'Do I have what it takes to be a writer?'
ASK NANAY By Socorro C. Ramos (The Philippine Star) Updated October 16, 2011 12:00 AMComments (0)
I have always wanted to be an author but I don’t know if I am good enough to write a book. I am sure you have had the opportunity to meet and greet so many writers both locally and in other countries and you have also had the chance to see all the best books written. What do you suggest I do as a first-time writer?
I have many ideas in my head for stories or things that I know can become books. Both fiction and non-fiction. But every time I try to start writing it is as if I have permanent writer’s block. Nothing wants to come out and I can’t write anything. It is as if I am having doubts as to whether or not my writing is worthy of becoming a book.
So what do you suggest I do?
It is very heartwarming to me that so many people who write or e-mail are interested in becoming writers or having their manuscripts published. It seems that there are more people out there who are genuinely interested in becoming authors. This is great news for the rest of us because it only means that we will have more books to read and to choose from.
With regards to what advice I can give you, unfortunately, I am not an author myself so I cannot pretend to know what it feels like to write a book. I cannot pretend to know the process or the theories behind writing. The only things I can tell you are what other authors I have met in the past have said either to me or to others.
One of the most common pieces of advice that authors give first timers is to just keep writing. Write, write, write. Don’t stop. Like everything else, practice makes perfect. How can you write well if you don’t practice? It is one thing to have a story in your head and it is another thing to actually put that story down on paper for others to read. But you have to keep practicing your craft. In your case, that means writing.
How do you start writing your book? Everyone has their own style. Some people will start with an outline. Others will just start writing. Some start in the beginning and some start with the end. Some know exactly what they want to say and where they are going while others are just making up the story as they go along. Some people will change the story halfway through the book! Kanya-kanya talaga iyan (Everybody has their own approach). What is important is you start writing because if you don’t start, then nothing will happen.
Authors also always say that good writers read a lot. So read a lot of books. After all, how will you know if your writing is any good if you have not seen good writing in the past? So read, read, read. The other benefit you will receive from reading other books is you can get ideas or inspiration from them. Perhaps you want to pattern your style after one of the great classic writers. Or maybe you will just get a small idea for a character or part of your plot from another book. You never know what ideas you will pick up. Consider it part of your research.
Many of the authors I have met also say that you will write both good material and bad material. Ganoon talaga. Hindi pwedeng lagi na lang magaling ang naisusulat mo (That’s how it is. You don’t create great writing every time). So the trick is to edit the bad material and to leave the good. But again, the only way to do that is to start writing and being able to read your material and decide which is good and which is bad.
Try to finish what you started! Don’t just stop in the middle of what you are doing and start another project. Kahit na hindi masyadong maganda (Even if it’s not turning out that great), it is a good exercise to try to find the discipline to finish what you started.
And lastly, always try to improve your craft. Improve yourself. This could be through practice, attending seminars, meeting other authors and talking to them or just reading in general. Keep working at it.
Do not kid yourself because writing is very difficult. But then again, what job is not difficult when you want to do it well? I have said this before and I will say it again: I have the highest respect for people who can actually write a book. It requires discipline, commitment, perseverance, research and lots of hard work. And you have to find a way to motivate yourself because in a lot of ways it is a very “lonely” job. There is nobody with you when you sit at your desk and start writing. It is very easy to get distracted by the computer, your family or television. But if you find a way to complete your task, I am sure that your satisfaction and sense of accomplishment will far outweigh any sacrifices or investments you have made in order to complete your own personal masterpiece.
So what are you waiting for? Is it not time to start writing? Good luck!
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