Lavanya Sankaran is the author of the celebrated short story collection The Red Carpet, which spent two years on the best-seller lists and collected praise world-wide. Her debut novel The Hope Factory, just released, has been selected by Amazon UK as a Top Pick. Compared to Charles Dickens by the British press, Lavanya’s writing has won several awards, including Barnes and Noble Discover New Writers, and Poets and Writers’ Best First Fiction Award.
Lavanya met and shared her views with the BWW participants. Here is her advice for aspiring writers:
- Read as much as you can. Read widely. Promiscuously. Read books that relax you and books that challenge you. Linger over beautiful sentences and say them out loud. Let them make love to you.
- Write in a regular fashion. Make a commitment to writing on a schedule and stick to it. Even if it is something you can do only once a month. Do not “wait for the mood”. Create the mood.
- Writing is a high energy performance played to an audience of one (yourself). Don’t come to it tired, distracted and exhausted. Come to it fresh. Give your best to it. Have fun. Entertain yourself. Make it zestful. Flirt with words. Shriek. Whisper. Dance. Sing. Shout.
- Read your work out loud.
- Work on your craft. If you don’t master craft, you will not be able to convert your moments of divine inspiration into art.
- Take the long view. This is an unpredictable journey. There are no clear markers, signposts and speed limits. Try not to set any. They are usually worthless. Have no expectations beyond your best effort.
- Writing is both the goal and the journey. Getting published by a big-name publisher is not writing. Getting published is, at best, an administrative task with lifestyle benefits. It belongs to the part of your life that deals with non-writing things – like earning money, paying bills, eating dinner, deciding who to sleep with, and gossiping over a drink.
- Be careful who sees your new-born writing. Don’t rush for feedback. Guard your writing life as you would a candle in the wind. It is easy to discourage, easy to blow out. Guard the flame and allow it strengthen into a strong fire that will burn the fucking house down.
- The right critic is a gift. Choose them carefully. They will encourage what is good in your writing, and highlight what is weak. Their job is not to bolster your ego. Or to love you. A good critic is not your mother.
- Do listen to feedback. Do learn from feedback. But don’t let it drown your inner voice and thought process. You are the final arbiter of your writing. No one else. The longer you write, the harder you work, the stronger your inner voice will be.
- Writing is three things: a mental act, a spiritual act, and a physical act. Ergo, stay healthy.
- Keep reading. Keep writing.
Know more about Lavanya Sankaran here: http://www.lavanyasankaran.com/