After a very long time, I did a live Q/A session on my Instagram yesterday, and I got so many good questions about my blog and my writing, I decided to go ahead and share all of the answers here so that anybody who needs to come back to it can do so.
In case any questions have been left out, please don’t worry because I plan to do this every single week! You can always reach out to me and send me your questions and I will try to include as many of them as I can in my posts.
Here is the discussion from this weekend:
1. When did you start blogging?
I started blogging 4 years ago; I should be celebrating my 4th ‘Blogaversary‘ very soon!
2. How did you first get into blogging?
I think I just wanted my thoughts to be out there and I wanted a big platform to do it. But it was, overall, a spur-of-the-moment decision. I was watching Julie & Julia and I was very inspired by Julie Powell’s blog. Later, Carrie Bradshaw’s way of writing also came to inspire me. I did zero research; I just texted my friends saying that I wanted a name for the blog and that’s how The Shubhster Diaries came into existence!
3. What is your ideal working/ writing environment?
I am a chaotic human being with a chaotic mind working overtime, so my ‘ideal’ working/ writing environment needs to be very lively, almost at the edge of ‘chaotic’. I need a bunch of things going on at any given moment in time, and I definitely need some peppy music playing in the background to work efficiently.
4. Who has most impacted you in blogging and how?
Julie Powell has impacted me the most in blogging because, I think, for the very first time, when I watched that movie, I realized that a simple blog could reach out to hundreds of people out there. You never know who is paying attention to your words.
5. Doesn’t putting your thoughts out there make you feel vulnerable?
It definitely does! When I’m writing here, I put my innermost thoughts out there on blast, and sometimes, they include paragraphs from my journal entries, poems I’ve written for somebody I once loved and other personal things I wrote. But writing, to me, has always been a very personal thing, so I make that vulnerability my strong suit.
6. What has been your most successful post? Why do you think it was appealing?
I think it was ‘An Open Letter to Parents Everywhere‘ because it struck a chord with both parents and young readers alike. It dealt with so many issues like mental health, sexuality, career choices and everything else that the people I wrote it with wished that their parents knew and understood. I think the heart of the post was what made it so appealing to everybody. I hope to collaborate on such posts with my friends more often!
7. How do you manage your time to run your blog so efficiently?
I kind of plan my whole day around blog posts. So if I know I have plans the next day, I try to schedule a post beforehand. It’s double the work sometimes, but it’s worth it. Also, switching between topics always helps because I can always write a short post in case I don’t really have the time for longer ones.
8. How do you deal with writer’s block and writer’s fatigue?
These two are things that I face on an almost-daily basis because I have been writing for over 500 days now. Sometimes, I have to think about what to write. Music usually helps me deal with creative blocks, whether it’s writing-wise or art-wise; you always associate songs with events in your life and one thing triggers another and bam, you have a topic! I look for cues from my conversation with my friends because there’s always something to take in from that, as well! I don’t really deal with ‘writer’s fatigue’ exactly because writing is pretty much a constant at this point, but in case I feel like I don’t want to write on a particular day, I usually just write shorter posts or post poetry.
9. Do you ever have to worry about not writing the same topic twice? When you’ve been writing for such a long time and on a daily-basis, you’re going to wonder if something has already been done. But the good thing about writing is that I can always give an old topic a new angle and dimension and write about it that way instead.
10. Why did you start learning Mandarin?
Honestly, I was watching a C-drama that my best friend suggested, and I found out that it was adapted from a novel. But even after reading the translation, I realized that a lot of the heavy meaning behind the words and phrases used was lost. It was a big push towards me wanting to learn the language. Besides, I am a sucker for learning new things and I thought it’d be a cool skill to add.
11. How are you learning Mandarin?
I am learning Mandarin via the language app called Memrise, that my best friend suggested back when I wanted to learn French. It has been very helpful!
12. How far along are you in Mandarin and what is the best part of learning a new language?
I have completed Course 1 in Mandarin and I have decided to practice more and become a little more fluent in Course 1 before I progress to Course 2 next month. I’d definitely say that the best part about learning a new language is that you start discovering the way some phrases have an equivalent in our mother tongues and how some of them are so different when taken in the literal sense. Something about language is very interesting to me!
13. Do you have any tips to improve vocabulary?
The thing about adding new words to your vocabulary is that you have to do it naturally. What you take from the dictionary won’t last you as long as it would if you tried to understand a word contextually from a text you were reading; it would stay with you much longer if you had something to associate it with. Read a lot, try watching shows in other languages besides English and your regional languages, listen to podcasts— anything helps, really, as long as you include the word in your everyday usage.
14. Do you ever feel like your work is lacking, when compared to other writers?
Constantly, because there are so many good writers out there doing their own thing. It is borderline intimidating! But then, I have to remind myself that my writing style is just as good; it’s just different from theirs.
15. What’s something new you would like to try with your writing?
A couple of years ago, my best friend wrote ‘bookish descriptions’ of people she knew and I thought it was pretty cool because it gave a whole new dimension to those people’s personalities. I would love to try something like that with my writing sometime!
16. Which medium of traditional art did you start with?
I started with colour pencils, at the age of 6! I didn’t improve at it until the age of 10-ish, though.
16. What are the difficulties you face when you sketch (both traditionally and digitally)?
Overall, I have problems with sketching faces and hands; it takes me hours to perfect the sketch if I’m sketching them. Traditionally, I’d say I’m pretty good, but I still have a hard time with cross-mediums! Digitally, I struggle the most because I sketch on my laptop with my mouse cursor and not a stylus, so there’s that!
17. How do you experience a place when you travel- through the people, food or the history?
The history is what attracts me most to a place; I usually look up the history of the place before I go there. Talking to the locals gives a peek into the local history that would never be recorded in books or anything else, so always chat up the locals! The food comes a close third!
18. What is the most frustrating aspect of blogging?
It’s the fact that people don’t take it seriously! This is pretty much how I would like to earn money, but people just shrug it off when I ask them to actually read my posts. They don’t want to hear that views and ads are how I earn money here. It’s low-disrespectful, if you ask me.
19. What do you love to write about the most?
I think it’s very clear that I write about love a lot! But I like writing about topics that can actually touch people; I’ve had people reach out to me and say that what I write here helped them in some way or another and I’d like to do more of that, if I can help it.
20. How do you want to improve yourself in the next year?
Blog-wise, I would like like to revamp the whole website and run it a little more professionally! I’ll probably do a course in that. Personally, I’d like to focus more on learning as much as I can.
21. Where would you like to be in blogging, 5 years from now?
Doing the same thing, writing motivational stuff, from a big office. I’d like to have a couple of TED Talks in the bag by then because I’d like to think that I’d be good at it. But we’ll see how that goes!
22. Do you have any specific goals for the upcoming year?
I know I keep saying something about releasing a book, but I’d actually like to see that plan through for once. Also, having my thoughts on a podcast sounds nice! I’d like to interact with more people through my words.
23. Can you name some of your favourite bloggers and explain why they’re your favourites? Any favourite posts from them?
Darell Philip’s Blog is probably one of my most favourite ones here! His posts are always so thought-provoking. His poem ‘There Is Coming A Day‘ really left an impression on me. Please go check out his blog for more!
So, that’s all the answers I have for you all today! I hope this helps you in any way possible. Please reach out to me if you have more questions for me and I will include them in next week’s posts!
The Shubhster! Xx