Note: This entry is about the writing process. Since it contains several steps, the article has been divided into parts I and II.
My love for words and writing stems from my passion for reading, a habit that was instilled in us when we were young.
In the beginning, I’d pore over many books, especially if a particular subject or person interests me. As I grew older, however, my focus began to shift from being a reader to being a “writer.” I still love books, mind you, but I also discovered that I have stories of my own to share with the world. What stories would they be?
Well as a young person, I’d write about how I felt towards this or that chore or how I felt towards friends, family members, and school. As I went on to college and when I started working, my train of thought moved from people to events. Nowadays, it’s a mix of both.
Even after all these years, writing doesn’t come naturally to me, and I think it’s the same with most people. Words don’t just fall from nowhere and form sentences and paragraphs in front of me. Neither do I just wake up from sleep and start putting words on paper . . . or words on MS Word.
I did notice that like any creative endeavor (e.g. cooking, drawing, and building a house), writing follows a process. From personal experience (which isn’t too different from the others), that roughly includes: ideation, writing the draft, walking away from the draft, re-writing the draft, and publishing the final work.
Where do ideas come from? They’re everywhere: at home, in school, in the workplace, on the streets. The world is practically teeming with possibilities, and it boils down to what is it among these myriad options that interest you?
What inspires you?
I commute a lot and taking public transportation means I have to be aware of my surroundings all the time. That mindset and attitude have yielded good anecdotes to write about, though: seniors crossing the streets by themselves . . . children excitedly talking to one another on their way home from school . . . young – and even not-so-young – professionals discussing their next summer getaway . . . all of these and similar observations have given me a lot of food for thought. I don’t write about all of them, of course, but I develop ideas from those that catch my attention the most.
Writing the draft
Years ago, I had an opportunity to interview a high school English teacher for my graduate school thesis. She said one of the common misconceptions budding and young writers believe is that they have to get things right the first time. They overlook the fact that nothing can be farther from the truth, and that they can initially cobble some words and paragraphs together to serve as a foundation for their final piece.
I’m not exempted from this step, even after all these years of writing for newsletters, corporate intranets, and blogs, among others. Whenever concepts come to mind, I grab a pen and any piece of paper – table napkins, receipts, wrappers – and take note of them immediately.
Ideas are like bubbles; they float mid-air for some time and then they disappear.
In this age of electronic convenience, use your phones or tablets to your advantage. Send an SMS to yourself to be reminded of an idea you’d like to develop in the near future. Type in the key words you’d like to use in your article. Aside from SMSs, I also use a BlackBerry app called MemoPad, especially when I’ve blog ideas that need fleshing out and I’ve a long waiting time ahead of me to do so.
In part II, the writing steps therein include walking away from the draft, re-writing the draft, and publishing the final work.