I can still remember my very first writing assignment. I was supposed to write an article for a men’s magazine about “The Questions Women Have Always Wanted to Ask Men.” I was 23 years old then, single and still searching – okay, maybe, praying – for a real and lasting relationship. Of course, I had a lot of questions I wanted to ask men.
The magazine’s editor was a good friend of mine from college and he assigned the piece to me because he said he knew I had an interesting view on things and that I write well. So he was confident in assigning the task to me. I was not as confident as he was, though. I remember spending hours staring at a blank pad paper (I used to write my drafts on pad papers then).
Instead of anything related to the topic assigned, the questions popping in my mind were: “Are my views truly interesting?” and “Will people read my write-up?” At some point, I thought, “What if they actually do read it and judge or criticize my writing? What if people think I’m a fake?” I almost did not submit that article out of sheer fear and paranoia. I just didn’t feel worthy.
Somehow, I was able to submit something. My editor friend liked it, didn’t even do much editing, and had it published. When the piece came out, we met for lunch so he can give me a copy of the magazine. He gave me some feedback, too – like, a girl officemate of his was saying that my issues were “shallow” and “not controversial.”
Truth be told, I was hurt and I got pretty defensive. I wanted to explain what I wrote. But to my surprise, he dismissed the girl’s comment by telling me, “Your issues are yours. You write based on your experiences. Don’t ever let other people make you doubt yourself.” Then he congratulated me and gave me my next assignment.
I only wrote a couple more articles for that men’s magazine but that experience somehow made me realize all the more how much I loved writing.
Fast forward seven years… I was already a young mother and I was invited this time by a parenting magazine to write regularly for them. Theirs was a quarterly publication. I was given my own space where I can share my stories and personal experiences as a parent. I was also supposed to write about certain topics depending on the theme for the quarter.
I was ecstatic when I got the invitation. I was petrified, too. The same questions ran in my head: “Am I good enough?” or “Will people be interested?” and “What if they think I am such a know-it-all?” The same crippling questions that almost kept me once again from doing something that I loved.
I wrote for said parenting magazine for about three years until they ceased publication. I can say that it was there that I grew as a writer. I was able to hone my writing skills and I was able to express my thoughts and my views. In a way, as I wrote about parenting, I grew as a parent, too.
Each of us has God-given talents. However, a lot of times we allow ourselves to be influenced by our own fears, self-doubt and hang-ups that we end up not making good use of them. Sometimes we don’t follow our dreams because we allow insecurity to take over.
To the young ones out there, fellow writers or not, allow me to share some life-lessons that I have learned through the years:
- Know what you want and go for it. Don’t be afraid to dream. Know your passion.
Do you want to be a writer? Then write. Do you want to get published? Then submit what you wrote. Do you want to perform? Then go out there and look for opportunities.
You may not always get the part. You may not always get published. But you will never know until you try. You have to take that first step. You have to put yourself out there.
- Practice. Practice. Practice.
Know your strengths. Hone your talents. Improve your skills. Don’t be complacent.
I have been writing poems and stories since I was 10 years old. I have kept diaries and journals. Writing on those journals made me more conscious of my grammar. In time, I developed my own writing style.
Allow yourself to grow as you embrace your gifts.
- Acknowledge the people who are there to help.
Believe me, there are a lot of people out there who are more than willing to help. People who will teach, guide, mentor you. People who will praise you when you do a good job and who will also be honest enough to tell you when your output is below average. Sometimes what we need is just an extra push. Find that person who will not be afraid to give you a shove.
I have always wanted to be a writer. My childhood dream was to see my works published somewhere. Up to this day, I am still thankful to my college friend, my very first editor, for believing in me when I was not ready to believe in myself.
- You can’t please everybody.
Oh yes, there will be critics. There will be people who will think – and say—that you are not good enough or that someone else is better. But if we try to please everybody with what we do, I believe we will end up not being able to do anything at all.
- It is never too late to dream.
Time flies. Life breezes by so fast. Yet as long as you are breathing, I believe you can dream. And the best part is, you can go after your dreams. It is never too late.
Remember, the only person who can truly limit you is yourself. So, don’t.