A first draft is the origin for any piece of writing.  “Books aren’t written. They’re rewritten.” said Michael Crichton.

The First Draft Club is a live, interactive online writing community which will help you finish  the first draft of your (long pending?) work.

I’m writing a first draft and reminding myself that I’m simply shoveling sand into a box, so that later, I can build castles.

How this writing community works.

  1. Fill this form.
  2. Make a donation of INR 750 (more is welcome) to the Chirag School, which educates needy kids in the rural Himalayas.
  3. With step 1&2, you become a member of  the December First Draft Club (FDC#10) and join our online community of writers.
  4. You set yourself a writing goal for December, and share your goal publicly.
  5. You write regularly through Dec and update your word-count on the tracker.
  6. You get inspired by a community of writers full of energy, inspiration and encouragement.
  7. You meet published authors/ other well-known literary people every Sunday at 5 PM.
  8. Remember, the Opening session is on Sunday November 27th at 5 PM.

All this helps you finish 2022 with many more words than you might have written otherwise. Most important – by the end of December writing is a habit.

Writers from earlier FDCs say they wrote a lot more. They said this was mainly because they weren’t writing alone, but as part of a writing community. The February cohort had written over 4,00,000 words as a group.

The response to the previous FDCs has been great. So far, we have raised a total of INR 5 lakhs through FDC for the Chirag School. This helped the school educate many underprivileged kids here in Uttarakhand.

The Himalayan Writing Retreat has NO stake /ownership / direct or indirect financial benefit from donations to the Chirag School. We know the work of the Chirag School to be exceptional. Supporting the school makes us feel good.

You can learn more about the school, and donate HERE.

The school may take up to a day to acknowledge the payment. We’ll accept a screenshot of the payment confirmation page with the form.

Through December, we measure our progress against the writing goals we had set. We encourage, chat, share snippets and push each other.  We learn. We discover. Most importantly, we write. 

Join the Himalayan First Draft Club to become a part of an amazing online writing community.


Please note: This is a community of writers – a support group. No formal teaching happens in this community.

If you want to learn Creative Writing , you can consider joining our Creative Writing Workshop. (This workshop is for people who want to write stories or memoirs).

If you are looking for guidance on how to write a non-fiction book, you can consider joining our Non-Fiction Writing Workshop.

If you are looking for guidance on how to write articles and blogs, you can consider joining our Blog & Article Writing Workshop.

Experts you will meet in FDC #10

Arundhathi Subramaniam – Award winning poet and Teacher

Described as ‘one of the finest poets writing in India today’, Arundhathi Subramaniam is an award-winning Indian poet. She is the author of twelve books, of which five are books of poetry. Widely translated and anthologised, her book, When God is a Traveler (2014) was the Season Choice of the Poetry Book Society, shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize. Her new book of poems, Love Without a Story, published earlier this year with Westland Amazon, is already in its second reprint.

As editor, her most recent book is the acclaimed Penguin anthology of medieval Indian sacred poetry, Eating God. As prose writer, her books include The Book of Buddha; the bestselling biography of a contemporary mystic, Sadhguru: More Than a Life; and most recently, Adiyogi: The Source of Yoga (co-authored with Sadhguru).

She is the recipient of various Indian and international awards and fellowships, including the inaugural Khushwant Singh Prize, the Raza Award for Poetry, the Zee Women’s Award for Literature, the International Piero Bigongiari Prize in Italy, the Mystic Kalinga award, the Charles Wallace, Visiting Arts and Homi Bhabha Fellowships, among others.

Nikhil Gulati – Author and illustrator of graphic novels

Nikhil Gulati quit his job and moved to a Himalayan village to write a book. Many considered that foolish. They thought he was a directionless dreamer whiling away his time.

Now Penguin has published his graphic novel titled “The People Of The Indus” and the same people have changed the adjective to Brave. No longer foolish, he is now a “man of conviction” who is “persistent” and “doesn’t compromise”.

Ganesh Vancheeswaran – Editor, Writer & a Book coach

A branding coach and consultant, a book editor, a business/marketing writer, and the list does not end here. Ganesh has adorned many hats in his professional journey and he has excelled at everything. He left the corporate pigeonhole in 2015 and flew out into the Great Expanse. And from then on, he has been working in professions that give him fulfillment and help him make a direct impact on people.

His book “The Underage CEOs – Fascinating Stories of Young Indians who Became CEOs in Their Twenties” has been published by Collins Business India. His pieces have found place in Conde Nast Traveller, Christian Science Monitor, GQ, Open Skies, Mint, The Hindu, Scoot, Financial Chronicle, Scroll and other leading publications.

As an editor and book coach he mainly specializes in nonfiction (memoirs, personal essays, biographies, business/management books, self-help books). However, he can also take on works of fiction (short stories, micro fiction, novels, novellas) and poetry. So far, he has worked with authors across the world: corporate leaders, coaches, speakers, consultants, entrepreneurs, and independent professionals. You can know more about him here – www.ganeshv.com/

Namrata – Writer, Editor and Book Reviewer

Namrata is the editor of Kitaab, a literary magazine based in Singapore. A published author, she enjoys writing stories and think-pieces on travel, relationships, and gender. She is a UEA alumnus and has studied travel writing at the University of Sydney.

She is also an independent editor and a book reviewer. Her writings and essays on literary criticism can be found on various sites and magazines like the Asian Review of Books, Contemporary South Asia Journal of King’s College-London, Mad in Asia, The Friday Times, Daily Star, The Scroll, Feminism in India, The Brown Orient Journal, Kitaab, Inkspire Journal, Moonlight Journal, The Same, Chronic Pain India and Cafe Dissensus. Since 2019, Namrata has also been closely working with publishing houses and authors on book promotions.

Sahana Ahmed – Fiction writer and poet

Sahana Ahmed is a fiction writer and poet based in Gurugram. She is the author of Combat Skirts (Juggernaut, 2018), a coming-of-age story set in Calcutta against the backdrop of the Kargil War. Her short stories and poems have been published in India, the UK, the USA, Australia, Canada, and Singapore. As the India Country Chair of the World Peace Wing of G100, she has edited an anthology of peace poetry – Amity – featuring award-winning writers from eight countries (Hawakal, forthcoming). She is associated with many social initiatives and was recognised among 99 Achievers of India for the year 2021 by The Indian Achiever’s Club.

For more information, please visit her website www.sahanaahmed.com. She is on Twitter and Instagram at schahm.

A peek into the previous FDCs


2020 was the first time we decided to become a part of NaNoWrimo as a community. This led to the creation of the Himalayan First Draft Club.

On some weekends, amazing authors like Damyanti Biswas ( Author of You Beneath Your Skin- Simon & Schuster India, 2020) and Jenny Bhatt( Author Ratno Dholi- Harper Collins India, 2020) joined us. They shared tips on writing and also talked about their own experiences of NaNoWriMo.

In April 2021, we had best-selling authors like Vish Dhamija , Kiran Manral, Arjun Raj Gaind and Kanchana Banerjee joining us on weekends and sharing their journeys as writers.

In November 2021, the guest speakers included poet, fictionist and translator Rochelle Potkar, Shreya Punj (Commissioning Editor, Penguin Random House India), Dipanker Mukherjee (Publisher, Readomania), and author Tanushree Poddar. 

We loved it so much,  we decided to host it four times a year instead of just once.

So, we created the Himalayan First Draft Club which is held in February-April -July-September

It is fairly simple.

Step: 1

You sign up for the Himalayan First Draft Club through this form.

Please note, you will have to clearly mention your commitments in this form.  So, before clicking on the form, think about these questions:

  • What are you expecting from this exercise?
  • How many words can you commit?
  • At the end of the one month, what do you see as your achievement?

We request all the writers who want to participate in FDC # 7 to make a donation to educate underprivileged kids at the Chirag school, a wonderful school in the Uttarakhand Himalayas. Please donate a minimum of INR 250/- (more is better). This will help poor students in a Himalayan village get a great education.

The Chirag school is a cause we support. Please donate a minimum of INR 750/-  (more is better) to the Chirag School. This will help underprivileged students here in Uttarakhand get a great education. 

(Note: The Himalayan Writing Retreat has NO stake /ownership / direct or indirect financial benefit from donations to the Chirag School. However, we know and believe in the work it does. Know more about our Community Work.)

You can learn more about the school, and donate HERE.  

The school may take up to a day to acknowledge the payment. So we will accept a screenshot of the payment confirmation page attached with the form.

Please note, this donation is to participate in the current FDC. Every FDC needs a separate donation to be made to the Chirag School to participate. 

Step: 2

We will evaluate your application and confirm your membership to the club. (Yay!)

Furthermore, we will add you to the WhatsApp/Signal group created exclusively for the members to share regular updates. (You will not be added if you have opted out of it in the form in Step:1.)

And you are done! (Well, not yet but almost there.)

We will share a Google sheet which will basically be a tracker. You will have to update your word count in that tracker on a regular basis for us to keep a note of it. 

The focus of this group is to make writing a habit. You will discover fellow-writers who dabble in the same genre. You might also find valuable critiques for your writing.

As a member, you have a chance to interact with some of your favourite authors apart from finding writing buddies who could be dabbling in the same genres as yours. You never know, you might end up creating a writer’s group in your own city after discovering fellow writers around you. 

Join us every weekend on Zoom to discuss and share our experiences of writing during the week. These sessions will also have some inspiring  authors as guest speakers, where they will share tips and tricks on writing effectively.

We will share a weekly dose of positivity ( a.k.a updates and writerly motivation) to keep the demon (Writer’s Block) away. 

This is a Writer’s Support Group. There is no teaching involved. 

You can connect with writers to find a writing buddy. ( Know more about it here: Discover a Writing Buddy at the Himalayan First Draft Club), create a local writers group of your own (based on people living in the same city), plan meet-ups (physical or virtual) and find your tribe!

You definitely can, but you need to make a fresh donation to the Chirag School for July. Every FDC needs a separate donation to be made for participation. 

We share recordings only after the FDC month is over. So we will share the July FDC sessions in August of the same year.

As of now, you can watch FDC # 4 – YouTubeFDC # 5 – YouTube  and FDC # 6 – YouTube sessions. 

Yes, you can.

We have had poets, novelists, essayists, translators, and screenplay writers participate in the previous FDCs and they have found it productive. At the same time, writers have been working on their revisions, second, third or even the umpteenth draft in the FDC too.

The goal of FDC is to make writing a habit. You could be working on anything or are planning to. You could join in to find some writerly energy or work on the writing prompts we share to tickle your inspiration.

INR 750/- is the minimum donation requested by us. You can donate more also if you are comfortable. INR 2350/- is the figure required to sponsor a child’s education at the Chirag School. However, they also welcome donations in any amount.