An Interview with Sid Balachandran

Sid Balachandran, aka Rishi ke Papa, is the man who writes those. We mean the person who blogs at I Wrote Those. You may even know him as the recipient of the ‘Best Personal Blog in India’ at the  #WIN15 Blogging Awards. Sid is a Work From Home dad, which means he tries to get work done while spending time with his son Rishi. We asked him a few questions and Sid very graciously answered them, with none of the starry tantrums associated with an award winner. 🙂

sid-balachandran-blogger-interview

Q. How did the idea of blogging take root in your mind? What made you blog about your journey as a parent?

Like most of my peers, I started blogging as a way to journal my thoughts. While we were expecting our son, like most newbie parents, I too tried to befriend Google and find out answers to lot of my questions. And that’s when the idea struck me that it would be fun to have a sort of ‘Daddy blog’.

Q. How has your journey as a blogger been? Have the highs and lows as a parent corresponded with your blogging experience?

My blogging journey started around October 2013, and it’s been an eye-opening experience in a lot of ways. I’ve made new friends, acquired new readers, lost some of both and of course, now have the title of ‘Best Personal Blog in India’ too. In some ways, my blog is my second kid – after my 3 year old son, Rishi. So, yes, we have our moments of panic, anger and of course, love and happiness too.

Q. Your parenting posts are generally very light hearted and always end on a happy note. Is parenting really that rosy?

Parenting is really hard work. I mean no amount of books or websites or even guidance from friends/relatives can make that easy for you. I try and put a light-hearted spin on most things that I write about under my ‘Daddy Journals’ section. It’s not all fun and games, but the least I can do is make sure my readers leave with a smile on their face. Parenting is not rosy – but there’s no reason why we shouldn’t take it all in our stride and look for the positives.

Q. How do you decide which parts of your life go into your journey and which stay private? Have you ever faced a dilemma in this regard?

Deciding what parts of my life to put on the blog is always tricky. My wife always says that she’s worried about saying the wrong thing, lest it find its way onto my blog. I do a judgment check – ‘Will I (or the people I’m talking about) be unhappy if I put something about them on the blog?’ If the answer is a resounding Yes, then I don’t. But yes, there may have been times where I’ve divulged more personal details (and mannerisms) than I intended to. Of course, we can always go back and edit it when we realize.

Q. How do you plan and write your posts? How difficult is it for you to post regularly and how do you maintain that discipline?

My blogging routine is pretty simple – Try and write at least one quality post a week. Most of my blog posts are on the longer side, so I try and keep the blogging frequency to something more reasonable. Posting regularly can be a challenge, especially when you’re constantly around a 3 year old who has other ideas. We just need to find the time.

Q. Tell us something about your muse, Rishi.

Ah, where do I begin? At least 50% of this blog wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for him. After running around in the corporate rat race for a while, I’m now a full-time Dad who largely stays and works from home. So, I spend a lot of time with him, and get the chance to observe the way he sees things, adapts to challenges, finds new adventures and much more. I often joke that if Rishi reads what I usually write about him, I’ll be sued for defamation. So my dear son, if you’re reading this, I love you. And please don’t sue me. Also he isn’t as naughty as I describe him to be.

Sid Balachandran I wrote those best personal blog

Q. Your fiction posts are quite contrary and darker than your personal posts. Indulging your grey side?

Fiction was never on my mind when I first started the blog. It sort of just happened, and now a lot of people know me for writing decent fiction. Most of my fiction posts are based around real incidents. I also do a lot of research for every piece of fiction I write. I suppose the ‘dark’ side comes from the stark reality of the world that we live in today.

Q. Which are your favourite posts to write? Tell us about some of your best picks from your blog.

What? You want me to choose between my children? 😛 I enjoy writing my ‘Daddy Journal’ posts; But perhaps what I enjoy writing most is fiction. I enjoy the research that goes into describing people, places and feelings when writing fiction. Writing humour is a great stress-reliever too.
At the risk of blowing my own trumpet, these are some of my most popular posts:

Q. Will you get your son to read your blog when he’s older? Does he know he’s famous in the Blogosphere?

Haha! I don’t think it’ll be up to me. If I’m still blogging at that point, he’ll come to know about the blog, and I’m just hoping that ‘all hell will not break loose’ and that I won’t find myself slapped with a defamation suit. But then again, I hope he has a good sense of humour. I don’t think he knows that people know him from the blog – though he does look at me questioningly when a fellow blogger suddenly starts a conversation with him saying ‘You’re not as naughty as your dad portrays you to be‘.

Q. Not many people know about the life of a WFH dad. Please share your experience – the good and the bad things about the office-at-home set up.

The whole WFH concept isn’t as amazing and cool as people assume it to be. Yes, you get to sort of fix your own schedule, but that’s also the down side. It involves a lot of sacrifices, great time management and incredible organizational skills. If not, you’ll just be running errands and doing stuff around the house. And when you’re a parent, it becomes a whole lot more complicated. Because once you throw a young kid into the mix, things get really unpredictable.

Kids don’t care if you have a deadline or not, or if you’re on a conference call with clients from the UK – they want what they want. So yes, unless you can manage time effectively and fix a schedule that you can religiously stick to, working at an office is definitely more productive. Of course, the fact that most of your conversations are with a 3 year old kid does make you miss adult conversation at times too – which you’d get at an office. The great thing is that you get to set your timings – which can be as flexible or rigid as you want to it to be.

Q. Your blog features guest posts and you also write for other bloggers. Is it a way to network and stay connected or do you do it for other reasons?

Guest posts are a great way to connect and network. You’re practically sharing resources – you give them a good article in exchange for new readers and vice versa. Of course, sometimes guest posts are also done because of the relationship you have with the other blogger. As I said earlier, a lot of my readers are good friends too. So sometimes it’s just to celebrate a milestone post or event.

Q. How would you describe the child within you as compared to the child in front of you?

There are often times when I think I’m just a child stuck in an adult’s body. As amusing as that sounds, that side helps me relate a lot more to my 3 year old son. Whenever I’m playing with him, I try and see the world like he does and that really helps us connect better.

Q. What part does your family play in your blogging journey? How important is their support in your professional commitments and blogging?

My wife, parents and a couple of friends (who are almost like family) are my support system. Without them, I really wouldn’t be able to blog or write so freely and frequently. They are also my biggest critics (apart from myself, of course) and make sure I stay grounded. So yes. I’m really thankful to have them in my life. And I hope they think likewise about me too.

Q. You recently won the BlogAdda #WIN15 Blog Awards. Tell us about your reaction.

If I could sum the feeling in a couple of phrases, I’d say – Ecstatic and just on top of the world. I’m a fairly newbie blogger, we have plenty of bloggers who’ve been blogging for the better part of a decade. So it was great to get that recognition. But more than that, it was also a validation – not just one that I needed, but also something to tell me that I chose the right path. And of course, it’s always fun to strut around with your award, in front of your naysayers – the ones who always hoped you’d fail and questioned my decisions. So thank you, BlogAdda and the jury – the WIN award means a lot to me.

Q. How did your family, friends and followers react when you broke the news about winning the #WIN15 award to them?

Most of my family, friends and followers have stood by my writing and me for the past year or so. So naturally, they were pretty happy for me. My relationship with a lot of my readers and followers, also extends outside the blog – so we’re good friends too, and I’m hoping they think that I deserved the win. 🙂 Of course, the happiest person other than me, would have been my wife, who has been one of my biggest pillars of support. As for my ‘muse’ Rishi, all he wanted to know is if he’d get cake because I won. So you see, he has his priorities straight.

Sid Balachandran I wrote those best personal blog

Q. In one of your posts, you mention it is difficult for you to be expressive. Is blogging a way to express yourself in the safety of the Internet?

My god, your research is pretty thorough! 🙂 Yes, I’m not a very expressive person by nature. I’m more reserved, calm and an introvert. Blogging is a great way for people like me to interact with a wider audience and even find others who’re similar in nature. I guess for people who don’t speak and express much verbally, blogging is a fantastic tool. However I wouldn’t say ‘safety of the internet’. These days, the internet is perhaps the least safe place to express yourself. Everything and anything you say could get twisted and misconstrued – but that’s a chat for another day.

Q. Have you gotten the hang of parenting yet? Or are there any moments which still manage to surprise/shock/ throw you off balance/ amaze you?

Truth be told, I don’t think anyone will ever completely get the hang of parenting. It’s a life-long learning process and you just have to adapt and take things in your stride. There are still plenty of times when I’m thrown off balance and am shocked/surprised/ or even amazed by things my 3 year old says and does. After the initial shock and excitement, I do the next best thing – I blog about it 🙂

Q. Your writings reflect that you’re constantly debating and evaluating your actions. Does that help or hinder you as a writer?

Personally, it helps me more than hinder. I’m the sort of person who likes to look at ‘arguments laid out on the table’ before making a decision. Yes, the process hinders at times when you really want to rant away; but largely, it helps me develop both as a person and a writer.

Q. What is the one parenting advice that has stood you in good stead over the years?

One of the things I strongly believe in is that ‘To be a good parent, you need loads of patience and a great sense of humour’. As a popular saying goes, ‘A parent without a sense of humour is like an accountant who sucks at math’.

Q. Now that you have a separate ‘Sponsored’ tab on your blog, what are your thoughts on monetizing blogs? What is the best way to go about it?

Monetizing your blog is a great step. One, it gets you some money, which is always a good thing. Secondly, it helps build your network and gets your name out there with companies and other people. People monetize their blogs in different ways – from affiliate links to sponsored posts. I prefer sponsored posts because I have more control about the content than I have over, say a banner of another company on my blog.

But a piece of advice that I’d like to give bloggers who’re looking to do sponsored posts is ‘Be smart about the kind of sponsored posts you do. They need to fit in with the theme of your blog. If not, they will stick out like a sore thumb.’

Q. You’re working on your full length novel (with the blessings of your son) Tell us about it and what kind of progress have you made on it?

Ah, the novel! I’m working on two books at the moment – one is fiction, and the other is a humorous (at least I think so 🙂 ) Daddy Journals type of non-fiction one. The fiction one is part romance, part-mystery with elements of thrill in it. Progress is a bit slow – mainly because of some illness and a lot of holidays that came up over the past few months. But I’ve restarted work on it, and hopefully 2016 will see a couple of novels from yours truly.

Q. Which bloggers or authors do you look to for inspiration? Tell us the blogs that you follow.

As cliched as it sounds, I usually find inspiration on every blog I visit. The question is what I do with the inspiration. 🙂 Amongst authors, my favourites include Enid Blyton, JK Rowling, John Grisham, Lee Child, James Patterson, Roald Dahl, Ruskin Bond, Wodehouse …I could go on.

Some of the blogs that I follow quite regularly are:

Of course, there are plenty of others too – but I really couldn’t list all of them here. We’d be here all day.

Q. What is your preferred mode of promotion for your blog posts and why? How do you use social media to your benefit?

I usually share via Facebook or Twitter. Most of my traffic comes from Facebook, primarily because that’s where most of my friends and family are. Recently, I’ve also started getting a lot of traffic via Twitter. I try and utilize social media effectively – so if there’s a trending topic and I’ve written about it, I do shamelessly plug my post with that hashtag. Or even use the #replug hashtag to get some traffic for my old posts.

Q. Apart from blogging, parenting and work, what keeps you occupied? What do you like doing in your free time?

Freetime? After all that? Parenting, blogging and writing take up most of my day. Add a few hours of sleep, general exercise and family time, and that’s the entire day done. However, my wife and I try and work out a schedule where I can get some me-time during the week. Some time when I can read or watch a movie undisturbed. Or just wind down completely playing FIFA or Assassins Creed on the Xbox.

Q. Tell us about the Sid that your followers haven’t met yet through your blog.

Aha! The questions are getting a bit more personal, huh. Well, for most part, the Sid on the blog is the real Sid. The only things that my followers don’t get to see are the ‘Angry Sid’ – yes, Hulk mode! and the ‘Romantic Sid’ – which is awkward and thankfully, reserved for the wife 🙂 Apart from those, Sid is pretty much an open book. Also, I’m fiercely loyal to my friends. Yes, to the point of ‘will do almost anything for them’.

Q. What’s next for you and your blog? What can your readers expect from an ‘award winning blog’?

What’s next? I’m not too sure to be honest. I will keep blogging for as long as my schedule lets me. And I hope to be able to continue to deliver the quality and standard of posts that a reader would expect from an ‘award winning blog’. Oh, and of course, more Rishi tales and fiction.

Quick Questions:
1. Being a parent is…
 like trying to walk through an obstacle course filled with LEGO blocks while balancing rapidly melting ice cream in your hands.
2. Blogging for me is…
 a great avenue to express and network
3. My idea of a perfect day is…
 a good mix of writing, family time and some ‘me’ time. With a few beers and great food on the side 🙂
4. The best feedback I’ve received for my writing
… is being referred to as Mr. Fiction.
5. Favourite movie
…Kung Fu Panda. Hey, don’t judge, I have a three year old 🙂
6. Favourite food…Does cake count? If not, Pizzas
7. One advice you’d like to give a younger Sid
… If you think you’re good at something, don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise.

We hope you enjoyed reading Sid’s interview. Tell us what you feel in the comments section below!

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