I first met Kriti earlier this year when I sent her a request to review my novella When Bell Met Bowie. Our mutual love of books, writing, and appreciation for ivory towers resulted in an instant connection, so we decided to collaborate on a project!
This week’s blog post is an interview with Kriti where we cover everything from time management, writing routines, favourite books and the balancing of academic and personal goals.
Kriti started her blog armedwithabook.com back in May 2017 as a way to document her journey at university, as a learner and teacher. The aim? To take the knowledge from all the books, sources and interactions she experienced, and to bundle them together into something more meaningful and concise. Something she could come back to, and that others would benefit from.
Kriti’s blog is a combination of reflective posts about time management, writing, and productivity, plus book reviews. ‘Cos books are awesome.
Kriti is passionate for books and writing is obvious, so I know you’re gonna love this week’s interview — I sure did!
You have a background in computer science and you also maintain an active blog whose posts range from book reviews, the writing life, and other areas of interest like productivity and time management. Why did you decide to start a blog?
I have had a blog on and off for over a decade now but it was only in May 2017 when I moved to Armed with A Book and made it official. At that point, I had been accepted into a teaching degree and learned about online portfolios in one of my grad courses. I thought a website would be the best place to write on and share resources with people who needed them, whether it was my students, fellow teachers or those who share similar interests as me. I think the background in computer science gave me the confidence to customize the website at times.
How do you balance blogging and full-time work as a Data Analyst? Any tips?
Sometimes it can be hard to find a balance. I was actually reflecting about this recently in a blog post. I love working as a data analyst and try to apply many of the skills that I have learned and use there to my blogging life. For example, at work, we use a scrum approach to complete projects – we set priorities for the next two weeks and have some deliverables at the end of that time period. This is very focused work on one, at most two projects, and incorporating that same kind of planning and predictability to blogging, reading and other activities has helped me immensely.
Using one of the tools we use at work (Jira), I have built a roadmap of projects I want to pursue and then divided the tasks into two-week chunks. It’s like a Kanban board where you decide the tasks you want to complete, and move them to a ‘In progress’ or ‘Completed’ queue as the status changes. This helps plan my reading and blog posts as well as when I need to get things completed by. Sometimes, things get moved a couple of times, for example, I have been wanting to work on this Q&A for at least two sprints now, and seeing visually I have been postponing it, has helped me prioritize it. 🙂
There are numerous books out there about productivity and all sorts of planning systems. I have read and implemented many of them, but ultimately, have had to make changes to them to fit my needs and my life. When I was pursuing my education, planning for each day was easy because there were deadlines set by my courses that I needed to meet. Now, all my deadlines are self-assigned so planning in two-week chunks works better. My advice to anyone who wants to find balance between work and hobbies would be to have a planning system. Try a couple and build one that you can use.
In addition to your educational posts, you also post book reviews (a service you offer to indie and traditionally published authors), how do you manage to read and review these books while also staying on top of your professional and personal TBR list?
One of the things I learned from Deep Work by Cal Newport (Tara here: if you haven’t read this book, do yo self a favour!) was that it is very important to leave work at work. That has helped me reach my professional goals and tasks because I know the time I spend working, 35 hours a week, is all I have to dedicate to it, hence, I had better give it my best shot.
I started offering the reviewing service in July 2019 and have received an overwhelming response from publishers, agents and authors for books that I can review. I have gotten better at saying ‘no’ and choosing books that truly pique my interest, your book, When Bell met Bowie being one of them.
However, my personal TBR has suffered a lot this year since the reviewing commitments easily took over the other reading. I am hoping that I read more of it next year, now that I know what reviewing and bookblogging entails. In any case, I love connecting with authors and talking to them. Reviewing makes them more accessible and that is why I will continue to prioritize it.
Shifting gears a bit, can you talk a bit about your writing process. Do you approach your academic writing differently to your blog content? Do you write every day or at certain times of the day or in certain places?
Academic writing and writing for the blog are a little different but when I have written about teaching strategies and learning, my writing process has been similar to academic writing. Identifying a clear direction or question that I am trying to answer or am curious about is the first step. I note down some of the ideas I already have and then go on a search for literature to flesh out the ideas more. Sometimes I find things that I had not even envisioned I would.
My article about Boumas and how people read comes to mind. This was one of my toughest articles to write because, even though I am an avid reader, I had never really thought about the act of reading. I did not know that the shape of the words ‘boumas’ is one of the theories of how people read, and that another theory is the parallel word recognition model. Relating all this to fonts and typography is even more fascinating.
I find both academic writing and writing for my blog lead me down some unknown and new territories and that is partly the joy of research and being open to learning more.
Regarding writing routines, I have tried various iterations. I have tried setting aside a couple evenings a week for working on the blog. I have also tried keeping a whole day for it and focusing on other things the other days of the week. For now, what is working well is writing a bit every day and not having the expectation to produce/publish something at the end. Taking my time to complete things rather than rushing to meet deadlines is something I am working on.
How has maintaining a regular blog benefited you personally or otherwise?
Having a blog has given me my space on the Internet and the opportunity to connect with people. Since starting bookblogging, I have found a topic I am passionate to write about and am able to come up with new material frequently. Every book has a different story, and even if two books were the same, that itself says something. I have started to reflect more on what I read and how it relates to my experiences. I like challenges and posting about books is a challenge. You have probably noticed this, Tara, that my book thought articles are a little different from mainstream reviews as I try to bring in more sources and themes. That’s my way of using my book to challenge my thinking, learn more and share my thoughts.
As previously mentioned, you are a blogger and a book reviewer. So, what have been some of your favourite reads so far this year?
That’s a hard one. 🙂 I’ll try to pick a couple must-reads:
- Steve Jobs’ biography by Walter Issacson was an amazing read. It was one of the first books I read this year. I have a number of Apple devices and it was great hearing about the man who founded it.
- I learned about First Nations traditions in Crow Winter by Karen McBribe and it was a thoughtful read about cultures and healing.
- The Furies by Katie Lowe was a great spooky read that explored friendships.
- When a toy dog became a wolf and the moon broke curfew by Hendrika de Vries is my favorite memoir set in the Second World War.
- The Psychology of Time Travel by Kate Mascarenhas was a thoughtful read about what would happen when time travelling became a profession.
- The Braid by Laetitia Colombani is one I would reread in the future. It is a beautiful story of three women separated in place and yet united in the pursuit of their dreams and the strength they possess.
I could probably go on but I definitely recommend checking these out. I have posted about all of these on Armed with A Book and have been lucky to connect with Karen, Katie and Hendrika about their works.
Armed with A Book: https://www.armedwithabook.com/
Read my interview on Kriti’s blog here: https://www.armedwithabook.com/tara-east/
Balance: The word I chose for 2019: https://www.armedwithabook.com/balance-the-word-i-chose-for-2019/
Let’s talk about words: https://www.armedwithabook.com/lets-talk-about-words/
Crow Winter: https://www.armedwithabook.com/crow-winter/
The Furies: https://www.armedwithabook.com/the-furies/
When a toy dog became a wolf: https://www.armedwithabook.com/when-a-toy-dog-became-a-wolf-and-the-moon-broke-curfew/
The Psychology of Time Travel: https://www.armedwithabook.com/the-psychology-of-time-travel/
The Braid: https://www.armedwithabook.com/the-braid/
I LOVE Christmas and I LOVE writing. So, I figured I better stick these two loves together and write a super special Christmas Story for my email subscribers. This short & sweet little story is for anyone who has read Every Time He Dies but was left wanting more.
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