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A Simple Advice

William Zou



I like planting seeds. Whenever I engage student in a dialogue, it is usually done to implant an idea (or ideas) and let that idea(s) take root. And that’s what Shuhan and I, conversed, midway through reading “Who is J.K. Rowling” yesterday.


As you can imagine, many 7-year-olds are easily influenced by others and have trouble creating their own identity. So I’d like to know how far I could take Shuhan’s desire and turn it into reality. Here is, essentially, what we discussed:


William: What do we know so far?

Shuhan: Well, Jo (J.K. Rowling’s nickname) always liked to write. She’d write every day. She didn’t like her job but she’d always write when she’s not working.

W: Many writers have similar beginning struggles in life. They’re always afraid their work may not be well received by readers. They’re always worried that they can’t earn any money by writing. So many writer wannabes end up working at jobs they hate. But for Jo, she kept writing. She kept following her heart. How many years did it took her to publish the first Harry Potter book?

S: Seven years.

W: If you think about it, seven years is a lifetime (writing the first draft, proofreading it, and then rewriting it over and over again). She didn’t write it because someone told her to write imaginative characters. She didn’t write because her teachers assigned it as homework.

S: Actually, her teachers were not very good.

W: Yes. She spent seven years because she wanted to write. Nobody pushed her to write. Not her parents. Not her teachers. She did it because she followed what her heart always longed for.

S: I always want to be a writer.

W: If you want to take Jo’s advice, then start writing. If you want to write because your heart guides you in that direction; because you are a creator; because nobody pushes you to write, then you are a writer.

S: So write because I want to, not when someone tells me to write.

W: Tell me, do you read Chinese poetry?

S: Yes, I do.

W: Now, do you think those poets wrote poems because they were homework? Or because their parents told them?

S: No.

W: You’re right. So whether you’re reading Chinese or American poetry, poets write because they want to write. They’re born to be writers. They’d go out in nature, see the clouds, and the birds, and the trees, and the rain, and they’d express their imaginations and words on paper.

S: Do you write?

W: I try to write every day. But now, I don’t plan my writings anymore. I just follow my heart. If I want to write that day, I just write. Due to the nature of my work, usually my writings have something to teach. They have lessons embedded in them. Otherwise, there’d be no purpose for me to write.

S: I see.

W: I don’t care how many people will like them. I don’t care if they’ll make any money. I just sit and write. So in say, five years from now, I’ll have a lot of words and pages. Then all I have to do is string them together with a single purpose in mind (remember: everything has a purpose). And maybe, just maybe, I’ll publish them into a book.

S: Hmm...

W: So... will you do it? Will you start writing every day because it is what you want to do?

S: ???

Understand: Children always gravitate toward something. Follow that, and they’ll show you something you’ve never seen before.