How do you manage to find the time to write? If I had a penny for every time I was asked this question, I would be a multimillionaire by now. I was asked this while a student of English Literature. I was asked this when I was a young mom of a toddler. I was asked this when I was working as a full-time journalist. I am asked it even now.

When I was asked this question yet again last week, I decided to take a step back and think how I managed to write through all the busy periods in my life. In fact, I have never found it a problem to write. Except for a short while after I lost my young son. I would still start writing but I could not finish anything. And even then I was able to do my professional writing as a journalist.

So what is my secret? It is that I just do it. I sit at my computer or with my iPad or a notebook and let words take over. It is almost like Pirandello’s Six Characters in Search of an Author. I just follow my thoughts and my fingers dance across the keyboard with a life of their own. This is also the most satisfying way of writing.

What this requires, however, is that you start. Just sit down and start writing. The rest comes easy. Impossible, you say? Try it. It is easier than you think.

One reason why I think I find it easy to write is that I read so much. If you don’t have two thoughts to rub together in your head, you certainly can’t write. So, read, read, read.

Here is my personal list of 10 must-read books:

  1. Pride and Prejudice — Jane Austen
  2. Old Man and the Sea — Ernest Hemingway
  3. My Cousin Rachel — Daphne du Maurier
  4. Frenchman’s Creek — Daphne du Maurier
  5. The Bhagvad Gita — Sage Vyasa (go for any good English version)
  6. Where are the Children? — Mary Higgins Clark
  7. Sleeping Murder — Agatha Christie
  8. Brave New World — Aldous Huxley
  9. Little Women — Louisa May Alcott
  10. Atlas Shrugged — Ayn Rand

This is only my list and is by no means exhaustive. I still find new books to add to my repertoire. Some other lists that might help include Penguin list of 100 classic booksAmazon’s 100 books to read before you die and Reader’s Digest 20 good books you should have read by now.

Just like my writing, I can’t explain how I find the time to read. But I do because I love and enjoy reading.

And therein lies the key to my secret. Love what you do and you will find a time to do it. The same goes for writing. So pick up a book in one hand and your laptop in the other and start. If you want to be a writer, you must a reader be.