Your secret to writing with focus: A stickie note.

Amateur writers begin with a ‘topic’ — I did too, for years. Something like “Women characters in Tamil cinema”. But as I kept writing, I learned that writing about a topic is the sure shot way to drown in distractions. You could start at TP Rajalakshmi and write 5000 words all the way till Nayantara. Or you could trace villis, heroines, comediennes, supporting actresses and write a book. You could do an analysis of what’s ‘good’ and what’s ‘bad’. You could measure how much screen time women characters get. Oh, the possibilities are endless — and that’s precisely the problem.

So, these days, I start with what I call a central argument. “Jyotika should do mass, but Ajith should stop” was the central argument for this piece of mine. It set the boundary for what I’m going to discuss, and allowed me to make the point in a simple and straightforward manner.

When I have an idea, here’s what I do.

  • I pick up a physical stickie note and write down my central argument. If my argument doesn’t fit in a stickie note, it’s not ready to be written, I go back and re-think.

  • Once it’s on a stickie note, I keep it in front of me while I write. I frame my entire article as the evidence/elaboration for my central argument.

  • If I get ideas that are tangentially related, but don’t really further my central argument, I write down in my idea book, but keep writing my piece.

Catch my point? 🙂