Read. Write. Repeat.

Life is like a battle, but no one is really born a soldier. One has to train, learn how to use various weapons, and of course prepare mentally. You can’t win wars without a good leader who knows how and when the best time to fire is. And if you also don’t safeguard your stacks of ammo, you can get killed just because hiding can only save you for a while, that is if the enemy is not that persistent to exterminate your entire troop. It’s not very different from being a writer. Your knowledge is as good as the material you read, and your wisdom comes from your experiences. When you aim to conquer the world of literature, you must constantly think of ways on how you can make use of what you have learned. Many say that people who go out there and face the realities of life know better than people who only rely on books for facts. I beg to disagree. Before these facts were stated in the books, they were also real-life experiences, if not something the author witnessed himself. Even fiction novels have some essence of truth in them, evident in how they have similar patterns with what really goes on in real life. The only difference is, in fiction, everything is a little more interesting than how things normally are. Whether you write fiction or not, you always need to have some backing. What you need to do is, read as much as possible, and note down the points that you feel can be used for your own writing later on. This is stacking ammo for writers. You will never know for sure if you will be able to use them in the future, but it’s good to have reassurance from yourself that you have something you can count on when you have to.

 

I have been writing for as long as I can remember. I rarely travel (but would most definitely love to if I have time), and I don’t have that many noteworthy experiences to share or use as raw material for my writings. However, I have written many short stories, poems and songs. I owe it all to my reading habit. Perhaps my wide imagination also had something to do with it, but, this also spawned from hearing stories my grandmother would tell me. Oh she was quite the storyteller. When I was a kid, my mom always encouraged me to read. I started with fables then eventually more complex ones. My mother loved reading too. When she was in college, she collected Sidney Sheldon books. When I ran out of books to read, I snuck into her room to steal (okay borrow) one of the books just because I couldn’t sleep, even though she strictly forbid me to at that time because it wasn’t appropriate for my age then. Somehow, after having finished reading a book, I feel like being in a crisis, asking myself ‘now, what am I going to do?’ That’s the thing with reading too. In the beginning, you relate to a character because you have something in common. As you read on, you realize you have nothing in common with the character, but you want to. So when the story ends, you feel like your life ended as well. For me, whenever I feel like I don’t agree with how the author ended the story, I write my version of it. Sometimes, I write a completely different story, but it has some influence from the last book that I have read.

 

A good writer must also be a good reader. Let the authors who came before you pass on what they know. During their time, some were considered as visionaries. Critics here and there say that what their ambition is for the following generations is a joke because they can never be certain of how the future is going to be like. But look at us today, we live in new times, but we still look back into the past for something that can support or strengthen our own ambitions for the generations after ours.

 

Maybe this is why we read, and why in moments of darkness we return to books: to find words for what we already know.” – Alberto Manguel

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Constant Writing as a Cure for Less Creative Days

When you feel bad, write about it to find release. When you’re happy, write about it to keep yourself grounded. Whatever you feel at the moment, it’s best to put it in paper. And what are your phones for? Communication. It’s not just so you can stay connected with people. It’s best to never lose communication with yourself. So type it in. Write about every experience to monitor what and how you are doing in reality.

 

A creative idea, just like luck, it works like lightning. It doesn’t hit the same place twice. If you are lucky enough to have it cross your mind at least once, you must make sure you never forget it. To do this, you must make it a habit to write down all of your thoughts, all the time. Write, even when your thoughts don’t mean anything. It’s a good practice, and you will never have to miss an important event or waste a bright idea.

 

I have a friend who writes for the local paper. One time, she invited me to have coffee with her. So we met one rainy afternoon. She had her laptop open when I arrived. I asked her what our ‘urgent’ meeting was about. She told me that she’s planning to quit her job because she she’s losing inspiration. During times when she can’t write about anything interesting, she said her boss adds pressure on her by telling her they would cut her weekly bonuses. She asked me what my opinion was about working in a call center. She’s thinking about doing customer service. What do I think about it? I’ve known her my whole life, she’s born to write. Here’s what I really think – she just needs to relax and accept the fact that there are days when one feels less creative. She’s so used to writing really good essays and thinks it’s a waste of time to write about nonsense, which I think is wrong. Besides, customer service? It’s a very decent job, but some people aren’t made for it. Sure, she still gets to write notes after having received calls, but none of those notes are a product of her exceedingly creative mind. It’s a big waste of time and talent. The advice I gave her is that she should continue writing, settle for mediocre to even pointless writing. She closed a tab on her browser  which I got a peek at earlier. It was an online application form for an outsourcing company. She then took a pen from her shoulder bag, grabbed a table napkin, and scribbled down ‘Is this pointless enough for you?’ We both burst into laughter.

 

Many have achieved greatness in one give-it-your-all move. An even luckier few attained it only by accident. But it doesn’t mean that is the only way to go. Just because many believe that nothing or no one is perfect, doesn’t mean it’s okay to lose faith in what practicing can do. Sometimes aiming for the best has no requisite for extreme efforts, but instead, require simple deeds executed with the best attitude. Our creativity is as constant as change. There is little that can be done about it, but there is a lot that can be done to better the chances.

 

Oh and by the way, that friend of mine is now senior editor of a prevalent publication in the country, who owes me another slice of blueberry cheesecake at the coffee shop.

 

Champions keep playing until they get it right.” – Billie Jean King

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