A beginner’s guide to writing

If you are passionate about taking up writing as a profession, then you will find The Write Way by Ramya Srinivasan useful

Book Cover: The Write Way by Ramya Srinivasan

We have been taught how to write in school, then why do we need a guide? I think all of us ask ourselves this question when we come across a book on how to write. With ChatGPT and many more softwares, we feel we don’t even need courses or books. AI is going to do all the work for us. Well, to answer that, writing is a creative skill, which means each person has a unique way of presenting their skill and that uniqueness is the sole reason AI is not the right choice for writers.

The book starts with Srinivasan introducing herself and how she became a writer by accident. A BITS Pilani and IIM-B graduate, this Bengaluru-based techie quit her job after 12 years and enrolled in a creative writing course. This was 2013. Since then, she has written for many publications and on different genres, ranging from feature to fiction, content for B2B companies and more. This experience she turned into an online course in writing. The course is now a structured book. Personally, I like books because they are handy and ready references. They are long-term companions.

If you are an avid reader and now want to bring out the dormant writer, then I probably don’t need to say why you need guidance for writing. But if you are an amateur with a vague notion of wanting to try your hand at writing, then I would suggest that you do take the help of books such as The Write Way.  

Given this scenario, author Ramya Srinivasan’s debut book The Write Way becomes an important stepping stone for all those who want to understand the art of writing. Srinivasan has clearly stated that book is useful for beginners, amateurs or those who have dabbled in writing and are now willing to take on the challenge of trying different genres. While an interest in writing will help you pen your thoughts and dreams, but a good piece needs a structured approach. For your article/blog post/book to be comprehensible and find permanent space on the bookshelf, the flow has to keep the reader hooked till the end.

The author gives an overview of different genres and how to approach each one. From newspaper articles to novels, Srinivasan has tried to simplify the process for all. To begin with, a good writer is also a good observer and that’s how the writing journey begins for most of us. It’s important to read different genres such as books, newspapers, blogs, websites, journals and more. Once you have read different genres, keep them all in front of you, and observe the way things are written on different subjects and by different people.

Srinivasan gives a gentle nudge, focusses on developing good habits, appreciating other writers and learning from them. In this step-by-step guide, she takes you through interviewing skills, tools and methods to develop and hone the art. Each chapter is filled with tips and ends with assignments.

A simply written book, you can finish it in a couple of hours. However, the rewards lie in the final outcome—have you done the exercises, taken note of the tips and subtle points, read something new today? Well, everything in life is accomplished by practice, including writing.

To give us a better understanding of her writing process and becoming an author, Ramya Srinivasan shared her thoughts via email. Excerpts:
Author Ramya Srinivasan

When we say the term writer, the person who usually comes to mind is a fiction writer, a novelist. How would you define your work—writing or content creating?
Content creation could mean creating any type of content such as the videos put out by TikTok or YouTube influencers. I’m definitely just a writer. But within writing, I try to experiment with all kinds of writing—features, fiction, non-fiction, content, etc.

How different is technical writing from other genres of writing, especially magazine or newspaper articles?
Before answering that, I’d like to point out that there are subtle differences between technical writing and technology writing. Technical writing refers to creating manuals or user guides that explain a certain technology/gadget. Technology writing is the creation of blog posts, articles, white papers, case studies, etc. for a business that wants to explain its technology to customers. The goal here is to retain existing customers and attract new ones and it falls under content marketing.

I have been working as a technology content marketing writer for almost 7 years now and I feel a lot of skills are transferable between tech writing and writing features for magazines. They both require extensive research, interviewing skills, command over the language, the ability to work on deadlines, and the ability to vary your tone and writing based on who you’re writing for.

However, tech writing is challenging if you have no background of technology or the willingness to dig deeper into a concept. For example, one day, I’m writing about hybrid cloud architecture, and the next day, I’m writing on carbon accounting. You read about it, and in a few days, you have to write about in an authoritative tone, as if you’re the expert. Thankfully, my engineering background comes in handy here.

How did you get interested in feature writing?
When I quit my job as a software engineer after 12 years (in 2013), all I knew was that I wanted to write. At that time, I was doing a creative writing course with Writer’s Bureau, UK, and they encouraged us to pitch ideas to magazines, and so I did. Then, I realized that I enjoyed the process of writing features and was reasonably good at it, too. I’d say it was a happy accident.

Did you learn to write formally or was this a spontaneous affair?
The Writer’s Bureau course helped with some of the fundamentals. But mostly it was spontaneous, and I think that getting my hands dirty helped me to learn quickly. First, I tried writing features, then moved on to content, then short stories, and in between all this, I wrote my book The Write Way. So, I usually tend to go with whatever interests me at that point of time. Now, after 10 years of being a writer, I’m considering learning some things formally. For example, I’m considering signing up for short story workshops this year.

Most people, once inspired, end up writing a fiction book. You have taken a different route. How did that happen?
I didn’t set out to write a book. I was creating a writing guide to help out a friend’s daughter who was keen to improve her writing skills. As I started putting that together, I realized I’ve a LOT to say on the topic. And that this material can benefit a larger audience. Since I learned everything on the job, I felt that offering a set of tips and tricks could help budding writers.

Which editors and authors have inspired you? What is your writing process like? How did you decide on the structure of your book? How much time did it take?
Too many to list but as I love reading history in both fiction and non-fiction forms. Some of my favourite authors are Indu Sundaresan, Manu Pillai, and William Dalrymple.

There are two things I decided about the structure when I wrote The Write Way. 1) Each chapter will be independently useful to a reader. 2) The content will be in the form of useful techniques which are easy to implement and quick to offer some tangible result.

I felt this was the best way to engage with a young adult audience. How else can you hold the attention span of readers who are getting used to learning everything in the form of 5-minute videos and 90-second reels?

The book itself took me around a couple of months for the first draft and another couple of months (years later when I decided to make it into a book) to polish.

What are your future plans?
I am working on a collection of short stories for my second book. Fiction requires a complete switch in mindset whereas tech writing has a certain formal tone and usage of words like “leverage” and “optimize”. I tried to work on both at the same time, but I realized it wasn’t working for me. So, I’ve taken a short break from writing tech content to focus on short stories.

Book Details
Publisher‏:‎ Readomania  
Language: ‎English
Paperback: ‎124 pages
Price: Rs 295
Kindle edition available


9 thoughts on “A beginner’s guide to writing

  1. A great interview to read. It will surely serve as a guide to people who want to publish their own books. It’s filled with tips and tricks to get the most out of your publishing journey. I highly recommend it!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. No doubt that as an avid reader i also wish to become a writer but my biggest challenge is to be disciplined enough to keep writing when it is not working out. Hopefully this book will help me.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Excellent Interview and I just loved the journey of the author that she shared in the interview. What I believe is that a certain moment arrive in life when we actually realize that yes, we can write. I never understood the fact that I can write till the time I first wrote for a magazine on request of a neighborhood aunty.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. As a beginner writer, this comprehensive guide provides valuable insights and practical tips to kickstart your writing journey. From finding inspiration to honing your craft, this resource is a must-read for aspiring authors!

    Liked by 1 person

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