioned.  Sound pollution, dust and normal wear and tear due to weather related conditions probably are not given so much attention as we do here. Of course, the authorities know best but we couldn’t help wondering.

It was quite refreshing to visit a place where not everything is governed by extraneous laws, unnecessary polish and a helluva lot of unneeded space. What did come as a blow was the rudeness of a few. But a few things can’t ruin the everlasting beauty and grandeur of the place.