Sunday, August 15, 2004

Live to Write

Live to Write
Everyone in this world believes in the right to choose what he or she wants to do for a living. Not many people however live the lives they want because jobs are scarce in the world of economics. In the heart of hearts, many people would have at one time or other desired to be a writer or an author, but not all of these people get the chance to live lives the way they want it.

To be a writer is a noble thought and to see one's name published in an article or a book is a satisfaction that goes beyond actualization and personal achievement. It is a signifier of success and authority on the subject of what has been written. For a fiction writer, it is the power of imagination, a fantasy beyond reality, a demonstration of creativity. For a non-fiction writer, it is an accomplishment that propagates the writer's expertise on the subject, a canonical authority to power in knowledge.

Many people who pursue a career in writing began their career as a journalist after they have obtained a diploma or a degree in mass communication or journalism. Academic achievements, however, need not always be quintessential to good writing, although many employers would prefer to engage someone with at least basic writing skills or qualifications, especially in Asian context.

As a journalist or intern journalist, there are various paths in which writers can achieve their goals. The first consideration is usually to write for the broadsheet press or main newspaper, a place that provides a good start for building an outstanding portfolio. This path, however, will not be an easy ride and new comers entering a newsroom environment will usually start as reporters. To work as reporters can be hell because the deadlines for each story is within several hours, often less, because of the required time for meeting people, conducting interviews, and getting the story out for editing and print within the same day. News that do not make it within the scheduled time on the same day will be discarded as it will no longer be news the next day. Apart from the rush, writing for the mainstream has advantages as well, the key gain of which is a portfolio that provides good reference to an impressive CV or resume.

The second alternate path is to write for non-mainstream press or tabloid. Although the desired prestige may not be what the writer seeks to have, depending on the track record of the publication's circulation capacity, it can still substantially provide some publicity and recognition for a good portfolio.

The third path to consider is to write for periodicals, magazines, or on-line publications. The advantage of writing for these types of publications is primarily in the area of deadlines. Articles for such media usually allows a slightly longer time for writing completion as the audiences are more selectively targeted. Production for magazines and periodicals are usually scheduled for weekly, monthly, or bi-monthly release and content of writings feature based, often with added sophistication that allows writers the avenue to express their writing styles as well as presenting thoughts of people interviewed or their own.

Apart from seeing one's name associated to the article he or she has written, working as a journalist has other forms of satisfaction as well. When a journalist is invited to attend an event or a media conference, he or she is always treated with utmost courtesy by the people who invite, sometimes with souvenir gifts and seats arrangements that are usually only for the VIPs. These do not mean that the journalist must then write something favorable accorded to their courtesy, as journalists essentially abide by the code of journalistic practices.

Besides journalism, there are other ways for aspiring writers to start a career. As explained earlier, writing for a living is not dependent on qualifications, literacy, or academic achievements. For people who do not have the required qualifications but desire to write, they may sometimes be better off than those who have because they are not restricted by what they have learnt. In the case of fiction writing, those without degrees and diplomas often possess better imagination and creativity, with the ability to distance themselves from stereotypes. This, of course, does not mean that writers who are qualified are unable to write fiction. It does mean however that trained writers have a tendency to follow prescribed rules in their writing style which can limit a person's creativity and stifle a good story. Having said that, however, it should be noted that good writings are dependent on a person's flair for writing, not good qualifications. For a writer to be good, he or she must possess a burning passion for what he or she writes, not just write to live, but also live to write.


CJ said...

This is the best commentary on journalism I have ever read! It is so true, it's not always about your academic background, this skill for writing must come from within. Great blog!

Midst of the Woods said...

I read your article with great interest. Thanks for the advice!