Not A Pro

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February 25, 2011 by Aisyah H. Zaelani

Being a freelance writer for My Jakarta column, The Jakarta Globe is actually an obsession comes true. Never thought I’d write for a paper, in English! Thanks to my friend Aldila who introduced me to Zack, My Jakarta copy editor (even without my permission :p). So this was the beginning of my ‘writing’ career and somehow I feel so much attached with the column, My Jakarta.

My Jakarta might be the lightest column, comes out daily on the paper, but the ‘raw interview’ concept of the column is what challenges me the most. People might see it as an ‘easy column’, but how a simple and light column can attract the readers, that’s the challenge that I’d like to conquer. How to have intriguing questions and get the well put answers.

I’m fully aware I’m not a pro writer or a senior journo. My professional writing experience is less than a year. My English is just mediocre. I’m probably still far from what you even call a ‘writer’.

But I’m sure there are people who loves to learn from other people experiences, as well as I do. So, I just want to share you the process of my articles/stories writing for My Jakarta column.

In my previous blog, Movies Are My Books, I explained about how I learn my-not-so-good-English. Even I almost always open the dictionary while I’m writing this.

So without further ado:
1. I always need the sparks to decide to interview my sources. It’s not that I’m cocky or picky, just to make sure that I create awesome reads. That means, whoever the interviewees, I need to be able to find the interesting angle.
2. RESEARCH: Before you go out there to interview the sources, make sure you know who they are and what they do. If their professions are not quite familiar to you, you know Mr. Google is always there to help.
3. Point #2 is actually the ground rule when you’re about to write down the questions you’ll ask. Find a great and interesting angle, with the support of the knowledge you get from the research. It will help you to generate compelling and intriguing questions.
4. When you’re generating the questions, imagine yourself as the reader. What questions and answers would they love to know from the interviewees. Again, it’ll help you listing out great questions and predicting the answers. Your interview will be fully under your control 🙂
5. Above all, you need to have the passion and personal emotion and bond to the topics/characters/issues. Writing with just knowledge will not help you producing a good read. You need to show your interest and put your emotions there so your readers can feel the messages.

Whether you’re a pro or not, make sure you keep your eyes and ears open. Don’t be too picky to some issues or sources, but again follow the ‘sparks’. Turn them into your cup of tea. As my editor once told me, “Everyone’s life is interesting, all you have to do is asking the right questions.”

I’m so open for all feedbacks and inputs. Here are my work for My Jakarta, The Jakarta Globe


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Aisyah Hamid


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