Born in India, Anjali Kirpilani, lived in South Africa for eight years and moved back to India in 2008. After completing her Bachelor in Business Science degree from the University of KwaZulu Natal in Durban, South Africa, she was selected to be a management trainee at British American Tobacco. Thereafter, Anjali left the corporate world to fulfill her dream of working in the media. She worked as a radio jockey at Lotus FM, part of the South African Broadcasting Corporation. While at Lotus, she also scripted three radio dramas.
Apart from radio, she has written for publications like O, The Oprah magazine in South Africa and Yuva in India. Former Editorial Head, Mumbai of styleKandy.com, she has also been a guest blogger for the popular blog MissMalini.com. She has also been on the team of writers for the Beyond Sindh magazine since 2006.
Anjali has just completed a stint as an Anchor/Producer at ET NOW, India’s leading business news channel. She recently co-founded a PR and Marketing agency, Epic Communications, based out of Mumbai.
Writing has been the one constant in her life. Having completed her Masters in English Literature from the University of Mumbai in 2012, Anjali lives to read, write, travel and discover new places. ‘Never Say Never’ (Goodreads, Buy from Amazon, Buy from Flipkart) is her first novel. Anjali’s second novel will be out by Jan 2015. She is currently working on her third novel.
Her twitter handle is @AnjaliKir.
So, Anjali’s answers to #5Questions are…
1. Why do you write? Why would someone else want to be a writer?
I write to share the stories that I have burning inside me that are waiting to emerge! Writing for me is therapeutic. That feeling of satisfaction I get when I complete a short story, novel or script, is unparalleled. Writers create entire new worlds through their words. I think everyone who becomes a writer does so because they feel like they have something different to offer- if not a unique story, a unique voice.
2. How do you come up with an idea? Ideas for plots, sequences, scenes, characters and other things? Do you use any tools?
Inspiration can come from anywhere. The plot for one of my short stories, that won two awards (titled ‘Destiny’) was triggered by an article I read in a newspaper. The basic premise of ‘Never Say Never’- of a girl who makes a list of things she will never do and gets thrown in situations that force her to either break her list of resolutions (or come close to breaking them)- was inspired by a friend mentioning how she has ended up doing all the things she never thought she would in life. As a writer, you need to keep your eyes and ears open. Anything can trigger an idea- a conversation you hear in the train, a news headline or your own life experiences. With regard to scenes and sequences, I’ll describe them as per my memory if they are based on events that happened to me or from my imagination and usually, they’re an amalgamation of fact and fiction.
3. Do you keep a rigorous writing schedule? If yes, what is your writing schedule?
I try to follow a writing schedule. Unfortunately I am quite the procrastinator! However, I do feel like I am getting better at maintaining a writing schedule. I generally sit down to write early in the mornings or late at night. It is when the rest of the world is sleeping, that I feel most inspired to write. If I am on a deadline, however, I push myself to write at other times during the day too. Some days I write more and other days I just get a few words down. I allow myself such days too- it’s all part of my journey of getting a story down.
4. How often do you get interrupted by writer’s block? How do you go about working around your writers’ block?
Honestly writer’s block is self-created. Some of my best stories have been written without having any basic plot in mind while starting out-I’ve just sat at my laptop and let the story take shape. So I believe that if I force myself to write, I will end up getting work done. That said, I do have days where I feel uninspired to write. I take a break from writing on such days but then go back to writing the next day. Self-discipline is of utmost importance when writing.
5. What is the best advice on writing that you’ve ever received?
To ‘just do it!’ I did a 6 week creative writing course at the Xavier Institute of Communications while I was writing ‘Never Say Never’ and our professor, Renu Balakrishnan, told us to make sure that we write everyday. She told us that even if you think you’re writing nonsense, you should still write- you might end up discarding 600 words written that day but may find a 100 words that you’ve written useful! As mentioned earlier, I’m not always able to follow her advice and write everyday- I take breaks between writing books. If I’ve just finished writing a book, I like to take an ‘inspiration’ break where I read a lot of books and watch TV or travel to clear my mind and stop thinking about the book I’ve just completed. This helps me start a new book with a fresh take. But in the period that I’m writing a book, I do try and write as regularly as possible. I still can’t churn out a book in a month but I’m getting better! So while my first novel took 2 years to write, thanks to the numerous breaks I took, my second one has taken 8 months to write. I’m hoping that I finish writing my third novel in 3 months- so I think I’m definitely getting more productive!
Editor’s Note: I spoke to Anjali first in September of this year, to pick her brains about book launch events. A common friend introduced me to her and Anjali has been very very helpful, forthcoming and candid in her answers. All the best to Anjali for the forthcoming book.