Jaipur: Arts in the Pink City and Learning to Write



I am slowly learning how to write. It’s not that I can’t — I have some 3,000 odd journal entries (they’re all odd, believe me), of which, 650 of them were since I started my Morning Pages in 2014 (from the Artist’s Way). I just don’t know how to write a captivating blog, but here’s what I’ve learned so far:

  1. People Like Lists

When I read about how to create great blog posts everyone says, “make a list”. Bloggers mention that their posts containing lists are some of their most popular, often suggesting that people don’t read anymore, they just skim, and bullet points are about all they can sink their teeth into. I’ve noticed that the majority of the top stories on medium.com are some sort of list.

The one exception to this is Exposure – stories told through photos, such as Jaipur Diaries  or India: 3 weeks in Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. Beautiful, right? Possibly the photos are too beautiful to be messed up by numbers.

  1. Sometimes You Have to Break the Rules

You can read 100 suggestions about the best way to do something and never get any better. I’m not that into writing with lists… yet. Maybe I’ll never be, and maybe that’s okay.

The best way to illustrate this is through a story of an artist I came across in Jaipur – Mamta Sing – who found her passion by letting go and letting her art flow as it came. Over time her art took on a form of its own, and was able to transform her passion into her career. When she started trusting what she created without following what she “should have” done, she was able to create and find her own style, and now has had multiple shows at Jawahar Kala Kendra — the cultural hub of Jaipur.

In addition to her projects, she joined Thalagiri as their creative head, and runs a number or artistic projects around Jaipur. Thalagiri (not to be confused with Dhaulagiri, the mountain in the Nepalese Himalayas) is a common term in India that portrays “the act of doing nothing”. One could argue that most of the time I spend online is the epitome of thalagiri, but I suspect there is a difference between mindless clicking, and mindfully doing nothing.

The group Thalagiri is geared towards summer carnivals, workshops and providing people with tools to explore their own creativity – which is quite a different expression of art, when you think about it. 20 years ago, art was something created by an artist and then sold… but with the internet, Flickr, Instagram, Meetup.com, Kickstarter – art has transformed into something much more social.

Events such as Paint Nite or photography meet-ups help non-artists with their own artistic expression, so individuals are able to create their own art. One of my favorite kickstarter projects was the Taxi Fabric project, which enabled local artists to create colorful taxi coverings in Mumbai. It funded itself through crowd-funding.

The point is sometimes, you need to let your own expression come to the surface instead of just following the rules that others have laid down. From this expression something new and unexpected will be born and will take on its own form and life.

  1. Sometimes You Don’t Need to Break the Rules

Mostly, because I’m writing a blog post with a list, two points is not enough.

Being creative isn’t about following or breaking rules. Creativity is using your imagination to dream up original ideas and allowing yourself to express them. Sure, art has rules, just as writing has grammar. It’s a convention for convenience and clear communication – it is the instructions on how to take a step, but not the path which will take you to your destination.

Let go and trust your imagination, and let your own expression surface. That’s what I’ve learned for writing a captivating blog.

So… what I really want to know is… how did I do?

Also published on Medium.

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14 thoughts on “Jaipur: Arts in the Pink City and Learning to Write”

  1. I struggle with this too—lists versus prose, optimal length, catchy titles etc. I try to keep the blog writing “rules” in my head (usually break them), but ultimately my blog/my writing have to work for me—make me happy and proud. I’m not going to appeal to all readers (certainly not the list folks) but I’m thrilled that I’ve connected with a small group of readers who enjoy my style (and vice versa). I agree that it’s a constantly evolving process. For what it’s worth, you caught my attention with this post and the beautiful photo.

  2. Yeah I’ve wondered myself whether people actually read any chunks of text anymore. Stories told through photos can be beautiful (Jaipur Diaries is amazing) – I’m always conscious of breaking up text with pictures because lots of people can’t cope with dense walls of text these days (I’m guilty of this too). I’m not a lists person either and I like the idea that you need to let your own expression come to the surface instead of following the rules – the trick is to not worry about stats and numbers, I suppose. If you like what you do, that should be enough, but it often isn’t, with blogging. When the tumbleweed rolls past and no one drops by it gets lonely…. I actually don’t know what the blogging rules are; I’m sure I should have looked them up at some point. As for your last question: well I read to the end, so you must be doing something right!

    • I know – there is so many stories to sift through… I find it easier to read ones which have points in bold, lots of photos, and are broken up into neat sections. It almost feels sad, as if I should give more importance to the words, but I guess how you tell a story is more than just the words. My favorite travel blogger at the moment is http://www.lilistravelplans.com, and her style is full of bold, italics, photos, color… but I think why I read her stuff is that she’s very authentic — she doesn’t use a mechanism for the sake of it, but as part of telling her story.

      So maybe the point is about how you tell a better story by applying these different points!

      • I like the style of that blog, I just had a look at her Cinque Terre post – just about the right length and nice layout. I agree about points in bold, lots of photos, and breaking up into clear sections – no one wants dense text any more, I think that’s a given these days. Sad maybe, but a result of the mammoth information overload of the internet…

  3. i reckon you did great! and you nailed the whole list thing, even though you said you’re not much into lists. i like that your post is short and sweet, with a beautiful example about mamta sing and how art is about letting go and letting flow. despite the number of times i have heard similar lines, it never fails to inspire me each and every time. maybe because i keep forgetting so every time i am reminded of it once again, it’s another fresh slap to the face. kind of unexpected, but always welcome. #joltedawake. lol.

    • Thanks! I think with anything, for me learning to write means learning to tell a story… I see these people who are so good at it, and I keep comparing myself to that. It’s like I’m on roller-skates for the first time… 😉

      • what are you talking about? the way you write is pretty much like a pro already. i mean, i like how your posts are all nicely laid out. as if you really thought them over and edited and re-edited them to create a very streamlined piece and not all over the place like someone i know. (read: me. lol.)

        i do that a lot too, comparing myself to all these amazing writers and wishing i could write just as good as they do. to be honest, at times i get jealous. other times (and these are my favorite ones) i’m like, “f%ck it. i just wanna have fun.”

    • Thanks — “f%ck it. i just wanna have fun” has got to be the best way to go, as I’m figuring out the internet will kill you if you are intent on comparing yourself to it, as you have instant access to everything which is better than you… and the internet will always win. (Unless you’re that one person which is the best, and then, well, you still have to hold on to your seat.)

      Besides, if it’s not fun, how will you ever get to be yourself and relate to other cool people like yourself?

  4. I agree with your points, and yes, readers like lists (and images too!). I do a lot with points if the post is about information. Personally, I don’t have specific rules to write a blog post but the content should be related to my blog’s focus.
    I find you are doing well with your writing and please keep it up! I will follow more of your blog posts 🙂


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