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3 Questions that Haunt Every Newbie Writer
NoInk | 06 November 2017
Have you ever felt like nothing makes sense until you put it into writing? Like your thoughts constantly seek for the affirmation in perfectly woven words on a piece of paper before you can finally say,“yes, this is what I believe in.”
That’s how it has always been for me for as long as I can remember. This is why until now, I’d like to believe that I was destined to be a writer.
Applying as an intern for a publishing company has been the biggest step I’ve taken so far in my road to living out my fantasy in becoming a starving artist, er, I mean a respected writer. Being accepted was a dream come true, but living the dream is a completely different story.
We’re made to believe that everything will come easy for as long as you are doing what you love. You’ll “never work a day in your life”, they said. I think they were lying. I sure love writing, but why does it still feel like work?
The internal struggle is real. I lay awake at night questioning the things I write about, trying to align my integrity and all that with the things I’m tasked to write. And I’ve noticed some existential questions pop out.
1. Do I still write to express myself?
“Write to express, not to impress” may seem cliché, but isn’t that the essence of being a writer?
Not really. Slowly, I learned that I can’t be 100% myself at any given assignment. And that’s just a fact, not a personal attack or something that makes you less of a writer.
When you become a writer, your work with requirements, with expectations, with standards— and they’re most likely not your own (at least at first). I find myself speaking in the language my readers would understand and appreciate, talking about things they care about instead of what interests me.
I realized that writing is more than just expressing yourself. It’s about having a message, reaching people, and bridging the two with your writing style. How you inject yourself into it is up to you.
2. Will I be able to make a living out of writing?
Truth be told, being a writer isn’t always the most fabulous job on the planet. Sure, we’ve seen people make it as a writer, but do I have what it takes?
One of the saddest thing in this life is when people are forced to put their passion aside because it doesn’t pay well. There is this lingering fear in me that the same might happen to me. After all, aren’t we all afraid of mediocrity? What if I never reach JK Rowling status??
I suspect the people who said “do something you love and you’ll never work a day in your life” are the same people who also said “the money will come”. But I still believe that it will. There are so many opportunities to write now, especially with technology developing new platforms and whatnot.
So I’m trying not to worry.
3. Am I now a writer?
For other professions, it’s more concrete. You become a lawyer after passing the bar exam, an accountant, a doctor, an architect after passing the board exam. How exactly does one become a writer?
Technically, you become a writer when you’ve published something. So yeah, I am a writer. But to answer that question in a way that fills me with overflowing purpose in life, that’s something that hasn’t come to me.
I think part of being a writer is the uncertainty. The doubt. I dare say, maybe even half of the time, that’s what fuels writers. And that’s what makes it a truly paradoxical, rip-your-soul-apart, thankless-but-grateful type of profession.
So in that sense, writers are badass. And right now, that’s reason enough for me to stick to this day job. Now excuse me while I write a blurb about cats and dogs doing cutesy things.