I have always dreamed of being a writer. This does not exclude me, however, from every creative person asking themselves daily whether they are really meant to write. If you have asked yourself these questions, congratulations! You are meant for this messy, self-doubt fueled vocation called writing.
How do I begin?
A lot of writers get daunted by the blank page. There’s something about starting a new project that makes you crawl under the sheets, do all your chores, anything else besides beginning. For motivation when you want to begin, read this.
Do I have what it takes to write?
You have always been good with words. People you know encourage you to write. But when you read your favorite authors, you get this sinking feeling that you’ll never be good enough.
Am I worthy?
You have always known the power of words. Words have shaped who you are. You know how it influences people. You know how words can create meaning, add value, and mobilize people around ideas and beliefs. Words can win an election. Words can condemn an innocent man to a lifetime of prison. Words can break relationships. And you ask yourself, am I responsible enough to wield words?
Do I have enough credentials/experiences to have authority in my writing?
I was born in a stratified culture where the letters after your name matter. Credentials matter, and if you don’t have them you won’t get anything commercially published. That’s why a lot of people try year after year to enter writing workshops and join literary competitions. For aspiring writers, this becomes the rite of passage if you want to write anything that will be read by people aside from your family and friends. And it could get stressful and competitive out there.
How can I sustain working on this project?
So you have managed to start your writing project. Getting to “The End” should be easy from here, right? Think again. The Honeymoon is when you are fascinated with your idea. You can’t wait to write it down on the page. But when the Honeymoon is over, and you realize that there’s a lot of research to be done, you’ll experience what creatives call The Dip. That’s the time when a lot of creatives abandon their projects. The Dip, however, is the point that defines whether an idea will become real in the world. As an aspiring writer, you should find ways not to get disheartened until you get through The Dip.
Do I have enough grit and determination to see this project to the end?
Yes, you do. Keep going.
Why am I so afraid of putting words down on paper?
When I feel scared to write, most of the time it’s because I am a perfectionist afraid that my work is not good enough. But I remind myself that what I am writing is just a draft. Nobody needs to see it until I have polished it to the best of my ability. I take a deep breath, put away my delusions of greatness, and go back to work.
What are the challenges stopping me from writing?
Writer’s block is 90% complaining about things we can’t control (not having enough time, the newest writing device, inspiration, etc.) and 10% Netflix. Some days, 100% Netflix.
What if nobody cares about my work? What if people say hurtful things?
Writing for yourself is cathartic and therapeutic. But when you start writing with other people in mind, especially in the internet era, it’s really hard to put your work out there. There is so much good writing on the internet that you might be ignored. If you do manage to capture people’s attention, they come with internet trolls with nasty hateful comments.
For this reason, it’s important to have a stable mind and a healthy self-esteem when dealing with feedback and criticism from other people. Find the constructive parts of criticism and screenshot the rest away in a password-protected folder, only to be opened when you receive the highest literary award you can aspire for. Don’t take it to heart and laugh it off with people who know you and love you.
What if I don’t have anything literary in me?
I ask myself this every time I have a bad writing day. I ugly-cry and tear up pieces of paper, which I later tape together. There is something about writing that makes you doubt the fundamental parts of yourself as you work on your craft. And as someone who religiously watches interviews of award-winning authors all over the world, this self-doubt never goes away. Get used to the self-doubt, is my mantra.
Where do I find the strength to go on, to continue, when the path ahead is not clear?
Books, always books. The beauty of literature is that when the writing gets tough, you can always pick up a book and fall in love with words all over again.
Author: Pia Besmonte
Pia Besmonte is a poet, literature teacher, and author based in the Philippines. She wrote “Manic Pixie Depressive Gremlin”, a collection of poems on mental health awareness and empowerment for millennial Filipinas. She loves to paint, sing, watch films, and take care of her family, Team BLG.