On writingA few days ago, a friend asked me if I can proofread an essay she wrote before she publishes it to her blog, to which I gladly obliged. I gave back her piece with a few corrections. I know, I know. I'm not really that good and I can be wrong sometimes. But hey, I'm just glad to help.
"Am I gonna be a good writer?" she asked.
"Of course, anybody who wants to write can be good at writing."
"What makes a good writer?"
I paused. I wasn't prepared for that.
Some people tell me I'm good at writing, while others say I'm not, and to some I'm in between. I don't really take what people say about my writing seriously. Not that I don't care. Trust me, I do. I welcome feedbacks, good or bad. I just don't linger on them for too long that I get too overwhelmed with the flattering remarks and it goes up to my head; nor do I mope on their harsh criticisms that I would feel inferior about it. Instead, I turn them into stepping stones.
I know where I stand. I stand where I keep on telling myself: I still have a long way to go and there's still a lot to learn.
I cringe whenever people ask me anything about writing. Let me be clear to you, when it comes to technical stuff about writing, I suck. Really. It's not that I have not learned anything from my English classes way back in high school - grammar rules, punctuation, and all that jazz.
My writing style is so raw that sometimes I tend to break the rules. The words that I write come from within me. I write whatever my heart and my mind speaks. I write when I'm inspired. I write just because I want to and not to please anybody (except for my goddamn professors in college). When I write, I'm opening a part of me to you: how I think, what's important to me, or what kind of person I seem to be.
Being forced to write puts me off my style. I would become too conscious on the technical aspects of writing that I would find it difficult for words to flow abundantly. And it would seem an arduous task to finish a draft.
Being good at writing is so vague and it varies. I cannot be as good as those fiction writers, the literary geniuses, or those who can exceptionally write research papers. Those kind of writers have to be really technical and conventional with their pieces. I haven't gotten out my comfort zone yet. I'm fine with where I am now: the blogosphere.
I am a blogger who just wants to piece together my thoughts and turn it into words. I cannot be too technical for that matter. I cannot be too correct. And I find some grammar rules worth breaking, you know. It's fun doing it sometimes. If I want to relay my point in some cool way or another, I have to ditch the writing conventions and bend the rules. Your cue to shoot me now, grammar nazis.
My point is, yes, knowledge for technical stuff like the subject-verb agreement does matter, but it's not all the matters. The meat of your content and how you deliver it matter too. It's how you put your heart to it that your readers can see the passion from your words. That's the art and beauty in it. Something which your teachers, the books, or any writer cannot teach you.
So if asked again, what makes a good writer? Honestly, I still don't have a clue. I haven't reached that point yet. But as far as I've said it, it's not just knowing alone the overwhelming grammar rules that make you one. And it's not just the delivery of your piece that makes your readers come back for more. Maybe a combination of both. But still, not enough. I honestly don't know. Maybe that's how we improve - not knowing when to stop learning. To refuse to believe we are good writers and strive to become a better one.
So what can I say to the aspiring writers? If you have something to say, write it. And just like what my friend did, ask for help. Even the greatest writers have their works proofread and edited by others. And of course, as the old adage goes, practice makes perfect. So write as much as you can. And stop worrying about people not liking your piece. Just write for yourself. Write from the heart.