Shalini P Sawkar’s Mini Guide To Creative Living

After years of reading Julia Cameron, Elizabeth Gilbert, Preeti Shenoy, Stephen King, Ashwin Sanghi, Rhonda Byrne, practicing their suggested methods and taking inspiration from them, I discovered what suits me best and created my own mini guide that has helped me in my creative journey as a writer. 

To give you a little background information about me—

I was a software engineer with a burning desire to write. But, I didn’t know where to begin. My dream and the degree that I had acquired by studying hard in a university for four years didn’t match. Issues of credibility, validation, time constraint too due to my day job bogged me down. Hours of traveling exhausted my energy. 

Today, I’m incredibly happy to say that I’m the author of The Murder Of Jay Shekhar published by a leading publication house of India, Srishti Publishers and Distributors. My other stories have also been published in magazines and anthologies. 

So, whether you always wanted to sing, paint, shake a leg, bake, play an instrument, or write I hope this guide will be beneficial to you in your creative journey. 

Electronic free zones/times

Make a commitment to yourself that you would not be staring at any electronic screens for one hour a day. That includes your cellphone, desktop, laptop, television, iPad, Tablet, and landline phones. Even if you don’t do anything in that hour, avoid using electronic devices for that time period. You can also designate a room as ‘electronic free zone,’ so whenever you enter that room, you must put away your devices. This can help empty your mind of the things you keep scrolling through on social media, and save you some time to start creating. 

Plotter vs. Pantser 

This one is especially for the writers. I’ve often felt that waiting to outline the entire plot has hampered or sometimes blocked my progress. Being a pantser, in other words writing on the fly proved to be more helpful. You can start with one situation, one character, one piece of conversation, and weave your story from there. 

This could work for others as well. Don’t take days to meticulously plan what you’re going to paint, how exactly you are going to do it, just pour some paint on your canvas and begin. Start creating and the piece will fall into place. 

Turning your pain into a piece of art 

It’s ideal to be feeling good if one wants to create something. But let’s face it. You’re not made of steel; you’re bound to get hurt on some days for various reasons. But don’t let that stop you from creating. Next time you’re in pain or unhappy about something, look for your inspiration there. 

Tapping into each idea instead of shushing it down

Right here. The best example I can give you is that while writing this article I wondered if this particular point is good enough to be put down! That’s how our mind works, more often than not we end up second guessing ourselves, our ideas, call them silly, tell ourselves it wouldn’t work, or a lot of people have already done it, it’s passé, and stop ourselves from taking up any creative project. I’m sure you’ve faced it too! 

Next time you get an idea, jot it down. Journal it. Or at least type it as a note on your cellphone. 

Writing even when you don’t feel like it 

If you wait for inspiration, you’re going to have to wait forever. Inspiration often strikes me in the middle of a task, not when I’m beginning. Never when I’m beginning!

Trust yourself

This one is by far the toughest, but essential. Trust yourself. Believe that you can at least finish what you started. Have a set of friends who believe in your dreams and your capacity to achieve them. 

Feeling Good 

You can start by feeling grateful for what you already have or are. I kept a small diary where I only focused on positives on a daily basis. I only wrote one line in it everyday… ‘I am proud of me today because….’ the end of that sentence didn’t have to be ‘I won an Oscar,’ it was often ‘after days of procrastinating, I cleaned my room today, or I finally wrote a post in my blog, or I took a tiny step in the direction of my dreams.’  

I hope you do too. Start today. Take a tiny step in the direction of your dreams. 🙂 

Resources and Suggested Reading:

The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron 

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert 

Love A Little Stronger by Preeti Shenoy, also her creative writing classes ‘Fundamentals on Creative Writing’ on Udemy and Skillshare 

On Writing: A Memoir Of The Craft by Stephen King

13 Ways to Bloody Good Luck by Ashwin Sanghi 

The Secret by Rhonda Byrne