Those who are bitten by the writing bug write. This bug bites at any time of the day or night. It could bite in the middle of the night when you are sleeping deeply. In biting cold winter, you want to freeze your thoughts on a piece of paper. You want to keep the writing bug happy by feeding your thoughts that come to you at that point of time. You write because you want to express yourself. You write because you want to discover yourself.
Often, expressions come to you from nowhere. Often, you borrow others’ expressions. Often you write mechanically. Often you write after considerable thought. Often you write for recognition. Often you write incognito. You generally don’t like to evaluate your own work because your own work either overwhelms you, or you become too critical. Either is not good for evaluation. Only others can see your game. You can only play your part.
In this context, William Zinsser’s advice is very useful; don’t try to be a ‘writer’ when you are writing about yourself. Imagination is required for writing. No imagination is without a little seed of observation. Some people get an idea for writing from reading rather than from living or observation.
How much do the characters (which the writer is creating) influences his writing? Do the characters have any kind of relationship with the writer? I believe that character and events greatly influence one’s writing. The characters have their own minds; often the minds are a reflection of the author’s own mind. Writing about an adventurous youth, one often feels like an adventurous youth, at least for the time being one is involved with sketching the character.
A writer knows his readers. He knows the story much before it is actually written. “Readers must be given room to play their role in the act of writing — to discover for themselves what is surprising or predictable or understandable or ironic,” advises William Zinsser.
We love to write about things we think are hidden from others. We like to think what we can see others can’t. We like to write about unusual things. Some writers write what we already know. John Gray writes about writing style of Maxwell Gladwell, “Pretending to present daringly counterintuitive views to his readers, he actually strengthens the hold on them of a view of things that they have long taken for granted. This is, perhaps, the essence of the genre that Gladwell has pioneered: while reinforcing beliefs that everyone avows, he evokes in the reader a satisfying sensation of intellectual non-conformity.”
We write because there is satisfaction. One writes even when one knows that everything worth writing has already been written. One writes, not to replace others. One likes to write familiar stories in his own ways. If everyone starts writing, perhaps the world would be a better place to live. We all have our own limitations; let that not obstruct our writing.
Let one write even if one is “unprovided with the original learning, uninformed in the habit of thinking, unskilled in the art of composition…” Let one write simple stories in simple language. “Work finally begins,” says Alain de Botton, “when the fear of doing nothing exceeds the fear of doing it badly.”

(The writer is a biotechnologist and ED, Birla Institute of
Scientific Research, Jaipur)
Purnendu Ghosh