Wordsmith: Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

A column on writers and their craft.

Published - May 03, 2014 03:22 pm IST

WHEN: I write best late at night, when everyone in the house has gone to bed. There’s something magical about that late night silence that appeals to me. My mind becomes very quiet. I can enter the fictional world much more fully. Often, I know I’ll have to get up early in the morning the next day, so that adds urgency to the writing. However, I don’t often have this late night luxury due to other commitments, so I write in the morning after I meditate. That’s my second favourite writing time, because meditation focuses my thinking.

HOW: I type everything on my computer. I carry a writer’s notebook everywhere, in case I am struck by an idea. I forget things unless I write them down. I’m planning to learn how to dictate into my cellphone; I think that will be very helpful, too.

Often writers block will occur when I don’t understand a character or his/her motivations. So I will make notes analysing characters. First I have to overcome my inclination to avoid my writing desk. I tell myself I’m going to work through this, no matter how long it takes.  I make a lot of notes, trying to figure out what is blocking me in the story or scene I’m writing.

WHERE: I write in my study, where I also have my prayer altar. I believe that keeps me focused and gives me positive energy and reminds me that I’m merely the instrument of greater creative forces.  

WHAT: I prefer silence now, although there was a time when I used to listen to Indian classical instrumental. Especially flute (Hari Prasad Chaurasiaji is my favourite). But nowadays I find that music distracts me. Sometimes if a lot is going on at home, I’ll write with earplugs on.

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