And just like that, On My Canvas completed three thriving years on the internet.
Congratulations to us all who have been part of this budding platform through which I want to spread love, life, and hope. I cannot thank my readers enough for sticking with me all the while, for sending me immensely inspirational messages day and night, and for asking me to write more and more. On some hard days, I could not have done it without your endless emails and witty comments.
When a blogger says her blog is her baby, she isn’t exaggerating. From waking up to falling asleep — and even while dreaming — I think of what I want to write, scribble endlessly, plan articles, read, travel solo to far and unknown places, click pictures, and soak in the day to day learnings to share them here to help others. I also watch the number of readers going up and down like a hawk gazes at a squirrel.
In the leftover time, I write for freelance clients and pen down short stories and creative non-fiction essays. And if there is still time, I shower, sleep, cook, eat, clean, exercise, meditate, plan future trips, and spend an occasional evening or two with my husband.
This is how occupied a blogger’s life is in general. But we still go on. Why?
Victimization aside, I sometimes take Mondays or Thursdays off. Instead of working in the morning, I lie down in the sun with my Kindle. I count reading time as work time. Lunch for me isn’t just a cold sandwich but I can afford to whip up a curry quickly. My morning routine starts with running, meditating, and ginger chai and never with emails or frustrating meetings. I publish at my schedule. I get appreciative emails and comments from you all— my lovely readers — who have supported me so far. I get requests from people to interview me now and then. I travel for months sometimes with no return ticket.
And the best of it all — I begin my days with writing and as soon I sit on my desk I travel to a different world. It is like I have a space and time machine.
I wouldn’t say that the past three years have been free-floating through the universe. The journey has been steep and, even daunting, at times.
I was vocal about the initial writing struggles and my passion to write in this post on completing the first year of blogging in June’18. Now that article reads as disconnected as my past thoughts and future’s anticipation punctuates the piece too many times.
2018 was filled with glorious nomadness, love stories, and writing anxieties. Upon completing 2 years of On My Canvas in August’19, I reflected upon my learnings and mistakes for there were many.
2019 was busy but exciting. I was happy about traveling through the Himalayas and Burma, prioritizing my mental health and doing Vipassana and Yoga, spending time with friends, writing 30 articles in 30 days, collaborating with international tourism organizations, building a large readership, and winning three travel blogging awards.
But I was still disappointed about the limited freelancing I had done and that I hadn’t been able to bring a balance between personal development(my ideas to learn, grow, break barriers, and live a better life) and travel writing(see the world). So I prioritized these for 2020 along with shrugging off the social media anxiety, reading more, and traveling more.
This year started on the right notes. After returning from Myanmar in the first week of January, I traveled to the remote Sharavathi Valley and a treehouse in Yercaud. I lay under the January sun and read George Orwell. But soon things fell off the wagon. A Pandemic settled upon us slowly. The world was locked down by March.
I didn’t have any planned trips but I was in conversations with a few sustainable travel companies who wanted to do some unique events. Like a weekend focused on breaking barriers somewhere in the woods of Karnataka with a travel group led by me. Then there was an organization that invited me to a village to experience their ecological efforts and write about them. I was in talks with many editors and had a few commissioned articles.
When people started losing jobs and companies started shutting down, travel saw the worst of the times. Neither the trips materialized nor the articles have been published yet.
A melancholy floated through us all. When so many of us didn’t have a stable job, a roof above our heads, or good health, I realized I couldn’t complain about anything. I was instead thankful, I smiled, and I tried to help.
After getting married in February to my partner who has been with me for three years now, I focused on both travel and inspirational writing. Oh, I subtly slipped in the marriage as it was a small affair with friends where we had fun and tied ourselves legally for society’s sake. Without the support of my partner, life seems unimaginable now.
Both of us tried our best to not let the shutdown affect us. We divided our small terrace space into two desk areas and started working.
What we can’t control shouldn’t bother us. We told each other every day.
Leaving the myriad of pessimistic (and mostly fake) news behind, blocking the broken plans out of mind, and watching a green horizon from the same window daily, I put my head down and read and wrote and published. I also got a lot of freelance work(mostly through my blog and Linkedin), and I dug up old drafts and formed new ones while not giving a damn to social media.
It hasn’t been easy given how mornings start with a run around the apartment with masks on and evenings end with a phone call that updates which other friend or extended family got the virus. For a while, I refused to believe anything had changed at all. But now I cannot help but feel the burnout of working continuously, limited social life, regular chores, the frustration of people, the struggle of some to survive, and the idea that we wouldn’t be able to step out in the open freely for a while. Oh, let us not forget the continuous fear for all close people who might or might not be keeping themselves safe and sound.
The readers reduced a bit, partnerships stopped, travel halted, but I found a new goal.
I decided to finish 180 articles by the end of 3 years so that I have 60 published pieces for each year of On My Canvas’s life. Five pieces for every month, implying one thoughtful article every six days. Not that number matters more than quality, but getting stuck in perfection also hinders growth.
And given all the admin work, long travels, freelance writing, sickness and health, happiness and sadness, home trips, reading fiction and non-fiction, learning SEO and Pinterest, taking care of my physical and mental health, managing a relationship — five articles a month seems good along with a steep writing and blogging learning curve.
I touched the milestone recently and thus you are finally getting this third-anniversary celebratory piece. Yay.
The journey has been overwhelming. I am still getting used to the thrill of being a blogger. The opportunities of a writer still blow my mind away.
Sharing some of my main learnings and mistakes from the three years and a roadmap for the future.
My 6 Biggest Achievements from 3 Years of On My Canvas:
1. Writing Better — From broken grammar, boring stories, and bumpy articles, I have come a long way to publishing well-articulated pieces in a few hours. I still have a long way to go. Please bear with me 🙂
2. Setting a proper publishing schedule — I publish one travel and one growth article per week these days. I hope to continue this routine.
3. An appreciative and loyal audience — More and more people find my blog and leave meaningful comments or send long emails telling me how my writing helped them or inspired them to bring a change. Travelers use my tips to see the world and thank me later. I cannot ask for more.
4. Building a Beginner’s income — From partnerships to affiliate income to freelance work to other revenue sources, my blog constantly churns money now. The pandemic hasn’t been good but it will get better after. I am also thinking of setting up a readers’ contribution or subscription channel. Do you think I should do that now or shall I wait a bit longer?
5. Creating Blogger Connections — I have come to know some amazing bloggers and writers from around the world and I know that this community is going to become even stronger. Reading or knowing others who are facing similar challenges helps more than we think.
6. Turning On My Canvas into a stable platform where I can voice my opinions and life journey— I am myself when I write blog posts. Whether I write about working hard or breaking the routine or not getting married until we like or finding our creative energy or hiking a steep mountain before dawn, I pour my passions and learnings and thoughts into my writing.
While my mind has a constant outlet, life feels alright all the time. And I know that what doesn’t feel right will be fixed by writing about it.
My 6 Biggest Learnings from 3 Years of On My Canvas:
1. Write to write and not for appreciation — Write well because you want to write beautifully. Prestige and applaud are by-products and not goals.
2. You can only get better when you write more — Keep at it.
3. You can’t follow anyone’s journey to the top — Everyone’s journey is different. Carve your path.
4. Good things take time — If you keep doing the thing, ninety-nine percent of the problem is solved. The rest one percent is destiny. Yes, I do believe in one.
5. Unwavering belief will hold your hand on dark days.
6. SEO is your most dependable friend.
I am growing constantly and there is a long way ahead.
6 Biggest Mistakes That I Made During The 3 Years of On My Canvas:
1. Expecting things to go faster than they generally do
2. Getting influenced by others’ journeys and social media
3. Setting unrealistic work deadlines, sometimes
4. Not appreciating myself enough
5. Not having proper goals at times
6. Not paying enough attention to marketing and circulating my work — To make my writing reach more audiences is as important as it is to write. But I have been a bit lousy on the marketing front.
Mistakes are to learn from.
My 7 Important Roadmap Items for the Upcoming Years:
1. Pushing myself in life and on my travels — Challenges create the best stories, best lessons, and the best kind of life.
2. Traveling to the far and unknown — I want to see the whole world. Then come back to this powerful medium to show you what I saw.
3. Maintaining a sustainable publishing schedule
4. Guest posting and publishing on more publications, magazines, and newspapers — Gaining recognition and audience through popular print and social media. In the coming year, I want to focus more on sharing my work on as many platforms as I can.
5. Building a readers community that can eventually share with each other as well.
6. Work towards building a stable revenue stream from the blog
7. Preparing and reading as per a monthly reading schedule so I don’t go mad looking at every other book like a hungry dog drools over a gazelle
Having a plan is important to move in the right direction.
What has stayed constant throughout is that I have been having fun, I enjoy being my boss, I love writing day and night, and I am constantly learning and growing personally. I am content with my decision to write and take on blogging and writing as a full-time career.
I still have a myriad of things to know, understand, and implement.
It has been a hell of a ride. But we always get through it all in due time. Don’t you think?
Now enjoy some of my favorite and most popular articles from the past year. Let me know which ones you like the most.
My Top 12 Travel Articles From the Past Year
3. A Day on the Banks of River Kali, Dandeli — Karnataka is the greenest state of India and its many wonders will render you speechless. Dandeli and Kali river are places where time halts and the heart rejoices. (Pocket)
4. A Day on the Yangon Circular Train, Myanmar — Getting on a train to watch the countryside from a moving window is my favorite pastime. This Yangon train journey is even more special because of the ever-smiling Burmese people. (Pocket)
5. One of the most surreal waterfalls of Karnataka – Belligundi Waterfall, Sharavathi Valley — Want to do a remote hike? Read this travel guide. (Pocket)
6. My Dream Destination — Amazon Jungles, Peru — I wanted to go to the Amazon jungle since I was a little girl. My dream came true in 2017 and this memoir is almost a tribute to the world’s oldest rainforest that carries many hidden secrets in its depth. (Pocket)
7. Te Quiero, Chiloé — I spent 6 months on the Chiloé island of Chile. This is a small story of an Indian girl finding her way to the remotest island of Chile and living with a Chilean family there. (Pocket)
8. The Wonderful BR Hills, Karnataka — Looking for some wildlife? Go no further than the benevolent BR Hills that are generous enough to show you its sloth bears and leopards and elephants on an afternoon’s safari. (Pocket)
10. Losing my way to Butterfly Beach, Goa — How fun it is to get lost on the way and then go somewhere else only to return to the sight of the crime later and not giving up until we have found what we were looking for. This journey would tell you all. (Pocket)
11. Chile Visa Fiasco – When I Was Stranded at the Bolivia-Chile Border — A narrative piece on how I rushed through consulates and borders and cities to catch my homebound flight from Santiago to Mumbai. But not before saying goodbye to my friends who were spread across Chile. (Pocket)
12. Traveling During Pandemic — Everything you need to know about traveling during the pandemic. I do not promote international travel as of now. But domestic travel in a car to a place of nature sounds good. Read the detailed article to know more. (Pocket)
My Top 15 Personal Development Articles From the Past Year
2. 23 Small and Easy Habits For a Good Life — I believe that a good life is all about doing the same small and simple things over and over again. Here I list 23 tiny habits to change your life. (Pocket)
5. My Journey from Engineering to Writing — I quit my investment banking job to write. This is the narrative of my decade-long journey to leaving the conventional stability for a writing career. (Pocket)
I’m sorry but I couldn’t shorten the list anymore.
My Most Favorite Writing Advice From This Year
9 Creative Writing Techniques to Enrich Your Travel Writing — How I use creative writing techniques in my travel writing to create descriptive travelogues. (Pocket)
Thank you for reading my work and for accompanying me on this journey. I hope you stick around for more 🙂
Now you tell me — What do you want to read more often on On My Canvas? What do you expect from the coming years? Which piece from the last year did you like the most? Anything else you have in mind? I would love to hear from you so drop a comment.
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