Matuli Madhusmita has been one girl I know who is self motivated and she keeps reinventing herself. The best part being she doesn’t keep her knowledge or expertise to herself but has been sharing with others. She contributes richly to any forum or platform that she becomes a part of. I feel so proud of her and am equally amazed at the wonderful things that she comes up with. Now she has her first book published and it is as neat and spunky as her. I asked her to do a blog for us as an introduction to her book and she was prompt in responding. Here’s wishing Matuli the very best not just for this book but for all her endeavours; as I know she will keep scaling newer heights and continue experimenting. Read her take on life lessons learnt during lockdown and her book.
Lessons from the Lockdown. Unlocking my creativity. Writing my first book. These 3 lines above precisely sum up my state of mind and heart. As the world and India went into a lockdown, I found myself in a city away from dear ones, with a laptop to work with and thankfully, connected with the virtual world. As I mentioned in one of the IWH’s question-answer forums, this unprecedented pandemic has gifted me three precious mental dimensions – Gratitude. Patience. Priority.
As I tuned into WFH, it was the aftermath of loneliness and self-isolation that surprised me. Restlessness, breakdowns, panic driven nostalgia – all in waves. Until, one day when I really shifted my mental focus and channelized this never-seen-before time into my fuel for creativity.
The result: My first book, Marcomm Cookies is now on Kindle. Do check it out!
The lessons and learning, in a nutshell below.
- Creativity is a discipline: This one was a hard lesson to learn. My over confidence was brutally halted when I started to write my first draft. All creative pursuits require focus and discipline. To sit at my work desk and keep typing away my thoughts, aligned to my book subject was incredibly challenging. Since I was also working from home, I realized that my work and writing schedules were either overlapping or completely overshadowed by each other. That’s when I learnt the value of patience all the more. I had to be patient with myself to stay committed to my allotted timelines. Was it easy? No. Not at all. How did I do it? Choosing to stay committed. Creativity is a free-flow but channeling it is equivalent to taming a storm.
- Growth is not a straight line: My most precious and heartbreaking lesson. Being an incredible planner, I’d chalk out the details pretty well. However, putting the thoughts onto paper, wasn’t as easy as doing a job list. I struggled with loss of motivation, procrastination, silly excuses and then, dismissing my efforts. Until I chanced upon some online motivation that said that growth isn’t when you just start something. Growth is bouncing back every time you stray away. So, for all those who have creative projects, I’d just say this. On some days, you will kill it. On other days, it will kill you. But you have to keep coming back to the crime scene! Ha-ha! Stay put. Bounce back. Keep going.
- Fear is valid: Waking up with anxiety. Deleting full paragraphs. Editing like a champ and then forgetting to save the file. Fear comes in many forms. Sit with it. Drink some coffee. Make some tea. Pause. Then start your fight again. I was fearful of not completing it, not making my deadline.
The deal was to take some positive action, every time I had fear and anxiety creeping up.
- Brave Baby Steps Forward: My favourite mantra when I feel overwhelmed is telling myself and taking ‘Brave Baby Steps’ forward. When I cannot go big, I go small. The teeniest, tiniest action possible at that time. At times, it was writing that email to the designer. When I couldn’t write much, I simply decided to write the acknowledgements page first. When I couldn’t edit pages, I went to edit just a paragraph. So, dear ladies; brave baby steps.
- Do it for yourself only: The biggest motivation for yourself is you. No one else. If anything at all this book has given me, it is this gift. You are your biggest challenge. You are your only limit and your greatest investment. When I thought of writing my first book, I will admit, I wanted to prove it to the world. But honestly, with every challenge, I realized I only had to overcome myself. Others weren’t cheering for me at midnight, when I got stuck in my first draft. Over the course of 8000 words, I really was only challenging myself and overcoming my fears.
- Be self-critical not self-defeating: Learn to be kind to yourself. When you falter, it doesn’t mean you failed. When you wasted a day, it doesn’t mean you let go of your dreams. Staying motivated and focused is an ongoing practice. I did. So many times. Beating myself up for not being able to write chapters. Feeling guilty if I didn’t write in and used that time to binge on a show. That’s when I realized that all this self-talk wasn’t helping me to do better. If you can, talk to a friend who can hear you out. Being self-critical is about your output and actions. Being self-defeating is about killing your motivation and intention. Know the difference.
- Comparison is a thief: I tell you this. If all the women in the world stopped comparing their bodies with each other and just decided to smash their fitness routines for themselves, we’d have a revolution! Writing this book in the middle of a lockdown has taught me this humbling lesson in growth. We cannot compare because we are all unique humans. We can stay only inspired and share our stories. I so hope that all the ladies reading this, do being out one creative output for themselves this year! The choices are endless. Go explore.
Matuli Madhusmita Swain is a seasoned marketing and communications expert with over 10 years of experience in hospitality, social development and advertising with brands like The Leela Palaces, Hotels and Resorts, Hyatt, Movenpick Hotels & Resorts, IHG, Grey Group and Dr. Reddy’s Foundation.
An author ( Marcomm Cookies, her first book is available on Kindle) , panel speaker at Women Economic Forum 2020 speaker, artist and WICA (Women in Corporate Awards) Nominee 2019 ; Matuli loves good content, digital storytelling and champions conversations on marketing, leadership, new age work place practices, economics, entrepreneurship, sustainable travel and tourism.