Monday, February 29, 2016

5 Things I learned in Writing

Writing is hardwork and it does not make one an expert overtime. It needs focus and determination and practice, a lot of practice. And for everyone to succeed as a writer, that glowing desire and passion to write must be kept alive everyday.

It's not easy to extract thoughts out of the mind and convert it to words and paragraphs and without passion and determination to write, finishing a book or even an article could be a little harder.

I discovered my passion in writing long before I entered high school. Although my favorite subject in my elementary years was "araling panlipunan" (social studies and everything about geography), I find storytelling a delightful diversion. Books went on to become my favorite friends back in my younger days.

My love affair with writing emanates from my passion in reading books, literature and storytelling, until I got the hang of it. Then I started writing my first diary in grade six. I also tried rewriting the drama I heard over the radio into the kind of plot I wanted for the story.

In my high school years, I started writing manuscripts for school plays but it was not until I finished college that I tried writing fiction stories. It did not develop into finished books though because of my regular job, schedule was not comfortable. It was even difficult when I took up my masteral. Nonetheless, I kept the manuscripts.

I felt my writing ability still not fully develop and needed some improvement along the way, so I honed my skills through reading books related to writing and editing. I also did blogging to practice the craft and ventured into content writing online.

Finally, last year, I felt it was time to pour my energy into my manuscripts. I started writing my full-length novel, seven months later, my precious suspense book was born and ready to conquer the world of publishing. 

I felt a sigh of relief and while waiting for positive responses from the literary agents I queried, I am looking back how far I've gone in my writing journey and what are the things I learned from it. Rechecking some of those, I realized the following are the most important.

1. Write even when you're not in the mood

Sometimes my appetite in writing sinks and I don't feel like doing it. But writing is a commitment and entails a lot of self-discipline so even if I couldn't find my rhythm to write or seems not in the mood to put ideas into words I would force myself to extract my thoughts. I can find ways how to trick myself to keep things going. I'll get up and go out, fill my lungs with fresh air, do body stretching and dance exercise, drink green tea, eat pancakes. Then I would feel better and ideas started flowing out of my mind,

2. Fall in love with your story

In novel writing, crafting scenes can be very difficult. Sometimes I would find myself being stuck in one scene without any idea what to do next or where to bring my characters. But I found one trick how to keep things moving --- falling in love with the story. As I motivate myself where to go next and what scenes to write, my deep attachment toward the plot develops which fueled my energy to keep writing until  ideas of the succeeding chapters start to flow. 

3. Eradicate self-defeating thoughts

It is essential to criticize yourself because it's one way of improving. Constructive criticism I guess is necessary to give rooms for development. But destructive criticism is not healthy. Sometimes I would doubt myself (I'm not as good as Stephenie Meyer. My book sucks. No one's gonna accept this for publication), but I soon realized those self-defeating thoughts would never bring me anywhere so I tried eradicating those doubts and got up and told myself everyone started from the bottom and I am no exemption. 

4. Focus. Focus

While writing my book, I learned that distractions can be anywhere, both mental and emotional distractions. I was so anxious that the idea of failure was rampaging in my brain like a deadly hurricane. But I bounced back and told myself "At least I tried". So I diverted my attention learning my craft, improving it and continue polishing my book. And focus on my strengths and ability that I can make it.

5. Writing is a total commitment

Everyday, I would find time to write, not because someone is asking or expecting it but because I always feel that writing is a commitment and continue to be nurtured. A dedicated writer should write everyday to improve the skill more. So, whether it's a blogpost, an open letter to myself (for the things that went wrong) an article contribution or a plot scene, I always set aside few minutes of my day (sometimes at night time before I go to sleep) to write a short article or even two paragraphs describing my day, my feeling, my idea of a certain event or even a short review of a restaurant. Maybe because I love talking or sharing stuff. That's why I considered blogging as an extension of myself. Writing gives my soul a time to rest, so blogging is like a sanctuary, a hangout place where I could talk and be myself. I find peace and contentment in writing.



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