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On seven years of writing

On this date, seven years ago, I had nothing to do. I had just got done with my IIT-JEE. We still sent Orkut scraps to each other, and touching and swiping my mobile phone screen used to be one-sided love. Loves of my life too were still one-sided, and one side of my PC was a swollen box. I still watched cricket matches on the telly. I was 17.

All I knew about religion was that “everyone-who-believes-in-God-is-irrational”. All I knew about politics was “they-are-all-thieves”. All I knew about feminism was that “everyone-who-discriminates-is-an-idiot”.

So, on this date, seven years ago, I had nothing to do, and I started writing my first piece of recreational creative writing. I wrote about how doomsday is inevitable and in fact desirable, and why it’s crazy to go crazy about the Mayan prediction about 2012.

That turned out to be the last time in life when I had nothing to do, yet I fell in love with holidays. Holidays, after all, gave me more time to create. It was too mainstream to consume others’ work. And holidays also gave me more time to teach myself skills – having others teach you, also, was too mainstream.

These seven years, the team I built created work that was part of the discourse around corruption, rape, gender equality, and general elections. We created stories that were shared thousands of times on social media. We brought satire to the 20-somethings and got them to think beyond their sitcoms and Facebook selfies. This team of inexperienced youngsters soon won international awards twice for great, impactful content and for support to young writers.

Writing introduced me to the diversity of the world, shaping the mindsets I hold and evolving my critical thought early on. I still recommend writing as the best method to get clarity of thought, and to understand yourself better.

I saw humbling failure and I saw flattering fanmails. We got great comments and unprintable abuses. I saw 15-hour-workdays and I saw effortlessly managing a thousand Facebook shares for a story. But funnily, it was not until early 2015 – by which time I was a teacher and had hid myself back into anonymity – when I finally became perfectly sure of why I do what I do. When this happened, I moved to journalism.

The ten months at J-school have been a crucial stepback from the madness – to reflect and redress. I’ve learned from the reflection as much as I did from the earlier work. But I’ll continue to write.

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