AMA | Travel Writer & Independent Blogger - A Dreamer With a Penchant to Spin Magic with Words

Santwona Patnaik
Jul 17, 2018

I am an avid writer, blogger, travel enthusiast and a full-time nature lover, set on a journey to spin magic with words. Being a keen observer, I love to pen down my thoughts about any subject – be it a place, person, current affairs or events. I’ve mostly worked in writing non-fiction with shades of my personal experiences. I love being around honest people and detest discrimination in any form. 

Here's my personal website, with topics ranging from social issues, book reviews, real-life inspirational stories - https://santwonapatnaik.com/UnleashedThoughts/

Writing and travelling define the two major passions of my life. So, writing travelogues is much more than just a job for me. Being a keen observer, my travel experiences often sound a little offbeat with a personal touch. I believe that every person I meet in my journeys and every place I visit has its own story and I strive to bring all these little stories to life. 

Here's my travel website, which is very special to my heart since it is my maiden attempt at travel blogging and compiles all my travel stories across the world - Wander Bird

Looking forward to meeting all you lovely people out there and discuss all LIFE!!

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Do you have a good travel tip you would like to share?
Jul 19, 10:04AM EDT0

"Try to explore a place, the local way." - This has always been the top priority in any of my journeys.

Jul 30, 8:48PM EDT0
What did you love most about New York? Would you like to live there someday?
Jul 18, 5:07PM EDT0

I fell in love with the spirit of the city. On my first visit to Times Square, I noticed that I crossed almost 20 different nationalities within two blocks. From all my travel experiences so far, I feel that New York pulls off this diversity with elan. 

And yes, I would love to live in New York some day.

Jul 31, 3:11PM EDT0
Have you ever felt discriminated for being a woman? How do you deal when that happens?
Jul 18, 2:28PM EDT0

As far as my travel experiences are concerned, I have never been discriminated for being a woman. But yes, if you ask me about my life experiences, I have faced my share of discrimination for being a woman.

I'm still a young learner and have a long way to go before I can actually give life lessons. Until now for me, the best way to deal with any form of discrimination is by voicing your opinions. Alongwith being strong and firm, you need to be flexible and have an open mind to have a rational debate over anything.

Jul 31, 3:15PM EDT0
What’s your favorite post you have written and why?
Jul 17, 8:10PM EDT0

All my posts are very close to my heart, since I always leave a personal touch in each one of them. 

But yes, I can tell you about my latest favourite post and that's on New York. That city actually retained a piece of my heart. I have never been to a city like that before.

You can read more on the New York post here - santwonapatnaik.com/2018/07/07/new-york-a-perfect-5-day-travel-itinerary-for-first-timers/

Jul 17, 8:20PM EDT0
Is blogging a full-time activity for you? Did you work in anything different before you became a blogger?
Jul 17, 2:41PM EDT0

I work as an IT Professional, and am currently on a sabbatical leave trying to pursue my passion for writing. So, yes, blogging is a full-time activity for me, for the last 1 year now. 

Jul 17, 8:10PM EDT0
What things do you enjoy doing when you are not traveling/writing?
Jul 17, 1:18PM EDT0

I am a big dreamer. So, I love lying down and collecting my thoughts in solitary when I am not travelling or writing. I even enjoy interacting with new people or talking to old friends. 

You can call me a mix of contradictions - I can be a loner as well as extremely talkative! 

Jul 17, 8:14PM EDT0
What is the best way you have found to monetize your blog?
Jul 17, 9:43AM EDT0

As a beginner, I first started earning from other forums, after I pitched my work on my own website. That helped me build my blog further and now, I get offers for sponshorships. I still have a long way to go.

Earning a stable income from the blog, by monetising it through Google AdSense or Affilaite marketing, will take a little time. It all depends on the amount of content and traffic on your website.

Jul 17, 8:17PM EDT0
How active are you on a weekly basis? How often do you communicate with your followers?
Jul 17, 9:01AM EDT0

I make it a point to write daily. Content is most important, for any website. The process is a little slow, but it definitely yields results at the end. IT keeps getting better and better, with each passing day.

I have scheduled particular times of the day, for engaging with my followers on a daily basis. Those times are mostly, when I would not write. 

Jul 17, 8:29PM EDT0
How did you go about developing your unique blogging voice?
Jul 17, 8:22AM EDT0

I have been writing for years now, before even creating a personalised blog. So, with time, I realised what aspects I really feel for. The topics that I really feel for, get translated into the best posts on my website so far. 

The motto is "Write from your heart."

Jul 17, 8:33PM EDT0
Who are your biggest influences? Who do you admire most? Who or what inspired you to do what you’re doing now?
Jul 17, 4:01AM EDT0

It's rather weird, but I have actually been inspired by common people around me - friends who are poets and writers, people who have faced and won  challenges of life, an English teacher in school who actually developed the love of literature inside me, personal experiences and many more.

"Common man" will always remain my inspiration for writing. 

Jul 17, 8:38PM EDT0
Were you born in India? How do you feel your culture and your upbringing have impacted your writing style?
Jul 17, 4:00AM EDT0

Yes, I am born in India.

My upbringing and the culture I have been brought up in, has played a major role in my style of writing. I have an honest flair of writing and have always detested discrimination in any form. That's mostly because of few obsolete societal norms being practiced in India even today. That reflects more in my lifestyle website, where I pen my thoughts on the existing social issues in India. To understand this better, you can take a look here - santwonapatnaik.com/UnleashedThoughts/

Jul 17, 8:45PM EDT0
Why do you say that your travel experiences often sound a little offbeat?
Jul 17, 1:56AM EDT0

Before setting up my travel website, I went through many popular and not-so-popular websites in the 'travel' niche. I observed that the best-performing websites cater to exactly what the readers want to read and are mostly commercial. 

Since my writing has always been from my heart and not really business-oriented, my travel experiences sound a little offbeat. It's more about capturing the soul of every place I visit. I see that rarely in commercial travel websites.

Jul 17, 8:53PM EDT0
Have you chosen your next travel destination? Where is it? What’s your bucket list when it comes to your next travel adventures?
Jul 17, 12:33AM EDT0

I have never functioned like that actually. My destinations are always decided on-the-fly. In the process, I end up visiting many non-touristy places. 

My first job has actually made me travel places, and I just ensure that wherever I'm living, I explore the places around that. Currently, I am in USA. So, I'm all set to explore USA as much as I can.

Jul 18, 2:57PM EDT0
What surprising lessons have you learned since you started blogging?
Jul 16, 8:52PM EDT0

There have been many. I'll put down the funny ones here.

1. Website designing is not easy, if you are not really into technical stuff. I will not say that it's impossible, but it needs a lot of persistent efforts.

2. I still don't understand this Follow-Unfollow concept in social media. I have never followed anyone, so that he/she would follow my account  and then, the next day I would unfollow theirs. It sounds insane and so unethical - a lesson which I would probably never learn.

3. Well! This is a serious one. No matter what, you have to continue writing. People will keep rejecting your pitches for work, and magic doesn't happen overnight. Eventually great content always sets up a good base for regular blog readers.

Jul 18, 3:03PM EDT0
What social causes are closest to your heart and what are the reasons for them being important to you?
Jul 16, 5:09PM EDT0

I strongly detest discrimination in any form. So, any obsolete societal norm, which discriminates between human beings and preaches bias, I am against it. I am never rigid, and always open for a discussion.

Unfortunately, irrational and blind beliefs in certain social norms, never win any rational debate.

On a personal note, I fight strongly against caste-based discrimination practised mostly in India. That's because I have had an inter-caste marriage and have seen tough times.

Jul 18, 3:07PM EDT0
How did you first get into blogging? What can you tell about the process of how Unleashed Thoughts came to life?
Jul 16, 4:39PM EDT0

I am generally a talkative person, a great listener but somehow, not good at speaking about my own self. I generally tend to hide my real emotions in public. That pushed me into writing in a way, because I express best when I write. 

Since we are in a digital world now, my knack for writing made me take the next logical step, i.e. creating my own customised blog.

The tagline of my website states - "Detangling the web of a woman's mind." And this is exactly the essence of Unleashed Thoughts. I strongly believe that women have a myriad of emotions and thoughts inside them. It's time I gave words to those thoughts. 

Jul 18, 3:13PM EDT0
What is your favorite place to visit in India and why?
Jul 16, 4:17PM EDT0

Home is where the heart lies. Whenever in India, my first priority will always be the beautiful eastern state of India - "Odisha". 

Often described as an offbeat favourite of adventure-seekers, Odisha serves a mix of history, fascinating tribal culture, natural beauty, garnished with sun and sand in the same platter.

Jul 31, 3:21PM EDT0
What would you say is your greatest achievement outside of blogging?
Jul 16, 4:48AM EDT0

Getting married to the best partner I could have ever asked for in life, amidst severe caste-based discrimination still prevalent in India. 

The reason why I call this an achievement is - I emerged from this impending fiasco at my strongest best and now possess that steely resolve to turn things around. 

Jul 31, 3:27PM EDT0
What are your favorite topics to write about in Unleashed Thoughts and why?
Jul 16, 3:41AM EDT0

Social Issues.

I am born in a country, which inspite of being technologically advanced, still tends to lag behind. The sole reason being an outdated mindset of people, desperately holding on to obsolete beliefs, making them prevalent even today. I feel very strongly against social bias and detest discrimination in any form.  So, naturally, I tend to write more on social issues.

Aug 9, 12:24PM EDT0
How do you choose the destinations for your travel blog?
Jul 16, 3:03AM EDT0

I have never functioned like that actually. I have never made conscious plans to choose destinations. I travel where life takes me.

My destinations are always decided on-the-fly. In the process, I end up visiting many non-touristy places. 

Aug 9, 12:26PM EDT0
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