Writer of the book Saving Maya, Kiran Manral talks about her writing process and how a writer’s block can be tackled professionally.
Prolific writer and columnist, Kiran Manral is a force to reckon with. From journalism to blogging and now novels, the author has straddled multiple fields with equal ease. Now out with her eighth novel, Saving Maya, Kiran chats about her writing process.
There’s been a little less than a year’s gap between your last book The Face at the Window and Saving Maya. How did you go from ideation to writing and releasing it in the limited amount of time?
Well, every book is different and books aren’t written sequentially. The Face at the Window was written over a period of four years. It was accepted by Amaryllis at the end of 2014 and was out in 2016. There was plenty of time in the interim to write other books. Saving Maya was a quick, short book, written in a few months in 2016 and published in 2017 on the Readify app. It is coming out in print now from Bombaykala books. There’s always time. The thing is to keep writing through the waiting.
Over the years, how has your style of writing evolved?
That would be for the reader to tell me, I think. I honestly don’t know. I do know that my process of writing has become more definite in that I set targets, I now know the value and importance of research, I believe in the power of rewriting and not being emotionally attached to anything one has written and being ruthless in the editing process. As to the style, I’m no longer embarrassed of writing sentences that never seem to end. But I also know and value the strength that varying sentence size and rhythm brings to a passage.
How do you avoid being repetitive? Does it start at ideation?
I’ve written a book about a woman having a midlife crisis and wanting to be a detective, a love story on a cruise, an office romance, a book on my parenting experiences, a spooky gentle narrative with a 78-year-old as the protagonist, true love stories and a second chance romance. I think I’ve managed to avoid the repetitive trap so far, touch wood. And the ideation never begins with what the book will be about, for me it begins with a character. The character pops into my head fully formed and the story then grows around this character.
What’s the most important thing you learnt about your writing and ideation process while working on Saving Maya?
I think with Saving Maya, because it was written primarily for an app, I worked on making it concise because I had only 30,000 words to play around with. That was quite a lesson in writing discipline.
Do you think a story about second chances, like in Saving Maya, is pertinent to today’s times?
Absolutely. Happily ever after is a myth we need to stop propagating and as I say at the end of the book, ‘Happily Right Now’ is what we need to learn to grab with both hands.
Do you face a writer’s block?
As wiser folks before me have said, writer’s block is for amateurs. Professionals just sit and write. If you consider writing your life’s work, you won’t let something like a writer’s block come in your way because writing is as essential to you as breathing is. You will write through a writer’s block. And sometimes, you might just find that you’ve written some stuff that you can actually retain.
If you had to give one tip to aspiring authors, what would it be?
Discipline. Give up any pretense of having a social life. Put in your hours of butt to seat and write. The best novel you could ever write is always in your head. The journey from the novel in your head and the one in a word document on your computer is a long one, and needs discipline. You need to put in the hours. Everyone goes ‘Oh, you’ve written so many books, you’re so prolific, etc.’ It makes me want to sock them one in the solar plexus. It is not prolific; it is discipline and hard work. I put in the hours. Writing is backbreaking work. It is difficultphysically, mentally, emotionally. You need to be super disciplined to get any writing done. And fierce about protecting your writing time.