But there is one motto I write by, and that is to not be afraid to delete.
Arnav Rajdev is a rising junior at the Lovett School in Atlanta. In school, he is the co-leader of the school’s chapter of Future Business Leaders of America, as well as the sports editor of the school’s newspaper. His role as the sports editor stemmed from his love for reading and writing about football. Along with sports writing, he enjoys honing his creative writing skills.
When he is not writing, he tutors at a local church (to ensure that he helps everyone finds a way to succeed), is an epée fencer (to increase his focus and agility) and is an avid football fan (surprise!). The combination of fencing and writing has led him to not only believe that the pen is mightier than the sword but to also conclude that actions speak louder than words. He always tries to balance these two different aspects of life.
What are you working on right now?
I write for my school’s newspaper, along with writing stories on the side. In school, I write articles on topics ranging from arts to soccer, but I have a penchant for writing about the National Football League. I recently had my last football article of the year published on our school’s news site.
Where did the idea for “Days Like This” come from?
We were having a short story contest at school, and I entered. I didn’t know what to write about, so I just observed what we were learning in school, and I noticed that the events of the Cold War (specifically the Vietnam War) really stood out to me. We were shown gruesome images of war-torn areas of Vietnam, and then something just clicked. We cannot not think about our heroes.
Days Like This (pdf download)
What does your typical day look like?
My typical day can get pretty boring during the NFL’s offseason. During the NFL season, I wake up with excitement because I know that game day is right around the corner. During the offseason, I wake up, go to school, come home, go to fencing practice (yes, I love fencing), do homework, read up on football news, and then go to bed. During the NFL season, I do the exact same thing, except with 1,000 volts more energy.
How do you bring ideas to life?
My parents always taught me to write down my thoughts on a piece of paper before I began writing, but that never stuck. When I get an idea, I actually make it a point to not write it down. By writing my ideas down, I feel like I have to follow the path of my initial idea. Instead, I play my idea in my head like a movie, and wherever I feel like I can enhance something, I rewind and play it back. The biggest downside to this is that I look like I’m daydreaming, but I dream with my eyes open and make it happen.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as a writer?
Writing past 11 p.m. For some reason, my thought process flows much more smoothly at night as opposed to daytime. I think it’s the fact that I know that nobody will interrupt me while I’m piecing my thoughts together that makes me more productive.
If you were to rewrite this story, would you do anything differently? If so, what?
This is one of the rare instances when I look at my writing with no intention to change the plotline.
What is one strategy that helped you piece together this draft?
The biggest thing that stood out to me when I wrote this story was that I visualized this war-torn scene without having any true connection to anyone who served in the military. I never knew anyone who had a firsthand account of what being in combat was like. It was really the visualization aspect of writing that helped me put this draft together.
As a writer, what is one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
There isn’t anything I do repetitively. But there is one motto I write by, and that is to not be afraid to delete. Sometimes, the best idea is to throw out an old idea and start from scratch.
Tell us a secret.
This is a tough one. I would have to go with the time that I (accidentally) fell over two people to get an autograph from my favorite football player.
What are your three favorite online tools, and what do you love about them?
· theSkimm provides current events and other newsworthy stories, all summed up in one brief daily newsletter. It’s like a coded heaven.
· Twitter requires that you only use 140 characters to convey a message. It’s almost like a game. But seriously, so many different people and organizations use Twitter — the variety of things to read is marvelous.
· Bleacher Report may not be a tool per se, but it’s my go-to site for all sports news.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read, and why?
It’s one that many have probably already watched and read: “Life of Pi.” The detail and thought put into every aspect of the story by the author, Yann Martel, is nothing short of remarkable. I watched the movie when I was 10 and then read the book when I was 15; both times, I went through the same plot roller coaster.
What’s on your playlist?
I’m not really into music that much. I really just listen to what’s on the radio on the way home from school (which is pretty much the same thing every day). I love Coldplay, though.
If you don’t write for a living, what will you do?
I would be a general manager of an NFL team. That has always been my dream. It’s not an easy road to land a job that only has 32 openings in the world, but hey, you have to dream big and work to make it happen.
Who is your hero? Why?
Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan. Coming out of college, Ryan was given the nickname “Matty Ice” for being cool and calm under pressure. As a result, he has 24 fourth-quarter comebacks to his name in the NFL. I admire that trait. Do everything passionately, but don’t lose your cool.
Do you have a Twitter handle or a website that people can keep up with you on?
I do not have a Twitter account, but I do have Instagram: .
Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.