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Welcome to a writer's world. (what writing a book involves)

Most runners speak of a 'Runners high'-- that endorphin rush you feel when you have been involved in strenuous activity, leading to a feeling of euphoria and happiness.
    Yesterday I hit a writers high. It was something I have never experienced before. I wrote 7256 words yesterday. That is the highest ever number of words I have written in a single day, in my entire writing career.

I patted myself on the back. And when a friend pinged to ask how is the writing going, I said 'Super, I hit a writer's high today. This is the highest number of words I have written in a single day in my entire life,'.

'Wow. Keep rocking!' he typed back.

But I don't think he understood why it meant a great deal to me.

Writing a book, is a lot of  work really. You have to think of a story (a completely original one which noone has done before, which by itself is a mammoth task), a plot, characters (they have to be likeable, believable, and people who you can relate to) , dialogue, what happens to them. You have to write coherently. But more than anything, you have to discipline yourself to sit at the computer all by yourself and type out word after word after word. Day after day after day.
It is a L.O.N.E.L.Y profession.

You have to be involved with people and interested in them and understand them, empathise with them, yet  be strangely detached to be able to write.

There is no-one really to check your progress and nobody you are accountable to. So that makes it that much more harder. You can take a year, two years, even five years to finish a book. It is so entirely upto you and you alone.

I have my own ways of pushing myself. Sometimes I compete with fellow authors who are working on a book. We ping each other at the end of the day and ask 'WC?' (which stands for word count. There is great joy in typing 2300 or 3200 or whatever be the number of words one has written. A sense of satisfaction of a day well spent.

Sometimes I tell a friend (whom I am dying to meet) that I will go out with them only when I hit x number of words. Then they keep checking as to how many words I have written so that we can go out.

I report my progress to my children and spouse and the house-help as well as my dog. They are the only ones who actually care about my word-count. :) Or rather, they are the only ones who will listen to me. (oh and that friend too who I promise to go out with on hitting x words)

Most full length novels have a minimum of 60,000 words.
This is how it is classified :

 500-1,000 words - Flash story
1,000-10,000 words - Short story
10,000-40,000 - Novella
40,000-60,000 - Novelette or "Novel Lite"
60,000 and up - Novel


Yesterday I crossed 60K words of the book I am working on. (which was when I hit the writers high).


'Oh, so does that mean the book will be out soon?' asked another friend.


'No! The real work starts now!' I replied.


Most people do not know that once a manuscript is complete, and a publisher is chosen, it takes a minimum of 4-6 months for the book to be out.

The manuscript goes through the first revision.The  structural changes if any are suggested to the author. The author then incorporates the changes  or convinces the editor about why the changes should not happen.
Then begins proof reading.
The first round is done and the manuscript comes back to the author. Generally it looks like a war-field with all the corrections in red looking like blood-wounds. I had winced when it first came. I kid you not.
Then the corrections are made and sent back.
Each coma, each full stop, each word, is examined over and over.
Then the second round of proof readings happen.
Then the third.
Sometimes fourth and fifth. (I have proof read till the words begin blurring and I fall asleep in front of my laptop)

We squabble about fonts. About an exclamation mark. About a word repeated.
Every single detail counts.
Then the cover.
And the book title.
And the acknowledgements.
And the chapter titles.

And how it should all appear in the final version

And finally it is a BIG moment when the book gets an okay and  goes for printing. For my last book, upto the last moment, we were making changes. It is something like a rocket-blast off--the frantic holding of breath, till it takes off.

The tension doesn't end there.
When you finally hold the book in your hand (the much coveted author's copies) it is truly a moment that makes me weep.

Every single time.
No matter how many books you have written, it is still the same.

Welcome to the Writers world.

It is a lonely place, a crazy place, a place which makes you hurtle down into depth of despair when you can't get those words out, but at the same time a place which makes you soar higher than even the heavens when things go right.

_____________________________________________________________________
If you still don't know about my Ted talk, go watch!
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Comments

  1. Inspiring :) came to know about WC categories, waiting for your new book!! I liked all of your books, blog posts, tweets, TED talk, cards.

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  2. That's really a very nice account of a writer's world. It does inspire me. Loved reading it!! Thanks Preeti! :)

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  3. no words.. only feelings.... awesome is the only word. and finally,, HATS OFF is all i can tell ...

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  4. The most difficult thing is to find a publisher for a new writer, I have completed 82300 words and almost ready with the MS but unable to attract interests of the publishers ... Yes! I do understand that the publishers are looking for next CB or PS but isn't that really a tough benchmark?

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  5. I love reading all your posts, but most of all I love reading about your writing journey.

    I keep sharing my word count with the family and basically any friend willing to listen. I share just to create a sense of accountability.

    There is still a long way to go. Finishing the draft, polishing it for grammar,plot coherence, pace, tone etc., then getting someone to read and agree to publish it.

    I once called you my pole star.Just want to let you know that you inspire me each day as I sit at my desk and type word after word after word.

    P.S. Crossed 26,000 words today :-)

    Shankari(still haven't figured out how to have both name and url)

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  6. I liked the you describe it hitting runners high, it was great to know that even a writer can break there own records and how WPD( words per day) becomes a challenge it was really interesting and really helpful for me as I also love writing and to be honest I have not read any of your book but love to read your blog regularly....

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  7. Wow!!! 7256 words is simply too much.... Keep going!!! Best of luck for your next book.

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  8. Speechless...!!!
    Its so much hardwork behind the scenes...and hats off to you for giving us such wonderful stories to read...
    Ankita and Nisha are an inspiration to all..!!!

    All the best and may you soar even more higher:)
    PS: what about the Random House Tea with you contest, who won??

    Take care

    Gayu

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  9. What a timing! I really needed to hear all that you wrote :) Thank you.

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  10. You are a real writer if you reach a reader's high on the previous day and yet write about it the next day ;) :)
    Respect all your hard work. Waiting for the book to release.. We need to show at least a little patience, since you've got a lot of :)

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  11. For an aspiring writer this was sure intresting
    spontainity and blocks are the two crutches for any writer

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  12. Long wait has come to an end. Thanks for sharing the guidelines to be followed while writing a book. You inspired me towards blogging. Let me start writing and look at my WC.

    Thank you Preeti. :) :)

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  13. And moreover I take Google's help in understanding the vocab used in your posts. And as a routine when I saw "noone" in the post. I googled it and it showed No one. You missed a space click there. :)

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  14. :) Kudos! I'm sure it is hard work.

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  15. A beautiful post :) Inspiring.

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  16. Purnima: thank you!

    Jayanth: Perhaps you did not google enough :) Please see this link: http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/noone
    And yes--good luck with your writing.

    Harimohan: Glad you found it good.

    Swarada: :-) Reader's high or writers high was reached previous day?

    Subha:Glad!

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  17. I really appreciate all the hardwork and determination you put in to write and also inspire others with your posts.

    Your are truly an inspiration to many.

    --Seema

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  18. Gayu:Thanks. I don't know who the winners are! Random house will announce the winners.

    Prats:Thank you! Since you write yourself you know what it feels like!

    Shushant: please read my books :)

    shankari: good luck with your writing! keep at it!

    Frivolous analyser: i guess it is always good to set high benchmarks. For me the 'ultimate writers' are Neil Gaiman, Rushdie and Dahl. Please try Grapevine India and Mahaveer publishers too.

    Indian:Thank you!

    Aditya:Thank you!

    Manasa:Thank you so very much!



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  19. Seema:Thanks a lot! :) Your words are huge encouragement!

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  20. Wow... I always knew writing a book was a mammoth task. Your post made for very interesting reading... like an insider's view. Keep them coming.

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  21. Wow Preeti. You really are something. Not only sharing important tips with budding writers but telling them all that they need to do....self discipline. This post is surely something to remember. and congrats on that feat :)

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  22. Hi Preeti,

    you have always been an inspiration behind me taking up my blog so seriously :)

    I simply loved this post as it encouraged me to write, write and write. This is one journey of my life which I am willing to take all alone!

    And yes count me in for knowing your WC counts as I am eagerly waiting for your next book to be out!

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  23. man u r just awesome :)
    lub ur writing....

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  24. Ya, that is way lot of words in a day. Absolutely a writers high ! U r awesome! Love, love, love this post. Goodluck with your book 4:-) n a big Thank u 4 being an inspiration in my life.

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  25. u r not normal.........u r extraordinarily talented lady......so different from me.....juggling everything in a balanced way...I wish my kids had a super mom like u!

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  26. Wow!!! 7256 words in one shot... that's amazing.... can't wait for the next book... m definitely gonna get a special signed copy from you ma'am....
    Now I understand how difficult and painstaking it is to write a book.... I have this desire from a long time to write a book... but it just remains a desire... after reading this I don't think that book will ever be a reality... my respect for authors increases all the more... especially authors like you who come up either new stories in short time.... amazing talent...

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  27. N now I know why mistakes are minimal in your books unlike the books of few other Indian authors...

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  28. How do you manage to sit and write so long, Preeti?? You are doing a real Himalayan task.. Keep going till you reach the peak.

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  29. Indeed inspiring! Am aspiring to be in the Writer's world soon!

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  30. Amazing the visit was worth…
    keralaflowerplaza.com

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  31. You have no idea how good I am feeling right now after having read this. Dont know why but I am so inspired and full of respect for people like you who churn out so much of hard work to produce that 1 dream book.
    Can't wait for your 4th. Keep writing :)
    Love
    Sukku

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  32. Never imagined so much effort is required to publish a book.I tried attempting to write a short story and I was completely lost in the middle. Writing needs a lot of concentration.

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  33. Deedi, congrats on your achievement..I am eagerly waiting for your next book. I have made my friends also read your 3 books, and now they all are your great fans. May God Bless you in all steps in life. Prayers and love,
    Sikha

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  34. Surely writing a book involves a great deal of effort.

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  35. OMG! It needs huge efforts. WRITING IS A REJECTION PRONE OCCUPATION. Really you work very hard. :) I still don't get why some people buy pirated books. They should certainly read this blog to understand how hard writer works to get his story published. Proud to have original books of yours! :)

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  36. Hey you got a beautiful blog...even I got a blog on poems.. which are original and are my own work... hope you could get sometime in your busy schedule to check them once...please visit to encourage me....
    love,
    www.poetashwin.blogspot.com

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  37. Hi Preeti,

    I have read two of your books - Tea... and Life...
    I liked the former one very much and suggested it to couple of my friends also, to be read...I just loved the simple language of the book very much. One incident that I often get in my thoughts is the replacement of party food order with street food and the customer accepting it whole-heartedly :-)..Funny and a practical solution !!!

    Anyway, I am not here to give reviews about your books, as there are enough reviews, comments, criticisms, applauses about your books everywhere in the e-world and the physical world :-)

    I am here to write something about your blog.

    When I was reading your books, the least did I imagine that I would spend almost two hours a day (today is the second day) in office reading your blog. Authors of books have been "distant" personalities for me. I love Sidney Sheldon's writing, and according to me, he is an imaginary author (Do not ask me what "imaginary" means here...Its like someone out-of-fantasy and a great person who has control over his words and can craft beautiful fictions)...But when I saw an author writing such a beautiful blog, which is out in the open internet, I was having a different feeling. Seeing you, your art creations, your husband, your kids, and in general, your life in your blog, I felt as if a girl next door has written a book and I have read two such books of one such girl :-)

    I am still in June 2009 section of your blog, and I have enjoyed reading it so far. May be it is because of the varied topics that you write about. I particularly enjoyed the posts of your interactions with your kids/husband and was amazed at the precision of your pencil sketches. I even have plans to attend your training session on pencil sketches (if possible, when held at Bengaluru sometime in the future).

    On the whole, it is such a beautiful and energising blog with so much of sense, humility and the most important, reasonable and intelligent content. Keep writing on your blog...Keep writing books...Way to go lady !!!

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  38. Am really pleased to have a comment from an AUTHOR on my blog. Thanks Preeti !!!

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  39. Nice to have that insight into the writer's world from you. It was interesting to know that you too type your drafts. I wonder how many writers are still there who still use the classic - pen and paper.

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  40. I have been going through some of the things you have mentioned in your post for some time now, so I can understand what your talking about. I don't what else I can say. Other-than that I want to experience it all too. Even though its a hell going through all that, I am sure its worth it:)

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  41. Very inspiring,Preeti.Love to read your blog.

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  42. Yesterday..I finished the last page of your book "Life is What You Make it". I gifted this book to my sister who was lacking confidence in some areas of life, I thought it will help her but yesterday I found that book lying in my cupboard. Initially I was very sad and angry, but later I started reading it..it was for the first time that I was reading a "Lady Author"..till I reached the page where u described your experience in a girls college..it was appearing to me as a work similar to other Indian authors whom I have already read, but after that It gripped me. I kept reading but at the same time the fear of reaching office late and then facing my boss's not so good face on a Friday encouraged me to close it and while I was on the page 133, something forced me to go with the flow, I was so much into it that I simply forgot that something like time or watch was ever been in existence. It connected me to so many souls around, who earlier were insane to me rather I was insane that I did not manage to get along well with that kind of species. Thanks a lot for making me realize that even I am suffering from a disorder and that is not a disease but just a thing which is internal, some force, some spark, something there which is not complete. I am writing a book for past 6 months, I have seen up's and down's, highs and lows and even at time I realized that it’s gonna be an unending excavation but after reading your book and your above blog, I can see myself holding the "Authors Copy" after few years and if it ever happened, your name is surely going to be inscribed in the "Acknowledgement Section". Thank you very much for motivating me and creating such a work of art. For me it’s the best so far. Thanks again and may you keep creating such magic with words. All the best

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  43. i am on my way reading your book LIFE IS WHAT YOU MAKE IT. But i can now convey to anyone that one of my sister is inspiring through the book as well as the blog.PROUD OF YOU :-)

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  44. Ma'am Ur profile, blogs and this article are truly truly inspiring. Ur work shows Ur dedication and sincerity. Thanx for Ur Novels and Blog and everything.

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  45. Preeti the information shared is incredible and inspiring for budding writers ... u r an inspiration for other mothers of two who are struggling to carve out a niche for themselves by creating a new identity in this magnificent world of words. Thanks would be small little word for all your efforts ...

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  46. Hi preeti ... though presently my world revolves around my family comprising of my husband and two lovely sons, i aspire to be a writer someday. And for a novice like me what you shared was quite informative specially the introduction to the wc term was quite inspiring. It introduced a new aspect of writing.

    I read your book, 'Life is what you make it'. I loved the intense writing ... once i started the book it was unstoppable. I loved the portrayal of passionate letter writing. Once i used to write long letters to my friends and reading the book a sudden desire of writing letter gripped me. Infact i found some striking similarities between ankita's life and mine. I could so much relate to characters in the book.

    I have thoroughly loved your book and blog ... looking forward to reading more of you and your books

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  47. LOved Your Book Tea for TWo and A cup of Cake ... AM proud of knowing that The author Is GSB !! :) waiting to read your two other books :) Keep on writing ....

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  48. Its just a wonderful thing to be knowing about the nuances of writing for a budding writer like me...Seriously your posts are enlightening me day after day.. Thank you for wonderful post...

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  49. Hello Preeti ma'am,hope you're doing good.
    I had developed an attachment to the activity of reading books in my early childhood which has continued till date.
    Recently I came across one of your books on Amazon and saw that Life is what you make it is still on bestseller list even after four years from launch.
    Curiosity got the better of me and I instantly ordered it.I must say,honestly, I didn't knew about you and your books until I had seen it on Amazon under bestseller list.
    The book was delivered in time and being a ' kitaabi keeda'( as my friends call it) I immediately sat down to read it. Honestly, the book transported me to a different altogether. When I finished the book in a single-sitting, the post-effect was like the one we get when we come out of theaters after watching an awesome movie. And it stays fresh in your mind.
    Thank you ma'am for bringing such unique works to society at large.
    I am already planning to order all your books now.
    Keep up the good work.
    Congratulations.
    Regards,
    An avid reader

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