Meet Nistha Tripathi, she is the writer of No Shortcuts. In total she has written 3 book and one is about to finish soon.
My favorite is still my first book – Seven Conversations. It is my interpretation of Gita and the concepts of spirituality that I learned over the years. It was a particularly trying phase of my life in which that book was written and I will always hold it dear to my heart, says Nishta.
We got an opportunity to catch up with her and know her journey as a writer. Nishta has an inspiring journey, read her full story.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
A freespirit is how I would describe myself. I am an eternal optimist, I would take risks that many people won’t. I have dropped out of a top 10 MBA program in USA, left high paying jobs on Wall Street, ended up a dysfunctional relationship, chosen to build a company with no backing and spend half a year in traveling and writing instead of doing a regular job. I believe life is short and unpredictable, you cannot afford to live by someone else’s rules.
Professionally, I am an engineer turned author. I am an entrepreneur and my latest book is about 15 Indian startups and their stories.
Our readers will like to know more about this book. What is it all about?
It is called No Shortcuts and it is about how to build a successful startup in India. Now, I have been an entrepreneur myself and failed 3 times before finding success in my fourth business. I have studied about startups in MBA and read a lot of books myself but things are very different on the ground. I made a lot of mistakes myself and researched what successful entrepreneurs have done differently.
For example, Freshworks is a Chennai based startup that has just crossed a billion dollar valuation. I was curious why is it so successful. So, I interviewed Girish Mathrubootham (its founder) and asked him the questions that I always wondered about. How did he find his first 100 customers, where did he do his advertising, how did he develop the sales process etc etc. I feel most of the other startup books glorify entrepreneurship without going into the real substance. I wanted to ask deeper questions to these founders and share that knowledge with people who want to build successful companies themselves.
No Shortcuts is a compilation of 15 such stories of Indian founders.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I don’t even remember. Once I was reading Atlas Shrugged in college and I just told a friend that I want to write a novel someday. I kept feeling the desire to write a book afterward but got busy figuring out my career and life. I did keep blogging and penning my personal thoughts all this while. I do not remember a time when I did not want to be a writer.
How long does it take you to write a book?
It varies a lot. My first book was a fiction that took me six months to write. No Shortcuts took 18 months because it involved a lot of research. I do like to research thoroughly before writing about anything.
What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
I run my own education venture. The consulting I do is a seasonal business – it keep me occupied half the year. The other six months I like to spend in travelling and writing.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I like writing between 1-5 am – that is when the night is at its quietest and I guess that helps in hearing out my thoughts.
Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?
It can come from anywhere but I do keep an idea journal and note down whenever inspiration strikes. What really helps is to keep an open mind and be meditative. If you are a good observer (external and internal), you will come across situations and thoughts that might generate a spark. Then it is up to you how well you are able to follow that spark.
No Shortcuts was born when I was reading Founders at Work by Jessica Livingston two years ago. I wondered why such a book does not exist in India. So, I started working on it myself.
When did you write your first book and how old were you?
I was 30 years old when I penned down Seven Conversations. So, you can say I am a late starter!
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Traveling, reading (I can read endlessly), reading books about writing, playing board games with my nephews.
What does your family think of your writing?
I have inherited my writing genes from my grandfather who wrote poetry in bundelkhandi language. My dad has written short stories and poems in hindi. I feel very close to them when I write. But other than that, I do not discuss my books with my family because I feel writing is a very private affair. For instance, my first book was a fiction inspired from some of my own experiences and it felt weird to think that your family can read it and relate to some of those things. Over the time, it has become less of an anxiety for me thankfully!
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
Writers love to write and look down upon the work required afterward. They expect that the readers would come flocking and they do not have to do anything. I thought the same till my first book but as I grew as an entrepreneur, I could see the importance of bringing your creation to the right users. A friend once told me that it is my responsibility to get this book in front of the people because it deserves that. I guess I had never thought about it that way. I implore the writers to not only take their writing seriously but also make sure that their work gets seen. It is this attitude shift that made me comfortable about really talking about my creative work and get more visibility.
How many books have you written? Which is your favourite?
I have finished 3 books and 1 is in eternal draft mode. My favorite is still my first book – Seven Conversations. It is my interpretation of Gita and the concepts of spirituality that I learned over the years. It was a particularly trying phase of my life in which that book was written and I will always hold it dear to my heart.
Do you have any suggestions to help me become a better writer? If so, what are they?
Yes. The first is what you will hear from every writer – it is that one must write regularly to improve their craft. The second is read the kind of books that you want to write. Third is my own trick – whenever you watch a movie or read a book – analyze it as if you were the creator. What have they done to create the effect they are able to create. If I do not like a movie, I ask myself what exactly did I not like – the story, the direction, the characters etc. And if I love something, I try to dissect how is it possible to create something that good. These small thinking exercises sharpen your craft gradually.
Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
I do get emails sometimes when a reader could relate to the book very deeply. Seven Conversations was a story of a woman who is navigating through excruciating personal circumstances and how she discovers herself in that journey. Some readers pointed out that the book helped them stay sane through a similar period in their life. Those comments definitely mean the most.
Other than that, I have written two non fiction books including my latest one which covers the hottest topic – startups. In these books, the comments are less emotional but they serve as a good feedback to understand what is working in your writing and what is not. I feel better if someone has a strong opinion about my work. The worst is when they don’t care enough to say anything.
What do you think makes a good story?
For me, a good story is always layered with complexities. What we call a masala novel or a movie is a superficial plot with characters that are one dimensional. It can still be entertaining but a better story is grey. Its characters are neither fully bad nor wholly good. They are more real and they have their own virtue and vices. And it shows how the hero transforms through the story. For example Dangal is not just about victory, it is the journey of the father who is overcoming his own insecurities and unfulfilled ambitions and finding purpose in helping others achieve what he could not. All the characters in that movie are so well threshed out that you can see your own self into it.
The main thing is that it should be entertaining and gripping nonetheless. That is why I think Raju Hirani is an ingenius storyteller because he can make a very profound movie that still entertains and doesn’t drown under its own weight.
As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
I did want to be a writer – may be not as a child but in my teens. I did not know what I would write but I knew that I will write something someday. Of course, we live in India, so one has to become a doctor or an engineer first.
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