by JOHN PATRICK A. MAGNO RANARA
A SINGLE page from a book holds a thousand thoughts that inspire readers to find their true selves and to overcome the battles they are facing. But stories can only serve that purpose if writers are brave enough to share them.
In this year’s Philippine Readers and Writers Festival held from Sept. 28 to Oct. 4, ABS-CBN Books prepared “Why the World Needs to Hear Your Story,” an online panel discussion by young authors to help pluck out the seeds of self-doubt from budding writers and push them to wield their pens and write.
Writers Binibining Mia, Zarah Louise, Marianne Mencias, and Mica Meñez gathered to give an hour-long talk encouraging up-and-coming writers to unlock stories out of their minds and let the world hear their thoughts.
Overcoming doubts and insecurities
Expressing one’s thoughts and feelings through writing stories is already a daunting task in itself, but a writer’s fear and insecurities can make the journey even harder to trek.
Mica Meñez, a fresh author and a popular blogger, said that a writer’s greatest obstacle in their literary journey is the writers themselves and they can only surpass it if they strive to write despite their insecurities.
“It was through writing na slowly, nao-overcome ko yung lack of self-esteem ko. I told myself that I’m going to take every opportunity na ibibigay sa akin, whether I fail or not. I’m going to give it a try,” she said as she shared the time when her teacher and classmates surprised her by complimenting her essay.
“I restricted myself to grow and I’ve realized that it’s not really the world that stereotyped me, it’s not really these successful people who put emphasis on the things I cannot do.”
Meñez said that afterwards, she made writing her topmost priority.
Zarah Louise, a published author, admitted that she still hasn’t overcome her doubts and insecurities, but she did not let these stop her from pursuing a writing career.
“You don’t have to wait until you’re not afraid or anxious anymore before you start kasi if you keep waiting for that moment, you might just never start. You have to do something even if you’re afraid. You do it even if you have doubts,” she said.
Confidence is indeed everything, and Louise anchors it on the fact that she has been given an opportunity and a gift in words, which she will use to serve other people.
“I think that is what confidence really means to me; empowerment that is grounded on purpose,” she said.
Listening to criticisms
It is not amiss to say that constructive criticisms and compliments are music to a writer’s ear. However, there are those that are just made to ridicule and degrade.
Binibining Mia, a best-selling author on historical fiction, said that she ignores bad criticism because it does not help her improve as a writer.
“Naniniwala kasi ako na may good and bad criticism. Yung mga good criticism, yun yung mga magaganda kasi kailangan din nating makita yung weaknesses natin at kung saan tayo mag-iimprove,” she said.
She realized she could not please everyone with her writing and said that all writers have to start out from scratch before eventually improving.
“Focus na lang tayo sa mga good criticism, sa mga taong gusto tayong tulungan na ma-develop at mag-improve,” she advised.
She also emphasized that confidence in oneself is important in writing because if one lacks it, it will hinder the writer’s development.
Finding purpose and establishing discipline
To truly grasp the joys of writing, aspiring writers need to establish the purpose of why they want to share their stories while also disciplining themselves to write whenever possible.
Best-selling author and motivational speaker Marianne Mencias shared that having discipline helped her in the process of writing.
“We wouldn’t really get anywhere without discipline,” she said as she recalled her daily routine when she started her first book.
Even if she didn’t feel like doing it, she would write from five to seven in the morning because her mind was most active in those hours. Another practice of hers is writing her purpose as a writer at the top of her worksheet.
“If you have a gift in words, don’t do it to impress, do it to express,” she emphasized, saying that one should really have to be anchored on their purpose.
Every story is indeed worth sharing, but there are some writers who simply write only for their ears to hear. But upon listening to the words of these authors, one may realize that sharing stories, moments, and experiences may do more good for the world than just simply locking it in one’s small notebook.
The event was held through live streaming on the Facebook page of National Book Store, proving that even with the pandemic, the annual festival was still determined in celebrating the diverse voices and stories of Filipino literary enthusiasts. F