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Write up a storm

Su Boonlieng asked his young audience at the "Dream Moulding Troop" programme: "Why do you need two straws in iced coffee?"

Write up a storm

Su Boonlieng

He paused a little, leaving the audience to think, before he voiced some ideas.

Thinking a lot is a must for writers.

"When people say 'don't think too much', don't believe them," said Su, who's been a writer for almost 20 years. "Just don't be a scatterbrain. Learn how to think systematically."

Thinking systematically doesn't necessarily mean going from step one to two to three and then to four, says columnist Sorakon Adullayanon of the Matichon Sudsapda magazine.

"It could be one-three-four-two, but it should be supported logically."

A source and an idea are what writers require, says Songklod Bangyeekhan, the editor of a day magazine.

"Writers find sources everywhere, but they must learn to turn it into an enquiry. Questioning things is more important than getting answers. It's about seeing things that others can't, and seeing them from different angles. You will never get good answers to silly questions," says the editor.

Often writers don't know what to write.

There are two explanations for that, Su explained. First, they don't have any ideas and, second, they have too many ideas.

"If you meet the same old group of people and talk about the same old things, you'll never have any input. So, how are you going to create an output?"

Su said the answer maybe in going out - go to the theatre, watch a movie, attend the launch of a new shopping mall.

Then put the ideas you get from these events into your drawer of thoughts, advised Sorakon. "This way you can always pull them out whenever you want."

Songklod also suggested that writers keep raising questions.

"When you say you know something, it means you don't really know it. Admitting that you don't know something helps you learn more," he said.

Su added that from not knowing enough about something leads to thought, the development of ideas and then to the discovery of answers.

"But if you make too many observations, you'll just go nuts," he joked.

Reading is a minefield of knowledge for writers, Sorakon added. "Reading gives you the raw material and you can refine them when writing."

But, reading a book is less important than reading what goes on around you, said Su.

"If you don't read the world, you won't have anything to write about. But as few can read the world since they are born, people need to read books to get a better idea of the world. And when you can read what you see, you get things to write about and then readers can read your thoughts once more."

Don't worry if you're too young and afraid that you can't read the world too well.

"If you read the world like a 60-year-old man, life would be too still. Readers need liveliness and different points of view. There's no such thing as the best and the worst. You'll be always in between. There'll be people above us and below us. So go forward step by step," Songklod advised.

Su said writers shouldn't waste time on theory, but must spend time practising.

"Writing is like swimming," he said. A good lecture leads to good learning, but "you can't swim by just listening".

So if you want to be a good writer, write. And one of the main rule of thumb is, stop worrying!

Don't worry about the style, it'll develop as you go along.

"Initially I started writing the way I liked. But now, I write the way I am," said Songklod, who has published four pocket books.

Many young writers also worry about wording, Su said.

"There's no word that is better than the others. It depends on the writer - how and when you want to use it. Instead of the word 'mother', you could say 'a woman you want to hug all your life' or 'a father's wife', so long as it conveys the right meaning. You can't say 'tea' if you mean 'coffee'."

And don't obsess about what other people think or say.

"For instance the statement that 'mothers always love their children'. How come? Haven't you read about mothers who've hurt their babies with a lit cigarette? Or the idea that 'Thailand is the Land of Smiles'. Is it really the Land of Smiles?"

Columnist Sorakon suggested starting off with a blog.

"Don't wait. Don't just let the words and stories keep running inside your head. It's useless. Many people think writing is easy but when you get down to it, you may find that you only have a problem with the use of a conjunction or two.

"Writing is easy - just spend time on it."

By Rojana Manowalailao

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