JAN 22, 2021 | 19:51

Episode 8: Unleash Your Creativity With Tara Khandelwal

An editor, a writer, and a curator of skill-building experiences for creatives by phenomenal writers retreats, workshops, writing, coaching, and editorial services, Tara Khandelwal is on a mission to create the next generation of artists, entrepreneurs, and writers and give them a home where they can hone their skills via her experiential learning company: Bound.

How did you get the idea of starting Bound?

I was working as an editor, and then I went on to work as a journalist. During that time, I saw that there were a lot of aspiring writers and so many things happening in the creative world, with so many people creating amazing content. When I was growing up, there wasn't that much emphasis on making a career out of something creative. That's why we wanted that many avenues to learn, and really improve our skills. A lot of us learned on the job. Those of us who are privileged enough to avail all of these courses abroad did so, but I felt that there was nothing in India. Because I studied abroad, I saw the kind of infrastructure, creative writers, and I thought that India needed something like that.

How does one become part of the Bound family?
You can follow us on our Instagram. We update all of our courses there. We have monthly courses that we do. They're all on our website. We have a subscription as well. So you pay a certain amount and you get a couple of classes for free. If you're interested in the mentorship program, then all you need to do is reach out to us and then somebody from the team will call you to understand your writing goal, what you want from a mentor, and try and fit you with the correct person. Then you’ll have an introduction call to see if it's the right fit. Every course has its own WhatsApp group. We have our own Facebook group. Our objective is really to keep giving resources, whether paid or unpaid, to our community.

What do your online classes involve? What kind of topics do you talk about?
When I started Bound, we started with writers retreats and online and offline classes. Obviously, during 2020, offline events could not happen. We were moving towards the online space anyway, and that actually gave us a push towards something that we were already doing. It made us invest more of our time in this space. Our online classes are about skill-building for creatives. We started with a writer's community, and we're only known in that community. We do a variety of short, medium, and long term classes, depending on what the person is ready for, and the time commitment they have. It's also a mixture of live and recorded classes. Right now, we're doing a very interesting class on introspective writing, which is about writing to help you clarify your goals. We have classes on journalism, podcasting, blogging, poetry, fiction. We have editing and publishing classes, classes on graphic novels, and comic making. It's really to explore your creativity and get that live interaction with an instructor who is very committed and dedicated to teaching, and who really loves what they do.

What is it that makes a Bound retreat special?

Community and quality. You're always going to get more than you sign up for. I like to surprise people who sign up for Bound with things that they may not have expected. For the retreat, it's an application process. We actually did a virtual retreat this year which was also an application process. It’s like a community because it's 12 people who are really passionate about what they do, who come from diverse backgrounds with different perspectives. A lot of the writers who sign up have a particular project or have particular goals that they're working on. We tailor the mentoring program to their goals so that we can see some sort of progression. And of course, the community atmosphere makes it very special and inclusive Everybody has a voice and everybody gets to be heard.  

How does technology play a role in your field of work?

Everything we do right now is so dependent on technology. It was very important to find the right technology to record our own podcast, Books and Beyond with Bound. Even for the classes, we are shifting towards a more automated system for the classes. I think I have so many subscriptions! You need so many tools nowadays to help you. Asana is a work management tool. There is Canva. Buffer, helps you schedule your social media posts. I really do look at ways that technology can help me automate and make my tasks easier. And there are so many solutions out there. That is how I use technology.

What are your top tips and tricks to effectively marketing a podcast?
Content is always king. So we saw a lot of organic growth in the podcasts because we spent six to seven months before we even launched the podcast, doing trials, finding our voice and our tone, the script progression, the kind of guests we want to interview, the USP’s of each episode, etc. We must have spent weeks on the trailer, the music, and the logo. We really put our heart into the content, training ourselves to be interesting hosts, finding our hosting style, finding the rapport between me and Michelle, who is my co-host. It really paid off. People respond to good quality at the end of the day, and that's something that I'm trying to inculcate through all my products, whether it's a mentorship retreat, the classes, or the posts on my Instagram account.

How do you foster more close relationships between established and budding authors via Bound initiatives?

A lot of the authors that we have worked with for the retreat and the mentorship programs, especially in the classes, really want to give back and want to teach. So I look for people who are interested in teaching already because, without that passion, you're not going to get a good quality teacher, you're not going to get someone who actually gives something to the class. I look for people who are nice to work with. No matter how talented, I always look for people that I can get along with, who will be open to giving and getting feedback. It ends up being a very inclusive atmosphere. It’s a safe space, it's a non-judgmental space. It's professional. These are the values that we try and inculcate.

Do you think writing as a skill is something that people can learn over time?
A lot of people think I'm a writer, but I'm an editor, and I help people hone their voice. As an editor, you learn how to make pieces of writing better, and you learn how to structure a piece. They're very objective skills. You can easily spot mistakes in a piece of work, you can see what the main argument is. These are skills that you can learn. I definitely think that writing is a skill that can be learned, I don't think that you're just born with it. Maybe some people are more imaginative, but even that is something that can be honed with exercises and different kinds of strategies. There are very objective things you can do, especially in non-fiction, to make your writing easy, simple, and accessible, to convey complex ideas, in a simple, appealing way. There are things that you can do to surprise and delight your reader. Just as in any other creative field, there are building blocks. 
 What is the one destination where you'd love to host your next retreat?


What’s one mistake all authors make, that should be avoided at all costs?

Writing your first draft as if it's your final draft. I think it's very important to just word vomit

What’s your top tip to stay clear of a creative block?

I think just maintaining a habit. Having a routine is very useful for everybody. 

If not bound, what would you be doing right now?

I think I would have started something else

What is your positivity mantra for 2021?

I believe in routine. Having a proper routine really keeps me sane. I know how my day is going to go, and it's very helpful. 

To catch the full candid podcast tune into Uninterrupted by clicking here! 

Episode 8: Unleash Your Creativity With Tara Khandelwal