|Jeesoo Park, Journalist, Editor, Aspiring Author|
I WISH I HAD KNOWN…
That writing is a process, and there will never be an end point to the learning. There won't ever be a time when you think: 'Great! I don't have to revise or edit, ever again.'
I look at things I wrote years ago and cringe. Some of the stories I've written recently and am proud of now I'm sure will be cringe-worthy two years or even two months from now. I don't think that's being overly self-critical, I just think that being a writer involves constantly evolving, consistently transitioning. Getting it right the first time (or second or third) is a myth.
Also, cringing is okay as long as you can laugh at yourself, too. My most frequent thought when looking back: 'Why didn't I just put down the thesaurus for a second?'
THE MOST IMPORTANT IDEAS OR PRACTICES I'VE LEARNED AS A WRITER…
1. Don't try and imitate someone else's voice or let them influence your writing style too much. It's always great to have literary heroes or someone whose style you admire, but your own voice is valid enough. Don't try and obliterate it.
2. Just because you think you've just written the best intro/conclusion/sentence since "Call me Ishmael" doesn't mean everyone else will agree. You're allowed to be surprised or even slightly offended, but be sure to ask why and learn to move on.
3. Particularly when it comes to longer pieces, writing is not just about what to put in -- it's about what to leave out. Knowing what to exclude is a lot harder than it sounds, and I still struggle when it comes to remembering this.
IF YOU DON'T LIKE WRITING, HOW DO YOU MANAGE TO DO IT?
I always think of this quote by Michael Kanin: "I don't like to write, but I love to have written."
So true. Writing is one of those things that's completely rewarding only after I've finished. Sure, I enjoy figuring out what words go where, which sentence fits best, and working under the pressure of a deadline. I do not enjoy the anticipation of writer's block, of potentially negative feedback, or the possible fear of hating what I've written. In the end though, if it's done right, it's worth it. Just picture the light at the end of the tunnel!
WHAT HELPED ME BECOME A CONFIDENT WRITER…
Taking classes and lots of re-writing have of course helped me become more confident as a writer. But by far, the biggest source of confidence for me has been the positivity from teachers and professors throughout my academic career. Their willingness to talk with me and make me feel like my writing was actually worth working on -- that was enough for me to believe that my thoughts were both appreciated and important (Sabrina Kirby, I'm looking at you). Contrary to what you might think, confidence-building is oftentimes a group effort, not an individual one.
WRITING IS IMPORTANT IN LIFE BECAUSE...
After I emigrated to the United States at the age of five, I spent years barely uttering a word. I couldn't speak English, I didn't have any friends, and not only was I lonely -- I felt like something might be wrong with me. Reading and writing are inextricably linked, and books and stories were what helped me survive and feel like I fit in somewhere, even if it was a nonexistent place. Writing, or taking on the challenge of helping other people see or feel what you see or feel -- what an amazing thing.
Jeesoo Park is a graduate of Bucknell University, where she majored in English and minored in French and Dance. She then attended and graduated from the Columbia University School of Journalism, where she specialized in broadcast journalism. Her work has been featured on The Huffington Post, The Daily Beast, Washingtonian.com, PBS.org, and TODAY.com, and she also freelances as the D.C. writer for the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA). She has filled in as a guest contributor on the Canadian Television Network (CTV) as a fashion and pop culture expert, and is currently writing a non-fiction book about undocumented youth and immigration reform. Her next career move: Getting back into TV news! She lives in Washington, D.C.