How and when did you decide on writing as a career?
I think it would have to be by the time I reached senior school. My mother was the biggest influence. She was a journalist with a magazine, Calcutta Skyline, and through her I was exposed to writing and translation. It helped that I could be precise, research thoroughly, and write lucidly on a number of issues. I began writing for our school magazine, the Navratri magazine for the housing society we lived in, the school and college pages of newspapers in Calcutta and eventually for kolkataon.com, a website created during the dotcom boom. And this kick-started the writing phase.
Please describe the path that you took to becoming a freelancer.
This was motivated by the need to spend more time with my children and reduce commuting to zero and the desire to work on a variety of projects to keep boredom at bay. I started freelancing in earnest two years ago though I had been doing this in bits and pieces post the birth of my first child. Six years of full-time work had enabled me to build up a solid network of contacts. I connected with all of them, many of who are spread out across the globe now, created samples to showcase my abilities, put my profile up on recruitment sites, met people in person and over the Internet and signed up on LinkedIn.
Did you take a course or do you have professional certifications in the profession? How important is formal training and education for the profession?
No, I do not have any profes sional certifications. I like writing, wrote well and my work was always received well so I guess that did it for me. Today, there is a lot of choice. All young people need is awareness that these avenues exist. There is the Board of Editors in the Life Sciences (BELS) certification exam for technical editing; there are workshops and courses for technical writing. None of this was there when I started out. I was given a user manual for some electrical component and asked to replicate it in terms of format and style of writing for a finance-based software application! It is very important to have a flair for writing, a knack for getting to the point, and using the right words. If there are options available in terms of training and honing these skills, and professional courses, you can avail of them. These won’t hurt you.