I first remember reading about Indian-born writer Amitava Kumar‘s rules for his students in his 2015 book, ‘Lunch With a Bigot: The Writer in the World’. He repeats the same set of rules in his 2020 book, ‘Every Day I Write the Book: Notes on Style’.
He shared two relevant pieces of advice from the longer set of rules in a New York Times piece last year.
It is very simple.
“Write every day, and walk every day.”
“A modest goal of 150 words daily and mindful walking for 10 minutes.”, as he says, back then.
Read the full article. It’s a fantastic read where Amitava asks famous authors to inscribe their book to him with one pithy piece of guidance on writing.
I stumbled on his mantra again recently in the New York Times Magazine. This time he frames it not as a personal mantra for just writing, but as a productivity trick, and I believe it works perfectly well for productivity overall, more than simply writing.
I write every single day. A lot more than 150 words. I don’t write on a physical notepad though. I remember seeing my dad writing in a diary for a very long time, about the day’s events and other thoughts.
Mindful walking? That’s something I need to consider. I do run 5 kilometers every single day, though.
But fundamentally, both these acts are about spending time with yourself, having a conversation with your own mind. Listening to what your mind says, question it, and formulate thoughts, views, and perspectives on things that we see, hear, observe.
We seem too busy to be able to do so consistently and regularly because we are bombarded with new content – information, content, stimulus, entertainment, images, videos among others, incessantly.
We need a dedicated time every day to not just consume, but also to process some of the most important and pertinent among what we read, see, listen to, and observe. And form cohesive thoughts about some of them. And store and retrieve those thoughts when needed.
I believe this helps us evolve as individuals.
My everyday writing habit helps me consider certain things within what I read more deeply. I research some topics that interest me (mostly around communications-related themes) and such research leads me to more informed and purposeful content consumption.
For all that I write, I’m the first reader. I write primarily to clear my own views on the topics I’m interested in. So then, you may ask me: why do I post them online on a blog, or on LinkedIn? Just like my music blog where whatever I write is for my own understanding and use, I share these online because if it helps one more person, in any manner whatsoever, then so be it!
In case it helps, I also wrote about where I write, last year. Here is my ‘system’ of writing.