What I learned at The Blogchatter Retreat At Taj Gateway Damdama Gurgaon
First things first as most of you will know I am not big on joining blogging seminars etc. as I am not much of a networking type. I have attended a few of them and mostly end up feeling totally out of place. So when Richa the founder of Blogchatter invited me to join for the Blogchatter Retreat at Taj Gateway Resort in Damdama Gurgaon, I was kind of skeptical. Anyways long story short thanks to the persuasive powers that Richa enjoys and the fact that the agenda actually focused on learning and taking the blog to next level I agreed for the same.
The speakers at the retreat were folks either I have followed for some time or was aware of their work either as bloggers or as professionals in their own right. What excited me the most about the retreat was to listen to the people who have not only taken their hobby blogs to the next level but also made a successful transition to published authors in their genre.
Before we move any further I think it would be prudent to talk a bit about ” What is Blogchatter?
Well without applying my already in short supply bird brain let me bring it on from Blogchatter itself
Blogchatter is India’s first weekly twitter chat on #Blogging. Now a growing community. Connect every Wednesday at 8:30 PM IST with like minded #bloggers! #blogchatter
So basically BlogChatter with the #blogchatter started as a twitter chat about blogging and organically has grown to become a community of bloggers, social media influencers, aspiring as well as published authors who all are serious about writing. I personally feel that today Blogchatter is more than just blogging, and it is giving a platform to serious bloggers who not only want to grow their blog but also have that drive in them that makes them aspire to become published authors also.
While dreaming to take the blog to next level is one thing, actually work in that direction is totally different. As I mentioned in my blog post ” How to kill your blog in 10 steps ” most bloggers while want to take their blogs to the next level they actually due to various reasons end up doing exactly the opposite and slowly taking their blogs to an agonizing death.
In comes the weekly Blogchatter community founded by Richa Singh that cajoles bloggers via weekly chats, prompts, challenges & retreats like the one I attended so that they graduate from being casual bloggers to become serious with their craft not just for the sake of making money but also to make some impact with their work.
Taj Gateway Resort Damdama Gurgaon
The retreat venue the Taj Gateway Resort Damdama Gurgaon was in itself a major attraction to join the Blogchatter retreat and the lush green environs, comfortable rooms, wonderful service from the Taj Team all added to the excellent learning experience at the retreat.
What did I learn at the Blogchatter Bloggers Retreat at Taj Gateway Damdama Resort Gurgaon?
Blogging is a very internal process, the thoughts and belief system of a blogger once published it goes out and it is rare that you get a genuine feedback from the readers. With all due respect to my fellow bloggers, most of the comments on blogs as wells as on social media are about mutual appreciation, to the extent that now there are Facebook groups and Instagram pods dedicated to promoting each other’s blog, and I must confess I am a member of few such groups. So how do you know that your work is any good or not? Author Kanchana Banerjee shared her journey from a homemaker to a published author that too with a reputed publisher like Harper Collins. Her journey to participate in a contest and pitch her story gave me goosebumps. But the biggest learning is that when your readership reaches beyond your cozy circle of friends and family that is the time when you need to evolve as a writer. And the final Agni Pariksha is when you get published because that is the validation that you are doing something right for somebody is willing to put money on your work and get you published. I think same applies for writing articles for print media. While I can write any kind of things on my blog as you have noticed, I rarely check my grammar and punctuation and liberally use vernacular on my nikku pikku, chinna pilla, Bunty Bubbly type desi Traveler blog.
— Prasad Np (@desiTraveler) July 16, 2017
While this ” I write for myself ” attitude may work for the blog as it kind of represents me who thinks in vernacular and types in English but when I need to send a story to an Editor of a prestigious magazine, I not only need to adhere to the magazine’s guidelines related to word count, format, and language etc. I also need to edit my copy. This was the biggest learning from the session so wonderfully conducted by Smarpita Mukherjee Sharma. She step by step de-constructed the art and science of ” Saleable Writing” It was a big lesson for me as a blogger and wanna be author of International Bestsellers that while a story is important, one needs to carefully construct the story with a cool mind keeping clear goals like target readership clearly defined. Then comes the part of actually working on the manuscript once it is ready. The difference between a winning and losing manuscript is crisp writing. Most wannabe authors try to cut corners here and think that they can write so they can edit. Well, I guess the biggest learning for me from this workshop was that Writing and Editing are two totally different skills while some rare individual may have both a professional editor can polish your manuscript just like a skilled lapidary can convert a rough stone into a precious diamond. Well, lesson learned and rest assured I will hire a good editor whenever my manuscript is ready, all I need is some time to first type it. If you know a good literary agent you can share my contact details with them. ( Confidence kay marks 100 % to desi Traveler 😛 Agreed ? )
One of the most interesting sessions of the retreat was by consultant turned publisher Dipankar Mukherjee, founder, and CEO of Readomania , a new age publishing house that takes pride in discovering authors, and nurturing talent in the literary space by conducting writing workshops, seminars, and literary events. More power to him and his team for there was never a better time to become an author than today. I mean what better than publishers actively looking for folks who have a story to tell and then willing to work with them to make the story publishing worthy? A far cry from the times when you had no idea what happened to your manuscript after you have put it in the letterbox. I will remember Dipankar’s session for a very important takeaway that each one of us has a conflict within and it is that conflict or the process of dealing with conflict that leads to a great story.
— Prasad Np (@desiTraveler) July 17, 2017
An author, an editor, followed by a new age Publishing entrepreneur the day was only getting better as we progressed. Then came Isha Nagar who took us a very simple yet creative process of thinking visually. It was a very interesting session where she took us a process of thinking in terms of shapes and designs and then use our creativity to come up with simple designs or creative works using visual clues. E.g reinterpreting an old fable or looking at a design and explaining it to our partner in the exercise. I am sure some of these things will surely help me in taking my photography to the next level. Some of the design elements can sure be used in clicking better pictures, and creating a more visual description of happening in a story one is sharing. You should totally check some of the cool products created by Isha on her website Tathya.
The first day was about to end but not before a round of the lush green surroundings of Taj Gateway Resorts Damdama. I may do a full review of our hosts The Taj Gateway Resort Damdama in Gurgaon sometime later, let me give you some quick reasons to visit them
- Very close to Gurgaon so ideal for a weekend getaway
- Great food and wonderful service
- Lush green environs with lots of activities for everybody in the family from a full-size pool to a spa to fine dining and bar to adventure activities ranging from archery to rope climbing etc.
In case I don’t do the complete review of the Taj Gateway Resort Damdama here is a few pictures I clicked there for you to look at that I clicked with my SST phone or Sasta Sunder Tikau phone.
The evening was spent checking out the Taj Gateway resort premises, the spa, the and their grounds etc. before I took a long shower to join for some drinks at their bar. Cheese platters and wine were served, and as always your friendly neighborhood desi Traveler had Ice cold water on the rocks. Late night we had a brainstorming session that went into the real late night, and hats off to the Taj team their folks were still around to help us out with anything we needed including a special after dinner Coffee Martini counter.
I think I must have reached my room around 2 in the night as I decided to take a stroll around the resort, totally forgetting about the early morning Yoga Session we had in the lawns. Well I excused myself from the Yoga by appointing myself the ” Official Photographer” of the Yoga session, here are the pictures to prove the same. But it was a mistake I later realized for Aditya Somaiya, Co-founder The Sweat Shop, & Himanshu Bathla, Co-founder & Chief Instructor at Reebok Cross fit had some great tips to offer on healthy living, balanced diet and overall well being. Surprisingly we are being told in every TV commercial that all the cornflakes etc. are great for us, disagrees Himanshu, and as per him better stick to Indian Breakfast that has more variety and offers a more balanced nutrition as long as you make sure you get carbs, proteins etc. in appropriate amount and don’t overdo the fried stuff.
Finally came the session I was waiting for. ” Travel Fuels Creativity” by Aditi Mathur Kumar, well-known travel blogger, and author of two books that takes inspiration from her own life as somebody married to an Army Officer. The interactive fun session peppered with anecdotes from her own travels and journey from a blogger to author with some expert comments added by Gauri her 5-year-old daughter made it a memorable session.
Soon it was time to say good by, lots of pictures and exchange of emails and twitter handles with promises to stay in touch and stalk each other on Instagram. ( Folks I am still waiting on my Instagram go ahead 🙂 )
Overall I would say a great Blogger Retreat by Blogchatter team with some key learnings about creativity and business of blogging and to grow both as a blogger and to graduate as an author. If you are serious about blogging I suggest you click here to join the Blogchatter community.
Here are some other posts were written about the Blogchatter Retreat and Taj Gateway Resorts Damdama Check them out
- On Blogchatter Website
- Blog post by Aditi Mathur Kumar
- Blog Post by Natasha Sinha
- Blog post by Samprita Mukherjee Sharma
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