Isabel Yap (on semi-hiatus) Profile picture
Filipino writer/poet/PM. Clarion 2013. HBS 2020. Fanfic always. NEVER HAVE I EVER out now @smallbeerpress! Tweets my own. 🌈✨🍙🇵🇭
Mar 27 16 tweets 3 min read
some things that surprised me about writing a novel, as someone who has written lots of short fiction, a 🧵:

1. the time it takes will not be simply a matter of 10x or 12x how many days/weeks it takes you to write a decent short story. that's a recipe for disappointment if it takes you a week to write the bones of a good 7k short story, it will not take you 12 weeks to write the bones of a good novel, even if that novel is 12x the word count. it is not a time thing.
Dec 31, 2021 18 tweets 4 min read
🧵 Ten writing-related wishes I hope for you (and me!) in 🎆 the new year 🎆

1. The clarity and focus to make meaningful progress on your current project. That the blurry parts come clear. That distractions dissipate quickly, and there are long stretches of good, solid work. 2. Joy in the writing. A sense of play like there used to be, way back when you first started doing this, when there were no expectations except that you delight yourself with whatever shows up on the page. A memory of that time, and writing sessions that feel that way.
Nov 27, 2021 8 tweets 2 min read
Having trouble trusting my process these days, so finding this was a good reminder of how I “write stories.” It’s a few lines from what would eventually become Asphalt, Mother, River, Child. I only got here after years of sporadically gnawing on the story in the back of my head. Image I had Mebuyen for a few years, without a story to house her. (Some of that goes all the way back to a poem called Mebuyen written by Mikael de Lara Co, and a performance art piece also about her, both of which I encountered in the late 2000s.) Then Duterte got elected in 2016.
Nov 19, 2021 16 tweets 4 min read
Five things I learned or remembered while at residency: a short thread

1. literally nothing beats a bad brain blockage like just READING something. ex. old favorites. interviews with favorite authors. past story notes. poetry. (not Twitter. don't read Twitter.)

stuck? read. i panicked for a few days then calmed down enough to remember that if i can't write, i can at least read. i got out a bunch of books and just read and took notes. reading opens things up. reading makes you go "HUH!" other, smarter folks have suffered what you've suffered.
Jul 4, 2021 17 tweets 4 min read
🧵 3 things that are helping me write this terrible book draft:

1. No wordcounts. I've used and liked wordcounts as a progress marker before, but ignoring wordcount this time has been immensely helpful so that I don't measure productivity through numeric output. I write on TextEdit. Not having wordcount forces me to count progress not in terms of how much I wrote that day, but whether or not I showed up. I can usually get a paragraph in. On a good day I'll get three. Some days all I can manage is a very short sentence. I'll take it.
May 9, 2021 8 tweets 2 min read
totally unfair that the best writing advice is to write 😩😩😩 i would maybe add a little nuance which is that to get the most out of writing you should also be (a) reading and (b) thinking about what you're reading, what you're writing, and what gives you pleasure in both (that doesn't take the place of writing but it Helps)
May 8, 2021 6 tweets 2 min read
On being in it for the long haul: the book on the left had my first ever short story publication (PSF4 in 2009). It took 12 years to get to the book on the right, with long stretches of not-writing or writing-less in between. I am of course tickled to be called a “new voice in spec fic” (it’s v flattering!) but I started publishing more than a decade ago, and I think more than “newness” what matters is that I’ve continued to write, to find value in the stories I want to tell & make the attempt.
Feb 15, 2021 20 tweets 4 min read
Times I stopped writing:
💔 2002-2005: quit posting fic bc I felt I wasn't good enough
💔 2010-2013: depressed after moving to the US and deaths in the family
💔 2017: applying to grad school + work exploding + burnt out
💔 Fall 2018-Summer 2019: grad school--which was v fun! What made me pick it back up:
❤️ 2005: missed writing fic too much. stopped caring about reviews
❤️ 2013: went to Clarion. stopped being precious about "career"
❤️ 2018: summer before grad school. gave myself time
❤️ 2019: made it a priority bc 2nd year of grad school was easier
Feb 13, 2021 8 tweets 2 min read
An interesting thing about the writing life is that publishing runs on SUCH a separate timeline that it is possible, & maybe even likely, for the best external publishing things to be coinciding with a writer's most severe, fraught moments of drafting or revision Which puts you in a weird state of having to be graceful and grateful, as the recipient of said good external publishing things, simultaneous w/ feeling the height of like 'WOW am I BAD at this stuff that people are actively telling me I'm good at?!' & your heads feels split
Jan 10, 2021 24 tweets 5 min read
✨ A thread about how I come up with story titles ✨

Sharing just in case it helps anybody; while I don't think I'm the best at titles, coming up with them is an exercise I actually kind of enjoy!

I'll be using examples from my table of contents 😊 I love using poetry to find titles. Pick a central word for a story—maybe butterfly, or storm, or trickster. Go to, search using that keyword, and pick poems out at random then skim them looking for inspiration.
Dec 13, 2020 16 tweets 6 min read
A short story about a short story: in 2013, Clarion week 2, I had SFWA Grand Master Nalo Hopkinson as my instructor. I remember thinking to myself, "I want to write a very Filipino story this week."

These are the notes she left on my story. I'm near tears looking at this. Why did I have that thought? Because I didn't know if my Filipino stories would work with a savvy genre-reading audience. Because up until that point I'd never sold or published any Filipino short stories outside of Filipino publications. Because I was afraid.
Dec 12, 2020 4 tweets 1 min read
As a short fictionist who is slowly, painfully, learning to write books, I’ll share this:

to me, writing short fiction feels like sleeping over at a friend’s house or taking a trip somewhere

while writing a novel feels like study abroad or a foreign work assignment YOU LIVE THERE NOW. You need a visa and a passport. You can’t just pop back home if you feel like it or say adieu after ten days. And you probably need to learn a new language too, or if not that, then a bunch of customs or the different words for they use for things.
Dec 12, 2020 8 tweets 2 min read
in lieu of an eligibility post this year, a brief thread to celebrate writing that's not externally visible:
🌼 the otp fanfics that made one reader cry in the club and another scream into the night
🌼 the poems (after 4 years not poem-ing!), slowly getting their rejections 🌼 the 10k words i threw away (i mean they're still there. i just can't use them) that were boring but helped me understand my character better
🌼 several docs that are just me fighting with myself about the heart of this story, and scattered notes about Mt. Banahaw and kampilan
Dec 23, 2019 12 tweets 3 min read
Yeah. It's crazy, but I know so many people in their teens/20s thinking it's already too late. I've been fighting that myself for a long time (and probably will keep doing so, because, brain + unfair expectations + the myth of the baby genius). Some things that have helped: Ted Chiang:

Sep 4, 2019 7 tweets 2 min read
I saw @MillerMadeline at the Brattle Theater tonight and asked about how to do good retellings. Some parts of her reply:
🐚 follow your obsessions
🐚 dig into what’s interesting for you
🐚 let your interpretation simmer within you, so that it’s yours She also said “it doesn’t matter how close/far you are from the source material, as long as you’re doing what you want.” My takeaway: interpret the story the way you want to. There’s a reason certain stories are timeless. Hold true to those things, then go for *your* version.
Jul 6, 2019 4 tweets 1 min read
A writing struggle, badly articulated: trying not to wait until I’m “good enough”, and instead writing what I’m called to write now. If I can produce more work - good AND bad - it lessens the pressure on any one thing to be good and gives me, somehow, more time. And look: I know I’ve got time, logically, but my feelings about the writing process aren’t exactly logical. 😖 If I try to ignore the impulse to wait and instead get things down, then I find I have more material to work with when I am ready.
Jun 12, 2019 17 tweets 4 min read
So I've started rereading The Clockwork Muse, and it clarifies an idea that I've always struggled with: long projects simply *can't* be written the way short projects are. Discipline, consistency, and some form methodization are absolutely necessary. I'm not sure I can explain this properly but I feel like this is the first time I am ACTUALLY internalizing the whole 'books are a marathon not a sprint' thing. Like I can't kid myself that they're written the same way but spread out longer. It's pretty different.
Aug 28, 2018 21 tweets 3 min read
Thread: a list of things I constantly have to remind myself so that I can keep on writing Write what makes your heart beat faster. The thing that makes you go ‘awww yeah!’ when you think about it. The thing that feels, weirdly, delicious to pursue
Jul 2, 2018 9 tweets 2 min read
I’ve spent a big part of the year trying to figure out The Secret to Plotting. Then yesterday, at the airport bookstore, I came across this passage in Stephen King’s On Writing. "Plot is nowhere."
"I distrust plot."
"Stories...pretty much make themselves."

Reading this was such an enormous comfort to me. It seemed to come at such a good time, too - while I'm trying to figure out what to work on next, and how.
Jun 4, 2018 8 tweets 2 min read
You get to the writing through writing.

What I mean is: when it feels impossible, like you don't have a way forward, and you've procrastinated all you can; it's probably exactly the time to just get some words down, even if you hate them and don't know what you're doing. If you write enough words eventually the ideas will start coming again. The thing that didn't make sense will make a little more sense, at least enough to move forward. You'll see the next step where you can put your wobbly, uncontrollably shaking foot.
Mar 25, 2018 19 tweets 4 min read
Sharing in case you need this: it’s okay to be ambitious. It’s okay to want things for yourself. It’s okay to dream, and to be slightly terrified about that dream. It’s okay to start dreaming, if you never really let yourself before. ✨ I think a lot of people who are marginalized one way or another think it's either unsafe, selfish, or just not a good idea to be ambitious. And we're fed a lot of stories about how ambition can be people's downfall. And sometimes that's true.