Baluyos: The joy of mentoring

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Friday, March 21, 2014

“HI Maam Tess. Kimberly L. Felicitas po ito, usa po ako sa mga naturuan ninyo about feature writing. Maraming salamat po sa lahat… naging Best Output po yong work ko sa RELC, Lapasan. Maraming, maraming salamat po.”


AS I read her FB message, my thoughts brought me back to those two days where I happily and magnanimously shared with more than 25 elementary and high school students, all budding writers, and their respective coaches, tips on feature writing.


I remember I was in the thick of urgent official tasks when DepEd Region 10 Education Program Supervisor for Reading and Campus Journalism Mala Epra Magnaong called to request me to serve as resource person. My first reaction was to decline, as I was wondering how I would be able to fit it in my already full official schedule. Maam Epra, however, has her sweet way of not taking a NO for an answer. Thus, after ‘negotiating’ with each other, seeing to it that I don’t sacrifice my other tasks, I happily accepted her invitation.

Of course, it has been my wish to get involved in DepEd’s Press Conference, knowing that I have something to offer, especially in feature writing. Thus, Maam Epra’s call/invitation was a welcomed one. For one, a new category for feature writing is Science and Health writing, thus, the more that I was moved to get involved, as I would be mentoring the future science journalist.

The two-day activity was enhancement training for school paper advisers and campus journalists, to prepare them for the upcoming national schools press conference slated first week of April at Subic.

I found it very easy mentoring the students as they already have basic knowledge and skills in feature writing. During the mentoring sessions, however, I have realized that while some have no difficulty starting their article, for others, it takes longer to write. I somehow expected it, as I, for one, even if I have been writing for years, I still need a ‘conducive’ time and space to be able to write. I wish I were like other writers who can write despite the noise, the distractions.

But having that ideal writing setting is no assurance. There are techniques on how to make writing easier and these techniques would also be helpful on how to overcome your fear for writing, especially if you are just starting to write. I would like to give credit to the author of these writing techniques, whose name escapes me for now. Here they are:

Much of what makes writing difficult is trying to write and edit at the same time. Get your ideas down on paper first; critique, rework, and polish them later. Critiquing ideas as you are trying to express them represses them.

A good way to get started: free writing. Write for 15 minutes without stopping. Write anything that comes into your head. If you are frustrated because you can’t think of ideas or are worried about how your writing will be evaluated, write that down. If you want to stop writing, note it and keep going. “Give yourself permission to write garbage,” says Henriette Ann Klauser in Writing on Both Sides of the Brain. We put extraordinary pressure on ourselves to write perfectly.

Write as soon as you wake up in the morning, before you dress up or have your coffee, when you are still in the partial dream state. You’ll produce richer ideas and your critical faculties will interfere less.

Teach yourself to write your schedule. Choose a time to write for 15 minutes and honor it as an appointment.

If you’re having trouble organizing your thoughts, put your subject on the center of a piece of paper and write the related facts and ideas in clusters around it. This is a less restrictive way to outline.

If you reach a stumbling block, try to write pass it. Often, the best ideas lie right beyond the hurdle, tempting you to give up. If you’re still stuck, take a break and think over the problem in a relaxed setting. By the time you return, you’ll probably have the answer.

Be prepared to write at any time, in any place. Keep pen and paper handy—by your bedside, in the car, in your bag. The best ideas often come when you’re not trying for them.

I am hopeful that the students I am mentoring will bring home the bacon. Even if they don’t, I would like them to remember that writing is not about winning, but expressing and sharing one’s ideas to their readers. It would be a bonus if someday some of them eventually become science journalists. For now I wallow in the joy that once in their life, I was there for them. [Email:]

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on March 21, 2014.


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