Nistha Tripathi, 35, is the founder and director of Scholar Strategy, an education consultancy that advises students about higher education options abroad. This Indore-based writer began blogging in 2006 and published her first novel 12 years later which evolved from her blog posts.

Day job vs writing

Tripathi says that she would totally quit everything to be a writer. “I am already half way there since I have set up a business that allows me to take time off for about six months in a year to write. It is still hard for writers to make a living off the books. If that were to happen, I wouldn’t think twice before taking it up full time," she says. She has authored three books till now, one of which was self published. Her first book, Seven Conversations was published by Leadstart Publishing in 2014. “I was reading lot of philoso-phy, spiritual and religious books because I had hit a bad patch in my personal life," she says.

Her second book, Smart Engineer’s Complete Guide to MS in USA, is an academic book that she self published in 2015. Her latest and third book, No Shortcuts, published by Sage Publications in 2018, features the interviews of 15 start-up founders. “I feel that the challenges of setting up a start-up in India are very unique and we need to learn from our fellow Indian entrepreneurs about how to thrive in these challenges," she says.

Writing rituals

Tripathi likes writing at night and usually sits down between 1 and 5 am. “I write best when the night is at its quietest. I find it easy to hear my thoughts. I also often travel to few quiet places (including a beautiful cottage in Uttarakhand) to write," she says. Sometimes when she feels stuck while writing, she reads a lot and that helps overcome her writers’ block. “Writing has been extremely liberating for me. When you put your thoughts on paper, it helps you crystallize your ideas more clearly. I saw that when I was building my start-up," she says. “Secondly, sharing my experiences on Quora and Medium helped me in finding a bigger purpose in what I do," she says.

Kindle vs paper

She prefers to read on Kindle because she travels a lot and tends to read multiple books at a time. “It is easier to carry a Kindle than physical books during travel. Secondly, I love the highlighting feature in a Kindle. It makes it easy for me to look at my notes. Once I just started reading the sentences I had highlighted in various books and it was like digging an old treasure," she says.

A writer’s challenges

Coming from non-media background, navigating the publishing industry was very tricky for Tripathi. She faced a lot of problems in getting her first book published. “For an outsider, getting a publisher and working with them is not easy. Another reality is that ultimately, the author has the sole responsibility of marketing the book. I struggled with it with my first book but with my latest book, I took full responsibility and it worked wonders," she says.

Reading right now

She is reading three books right now: Made to Stick by Chip Heath, Fooled by Randomness by Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Blitzscaling by Reid Hoffman.

Most favoured author

She admires Vikram Chandra. “I like his writing. However, I prefer his lesser known book Geek Sublime over Sacred Games but . He is a writer who also learned to code and he talks about writing poetry and code in that book, which resonated strongly with me," she says. She is also a big fan of Elizabeth Gilbert and her approach toward life and relationships.

Author at Work is a series that follows the lives of part time writers who hold a corporate day job.