To Be a Good Entrepreneurship Reporter, Don’t Be an Entrepreneur

So here’s the rule of thumb for entrepreneurship and business reporters out there: Don’t be the person you want to interview and write about. In other words, don’t be an entrepreneur or business person. This piece of advice sounds a little bit counter-intuitive as I thought it’d be much easier to understand the subject matters by being in their shoes, seeing things the way these people do so I can write better about them and their companies.

It turns out I’m wrong…

Reporters need to stay away from being an entrepreneur themselves. They can’t be a top-notch reporter and a great entrepreneur at the very same time. They have to relinquish one of the two.

That’s probably the gist of Sarah Lacy’s statements. The founder of media company Pando.com was asked whether being an entrepreneur herself changed her way of writing as a tech reporter. As we all know, Lacy has worked for almost 15 years writing about the tech industry, the people and the whole dynamics in it. She answered it bluntly,”I’m a way worse reporter now…”

Asking hard questions to other entrepreneurs as an entrepreneur cum reporter is relatively easy, claimed Lacy. Yet, she stated that what bothered her to do her best job she always wanted is the OVEREMPATHY on the answers. “So particularly when it comes to things I’ve gone through…like having the ousted board member (she might be reminded of Mike Arrington ousted from TechCrunch or?) or even like a cash crunch or hiring a sales guy that didn’t work out[…]”

She further said she didn’t write as much as she used to and she felt for these pitiful entrepreneurs. “Because I see every side to it and I feel for them,”explained the mother of two.

Thank God, I’m not an entrepreneur because if I have to be one, I would certainly lose my best job ever. And I would never trade being a writer to any job on earth. This is very much the best. At least for now.

JK Rowling Shared Her Writing Tips

“Would you like to be an author? Read as much as you can. I’d say read anything. The more you read the better. Because it’ll teach you what you like and what you think makes a good writing. It will increase your vocabulary. And you just have to keep on and on writing and then you’ll find you hate most of what you write at first but sooner or later you’ll write something that you quite like. And lots of trees would have to die and it’s because you’ll be crumpling everything up…” – J. K. Rowling

Elevator Girl

‎Do you know the feelings when someone – of all people you have encountered in a place this huge and tall you frequent – happens to know a book you are reading? Exactly know the book like you do! That is what exactly what my friend feels today.

He finally found someone who knew the book he is read‎ing is the one read and favorited by the murderer of John Lennon decades ago. And that is not a kind of piece of information anyone knows even for a literature student. So this person is so so erudite, literaturewise. A person who knows and recognizes the fictitious world beyond this mundane, floody and boring real world.

Isn’t it wonderful? Life always surprises us, he told me jovially. I can’t agree more with him.

“Should I fall for this person?” he asked.

That sounds absurd. To fall for a girl who happened to know the book you are reading is quite beyond my ken.

Yet I know if his heart wants it, I told him to simply ignore what I uttered.

He told me again and again how smart this human being seems to be at a glance. She looks more than just a lowly slave of a big corporate. She has got that thing, he explained. What is the “thing”‎ is something he cannot explain further. It is stuck there. Without any clear explanation whatsoever.

“Writing is an Art and You Don’t Rush Art” – Super Wealthy Authors

‎I hate disturbingly affluent authors. Not that I want to choke them to death or beat them with pebbles or decapitate them like that poor Japanese journalist. I’m not that mean, seriously.

It’s more because they have the luxury and privilege ,or whatever you call it, ‎ to write their best works without having to give a single ( sorry) damn to what the market or readers or buyers or publishers desire. Deadlines are given but still they make sense and there’s still much time to produce and rewrite and rewrite like a thousand times so the best stuff can be served to people awaiting to read.

Joanne Rowling aka J. K. Rowling once said she never bothered whether she had to publish “The Casual Vacancy” or not. She for a period of time enjoyed ‎the secrecy and privacy of writing for the sake of writing, something missing while she was writing Harry Potter series for 17 years. She clearly didn’t write solely for financial purposes after being filthy rich. After the wildly successful Harry Potter series, Rowling seems to be very very very few authors on the Earth who least need more sources of income to support her daily basic expenses and besides, her spouse is a doctor!

Just like Rowling, Elizabeth Gilbert shared quite similar a fortunate story‎. After becoming a rich and illustrious memoirist, Gilbert also found solace in the abundant wealth she got in exchange for her privacy. You know what I mean because she wrote a heartfelt memoir on her love and spiritual life. Such a larger-than-life topic to cover within a single literary work, in fact.

But with the loss of privacy, she obtained the freedom of writing. She can use the money she’s got from the previous memoir royalty to fund the publication of her next ambitious fiction project‎, The Signature of All Things.

I’m convinced that these authors are not just lucky. Even if it is luck, I can argue that luck must be built. They worked their way up there. They started early, they’ve known what‎ they wanted to do since childhood.

Writing is an art, and you can’t rush art but why do deadlines exist in the first place? Anyone knows?

Lessons from the Book Launch

The coach mentioned, as long as my memory serves right, about this site called future.me. As he told in an exuberant manner on why everyone should visit the site and write down to his own future self, I got a shiver.

“You can write down your own life plans there to your future self. And what matters most is that… y’all will get the plans in your email inbox at the specified time. So if you set it to be sent 10 years from now, you’ll get the email 10 years from now. As simple as that. So if you cannot rach your desired goals, you’ll be so sorry. That means you suck and you must work harder and find the answer as to why you suck in this life,” the coach extolled the undertaking of planning life.

The audience kept silent. They moved nothing. Their eyes might roll in bewilderment. “What this ambitious, seemingly successful and wealthy young man was trying to tell us?”they might think.

I was stunned by this. Do we really have to think that way? Do we need to insult ourselves in the future just because we fail to achieve the objectives in our 10-year, or 20-year, life plans? Some people think we do.

I don’t, however.

I’m not that mad to plan my life in such a way. Not because I don’t have any ambitions in life. Not at all. I do have a list of ambitions. I want to get published a lot. I want to meet great people. I want to write books and anything useful for others. I want to have more freedom in life, making choices and taking responsibilities. I want to have my own family someday. I want to enrich my life with yoga, whether it be teaching or practicing. I want to be happy, ample and free. And the list goes on.

But life doesn’t always go your way. You cannot control life anyhow, no matter how great you are. Life is too powerful to conquer and to be controlled.

All these years, it has dawned on me that being a human being means accepting the fact you’re microscopic cosmic dusts in this infinite universe. Seriously, we in fact almost means nothing. Whether we exist or not, the world keeps going as it has to be. The sun keeps on shining even if your most beloved ones are dead. The Milky Way is still up there even if it’s time for us to leave this world. We’re really a mere complement to this world. Not more.

That said, I arrive to the conclusion that life always offers you failures. But some failures are not real failures. This type of failure leads us to a better life at times. What seems to be bad luck sometimes changes into an unbeaten, hidden path leading us to a higher level of life achievement which you didn’t even plan or never cross your mind before.

So when my future self receives the email in 2025, I might crack a smile and write a satire of it. Because it feels like I read a letter from a childlike version of me. Life so far has taught me how fast humans can change their minds, their beliefs, their spouses, their careers. And chronicling it enables us to track down the development of our foolishness.

I may lose some things in life but it doesn’t mean I’m a total loser. So long as I do my best in life, how can I become a loser?

To the coach, I wish I could say this:”Get a life.”

But thank God I held my sharp tongue. He’s still in his twenties. I hope he learns a lot over time.

Why Tablets Never Attract Me

‎Tablets belong to a clumsy, awkward and outlandish category of gadgets, which is why I cannot care about them less. They are too cumbersome as a mobile device we can use at ease on the go. They attract more people with huge thumbs and fingers, and sadly also more pickpockets and thieves. While you can easily conceal your phone with a 4-5 inch display inside your pockets, phablets (phone-tablet) and tablets are slightly bigger. And it cannot slip smoothly into your trouser’s pockets. Never ever.

Tablets with cellular connection also make you like a dumb caller. I at times see people calling or answering calls on their tablets and I almost giggle when they holler,”Helloo?!” I would say using tablets as a phone is too unfashionable on so many levels.

‎And if you write on daily basis like me, ‎tablets are disastrous tools of writing. A novelist friend gave her tablet a try as a writing tool. She posted it on Facebook. “I’m now trying it!” she announced in a proud tone and ever since she has never bragged about the experience of writing (typing) on a tablet. I am certain she abhorres it to no end after learning how to accurately type words fast with fewer typos. Believe me tablets are not designed for writing. They are more for gazers, window shoppers, consumers, readers.

‎ (Image: GQ Magazine)

Life After the Book Launch

Nothing‎ changes after the book launch took place days ago. The blue boy still gets busy with his dreams, plans and future itinerary while time is floating subtly as usual. He goes to campus, attends classes, and takes notes. Everything a university student usually does.

Or not. I just find out it’s the time when university students take recess between semesters. So that explains why the book launch was on last Saturday.

He works like a slave even on weekends. I don’t even understand why he has to do so in the first place. Get a life, I say it to him but soon I find out it’s I who need the reminder more than he. I work ‎on weekends sometimes, I admit it. But it doesn’t feel like work because my pastime is the same thing I do for a living. I write.

Speaking of the intensity of my love of writing, I almost throw up when I want to declare: “Writing is my spouse”. That sounds a little bit too much for a normal guy. I then sit and touch my forehead lightly and mumble,”Gosh! Maybe I’m not.” I should see a psychiatrist perhaps. This is not good for my well being. Blame it all on Elizabeth Gilbert and her wildly inspiring TED Talk about writing serving as home. But as I realize how easy spouses can get divorced these days, I change my mind. I don’t want to marry writing.

The last time I wrote a long and more intellect-demanding piece on weekend, a silly and curly old spinster warned,”You shall not write too much. Your feeble mind can get tired and that affects your work quality.” And my everyday work is in fact writing. So what’s the point of the heed? I dump the ridiculous piece of advice instantly. She might be out of her mind. Needless to say.

The privilege of being young and healthy is you can do anything you want until you almost kill yourself from extreme fatigue. But who cares? The blue boy keeps on toiling like a bull even though his mother shrieks,”Where are you going to go again?!!” She gets frantic of course. The blue boy just got home and he refuses to lock the gate, saying:”Don’t lock it. I’ll go out in a minute.” The clock strikes 9.30 pm. Luckily no curfew is in effect in the house.

Life is still hard even for a published writer like the blue boy, who is still 18. But at the very least, he is already selling his maiden 143-page book‎. He’s got something tangible to show off.

I frown to find the blue boy not having a personal site or‎ a Facebook page for himself. He’s the brand right now. He has to market his book and his skills as an author. A published one! No one can deny that. And he has managed to separate himself from a zillion of unpublished hopefuls like me. He has a product to sell but too bad he’s not aware of it.

The next effort needed to make his book best-selling in many bookstores‎ is making sure he can sell with whatever marketing tools and strategies available for free or applicable at very low cost. And he seems to be disinterested when I mention about Facebook or social media sites other than Twitter. He needs a profesional help for this. Badly need one.

‎All he needs now is writing a blog to promote his book and tweet like crazy to build a bigger audience.

The blue boy doesn’t need it, so it may seem. The mentor has done it all for him. ‎Definitely he wants to show people that he succeeded as a mentor of a fledgling young writer.

I suppose the mentor will bring and obviously sell the books to every participant of his trainings and public talks or whatever event he holds, co-holds or attends.

‎The books are then brought and sent to several cities in Indonesia. The mentor may promise the blue boy a greater channel of distribution if he agreed to write under his guidance. And boy, did the mentor have it.

The Book Launch Finale

bookI step into the room, hoping to see a huge number of audience. They could be clapping now or making a round applause after a considerably inspiring talk or ultra meaningful presentation.

I feel like I came into a giant gut of a whale. And this whale is dying of hunger, which is why almost nothing is in the stomach.

The room seems too big or there are too few people inside. It could be because of both. I mumble to myself, “They might’ve picked a smaller room for this ‎so as to make it look more packed as a venue.” But the show must go on.

In a non-chalant manner, I pick my seat. I hate sitting in the rear row like a lazy university student I’ve always hated throughout my shortlived teaching career and decide to sit in the penultimate row. A seat ‎looks unoccupied next to a girl, as if it were trying to lure me into sitting on it. Without trying to be polite, I just sit. She might have a friend sitting there but why do I have to bother asking? Chances are she is younger than me and I’m a haughty, self-centered old jerk who attends an event for the sake of searching writing ideas. I assert my rights to be rude to younger people. That’s the privilege of being older, I’m sure.

It’s all green here. And the audience is so so quiet like a collection of sitting manequins. Most of them are young girls wearing hijabs, but all the speakers in front are males with almost all of them growing beards.‎ You know who they are typically like. I have a single or two strands of beard and that’s more than enough to prove I’m male without costing me much money to buy razors or any facial hair removal methods on a weekly or, if you’re Arab, daily basis.

I know no one in the room. I guess they’re all just under my age. A lot younger even. But thanks to the youthful looks and outfits I’m sporting, no one notices.

I’ve known this type of men. This one falls into this group of activists on campuses. He wears a hoodie jacket, speaking in a bold manner just like a trainer because he is. He says a lot about the book industry. He mentions a whopping sum of money, 25 millions for writing a book he ghostwrites. On another occasion, I found out he has a car. Brio car, which a lot resembles his name. So I suppose he leverages his book writing service by training more hopefuls to be writers themselves. Yes, he promises anyone to be an author, a published one, not just an intermittent blogger well known inside your social circles. He’s got the connections. Celebrities, he knows some of them. Thanks to his mentor anyway.

It is totally one of my life missions; becoming a published author. A well-fed author. A financially independent writer.‎ Whatever it is to earn a living with my writing skills because it frees me from talking too much with people or any living things that can judge or comment about how much I should ideally weigh or what I seriously need to fix in my life. That’s the best thing in any writing professions. I love being paid to be left alone, working and making lots of money.

He later details more about the joy of being a writer. “It’s a super lucrative business that makes you filthy rich,” he said. Probably it holds true about J.K. Rowling but I feel sorry for most of writers who still have to struggle for years or ever to feed themselves.‎ He tactfully excluded the miserable stories of Indonesian writers like N. H. Dini who leads a financially deprived life in Central Java despite having published many novels, and a prolific moslem author Pipiet Senja, who in her 60’s lost her house to a disease. She is really sick and to get rid of the illness, she had to sell her small brick house. Life’s a total bitch for most living writers out there, you know. And he sugarcoated this all.

He says he’s written 7 books and ghostwritten 3 books. Very productive, I should say. I imagine he’s busily hiding in his bachelor pad with a laptop on days and nights in search of coherent and cohesive words to publish.

No one needs talents to be a writer, he claims, all you need is consistency! To a certain extent, I know it’s true and wrong at the very same time. With all the competition in the publishing industry right now, you also need creativity ‎and insanity to stand out, to impress potential readers.

Content and context, the two are crucial to our master trainer cum professional published author. Content is stuff you think useful for others; context is how you serve it to people you think will enjoy the benefits of your stuff. In other words, context is the packaging. Sort of thing.

The blue boy stands up. It’s now his turn to speak up. And he does speak like a lion. It’s hard to believe a mouth that small can speak that loudly. He reminds me of myself during my first class back then. But my audience was fiercer. Some of them were morons who ‎took another class after flunking the prior class in yesteryear’s semester. That was a difficult phase I had gone through so successfully. The blue boy is a lot luckier.

The atmosphere truly goes odd when the blue boy narrates a clamshell story. That’s the time when he shouts like a small boy asking for mercy. It makes me question him:Is it a book launch or theatrical performance?! I giggle impishly like a leprechaun.

Processes matter. My goodness, can’t we have enough with this? Results are what people want to see. You suck when things go wrong and people don’t forgive your failures. People just don’t. They blame you, they crush you for being a loser certainly.

And here comes the drill:What do you want to be in 10 years? The blue boy – who cowrites the book with the master trainer – asks the audience. His voice goes way up to the ceiling of the hall but fails to reach the eardrums of audience. No one answers. I can understand. They want to be successful writers, not speakers. So they don’t feel like they’re obliged to open mouth. They will write instead. Just like me, who silently follows how the discussion goes and takes notes on my offline phone.

‎It’s self-sabotage which is mostly the culprit of our failure, the blue boy utters. To convince us, they play a footage of a team of American Football players training like medieval African slaves. And the blue boy begins explaining while the footage is being played. I really want to scream,”Why don’t you just wait while we watch the brief movie and as the screening is done, you can resume explaining?!” He refuses to shut up before the movie is done. So we have to listen to both his voice and audio of the footage simultaneously. Very neatly done to torture our ears, young man!

The sinister sister makes a harsh comment on the secretively planned sudden appearance of the blue boy’s mother and herself,”It doesn’t seem like a surprise. So dull and ordinary.” She is a sort of sister you wish to disown at some point in your life. The one that makes you lament,”Maybe my whole life is a lot better without her being born.” However, life is not that simple.

So he brags about how he can write 50 pages a day, and fasting all day long in the process. While we’re at it, I remember the stamina of writing of Jonathan Franzen. He admits he can’t write 8 hours a day like a toil. Even 6 hours is already fatiguing for him nowadays. He touches on the issue of age (he’s not young anymore) and hence he has fewer things to prove in life. So when the master trainer tells us the need to push to the highest point of our potential, I simply think,”Way to go, mr Superwriter!” Well, you can’t write that way every day. It’s not a sustainable way of work.

The book signage starts right after the talks end. Only two people throw questions. Impressive, considering the number of engaged audience. I’m obviously excluded from the crowd. Maybe it’s only 10 people or so and the rest of the unsold books are brought back home. ‎The sinister sister and her mother and I go home right after that.

In the taxi, I am wondering how my first book launch will go. Maybe the historical moment would involve a million viewers, so I imagine. I waver, maybe I don’t need the stellar height of fame. There’ll be too much responsibility for my readers’ satisfaction. I can’t imagine having stalks or die-hard fans. Privacy always comes first, J. D. Salinger teaches us so.

All I can imagine is people gathering to talk about my books. I want them to create dialogs because words alone don’t bring anything but entertainment.

All I need is the happiness of being able to share what I have through writing. So to answer the question “What do you want to be in 10 years?”, I’d say I want to be a happy writer. Just be happy and be able to write and make a decent living in the process. Not too skimpy, not too much. Only enough.

Sang Motivator

‎PEKERJAANNYA memotivasi orang. Tak cuma satu dua kali aku menyaksikannya di panggung. Pria berkacamata itu selalu tak terlihat canggung. Ia piawai membuat tercengang orang-orang di hadapannya dengan kalimat-kalimat yang merangsang dan ‘menendang’.

Aku bukan penyuka motivasi. Apapun bentuknya. Serasa diceramahi. Cukup sekali sepekan sajalah itu terjadi. Baiklah aku akui. Buku Mario Teguh memang pernah kubaca, tetapi tak sampai habis. Bosan karena teori dan ceramah melulu. Di mana sekarang buku itu, aku tak tahu menahu.

Malam itu, mungkin bertahun-tahun lalu, Tuhan menakdirkan kami pulang dari sebuah perhelatan. Ia menawariku bersama ‎ke Jakarta, dalam mobil pribadinya. Aku mengiyakan saja. Tak mungkin juga menolak ajakannya. Tempat ini di luar kota. Bisa bisa aku tersesat tak tahu ke mana. Mungkin ia merasa bertanggung jawab karena bagaimanapun aku bekerja padanya.

‎Tugasku menulis untuk mewartakan apa yang kusaksikan. Di bangku depan kubuka netbook kelam itu. Kunyalakan juga tethering di ponsel, sementara pekatnya malam membuat semuanya makin sukar dilihat. Jari jemariku menunaikan tugas, menuangkan informasi itu kepada mereka yang peduli. Dengan sedikit tertatih aku meraba papan ketik. Aku tak ingin menunda pekerjaan. Segera paripurna supaya lega. Itu yang utama, batinku.

Sekonyong-konyong ia berkata,”Kamu mau ngetik ya? Ini pakai saja.” ‎Ia menyodoriku sebuah lampu mungil. Cahayanya berasal dari baterai arloji. Batangnya lentur, supaya mudah dicondongkan sesuai selera ke arah benda yang mau dibaca. Amat berguna.

Ia kemudian bercerita,”Dulu saya juga pernah mau mengetik malam-malam di mobil terus dikasih lampu itu sama teman. Pakai saja‎ dulu.”

“Baik, pak,” aku menurut saja sembari tetap mengolah kata. Beberapa baris kata sudah tertuang di layar.

‎”Kamu suka sekali pekerjaanmu ya?” tanyanya. Retoris belaka, aku menyangka.

‎Kilatan cahaya lalu lintas di depan membawaku ke suatu hari di bulan Agustus. Aku bertemu pertama kali dengan pria yang bersamaku ini. Kukatakan dengan menggebu, aku tak suka pekerjaan mengajar di wawancara itu. Ah, bodohnya aku kalau ingat itu! Ia tersenyum mendengarku berkata begitu. Kini aku bergidik, jangan jangan ia akan menjadikanku contoh kasus di ceramah motivasinya yang mendatang.

Aku mengangguk hormat padanya‎ sembari menjawab, “Iya, pak.” Sungguh pekerjaan pewarta yang kudamba karena aku bisa terus bekerja tanpa bertatap muka. Kalaupun harus bicara juga tak akan menjadi pusat perhatian semesta, karena tetap saja lebih banyak mata yang tertarik menyaksikan sumber berita.

‎Kupikir ia memang motivator. Sejati, bukan cuma lihai basa basi. Sebab pria ini bisa menunjukkan padaku bahwa aku sudah memiliki apa yang motivator lain sarankan padaku untuk dicari. Ternyata, aku adalah sukses itu sendiri.

Writing as Id’s Way to Overdo Ego and Super-ego

‎Back then on college, I used to study Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalysis. It was such a rigorous subject to handle almost no students in my class liked it, which is why I’ve been still questioning up to the very second: “So what’s actually the gist of it?”

I took two separate classes of English literary analysis both in my junior year of my under graduate program in 2004 and master degree‎ circa 2007. Both classes only slightly touched on Freud’s propositions and left me in curiosity still.

Yet, now I can tell you I have a better grasp of the subject. Kudos to growing older after years!

I totally can better relate to the theory these days after experiencing it myself and identifying the three ‎intangible constructs Freud proposed decades ago. Id, as long as my memory serves right, acts like an agile, wild, energetic child. It acts based upon sheer instinct, sudden impulse, biological urges, and so forth. While Ego is a personality in reality, as a result of innumerable number of compromise between Id and Super-ego. So what’s Super-ego frankly? It can be briefly defined as our moral standards, a set of rules played and influencing all of personalities in the background.

That being said, Paulo Coelho has some points to ponder. It’s true that we are not who we want us to be. There are some things in our life which cannot be compromised or completely removed ‎in spite of the consequence that we are being part of a people, a society with a certain set of norms (read: expectations). Id is so much under pressure that it sometimes starts to leak through dreams at night, or creative works like literary pieces, without our knowledge. Super-ego is morality, norms, dogmas that a person embraces which at the same time bind him. In other words, id is the wild side of us, super-ego is the most civilized, idealized version of us. Meanwhile, ego is who we are in reality, a result of clashes between the urges of id and super-ego. Ego is built through perpetual accumulations of compromises between our willingness and societal demands.

To me, id deserves its way to ‎express itself. The suppression of id would, I guess, result in psychic imbalance. And we know imbalance is the root of most of problems in life. It’s either because we do too little or too much. It’s always been an eternal quest to achieve the ideal, the sought-after balance.

This is exactly where writing is needed. It may help our id to channel its primal urge without having to enrage super-ego (which keeps dictating us) or disgrace ego (because it is ego which has to deal with a society).

That brings me to the resolution of 2015: I want to write more and better. And I promise I will write more prolifically and professionally in 2015 and years ahead.

Bagaimana Menulis Membuat Anda Lebih Sehat

Menulis menurut Haruki Murakami adalah salah satu aktivitas yang kurang sehat. Ada betulnya memang. Bayangkan Anda harus duduk di sebuah kursi di dalam ruangan selama belasan jam lamanya setiap hari sampai lupa (atau melupakan) kegiatan lainnya seperti makan, minum, atau beristirahat di malam hari sesuai kebutuhan tubuh yang
sebenarnya. Itulah mengapa novelis Jepang kenamaan itu mengimbanginya dengan berolahraga lari dan berhenti merokok, sebuah kebiasaan tak sehat yang kerap kita jumpai di komunitas penulis. Sudah lumrah kita jumpai para penulis yang juga perokok dan penggemar berat kopi atau minuman berkafein yang sampai berkata,”Saya tidak bisa menemukan inspirasi tanpa rokok dan kopi.” Haruki berbeda. Ia ingin berkarya lebih lama, dan karena itu, ia harus tetap sehat dan berumur panjang. Masuk akal.

Saya tidak hendak meyakinkan Anda untuk meninggalkan kegiatan menulis dengan memberikan paragraf pembuka seperti itu. Saya hanya ingin memberikan gambaran bahwa kegiatan sebaik apapun, termasuk menulis, jika berlebihan bisa berdampak negatif pula pada kita sebagai pelakunya. Itu sudah menjadi hukum alam.

Akan tetapi, jangan cemas. Bila Anda menulis dengan mengindahkan keseimbangan dalam hidup ini, manfaatnya justru akan lebih banyak.

Menulis sendiri memiliki manfaat yang tidak hanya di dunia akademis hingga dunia profesional. Kemampuan menulis yang baik juga menjadi bagian penting dalam kemampuan berkomunikasi saat ini. Saya sendiri pernah menjumpai seseorang yang mengaku sangat kesulitan saat harus menulis di ujian akademik atau ujian masuk kerja yang mengharuskannya menulis ringkasan eksekutif atau esai singkat. Bahkan hingga dekat dengan detik-detik terakhir ujian pun, yang ada di kertas jawaban hanya beberapa baris kalimat. Belum sampai menjadi paragraf yang utuh. Padahal ia tahu ia memiliki banyak ide dan pemikiran di dalam benaknya. Cuma ia tak tahu bagaimana merangkai kata-kata itu agar layak dibaca.

Kini ada alasan kuat mengapa siapa saja harus mencoba menulis lebih sering, meski bukan penulis profesional. Ternyata aktivitas menulis yang dilakukan secara rutin dalam waktu 15-20 menit selama 3-5 kali sepanjang 4 bulan menurut sebuah studi tahun 2005 sudah bisa memberikan manfaat yang signifikan pada kesehatan fisik dan emosional para subjek studinya. Artinya, menulis secara ekspresif (menuangkan uneg-uneg dalam sebuah catatan harian atau membuat cerita fiksi, misalnya) memperbaiki suasana hati, mengurangi tingkat stres dan gejala depresi. Tidak heran J. K. Rowling pernah mengatakan ia pasti akan gila jika tidak memiliki menulis sebagai pelampiasan. Menulis, selain membuatnya kaya raya, juga membuatnya lebih waras dalam menghadapi fase-fase tersulit seperti kemiskinan dan perceraian dalam hidupnya.

Dengan menulis mengenai kejadian-kejadian emosional, penuh tekanan dan membuat kita trauma, kita akan berpeluang lebih sedikit terserang penyakit dan akan terkena lebih sedikit dampak negatif dari trauma yang pernah kita alami di masa lalu. Mereka yang menulis secara ekspresif mengenai hal-hal tersebut juga akhirnya menghabiskan lebih sedikit waktu di rumah sakit. Tekanan darah mereka lebih terkendali (tentunya dengan juga memperhatikan makanan dan minuman yang dikonsumsi) serta memiliki fungsi hati (liver) yang lebih baik daripada mereka yang tidak terbiasa menulis ekspresif.

Pada kenyataannya, menulis ekspresif (expressive writing) bisa membantu kita menyembuhkan diri dari luka fisik lebih cepat. Di tahun 2013, para peneliti dari Selandia Baru memantau pemulihan luka-luka fisik setelah prosedur biopsi yang wajib dilakukan secara medis pada 49 orang dewasa. Semua subjek penelitian ini disarankan untuk menuangkan pemikiran dan perasaan mereka dalam bentuk tulisan selama hanya 20 menit, 3 hari secara berturut-turut, 2 pekan sebelum biopsi dilakukan. Sebelas hari kemudian, 76% dari subjek studi dalam kelompok eksperimen yang menulis sebagaimana disarankan telah sembuh
sepenuhnya. Sebanyak 58% dari kelompok kontrol (yang tidak
diperintahkan menulis) belum sembuh. Studi ini menyimpulkan bahwa menulis mengenai kejadian-kejadian yang membuat para pasien tertekan membantu mereka memahami kejadian-kejadian itu dan dengan demikian membantu menurunkan tingkat stres.

Bahkan mereka yang dinyatakan menderita penyakit-penyakit tertentu bisa meningkatkan kesehatan mereka melalui menulis. Studi-studi ini menunjukkan bahwa orang yang hidup dengan asma dan meluangkan waktu untuk menulis memiliki serangan yang lebih sedikit daripada penderita asma yang tidak menulis. Para pasien AIDS yang menulis memiliki jumlah sel T yang lebih tinggi. Sel-sel T ini merupakan limfosit yang diproduksi atau diproses oleh kelenjar timus dan secara aktif berperan dalam respon kekebalan tubuh manusia. Para pasien kanker yang menulis cenderung memiliki perspektif yang lebih optimis terhadap kehidupan secara umum dan kondisi yang tengah mereka hadapi. Dari sana, kualitas hidup mereka – terlepas dari sembuh tidaknya – biasanya lebih baik.

Jadi apa yang membuat menulis baik bagi kita semua? Seorang peneliti bernama James W. Pennebaker melaksanakan riset mengenai menulis untuk menyembuhkan diri secara alami selama bertahun-tahun di University of Texas di kota Austin, AS. “Saat orang diberikan kesempatan untuk menulis mengenai gejolak emosional yang mereka alami, kesehatan mereka biasanya lebih baik,”tulis Pennebaker. “Mereka lebih jarang
berkonsultasi ke dokter. Mereka mengalami perubahan dalam fungsi kekebalan tubuh.”
Bagaimana ini bisa terjadi? Pennebaker meyakini bahwa aktivitas menulis ekspresif ini memungkinkan orang untuk rehat, mengevaluasi diri dan bagaimana mereka menjalani kehidupan ini. Alih-alih terobsesi secara tidak sehat terhadap sebuah insiden atau memori di masa lalu, kita bisa memfokuskan diri pada bagaimana bergerak maju dalam hidup. Dengan demikian, tingkat stres kita bisa menurun dan kesehatan niscaya akan membaik. Tentunya sekali lagi, dengan diiringi perbaikan gaya hidup dan cara pandang terhadap kehidupan.

Kita tidak harus menjadi novelis atau cerpenis penuh waktu, kolumnis, blogger yang setiap hari menulis demi mencari nafkah (karena menulis untuk mencari nafkah malah kerap meningkatkan kadar kortisol juga). Cukup menulis catatan harian (diari) yang Anda simpan sendiri (jika Anda termasuk orang yang tertutup) atau mengetiknya dalam dokumen dengan kata kunci agar tak seorang pun bisa membuka dan membaca curahan hati Anda.

Menulis blog juga bisa membantu. Menurut sebuah studi, disimpulkan bahwa menulis blog bisa memicu pelepasan hormon dopamin yang efeknya mirip dengan efek berlari atau mendengarkan musik kesukaan. Jangan cemas curahan hati di blog bisa dibaca orang-orang yang tidak dikehendaki karena blog juga bisa diatur sedemikian rupa agar tidak bisa dilacak Google atau dibuka orang lain kecuali Anda mengizinkan mereka masuk. Di platform-platform blogging besar seperti Blogger, WordPress, Tumblr, saya pikir ada fasilitas semacam ini. Blog bisa diatur privasinya: publik atau privat. Jika tidak mau menutup akses ke semua tulisan di blog Anda, Anda juga bisa memberikan kata kunci untuk satu artikel alias postingan tertentu yang dikehendaki agar tidak dibaca sembarangan orang. Dengan demikian, Anda bisa lebih leluasa menumpahkan perasaan dan pemikiran Anda yang berpotensi memicu konflik dengan orang lain atau membuat Anda malu jika mereka membacanya.

Pertama kali menulis, Anda tak perlu cemas dengan standar-standar yang ada. Abaikan EYD, tata bahasa dan aturan sejenisnya yang mengekang. Menulislah seperti kita berbicara pada seseorang yang Anda sangat percayai dan tidak akan membocorkan rahasia Anda. Dengan begitu, kata-kata akan mengalir seperti air.

Jadi siap menulis sekarang?

(Sumber foto: quora.com)

Bersiap untuk NaNoWriMo

John Green, penulis The Fault in Our Stars, pernah mengatakan dalam video Vlog Brothers
di YouTube bahwa menulis novel yang bagus dalam sebulan memang MUSYKIL. Kecuali Anda seorang jenius atau Anda orang kaya raya dan pemilik perusahaan penerbitan yang bisa seenaknya mencetak karya Anda yang paling kacangan dan picisan sekalipun untuk dipublikasikan, Anda pasti membutuhkan proses untuk membuat karya fiksi terbaik Anda.

Namun, demikian Greene yakin bahwa waktu sebulan itu cukup untuk menghasilkan sebuah draft pertama yang lumayan layak baca, meski nantinya tidak tertutup kemungkinan Anda bisa mengalami “pembantaian” habis-habisan oleh editor.

Karena itulah, saya menantang diri sendiri untuk bisa menghasilkan sebuah draft karya fiksi, entah itu novel atau novelet atau kumpulan cerpen dan saya akan memulai menulisnya sekarang.

Saya tidak akan peduli dengan pendapat orang karena saya hanya ingin menuliskannya untuk memuaskan diri sendiri dulu. Saya ingin menulis untuk menghasilkan karya yang saya ingin konsumsi sendiri, begitulah juga cara kerja Stephanie Meyer yang dikenal dengan Twilight Series-nya yang fenomenal. Egois kedengarannya, tetapi begitulah adanya.

Tulis dulu semuanya lalu sunting lagi untuk menyempurnakan.

Because writing is basically about rewriting….

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