Sunday, August 24, 2014

The 12 most dominant ways Facebook affects me

Do you know that my posting frequency on this blog has dropped alarmingly? And I don't like it. Not one bit!

This blog was the original reason for my being on the Web. Stories of my parenting ups and downs have kept me connected to so many people, parents and non-parents alike. It is my go-to zone for sharing my snippets on Parenting, schooling in Bangalore and life lessons from my daughter, Gy.

Somewhere along the way, I started doing something else, though. I was drawn in by the lure of social media. And when I say social media, I mean the insidious lure of the networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook. And when I say 'sites', I mean, only Facebook.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Two much of a good thing

                                    Welcome to Guest Tuesday- my fortnightly feature

Yes, yes, I am here. Did you miss me? Just been really busy with my other blog, of course, where I have committed to write daily. Phew!

Today, I am very happy to welcome one of the best Mom bloggers out there. Hey, even her blog is Obsessive Mom! Tulika Singh and I connected last year, over a post I had written regarding Math flash cards. With some people, you just know. You click so instantly that it is no coincidence that Destiny brought you together. Tulika and I are exactly like that. She and I exchange incredibly long chat messages, where she completes my thoughts and I pull her leg over various things, blog-wise and otherwise. Her genuine nature comes through in her writing and her super-cool factor permeates her blog posts.

It is my honour and privilege to host Tulika here. Thank you for this post, Tulika.

Author Bio:

I am a journalist by profession and worked with The Hindustan Times and then the Times of India. When the twins came along I gave up long nights of editing copy to night-shifts of a very different kind. I became a full time, hands on, stay at home mum. At about the same time I started blogging at The twins took up all my mindspace. The blog gave me a place to put it all down and spared my friends endless hours of baby talk.

Having them has been a wonderful, enlightening journey of self-discovery. I always was an avid reader. I found I was also a bit of a crafter, a very enthusiastic photographer and a barely passable cook. 

I am now, a freelance writer and a copy editor and blogger. I divide my time between my two passions – writing and, yeah you guessed it, the twins.


Friday, August 8, 2014

7 Blogging Tips: How to Write Daily

It has been two weeks (almost!) since I wrote a post on this blog. That's the longest break I have taken in the last year. Although I wouldn't really call it Writer's block or Blogging block, I do think it had something to do with my online presence.

This doesn't mean I have been idle in the blogging space. Oh no, I have actually signed up to be a Write Tribe Pro Blogger, where this cool bunch has decided to blog consistently, every day, for a year. Maybe more. Who knows?

But, ah, I was clever. I know that I cannot do justice to this blog with the daily writing challenge, so I smartly signed up my Fiction blog, since I dabble in flash fiction and micro-fiction, most of which is under 100 words in length. Of course, the real smartness of the move will be revealed if I actually manage to complete a year of blogging daily. Ha, that's going to be something!

In order to do this , though, it requires a fair deal of management in the time and writing areas. So, today, I will share how we can balance our writing and social media roles together with the mundane demands of life, work and everything else!

Writing Everyday

It's actually do-able, if you work around a schedule. I find that I write best between 9.30 and 10.30 pm every night. I don't know why, but it's true. Perhaps the silence of the household, after sending everyone off to bed, is a good booster. Or maybe the fact that the dishes are done and the kitchen is sparkling clean, so I can now reward myself with some time to write, could be the reason.

Either way, find your groove. Pick a time and write daily/ nightly at the same time. I'm guessing some curious writer gnome is watching and sending me creative vibes every night. Hey, who am I to complain? 

What do I write about?

Picture courtesy: Google Images

This is a common concern, am I right? You feel that panic kicking in each time you sit and stare at the blank screen or notepad, racking your brains for an idea. 

That's why we have prompts, my dear bloggers.

Search the web. You'll find thousands of them. If nothing else, pick up a book and flip through it. A phrase will catch your eye. Use that as a prompt.

Organise your Writing

Picture courtesy: Sunny Side up

If you're anything like me, you will constantly have four or five tabs open in your browser while writing a post. is a great website for people like me, who write to prompts and have to abide by a specific word count. I draft the whole post there and simultaneously open my Wordpress Dashboard, where I copy paste the draft.

Next, I open the tab for image search. There is great value in adding an image to your post, especially since it draws on the interest of the reader and also makes it Pinnable!

If you are writing for the same weekly challenge, then you can save time by copy-pasting the template for future posts. Adding a generic statement at the bottom, such as 'I am a Pro Blogger' also frees up the time it would take to type out that statement each time.

Don't edit while you write. Write without thinking and without stopping. Always make time to go back and check the draft for grammatical errors, run-on sentences, spelling mistakes and other typos. Think three times, before you hit that 'Publish' button. Remember, you're building an audience for the writing. Let not a carelessly-worded sentence bring you down.

Leave a Comment

Image courtesy: Shutterstock
An integral part of blogging, in my opinion, is the idea of networking. This was especially brought home during my first-ever Blogging meet, in Goa this July. I was able to connect to a fair share of bloggers, mainly because I had followed them through their writings and interacted with them on their posts. There is a certain human connection that is established when you do this.

It makes the blogger feel wonderful, knowing that he/she is being read and acknowledged.
So, as much as it is wonderful to get a 'Like' via Facebook or Wordpress and an RT via Twitter, it is infinitely more heartwarming to get a comment that appreciates what you have taken time to create.

Take Breaks

Sometimes, nothing helps. You just can't get the wheels to turn in your head. No problem. Go out for a walk in the garden or down the street to get some milk. Carry your phone or camera along. Snap away when the mood strikes. You never know what it takes to kick start that inspirational bunny within.

Get off Social Media

As much as I advocate networking, I don't really recommend it when you are in the thick of the writing process. Social Media Distracts. Let's be very very honest about this.

This was probably the hardest part of the challenge for me.  Yes, I admit it. I am a Social Media junkie, more specifically, Facebook, Whatsapp and to a certain extent, Twitter. Thanks to the Wordpress for Android app, that adds its fair share of distractions as well.

So, what do I do now?

  1. I turn off my Smartphone when I am writing my blog posts. I don't get distracted  by those 'pings' every single time someone comments on the blog. Hey, I jump in excitement when I get fifteen 'pings' at a time after two hours of not being connected to the Net. Yeah, that's your bonus :)
  2. I keep the tabs closed on my browser. You know that niggling need to check Facebook in between your writing? Yeah, stop doing that. You want a break? Go for a walk. Grab a cup of tea. Pick up a book. DO NOT OPEN that Facebook/Twitter/Instagram/Pinterest tab.

Make time to visit other blogs

So, you're overwhelmed with all the writing, the editing, the sharing and the responding to comments. I get that. Hey, we also have lives in the real world to consider. That shirt is not going to iron itself and the stove is just not going to turn on magically and heat up that pasta, no matter how hard I wish I had Harry Potter's powers. Nope! Not going to happen.

So, if I can make an hour's time to write everyday, I can surely find another hour to visit other blogs daily?
Picture courtesy

  1. If you have a Wordpress (WP) account, just add your preferred WP blogs to the Reader there and visit them from within the app.
  2. For blogspot blogs, get the Feedly app. This has a very good interface and helps you click through to the blog and comment as well.
  3. Make sure you follow the 'No Social Media distraction' rule here as well. Turn off those tabs when you are blog hopping. When sharing a post that you like, share them through the blog's page directly and hop straight out of Twitter/ Facebook/ Google Plus.

All said and done though, don't get bogged down by the guilt. There will be days when you just cannot do it all. Moments will come when you want to throw in the towel and not write. That's okay too. Just remember, we're in this for the ride. Let's enjoy it for as long as we can.

Happy Blogging, everyone!


Have you taken up a Blogging Challenge too?

Do you have any more writing tips to add?

❤ Feel free to share your valuable comments and suggestions


Happy to share that this post made it to the Spicy Saturday Picks at Blog Adda

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Zest Up Your Life: The Goan Experience

It started with a simple e-mail one Monday morning. A very nondescript one that said, 'I want you to be a part of something exclusive'. Having seen mails like this before, I was almost tempted to pass it by, but I noticed that the sender was Blog Adda and was curious to read further. And am I glad I did that.

The mail said that they were selecting 50 bloggers from across India  to experience an all-expense paid weekend at the luxury resort The Zuri White Sands in Varca, Goa, where we would have to drive around and review the new Tata Zest and live blog about it from the event. I blinked once, rubbed my eyes twice  and pinched myself hard in disbelief to make sure that I was reading this right. Well, they didn't need to ask me twice. I was going to Goa! Read my review of the car here!

Saturday dawned early for those of us leaving from Bangalore (10 in number, just see our smiles!) and we reached the airport all ready for the exciting journey ahead. 

The entire journey was pretty relaxed and comfortable, including our very brief stopover at Chennai. We landed in Goa to be welcomed with this sign from Tata Motors and a shuttle bus to ferry us to our destination.

A pleasant drive across Goan fields and scenic, winding roads brought us to the Zuri White Sands Goa Resort and Casino, where we were immediately whisked away to a sumptuous lunch. All through the event, Blog Adda ensured that we were well taken care of, whether it was regarding our rooms, the agenda for the weekend, the test drive across Goa or the slight hitches that cropped up with network connectivity during our live blogging sessions. I must especially thank +Ankita V and +Harish Krishnan  from Blog Adda for their patience in handling all our queries. It cannot be easy to organise an event of this scale, at such short notice. But , they pulled it off with style and a smile all through the event. I can honestly say that I never once saw them lose their cool or their control on the situation. Hats off, guys!

Even little touches such as the Blog Adda tee-shirts or the personalised badges made a difference to every single blogger who had traveled from across India to be a part of this weekend event.

We were there for an event but that didn't mean we couldn't have fun of our own too :) Bloggers were found snapping pictures away from every angle possible. There were heads bent over smartphones and tablets, tweeting away with the hashtags #ZestUpYourLife and tagging +BlogAdda and +Tata Motors almost by the second! But, we also knew how to put those gadgets away when it came to networking in person. It is a special thrill to meet the people whom you admire for the power of their words and what better way than at a Blogger's conference!

Yes, that's +Shailaja V (yours truly) with +Vidya Sury and +Ritu Lalit !

Blog Adda has always been proactive when it comes to contests, events, reviews, their weekly features such as the Tangy Tuesday Picks, the Spicy Saturday Picks and the Write Over the Weekend initiatives (WOW). They were also the first to organise a Blogger's Conference in India in February 2014, where the top bloggers from across India were awarded at the WIN '14 ceremony! This blogger was also proud to be nominated in the Top 5 Parenting Blogs by Blog Adda.

Blogging has always been an intensely personal and emotionally satisfying activity for me. Any form of recognition- a warm, heartfelt comment or a notification that your post resonated with a group of people- is very wonderful to hear. So, to be chosen for the special honour from across so many incredible bloggers in India was very gratifying indeed.

So, a big thank you to Blog Adda and Tata Motors for this wonderful opportunity to be part of this amazing and once-in-a lifetime experience.

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