Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Writing Your Manuscript - What Helps

long poster of the Akyat book displayed in R.O.X. store

It would be too early to conclude success for my ‘book project’, but basing purely on the end-output -of getting the book published (the biggest hurdle), I’d like to offer my personal learning/tips for those wanting or planning to write their own manuscript. The focus of ‘what helped’ tips below is writing the manuscript (not book success per se). Who knows, you may find yourself writing your story soon.

1. It helped that I started writing my stories, or ‘just practise writing’ some 10+years ago. I formally started with the manuscript 2006 (after my Everest climb) and the writing work was very manageable from then on. Tip: start writing today!  (see related post)

2. It is easier to write when you have the ‘content’. My book Akyat is non-fiction, and was largely drawn from personal experiences - more like ‘data transfer from memory to paper’. Plus, its content is a subject of interest (i.e. my passion) and writing past stories were relatively easier, and even offered a sense of pride and contentment.

3. It helped that I read books a lot. I’m not a book worm, but I do keep a pipeline of books to read and would feel ‘uneasy’ if I didn’t have a standby, unread book at home. Why this helped? Borrowing writing styles, ‘story structuring’, etc. may be a good approach especially for newbie like me. Plus, reading book makes one a book critic – subconsciously getting hints of what a good book should have. At least from your own perspective. Reading a lot (book or on-line) also helped build my 'what-I-know data bank' - a good additional source of what to write.

4. What will I do without a PC and an MS Word? It helped that my writing medium has all the essentials like quick word check (Thesaurus), spell check, basic grammar check, and capability to switch to internet to validate information or research on some things.

5. It helped that I had previous ‘short stories’ published either in print magazines or on-line. It helped build confidence, gave more motivation (if you see your work published, you’d be inspired to do more), and were good source of feedback (from readers).

6. Story interest was there. Before I even started writing something, I always got many questions about my trips and climbs.  In a way - I got hints of what to write about. And just like ready-to-eat instant meals, my content was somehow “ready-to-read”, just a matter of putting them in words.

7. It helped that I didn’t care much about my lack of writing and language skills, I just enjoyed my “story-telling” exercise. Pinoys are generally very critical about others’ grammar or writing style (I think cultural), and setting that worry aside let me focused on the real deal – telling the story my way, my style.

8. I have many supportive friends. If I didn’t, I may have dropped the ‘book project’ a long time back. Share your stories to your friends, and if they see that it’s worth getting published – they’ll encourage and support you.

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