What every writer needs to know – a guest post by Saurav Dutt

Writers: This is the best advice you’ll ever receive. ~ DZA

Somewhere between the mountains and the mist in North India, a widower must reconcile himself to the loss and grief that haunts him after the recent death of his wife.

Unhinged by grief, anger, and guilt, John Perera has set off on a journey, a journey to honour the love of his life and to fulfill the promise he made to her to uncover the truth behind the mysterious death of their son. It is a journey of extraordinary self-discovery that will take him to the extremities of his soul and question all he believes about life, death, and faith.

A writer’s life is full of regrets. Regret for not having started earlier, regret for not having more courage to persevere, regret for not networking better, regret for not seeing projects through to the end come rain or shine.

But regret is grist for the mill, it makes up the compartment of thoughts and emotions that runs the motor of a writer. Nonetheless there are a few writing tips to aspiring authors that I thought I would impart in case you’ve been putting off starting or finishing that book again, and again, and again.

In the first instance, start early in your life and do not be too hard on yourself. Like the magnificent tree that topples after the axe chops it down, the fall was only preceded by a million slices over time. Writing takes practice, you have to find your voice, overcome the mistakes, push through the doubt. Allow yourself to be bad, to even be awful; it is all part of the process to craft yourself into the writer that is fighting to break free from inside you.

Yes of course you can start your first book at 60 instead of 16, but why wait? Time refuses to stand still, so why should you? My first segments of writing, my poetry, novellas, even my first self-published book, these were-in hindsight-ghastly. But they gave me the impetus to push forward and now some ten years later my works have been published, been featured in TIME magazine, and I have been quoted in CNN, GQ, Newsweek and on the BBC. But if I had allowed those initial steps in my career to define me, then I would have quit writing many many years ago.

Secondly, read, read and then read some more. A long time ago I gave up on the wonder of reading because I was sure that everybody else who was a professional writer was better than me, so why compete against them? I fell out of love with books and reading because of an intrinsic jealousy that was extremely misguided, a demon voice that said “Why give them the time of day when you hate your own writing so much? Let them be and move on to something else.” How destructive and how many years missed discovering such great literature. Now, like many, I’m playing catch up, only reading the likes of Joyce and Kafka, for instance, in adulthood when I should have first mounted their magnificent peaks as a teenager.

Finally, don’t be too hard on yourself. Yes, a writer is their own worst critic, it comes with the territory as they say. But if you don’t blow your own trumpet and remain proud of your own achievements, then don’t expect anyone else to do so. Learn a little bit more about your ability with each book, with each paragraph; separate the wheat from the chaff and understand it is a long haul, a journey to be savoured, not a sprint.

So why don’t you start today and become the storyteller you were born to be?

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Saurav Dutt is an Author, Political Columnist and Human Rights Campaigner. A journalist in three continents, his acclaimed debut novel ‘The Butterfly Room’ explored issues of domestic violence and homophobia within South Asian communities and has been showcased alongside leading political figures and human rights campaigners. His work for human rights and charity campaign work has taken Dutt to speaking engagements at the WEF, IKWRO, IWN, Houses of Parliament and TEDx. After exploring the issue of psychological abuse and domestic violence in ‘There Is A Light That Never Goes Out’ Dutt was commissioned by a major Hollywood production house to pen the official novelization of the major motion picture ‘Tiger’ (starring Golden Globe winning and Academy Award nominated actor Mickey Rourke) and he commemorated the centenary of the infamous Amritsar Massacre in India with ‘Garden of Bullets: Massacre at Jallianwala Bagh’ which was featured in TIME magazine. TIGER is the biographical account of Parminder Singh Nagra, a trailblazing Sikh boxer who fought successfully for the right to compete in the ring with his beard, an essential part of his faith. A syndicated political columnist, Dutt writes for the International Business Times, The Times of Israel, Human Events, and American Herald Tribune. He has featured on CNN, GQ, Huffington Post, BBC television and radio, RT (Russia Today), Press TV, Sky News and more. He resides in the United Kingdom, Los Angeles, and India.

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