AMA about trying to sustain yourself as a writer, and working around compromised creativity!

Rohan Mukherjee
Oct 31, 2017

Perhaps, you already know how to write.

But my job here is to take that ability of yours and channel it towards a cash generating venture. If writing remains your hobby - that you do on the side once in a while, it gets demanding. I’ve had to navigate my way around this crazy profession - and I’m still doing so. But I'm making a living by making stuff up. I’ve written for channels like Being Indian , brands like Amnesty International, Mad Over Donuts, Keventers, Adidas, Reebok, Snapdeal, Google, DLF etc and lending my voice to otherwise usual products and platforms. Now that I’ve decided to guide you, you won't have to reinvent the wheel.

Rohan Mukherjee says:

This AMA will end Nov 2, 2017 12:30PM EDT

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where are you from?

Oct 31, 8:34AM EDT0

New Delhi, India. 

Oct 31, 8:50AM EDT0

When did you write your first paid piece?

Oct 31, 4:00AM EDT1

When I was writing sketches for a YouTube channel. Was writing for them while in college. Good cash! :D

Oct 31, 8:50AM EDT0

What is your favorite writing project you've had?

Oct 30, 4:52PM EDT0

Waaaaay too many to name. Couple of brand films as well. Here, check this one out made for adidas Originals EQT. This film was featured on the Archive magazine: 

Oct 31, 8:52AM EDT0

Do you think that physical books will eventually become obsolete?

Oct 30, 4:20PM EDT0

Eventually, yes. Perhaps. But I hope not!

But even if not, it is our generation that probably is the last one to look fondly back with nostalgia on the subject of paperback, and the scent of fresh new pages. 

Perhaps, the next generation won't feel the same. 

Oct 31, 8:53AM EDT0

How old are you?

Oct 30, 2:24PM EDT0


Oct 30, 2:45PM EDT0

What expertise can you offer to a first time writer(me)?

Oct 30, 12:15PM EDT1

Just write. Write for yourself - see if you're getting your thoughts out on paper. Also remember if you're writing for an audience, that the audience doesn't know what's on your mind. So make sure to make it abundantly clear to the reader/viewer about the premise, context, background and to reinforce the point you're trying to make. 

Most importantly, have fun! Enjoy the whole process of looking at a blank page and realising that this will soon have a story in it once you're done. :)

Oct 30, 12:18PM EDT0

Do you write content for sites?

Oct 30, 11:15AM EDT1

Yes. A major part of my commercial work is creating brand manuals, writing for websites and social media platforms. Content creation is pretty much my forte, but then again, what today is not content? :)

Oct 30, 12:15PM EDT0

Do you feel like your characters are your friends or are they more like extensions of yourself?

Oct 30, 10:02AM EDT1

Not my friends. It's tough to kill them then. :P

Extensions definitely. A lot of dialogue writing is like a monologue split between two characters with different tones of voice. 

Oct 30, 12:14PM EDT0

What was your first ever book or written piece about?

Oct 30, 6:12AM EDT1

There's one essay I had written in my 3rd Grade that I still hold close to my heart. This was done at a time when I didn't have internet, or saw a lot of Hollywood movies for that matter. The essay was about a trip to space, and I remember writing about going to Pluto in my spaceship and crash landing on the surface. The door is kicked open by a co-pilot, and soon there are aliens that advance upon our ship to attack us. The spaceship had no weapons ready, so the twist was to use the water hoses and use them - and since I knew back then with my limited knowledge that Pluto is a freezing planet, the water hoses started shooting ice particles - till this day, the fact that as a kid I could come up with that blows my mind. :D

Oct 30, 12:13PM EDT0

How diverse is your writing ability?

Oct 30, 1:59AM EDT1

Pretty diverse I'd say. 

But that comes with having written poetry, rap songs, scripts independently earlier. Since I know my strengths and weaknesses, I use a combination of my strengths to write now. For instance, if I'm good at writing raps, I'd write a rap for a brand's launch campaign. You know, play to your strengths. 

Oct 30, 12:10PM EDT0

Do you sketch your storyline before you start?

Oct 29, 4:19PM EDT1

A brief idea of it, yes. 

But I prefer just getting down to the writing part of it and seeing where it goes. I feel the ideation part is just another excuse for me to procrastinate about it, so that's a little reverse psychology excercise I try on myself. :D

Oct 30, 12:08PM EDT0

How do you know if your writing is good enough or appealing enough to outside audiences?

Oct 29, 12:37PM EDT1


A) If I'm writing for my personal work, poetry, blogs - I don't explicitly look for validation for the work in itself. But of course, with practice, you know there's a certain standard that you've set for yourself, and when you meet that in your mind, it's good to go. 

B) For mediums that are highly dependent on the audience reaction, like a video, sketch or stand up comedy set, the work needs to be something I believe in. Also, always a good idea to test run the final product with non-writing audience members for an honest and immediate feedback

C) For brands and commercial purposes, it's a different ball game. I like to understand the brand, and sometimes it's an acquired sense of their tone of voice. When that is in place, I set that as a parameter and write what needs to be written . I'll give you an example, if a milkshake brand wants to announce a new flavour to the international ,market, I wouldn't use a tone of voice that I might when it comes to writing copy for an e-commerce site. Perhaps here, the milkshake brand is more informal and the audience engagment is casual, so the tone of voice becomes such. Also, when it comes to clients, they'll usually tell if you if they hate it. If they don't, that's good enough for me!

Oct 29, 2:09PM EDT0

What's the hardest thing about planning a book or novel?

Oct 29, 8:42AM EDT1

The editing part, any day. 

I've learned to not be possessive about my writing over the years, more so when there are other people involved. For instance, if it's a film script, the actors, directors, production budget constraints, sound, and editing changes a lot. Some things can be compromised with, and some things can't - all depends on the storyline. 

In the case of books, although you'd feel more possessive about the final product, if there are other people involved, like a co-author, publisher etc - then that's when everyone needs to be on the same page. 

So Penelopa, I hope that answers your question. Editing is a pain. :D

Oct 29, 9:03AM EDT0

Do you write product information for commercial use?

Oct 29, 4:20AM EDT1

At times. If the work demands that. Also if by product information you mean creating brand manuals, naming, labeling and packaging details, then yes, that I end up doing atleast twice in a month. 

Oct 29, 4:37AM EDT0

What's your favourite style of writing?

Oct 28, 7:50PM EDT1

Hi Johnathan!I am slightly biased towards writing rhymes, in the form of copywriting or raps. Only because they come to me naturally, and quickly - and when you're writing for brands and clients, they just blindly fall in love with rhyming copy. But I love sketch writing, and have tried my hand at writing for VR films. It's hard to pick a 'favourite' as such because that'll be the same as boxing myself as a certain 'writer type.' 

Oct 29, 2:39AM EDT0

Did you enjoy English as a child?

Oct 28, 4:06PM EDT1

Hey Dewayne! 

Yes, I did. As a matter of face, I used to scribble down poems, limericks, little stories and loved making cards for my family or teachers on special occasions. Here's me holding up a notebook I used to maintain for my poems from when I was around 11. :D

Last edited @ Oct 28, 4:24PM EDT.
Oct 28, 4:24PM EDT0
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