Sunday, November 19, 2017

4 Ways to Improve Your Writing



The worst critique I ever received about my writing was nothing at all. The man just finished reading and never said anything ever again. I don’t even know if he managed to finish my book at all.

I did the book as a part of a test and he was supposed to approve it. He did approve it, he just didn’t say anything after that. He used to talk about the creation of the book.

It was upsetting and humiliating. His silence left an empty space that my upset mind filled with all of the worst remarks about my bad writing. On the bright side, that experience challenged me to write better.

Let me share a few tips with you so we can improve our writing together. I hope these tips help you. These are four, simple ways to improve your writing.

Get Rid of Words Nobody Needs

When you are editing your article or book, find the words that it can exist without. Trust me, you will find a lot of unnecessary words from your writing. Do not submit an article or book that take hundreds of words to discuss only one idea.

An article or book that contains only necessary words are pleasing to the eyes and saves people’s time.

A writing style that contains only the necessary words also makes you seem intelligent and pleasant to talk with. It is the form of writing that will be perfect for when you are marketing.

Google Before You Write

Google a fact before you write it. Sometimes, you think you know the truth, but you actually learned about it from an unreliable source.

In this time of fast publications, wrong information is everywhere. Before you post something that you think is a fact, read what reliable sources have to say about it. If it is true, more than one Google result will say that it is so.

There are also special websites that exist to debunk rumors such as Snopes.com.

Do not fall prey to people who only spread wrong information, and do not repeat their actions.

Share, Even Before Your Final Edit

Become a member of a writing workshop. It is intimidating to expose your writing to a group of strangers, especially strangers who could be professional writers, but it will do you good.

Also, it is better to have an exclusive group of writers catch your writing mistakes than to have the whole world - including your (gasp!) potential employer - catch your writing mistakes. Let people in your workshop review your writing and help you become a better writer.

In return, help them improve their writing also.

Express Yourself Fearlessly

Always be yourself, even in writing. Do not be afraid to write your opinions. Open up and tell your true story, including your bad experiences and your precious moments. It will raise the originality factor of your article or book, which both Google and people recognize as quality content.

It will make you stand out as yourself and not disappear into a large group of typical writing that nobody really loves to read.

Writing something unique and unusual will also help people remember you.

Making your writing better involves reading your article or book over and over again to make adjustments. You also need to allow other people to find your writing mistakes for you. Good writing can increase your chances of getting opportunities for collaborations, jobs, and more. Seeing how well-written your articles and book are can make you a happy person who is confident enough to keep writing.

Photo credit: Pixabay

Sunday, November 12, 2017

The Day I Climbed a Cemetery



One of my inspirations to become a writer was my brother, Clarence. I was 1-year-old when he died and I don’t remember him anymore. My only memories of him are stories from my family.

When I was a child, I liked to imagine hard what he looked like and what he was like. I liked to write down who I imagined him to be, and this resulted in the first character I ever created. I soon started to imagine how he would have lived if he hadn’t died, and this resulted in the first story that I wrote.

Clarence died 25 years ago and was buried in a public cemetery called Barangka Cemetery. Barangka Cemetery is located in Barangka, Marikina City. In public cemeteries in the Philippines, tombs are built on top of older tombs. Barangka Cemetery was literally a mountain of tombs.

In 1999, the people who ran Barangka Cemetery removed Clarence from his tomb. They removed him because my family had been unable to pay for his tomb.

The families of dead people had to pay for the area of land that their dead relatives occupy. It cost 50 pesos per year.

They replaced Clarence’s tomb with the tomb of another child whose family lived on T. Joseph Street (a street that was next to the street where my family moved on May 1, 1999.)

While we were living in Barangka, my family visited Barangka Cemetery during the town’s preparations for All Souls’ Day.

The Philippines is one of the only two nations in the whole world that celebrates All Souls’ Day in November. The other is Mexico. It is the day when we remember the dead. On November 2, families camp next to the tombs of their dead relatives. My culture believes dead people’s spirits remain in their tombs, and that we need to visit our dead relatives in the same way that we visit our living relatives on special occasions. People bring flowers, candles, and even foods to their dead relatives. Some of them even bring radios to play music for their dead relatives.

All Souls’ Day is a chance for families to get together. For business owners, it is a chance to earn additional income. On All Souls’ Day, vendors crowd around cemeteries to sell candles, flowers, food, water, and more.

For criminals, All Souls’ Day is a chance to commit crimes. Theft is one of the most common crimes committed in cemeteries on All Souls’ Day. Contraband and illegal weapons have also been found in the luggage of some visitors. It is the reason why policemen, paramedics, and even firemen stand guard and become part of the huge crowd outside cemeteries on All Souls’ Day.

Inside Barangka Cemetery, some of the buildings of tombs were extremely close together. The family members of the dead residents had to squeeze through the narrow alleys between the blocks of tombs to visit their dead relatives.

The dead who had been buried many years ago were already buried beneath hundreds of tombs in the ground. I saw some families digging to find the tombs of their dearly departed. They were using digging materials that looked like axes. They were hitting the ground with those digging materials, sending broken rocks flying to the sides as they dug a hole.

When I first put my foot on a tomb that day, it was disturbing. The tomb felt solid. It was just like climbing up a gigantic step on a huge flight of stairs that had an irregular pattern, except that there was a dead person inside each step. I imagined the dead person lying there beneath my feet, and I was wondering if his ghost noticed me. I was scared that he would haunt me for the rest of my life. As other kids from my neighborhood raced on their way to the top of the cemetery, I started to forget that I was walking on tombs.

After climbing up dozens of tombs for around an hour, we found where they moved Clarence. It was an area of Barangka Cemetery where all of the dead people who had been evicted from their tombs were moved. It was like a cave that had cemented walls, and all of the bones of the dead people were mixed together inside the cave. Clarence’s bones were presumably mixed with those bones.

We stopped next to the families who stood along the walls. They were lighting candles on the walls.

We left the area to continue to the top of Barangka Cemetery. After climbing up more tombs, my family reached the top of the cemetery. There stood a tamarind tree. It wasn’t as peaceful as I had expected. Many other people loved being at the top of the cemetery. Other families were sitting around the tree, watching the people in the town below and the sunset in the nearby Sierra Madre mountain range. From the top of Barangka Cemetery, my town looked like just blocks of square houses beside a road that had moving cars. The lower part of the sun was covered by the mountain range and the sun’s rays were shining on my eyes. My mother told me we should go back.

On our way down, we passed by one of the families who was previously digging. They had already uncovered the tomb of their dead relative and had put the dirt aside. They were painting the tomb to make it look new again.

We hurried down the tombs and left Barangka Cemetery before dark. It had been a difficult climb and I regret stepping on those tombs, but I had found my brother and had seen my town from above.

Photo credit: Pixabay

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Here With Me




Deep in the dark tunnel,
There is a bright lighting
That stays to grow and swell,
Warm, illuminating
Everything that is green,
The blue, and red that scream.

Fine tuning the guitar
To the swaying of voice,
Just harmony, no war,
Although we have a choice,
Smelling like all the powders,
Enhancing the powers.

Pausing for every spice
That make all sides so nice,
Beautiful, no demise.

In every excitement
Of possibility,
There, far on the pavement,
My love waits so sweetly,
If I dance shadows through,
Then I'm dancing with you.

(Photo credit: Pixabay)

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Hero



There is a will that lies
Hidden behind the truth,
Intelligence denies
The likes of a well-trained sleuth,
It's concealed in plain sight,
In feigned weakness hides might.

I could fall and perish,
Defeated by numbers,
Down, but they still punish,
With soil lives my embers,
I have lost everything,
Like a stone on a sling.

Somehow, I am still here,
And everything comes near,
Grabbing me out of fear.

Everything I don't have,
The power I don't own,
Even my one, lost love,
Where my hatred had grown,
The shame and regret dies,
My power's in your eyes.

(Photo credit: Pixabay)

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Mad, Mad Mess: The Comeback




In all of these four years,
Nothing has ever changed,
Amidst the doubts and fears,
The fiery flames have raged,
There was trust and friendship,
We were a makeshift ship.

Nothing has changed with me
In the wildest of hours,
When he won't set me free,
By his words, by his words,
The story did not end,
Even though the twists bend.

For I learned something more,
Things I don't know before,
But was said in their lore.

The truth lies in the heart
Of the person who speaks,
Creating in her art
With a longing that seeks,
For something I now have:
I know nothing of love.

(Photo credit: Pixabay)

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Flower


Yellow, brown, and dark green,
In the sun, you're brighter
On the field where you're seen,
Silence that can cater
Whenever you are heard,
Sweetness that can afford
To inspire when you're smelled,
Your friends might be as sweet
When they would have been held.
Instead, they the chickens eat!
You're soft, gentle, and weak,
You are the feeling I seek.

(Photo credit: Pixabay)

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Things I Learned



To be an author, you have to study a course in Liberal Arts like Literature. There are lots of courses that you can study to become an author. The internet also has loads of articles that teach you how to promote your books, finish writing a book quickly, and blog your way to success. Still, there are things in being an author that you will have to learn on your own. In my eight years of working as an author, here are the top four things I learned on my own. I learned them little by little, with each year and each publication.

Write, write, and write.

They say that everybody’s a writer these days. They also say that it’s easy to be an author these days. Because you have writing programs like Scrivner. Because you no longer require loads of papers and ink to get a book published, and you only have to carry around a thin device called a laptop or tablet. You have the Worldwide Web, which breaks physical and time-related obstacles to help you quickly meet publishers and connect with readers. Still, past or present, the job hasn’t changed much if you take it full-time. Your success is dependent on the same thing: word counts.

Learn to say "no."

Once you establish yourself as an author, you will be flooded with lots of offers. Publishers will be asking you to publish through them. Other writers will be asking for collaborations. The friends you gain in the writing field will be inviting you to join writing events with them. Also, the ones who have helped you go where you are will be asking for help in return. As a new writer, it’s exciting to get so many offers. The initial tendency is to take all of them. You are only human, though, and you have to take into consideration that saying "no" once your schedule is full is better than being unable to deliver on your promises.

There's a limit to the customer being right.

Being an author these days is also being a businessman. You can’t be a recluse and hide in your study to keep writing books. You have to stay in constant contact with your readers and maintain a long and happy friendship. One can’t escape the possibility of encountering bullying, though, especially on the internet. I haven’t yet pinpointed the right time when one should cut all contacts with an abusive reader, but you can sense it when someone has crossed normal reader/writer boundaries. Meeting one of them made me understand the story of Stephen King’s “Misery” really well.

Be good to yourself.

Being an author has harsh side effects. You spend long hours sitting on a chair, staring at a bright computer screen and lost in a world that you are vividly creating. When you are not working, you get the habit of looking for things around you that you can use in your story. These are productive habits that are also good mental exercises, but doing them too much can make you a dull boy. Try to sleep at the right time and wake up at the right time. Try to eat enough food. Spend quality time with your loved ones, including your cat. Enjoy the simple joys of life.

I’m writing this to help new writers know what awaits them. I want them to not go into the pitfalls and dead ends I’ve been through. So consider these your writing cheats, fashioned after the gaming cheats that gamers post online and on YouTube for new gamers to win.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

My Top Fave Free Web-based Tools




Hi again, everyone. It is amazing how many tools are available on the internet right now.

Being an author isn’t just about researching and writing anymore. You have to market your own book and do it quickly. Sometimes, one day isn’t enough to do all marketing, especially when you have slow internet. Some social media sites take a long time to load. I had to keep a list of social media websites to visit, what to do at each site and so on when I was promoting my works.

Young writers are advised to make their families their first readers, but most of my relatives often missed my posts because they live in the United States and we had different time zones.

This is why all these tools are extremely helpful. (These are my opinions only and I am not working for these sites.)

HootSuite

HootSuite is a social media management tool. It’s accessible on all devices. I stopped using it last year because I got too busy to spend hours scheduling tweets, so these details apply only to HootSuite in its status in 2016.

Pros
  • You can answer messages in different social media accounts from one page
  • You can tweet, retweet, favorite, and post
  • You can schedule tweets, retweets, and posts
  • You can manage your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, WordPress, and more. You can even manage your Facebook Page
Cons
  • You have to pay to manage more of your social media accounts
  • You can’t post on Blogger
  • You can’t schedule Facebook shares, Twitter favorites, and Blogger posts

Twitterfeed (closed)

Twitterfeed is now closed. I used it through my PC. I avoided using it through my touchscreen tablet because I might delete something by accident.

Pros
  • It automatically shared my blog posts to my social media accounts
Cons
  • It tended to stop sharing my blog posts, making me log in to make it work again
  • It doesn’t exist anymore


Dlvr.it

Dlvr.it is also a social media management tool. Before Twitterfeed closed, they sent me an email to ask me to move to Dlvr.it. So far, I’ve been accessing Dlvr.it only through my PC, so I don’t know if it’s accessible from all devices.

Pros
  • You can use it to manage multiple social media accounts
  • It automatically shares your blog posts to your social media accounts
  • Unlike Twitterfeed, I don’t have to log in from time to time to keep it sharing my blog posts on social media because it doesn’t quit as long as I don’t make it quit sharing my blog posts
  • I haven’t tried this feature yet, but I read it can also schedule posts on several social media sites


RoundTeam

RoundTeam retweets tweets for you. I have been accessing it through my PC only.

Pros
  • It retweets on its own for you
  • You can make it retweet only tweets from certain Twitter accounts, tweets on certain topics, etc.
Cons
  • It sometimes retweets certain tweets I don’t like, making me schedule a day in each of my weeks for unretweeting some retweets

Now, I can access all of my social media accounts from one page and don’t have to waste time waiting for each social media site to load. My posts get published at the right time even while I’m asleep. My blog posts also get shared on my social media pages. You can also use these tools to do your book marketing faster, or if you’re not an author, for your other promotions.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

The Sleep-deprived Writer




Hi again, everyone! How are you tonight?

I just finished lunch, it’s raining outside, and I have a bunch of articles to write. It’s afternoon in the Philippines. I’m glad I had enough sleep.

One of my busiest months ever was April 2015. I spent the month blogging every day, writing for Camp NaNoWriMo, and participating in NaPoWriMo. Doing all three gave me no more time for sleep. I can stay alive for four days without sleep, but I didn’t feel exactly alive. So what is it like to be extremely sleepless?


  • Your head feels like it’s filled with water. Knocking on one side of your head feels like the knocks are being echoed by the other side of your head. For me, I had the additional, sleep-deprived aberration that was my ears making clicking sounds whenever I was chewing food.



  • Not only do your eyes get dark circles around them, your eyesight also has dark shadows around it. When you look at the sky - even on a stormy day - your eyes hurt so much as if you’re looking at an extremely bright light. During my most sleepless days, I also had difficulty keeping my eyes open in spite of remaining awake.



  • When you’re standing, the ground is still, but you feel like you’re standing on a boat that is floating on strong waves. I learned to master my balance despite always being in my mental “boat.”


  • Different people show different symptoms for lack of sleep. Most people get a bad temper. For me, I laughed way too much when I was sleepless.


These are the reasons why I stopped staying up late. Losing sleep is a habit that is hard to break, though. I had become accustomed to shaking off my sleepiness whenever I felt sleepy. I still tend to do it these days. You just need a bunch of health articles that advise on how to have good sleep and a few tricks you’ll learn on your own.

Reader’s Digest advised that you must avoid arguments before you sleep. The advice works for me because I spend the hours after an argument thinking over and over again all the things I could have said to win the argument. Arguing at night can be one of the ultimate ways to stay awake.

To avoid arguments at home, I usually sit in front of my computer and look busy. Here’s a secret I’ll share with you: I’m actually not doing anything on my computer, I’m just looking busy. I have a policy to not communicate with anyone online after 10pm.

In the past, my online communications that were done after 10pm only ended up in arguments. During those times when no one was online, I only ended up posting things I regretted posting. Those posts kept me awake for the next months, worrying about the catastrophes they might bring.

I just happen to have no choice but to stare at a computer screen at night, but most health articles on insomnia actually advise that you must stay away from technology one hour before you sleep. They say the screen makes us think it’s still day. The way how the internet seems to never sleep also makes us lose track of time, making us forget it’s already night.

Stay away from your computer before sleeping tonight and make sure you get enough sleep. Sweet dreams!

Photo credit: Pixabay

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Summer Writing



Hi, everyone. Glad you are still reading.

I’m sorry for taking so long to return. I said last May it was going to be just a month-long vacation. It turned into four months!

Anyway, I was just thinking of some of my earliest writing projects. In June 2011, I joined Clarion Write-a-Thon. I pledged to write 2,000 words of “Crab Mentality” by the end of the event in exchange for funds donated to The Clarion Foundation.

“Crab Mentality” was the fantasy-horror story I created. It was about a boy who can control water and an arsonist who turned into any person he burned. I spent Clarion Write-a-Thon 2011 taking notes for my story, writing the story, promoting my Clarion Writer page on my social media pages, and emailing potential sponsors.

I was also studying Statistical Reasoning, training in touch typing, and helping in my family. I did not have enough time for everything. I did not win in Clarion Write-a-Thon 2011 and did not finish “Crab Mentality.”

Clarion Write-a-Thon is just like a walk-a-thon. You write to raise funds.

Sponsors donate to the foundation based on the amount of work you finish. In 2011, sponsors donated to writers based on the number of words they wrote.

Now, sponsors can donate based on the number of poems, pages, hours, and more that the writers finish. The writer who raises the most funds wins.

In 2011, the event was held on The Clarion Foundation website. Updates about the event were posted there.

Us Clarion We were asked to email our names and details to Clarion, and their web programmers created our Clarion Writer pages for us. Here is my page. Sponsors donated through these pages.

Now, Clarion Write-a-Thon has its own website. Anyone can sign up for the website and build their own Clarion Writer page.

We had no direct control on our Clarion Writer pages. If you made a mistake in the details you submitted to Clarion, it will be on your Clarion Writer page forever. Unless you send another email asking them to correct your mistake.

My Clarion Writer page had no picture, but I didn’t have the time to send another email to update it because my time was full. Now, you have direct control on your page. You can edit it anytime and make it stand out from other Clarion Writer pages.

My Clarion Writer page had a picture, a Bio, an Excerpt, a Donate button, and fund-raising details. I had to write about my other details on my social media pages.

Clarion Writer pages these days have personal details, links to social media pages, and badges for extra goals. Clarion Writer pages now have a bar that measures how much your progress to your pledge. I love that bar.

My time in Clarion Write-a-Thon 2011 was not satisfying. I finished “Crab Mentality” in 2012 outside of the Write-a-Thon in exchange for no donations and for free.

I joined Clarion Write-a-Thon in 2012 again, but it was through the new Clarion Write-a-Thon website. I pledged to finish 85 poems before August and I was finally able to upload a picture to my Clarion Writer page. I did not raise any funds again, but I finished my 85 poems.

NaNoWriMo is coming up. If you have no time at the end of the year for writing, you can save your story ideas for Clarion Write-a-Thon instead. It takes place in the middle of the year, usually from the first week of June to the middle of August.