Sep 30
TIPS FOR ASPIRING WRITERS by Isabel Sebullen  |  Posted in Articles  |  on Fri, Sep 30, 2011

Many people aspire to become a writer and earn money and be famous. But not all writers become famous, others never gain accolade and end up frustrated persons. The willingness to learn the craft is the key to success. Here are some tips:

1. Observe good manners in dealing with editors, reviewers, publishers and fellow writers. What people read influence them. Proper etiquette should be observed by writers no matter where they are. According to the late Emily Post (the most famous writer on etiquette), “Etiquette is a set of rules dealing with exterior form. Good manners are really ingrained; a matter of who you are, not how you are. It must be without thinking since once we learned it, etiquette becomes a matter of instinct rather than of conscious obedience.” Her great-great grandson Daniel Post Sening, also said, “Good etiquette comes from common sense, and the fundamental principles to achieve it are honesty, respect, and consideration.” That is why aspiring writers should be well-mannered in dealing with people.

2. Being good in writing is a gift, and in order for you to acknowledge this gift, you must write and improve your writings. Winners of Cannes Foreign Language Film Category always have a very good story, and this good story will turn out to be a very good film. The Classic film Himala is a good example of a well-written story. Writers of classic films did not improve overnight. Craftsmanship comes after many years of writing. No one is too young or too old to write, so nurture the gift.

3. Don’t wait for an inspiration to come before writing. Writing like other things is 99 percent perspiration and 1 percent inspiration. Well-known writers write every day as if writing is the only thing that matters in their life. Writing must be coupled with discipline, talent and inspiration.

4. Writers must use only one real name or pen name in writing. If you use another person’s name in writing, you will never be acknowledged in case what you have written will be considered as something of high literary value. Some earn money working as ghost writers, but don’t ghost write for a measly sum. That’s a very cheap way of prostituting your work of art. I know a very good writer who took a fancy of writing for this guy who later on was able to carve a name for himself, not only in comics but in films. This very well-known writer admitted that he helped this guy by writing for him. Another reason is that when you use another person’s name in writing, this person will be accountable for what you have written. He or she will be liable for the intellectual property rights in case you will be charged of libel or plagiarism. Another point is, legally, it is falsification, or representing someone else. You can be imprisoned if that person will accuse you of taking his or her identity.

5. Keep your political and religious opinions to yourself, not flaunt it or expect others to like it. In scriptwriting, you can create a character with the same opinion as yours, but be sure it will not destroy the flow of the story. Mideo Cruz received a lot of attention because of his art, but it is not a kind of attention any artist would like to have.

6. Don’t offer to critique someone else’s work if you are not yet a veteran writer. Being a veteran writer means you have at least won in the most prestigious award-giving body like the Don Carlos J. Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature or you have a Ph.D. In Literature. Only well-known writers like Dr. Isagani R. Cruz, Dr. Cirilo F. Bautista, Dr. Bienvenido Lumbera (National Artist), Dr. Gemino H. Abad, Dr. Leoncio Deriada and other esteemed writers have the right to critic an equally good writer. Others have no right to say another person’s work is trash, without understanding what good writing is. I felt amused when someone who cannot even write one good sentence in English would tell me, I am a trying-hard writer.

7. Don’t ask your parents, sibling and friends to critique your work. They will never tell you that your work is bad. Instead ask somebody who can tell you honestly what is wrong with the manuscript. Don’t ask a person who thinks he knows everything. Chances are, this person admires himself too much, that he thinks he is the best writer in the world.

8. Never submit a half-hazardly done manuscript to the editor. When I was a young writer, I was told to put aside what I have written and have at least a week for cooling-off period. The cooling off period will give me a chance to look at the manuscript objectively. True enough, the cooling off period gave me time to think what should be deleted and what should be revised.

9. When pointing out some flaws in the script or in any writing, don’t say mean and petty things. Find some positive elements in a manuscript and offer praise as well as constructive comments and suggestions. But never say something bad, unless you want to destroy that writer.

10. Never blame others if you are not successful as a writer. Don’t blame the editors, readers, or anyone in your life for your failures. Writing is something you and you alone can do. If after 20 years of writing, you did not gain recognition, perhaps you have to accept the fact that you have no talent at all.

11. Acknowledge people who help you a lot to improve your craft. They served as your mentor so you should be forever thankful to them. Never forget their kindness. A thankful heart is a joyous heart, and eventually you will achieve success.

12. Be humble. It is the last but not the least of all the tips. Let others praise you, but never praise yourself. Be an expert in writing by reading, learning and observing people but remain humble. Haruki Murakami has this to say: I didn’t want to be a writer, but I became one. And now I have many readers, in many countries. I think that’s a miracle. So I think I have to be humble regarding this ability. I’m proud of it and I enjoy it, and it is strange to say it this way, but I respect it.


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