“To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong.” – Joseph Chilton Pearce

UNLIKE Sherlock Holmes, I have yet to master the art of “detaching my mind at will” – at least in two writing disciplines I’ve ventured in.

While being an intern for the sports section of the Philippine Daily Inquirer (PDI) for my on-the-job training, my mentor sheepishly pointed out a word I purposely used for a lead in an article which ironically enough earned a byline to my bewilderment.

“It takes guts to use that word for a sports lead,” he amusingly pointed out, as I cringed in my seat. “I will wait for the day I could use that word for an article.”

He was pertaining to my usage of the word “epiphany” through the context that a player finally found an open man who eventually fired the game-winning shot. Although my mentor understood what I was trying to say with the word, it sounded laughable for a straight news article.

He appeased my bruised ego by saying that it was a very creative choice, but I couldn’t help but blame a year of writing for the literary section for the onslaught of superfluous words and ideas.

Although I kept in mind that PDI has its style of delivering news straight to the point as most broadsheets do, I was torn. Shouldn’t sports writing require a certain degree of “literary” creativity as well? It is no mean feat to weave a story engrossing enough for a reader not in the very least interested in what happened in the game, but only on the game winner. Even a rout deserves an interesting lead to back it up. Everything seemed so confusing.

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Now thrust into the Literary section again, I feel guilty when nitpicking on other writers’ traipse with the muses. It is the feeling I felt before when a poem of mine was lashed with red correction marks all over. But it has to be done, despite the fact that I have been preoccupied with sports jargons all summer long.

Many writers are guilty of sticking to their comfort zones, some even going to the extent of belittling writers of other fields and parading their own as superior to mask their cowardice. Some attach good writing to extensive research, a barrage of highfaluting words or even awards, which is a common misconception. Research can only go so far – you can have all the material in the world and still fail to come up with a substantial article. Highfaluting words are a bane, to be honest, and should be kept at a minimal. Awards are just the cherry on top of a job well done.

Although both areas seem poles apart, my stints in sports writing and creative writing eventually meet halfway in the sense that both require the same degree of patience and perseverance (along with a good deal of practice). In the end, it all boils down to structure and substance. Writing is actually like basketball – you have your off days, you have your good days, you win the championship, you get beaten to a pulp – either way, you have to deliver.

I’m not the greatest sports nut in the world. Nor do I appreciate every literary piece out there. But I am determined to improve my craft.

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Journalism majors and aspiring writers shouldn’t be afraid to venture out of their field of expertise. For someone who never had an inkling of basketball rules before, I gathered enough nerve to write for a broadsheet. My closest literary training was writing overly sentimental poems brimming with teenage angst back in high school. Lack of experience, training, knowled ge or even awards should never be a hindrance. The limit that only exists is one’s self, as long as the passion for the written craft is kept aflame.


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