One of the most established names in local lifestyle journalism is Pam Pastor, the editor of The Philippine Daily Inquirer‘s pop culture section Super. Our paths crossed for the first time last month during the presscon of Bianca del Rio’s Manila show and she was seated behind me. I had two choices: introduce myself and tell her I’m a fan of her work, or miss the opportunity to meet one of the people I look up to. I knew it was going to be worth it so I said hello and fangirled.
As fate would have it, I would meet her again after a few weeks for her writing masterclass with the So Worth It Squad, a group of hustlers whose stories of grit and determination remind us that the chase is So Worth It. Here are just some of the things I learned during her lecture:
1. The possibilities are endless. At the start of the class, Pastor handed out three random words to each of us. We were tasked to write something based on those three words. The goal of the activity was to show that even if you get the same three words, everyone will come up with different stories.
2. You can earn money. I agree with this so much. People say that there’s no money in writing or any creative endeavor but that’s not true. I have supported myself this past year living on my own just through the written word. You won’t be rich but you’ll be rich in other ways.
3. It’s not always about parties and events. Writing isn’t as glamorous as it seems. I know people who want to become influencers for the access and freebies. What they don’t know is that attending events and getting free stuff is just a small part of writing. A bigger part is you in front of your computer and trying to chase a deadline.
4. It’s a democracy. It doesn’t matter how old, rich, or how you look like. If you can write, you can write. Sure, connections help but if you can’t produce good writing, your career won’t blossom. I’m proud to say that I was able to write for The Philippine Star‘s Supreme without knowing anyone. I sent in some samples and next thing I knew, it’s been four years.
5. Opportunities don’t fall into your lap. There are plenty of opportunities but you have to seek them out. As I always say, opportunity knocks but it does not beg. I’ve lived by that mantra for as long as I can remember and it’s gotten me far, including meeting Pastor.
6. Writing takes strength and courage. Social media has made it easy for people to criticize your work. I’ve dealt with my fair share of bashers and one of my favorite things someone called me is “educated chismoso.”
7. Keep a journal. A journal helps you remember things. Your smartphone’s Notes app can be a good alternative. Fill these up with observations, experiences, and thoughts. This random collection of notes can become stories once you have enough material.
8. Thinking about writing is not writing. Writing is only considered writing when you’re in front of a computer or you have a pen in hand. It’s hard at first but a crappy first draft is better than nothing. At the same time, you shouldn’t baby yourself. You need to learn to write anywhere and everywhere. At this point, I can write in transit, in meetings, or even in events.
9. Not everyone will love your work. Get used to it. Rejection is part of the writing experience so it’s important to develop a thick skin. This goes for those with editors and proofreaders. You will be edited. Get over it. Editors make you smarter than you really are.
10. You can make a difference with your work. When Pastor wrote about her mental health, people started reaching out to her and sharing that they finally got the courage to seek a therapist. It can also change your life. There are bloggers who used to write in their free time but are now full-time content creators. I’m also a success story!
11. It’s important to do other things. Being passionate about a lot of things enriches you as a writer. Pastor says it’s okay to not have studied journalism in college since your chosen field can be your niche. There will always be journalism graduates but there won’t always be a philosophy graduate with a penchant for the written word. I believe that my psychology degree helps me understand people on a deeper level and see things from different perspectives.
12. You can write about anything. Anything and anyone can be a story. A writer’s life is never boring since there’s always something to write about. Observational skills are helpful but you have to live if you want to be a writer. Say yes to things. Even failure can be a story.