Writing Journey

20 Reasons Why ‘New Year’s Resolutions’ Don’t Work

If you’re thinking about writing your own list of New Year’s Resolution, think again. Here are 20 reasons why it isn’t going to work for you:

1. They don’t work.
2. They simply don’t work.
3. When was the last time it worked for you?
4. It hasn’t worked since 2001 and it won’t work now.
5. But maybe… it’s just you.
6. Maybe you shouldn’t set ideals you cannot achieve.
7. Maybe your lists of to-do’s are pure fantasies.
9. Maybe you should stop aiming for the cliches as well.
10. Lose weight? Really?
11. But maybe it’s not about the list at all.
12. Resolutions don’t work because you simply like the idea of them.
13. Resolutions don’t work because you can’t find enough drive to put in the ‘actual work’.
14. So instead of aiming to complete a checklist you’re secretly not passionate about, maybe try a different approach.
15. Instead of being disappointed when you fail at the end of the year, start being honest.
16. Forget those resolutions and aim to be honest with yourself.
17. After all, if you’re 100% honest with yourself, you’ll know exactly what you truly want.
18. And if you truly want something, you’ll work toward obtaining it.
19. So forget the whole list you just only wrote.
20. And get ready for a whole new adventure unlike any other.

Writing Journey

How To End A Bad Year

We’re almost a month short of 2020 and I’m sure that not all of us have had a great year. I, for one, underwent a few challenging seasons—from the betrayal of the people I trusted to the questioning of my self worth, approximately six months of 2019 wasn’t the best. In fact, there were times when I wondered if things could actually get better—was there hope of a brighter new year? Was there actually a light at the end of the tunnel? So if you have had a rough year, you’re not alone. And let’s be honest—after what we’ve gone through—stepping into the new year feeling hopeful… is easier said than done.

Personally, I refuse to see my 2019 as a failure. Despite the deep waters and dark valleys, I did learn and grow from all the negative experiences. But as I entered the third quarter of the year, I was afraid in believing in a better 2020. I didn’t want to hope only to be disappointed again. I found myself asking, what if… it doesn’t get better? What if… the monsters get stronger? What if… it is all downhill from here? And that is when I realised—every year in my life isn’t meant to be the best year ever. Every year in my life is simply a chapter of my story—a story that will have both joyful and heartbreaking moments. And when I look at 2019 from this perspective, I uncovered my missing hope.

I found my hope in 2020—not as a greater year than 2019 but as a year that will advance my story. Frankly, I’ll never know what’s in-stored for me in the new year—2020 might be just as tempestuous, or perhaps there will be rainbows. But alike the adventures I had embarked on in 2018 and the storms that I overcame in 2019, the coming year will speak for itself. It is a new chapter with its own plot that will eventually become a part of my lifelong story.

So, how do you end an unfortunate 2019 with hope? Embrace it. Accept that 2019 has passed—a chapter that is about to close—and look forward to the next page where you’ll be entering a new stage of your life. And whatever 2020 has for you, remember that it is but another chapter of many more to come. After all, your life isn’t defined by a single chapter but your journey from one to the other.

Writing Journey

Whispers of the Wind Is Now On Wattpad!


Read Whispers of the Wind on Wattpad for FREE!

And since you’re here, which cover style do you like better?

Photo Concept VS Minimalist Direction

What Is ‘Whispers Of The Wind’ About?

Royalty. Magic. Realm Travelling. 

Seventeen-year-old Robb is the king of Zeruko. He, and his twin sister Myra, ascended the throne after their father’s passing. According to many, King Daemon-arch-nemesis and ruler of Tentazoa-murdered the late king. But despite the claims, Robb believes his father is still alive.

With a desire to bring his father home, Robb leaves Zeruko with his trusted friend Spion. The pair travel to the realms of the universe through the magic of raindrops. From the hazardous trip behind enemy lines to the festive East Asian-esque Meihua; from the kingdom hovering above the clouds to the heterogeneous society of a tunneled realm, every step in his journey uncovers a gem of his past, present, and future. And in one foresight, Robb learns the daunting fate of Zeruko.


Why Wattpad?

You. Me. Fantasy.

I’ve been on Wattpad for a while now, but I’ve never really paid much attention to the platform. As building a Wattpad readership requires as much effort as a blog, I chose to spend my resources here. That being said, you will find my short stories on Wattpad too as I compile and upload them yearly. Which brings me to my YA fantasy series.

While I’m in a limbo on what to do next—pulling Book 1 off Swoonreads, and contemplating between the publisher, agent, or the self-publishing route—I didn’t want to keep the series from you. After all, it has been a while since I’ve announced of another book. Hence, Whispers of the Wind is now available on Wattpad.

By publishing the chapters on Wattpad, I hope to generate more conversations about the novel with you. The platform allows for comments at every paragraph and chapter, giving me better insights on what you think about the story. Wattpad also creates a space for us to have conversations outside of the books—a great way for me to connect with you on a more personal level. So, if you’d like to embark on this adventure with me, head over to Wattpad now! I’m really hoping to see you on the other side.

Note: You’ll find the first 3 chapters of the book on Wattpad. Fret not, the subsequent chapters will be published every Saturday starting November.

 

Writing Journey

How To Find Your Passion

There are countless voices across the internet, sharing tips and tricks on how you can discover your purpose in life. It is, after all, one of the most common questions—one we ask ourselves at least once in a lifetime. And so I thought, perhaps I could share my take on this too—perhaps there is something in my past that aided in my own process of uncovering my passion for storytelling. But as I scoured high and low, I realised that there was nothing. I didn’t undergo a process. There wasn’t a lightbulb moment. And that was when I knew… I didn’t find my passion.

If you haven’t found your passion, this is for you.

It’s great that you’re trying, testing, and exploring—embarking on new experiences in search for that uncontrollable love for the very thing that will define you. But as you set out on this quest, remember this: you don’t find your passion, your passion finds you.

There’s nothing wrong in the hunt but knowing that passion isn’t forced will put you in the right mindset. Just like how you can’t ‘make’ yourself fall in love with someone—no matter how hard you try, no matter how great that person is, no matter what others say—the same rule applies with your passion in life. And strangely enough, you’ll find that the one you connect with the most is sometimes the one you least expected.

The fact is, I didn’t choose storytelling—I neither tricked nor trained my brain into crafting tales and adventures. My passion for storytelling came from within—it was an innate desire to imagine, to create, and to push the limits of my reality, without any effort on my end. I didn’t look for it. I didn’t strive to make it mine. My passion found me… all on its own.

So if you haven’t found your passion, fret not. We uncover our own passion and purpose at varying stages. Even at crossroads—in moments of uncertainty and wonder—our passion is within us. And don’t be surprised when it changes. Because passion and purpose can change to meet the different seasons of life. Simply believing that you’re not left out—that YOU have it too—will remove the very burden that is perhaps stopping your passion from finding you.

Writing Journey

Thinking Of Giving Up? This Is For You

I’ve given up on a lot of things—I’ve given up on speaking fluent Korean, I’ve given up on all my musical endeavours, I’ve given up on relationships, and I’ve given up on ideas. And each time I give up on something, I find it harder to start again.

If you’re thinking of giving up, there’s something you must know. Because giving up is more than just saying, ‘I’m done’. When you give up, you’re closing a chapter in your life—you’re saying it’s over. You’re putting an end to all that you’ve done up till today. And if you choose to start again in the future, it’s going to be harder than it is now.

The drive and motivation you have today, for whatever it is you’re currently pursuing, isn’t going to be the same. You won’t be able to tap into the same energy. You’ll find yourself tiring out quicker than you expected. And sadly, you’re going to give up again, and again, and again. Because once you’ve given up, your endeavour has lost its value—what was once worth your time will slowly become a burden.

When I gave up on learning Korean, only to decide to start again—despite being able to recall certain words—I didn’t have enough motivation to learn for long. When I gave up on practicing the euphonium, the keyboard, and the guitar, I had little drive to stay disciplined. When I gave up on relationships, I moved on—rekindling what was in the past seemed pointless after the years of no contact. And when I gave up on ideas, I lost the inspiration to bring them back to life. When you give up on something, it ends.

That’s not to say that you shouldn’t give up. Contrary, if what you’re doing now feels like a burden, then you should consider giving up. After all, if what you’re pursuing brings no meaning to your life, why are you doing it anyway? But if you’re on a journey that matters to you—if you’re fighting for a dream—don’t give up. Because deep down, you know you’re not done.

Personally, I’m not done with writing. I can’t give up on writing. It’s too precious. I’ve invested many years into it—many days practicing, researching, and imagining. I’ve spent most of my life focused on this single skill, and to give up would be the end of who I am. Regardless of success, I won’t give up. Even in doubt and exhaustion, I can’t give up. Because I know… I’m not done.

How about you—are you done? Can you say it is truly over? Are you willing to let it all go? If the answer is ‘yes’, then don’t be ashamed to give up. But if the answer is ‘no’, you know what you have to do. Deep down, you already know.

Writing Journey

3 Reasons Why You’ll Never Be Ready

Do you have a new and exciting idea that you just can’t wait to get started? Have you been planning a project—now biting the bullet to begin the work? Hold that thought!

Hold that thought because you’re not ready! In fact, you’ll never be ready. And here are the reasons why.

#1 You’ll Never Be Perfect

If you believe that the end result of your project will be perfect, you’re in for a disappointment. You will never be perfect and neither will your endeavour. Even if you pull through to completion—persevering with unwavering passion—your creation won’t be perfect. That’s the painful truth. And perhaps, a truth too difficult to bear that you might as well toss your grand idea in the bin.

#2 You’ll Never Be Free

If you believe that you’ll have all the time in the world to work on your project, like Danielle Steel who writes up to 22 hours a day, you’re delusional. That’s not to say that you can’t be Danielle Steel but work, studies, grocery shopping, cleaning the house, and all the responsibilities you could possibly have will take up most of your time. Frankly, you’ll never be free enough to work on something as frequently as you wish.

#3 You’ll Never Be Certain

If you believe this project or passion is what you’re called to do—somewhere down the line, I guarantee you—you’ll start to doubt it. Perhaps, this isn’t the path for you. Perhaps, you’re not meant to do this. Perhaps, you made the wrong decision. You will never be certain with your decision to invest in an idea. And unfortunately, those rare moments of certainty rarely last long enough to keep you going.

The truth is, you’ll never be ready. But… that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t start. You were never ready when you started school—no amount of ABCs could’ve prepared you for exams and assignments. You were never ready when you entered adulthood—high school and university didn’t prepare you for office politics or the cutthroat race for success. You were never ready when you became a parent—oh, how frequently unsure you are if you’re doing anything right. In every phase of life, you were never ready.

So what’s the difference now? Nothing! You’ll never be ready for your new adventure but you’ll embark on it anyway. You’ll never be perfect but that won’t stop you from chasing your dreams. You’ll never be free but that won’t be your excuse. You’ll never be certain but that won’t make you quit. You’ll never be ready but you’ll do it anyway.

Writing Journey

Are You Afraid Of Making Mistakes?

I grew up in a culture where the term ‘silly mistake’ was used fairly frequently during my formative years. Whether it be a wrong answer in my mathematics exam or unintentionally messing up, my parents, teachers, and anyone older than me would rarely fail to point out something they deemed as a ‘silly mistake’—to an extent that even honest mistakes were sometimes considered silly.

In that same culture, broadcasting or sharing my mistakes is also frowned upon. Why in the world would you ever tell others about your weaknesses and your failures? Opening up about how I’ve messed up is considered as washing my dirty laundry in public. And so for a long time, whenever I made a mistake, I would attempt burying it… and, when I was still a child, shifting the blame to someone else was a default reaction.

I’m not sure about the rest of the world but in Asia, I was raised to minimise mistakes. Thus, I was afraid of making mistakes. Yet in this day and age, we are told to ‘celebrate mistakes’. And coming from a culture where we never once celebrated our past mistakes, what does that phrase actually mean? How do we celebrate screwing up? Are we to pat the backs of those who failed? Do we cheer for regrettable and seemingly ignorant decisions?

It was only after a few years in the working world that I learned what it meant to celebrate my mistakes. And though it might seem counter-culture-intuitive, celebrating my mistakes meant acknowledging that I wasn’t perfect—that in all the years of covering up and hiding my mistakes, it was time to accept that I am human.

What that phrase means to me now is admitting my mistakes, being responsible for the outcome of those mistakes, learning to troubleshoot the mistakes, and not shifting the blame or sweeping it under the carpet. Celebrating my mistakes is being bold enough to say it was my fault and that I was wrong, without the fear of judgement—despite the likelihood that I am still being judged in this culture. Celebrating my mistakes also means being unafraid of making mistakes because it is through my mistakes that I learn and improve in areas that clearly needed improvement. And guess what, celebrating my mistakes is one of the most freeing decisions I’ve ever made.

No longer am I striving to paint this perfect picture. No longer do I need to pretend that I am succeeding in life. No longer will I have to hide who I truly am—I am free to be a human with all the flaws a human could possibly have. And that is why I’ll keep celebrating my mistakes… even if the world wouldn’t celebrate them with me.

Are YOU afraid of making mistakes? Maybe it’s time to celebrate them instead.

Writing Journey

How To Silence Your Inner Critic

You can’t.

Just like how you can’t silence those ‘outer’ critics, you can’t silence your inner critic. But… what you can do, is decide on how to deal with that pesky voice in your head. And, the easiest way to deal with it, is in the same fashion as tackling those critical comments from the outside world. Alas, here’s the irony: the most common advice you would hear is to ignore the critics. Don’t respond to any of them—good or bad. In fact, don’t even read what people have to say about your work. Sound advice? Perhaps. And though ignoring the external negativity is possible—challenging should you decide to try—you can’t exactly do the same with the whispers and taunts from within. It’s impossible to shut out the doubts and mute the negativity. So, what do you do? What can you do?

Personally, I do not disregard both good and bad comments about my work. Yes, I broke the ‘ignore all reviews’ rule. Yes, I’m setting myself up for disappointment. But as part of my practice—Googling for reviews and reading every single one of them—I choose when to respond. And, there are only two occasions of which I do.

The first occasion is a negative review that contains at least one positive thought. It shows that the reviewer took the effort to find one good thing to say. And with such comments, I thank them for their time. After all, they slogged through my work. And despite disliking most of it, they cared enough to say something nice. The second occasion is a positive review that is of a few hundred words. Again, the reviewer took the time to craft a lengthy feedback—not solely praising the book but offering thoughts on areas I can improve in my future works as well. So, in the same way, these are the two occasions of which I respond to my inner critic.

Whenever that little voice decides to ruin my day, I try to find one positive takeaway. “Your writing is too simple,” it says. Well, simplicity isn’t a bad thing! “Your writing will never win literary awards,” it says. Well, I don’t plan on winning awards—I just want to tell stories. “Your writing will never be good enough,” it says… Ah, that one stings.

All right, let’s be honest, sometimes finding positivity can be tough. But when that is the case, I look for ways to improve instead. “Your writing will never be good enough,” it says. Well, at least I’m working on it. “Your work is boring,” it says. Well, I guess it’s time to spice things up! “Your characters are so cliche,” it says. Well, let’s find a way to make them not cliche. Our inner critic may come across as mean, hurtful, and discouraging, but how we respond makes a difference. In fact, our inner critic may be the voice we need to hear to improve in our craft.

So the next time your inner critic decides to speak up, don’t just listen but respond in a way that pushes you to do better in your art. After all, you can’t silence it. There’s no mute or off button for your subconscious mind. The next best thing you can do is use it to your advantage.

Writing Journey

The Reality Of Fiction

Last Thursday was the 1st year publication anniversary of The Slave Prince. It marked the sixth year of my relationship with Thom. And… looking back at Thom’s life, I realised that some stories will never truly be over.

Prior to the publication of the book, I wrote a ‘farewell’ letter to Thom. Though I knew our relationship had ended, it wasn’t really goodbye. Thom will always be there—somewhere, out there—even while I work with other characters. After all, our history together has shaped my present—there is no way that he could ever disappear from my life.

Funnily enough, I’m not sentimental with all of my characters. It is only the ones I’ve known for years who tend to linger on. And, as I embark on a newer adventure with Robb and Myra—of which their tale might go on for far longer than I had previously envision—I have an inkling that they too will join Thom when it’s all over. Which… makes me glad—thankful they are here to stay even when the work is done.

Truthfully, writing isn’t always fun. And my relationship with my characters is one of the factors that make writing their stories meaningful—it is they who make the experience memorable. Because, let’s be honest… I’ve spent more time with these fictional people than with the friends of my reality. They—Thad, Thom, and Robb—have molded my life just as much as I have molded theirs. They have helped me to understand myself better—to grow in trying seasons—carrying parts of me in their personas. Despite their different stories and identities, I trust them to bear the unfiltered and tangible version of me. Despite their fictional disposition, they are real.

‘Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?’

Ask any author and I’m sure they can name a character that is far more real than reality itself. These characters break the barriers of imagination—the reason why Thom’s story feels like a personal experience, why I sometimes find Robb to be annoying, and why Thad will never be forgotten. But… it doesn’t stop there. At the end of my own story, I hope that these people wouldn’t merely be a part of me—that they wouldn’t die with their creator but will live in you.

I hope their lives will be an encouragement in your difficult times. I hope their stories will be a light in your darkness moments. I hope they linger on because they have become a part of you—as real as they can be… in what we call ‘this reality’.

Writing Journey

I Don’t Believe In Talent

If I believed in talent, I wouldn’t be writing. If I believed in talent, I wouldn’t be making videos. If I believed in talent, there will be no blog posts and no stories—not a single creative expression finding completion. I wouldn’t have undergone arduous months campaigning for my novels. I wouldn’t have encountered countless rejections and experienced amazing opportunities. If I believed in talent, I wouldn’t be here today. Thus why I don’t believe in talent. Instead, I believe in doing what matters.

Over the years, I’ve come to realise that talent isn’t a strong ‘currency’ in life. Sure, having talent is a great capital for when you want to start pursuing your dreams. But soon enough, you’ll discover that there are others who are richer than you—others who are far more gifted than you will ever be. You’ll start to notice young bloods surpassing you in your craft—geniuses that leave you stumbling in the dust. And when that happens, what do you do? Do you throw in the towel—refuse to fight for your dreams because you’re not talented enough? Do you wish for more talent—fantasize about the day you will be discovered for your brilliance? Here’s the thing: if you’re running on talent alone, you are bound to fail. And if that is true, you’re probably wondering… is success possible—can you actually succeed without talent?

Success is self-defined—we define success through the things that matter to us. And what matters to us includes the reason why we pursue our dreams. Personally, I do what I do because I want to be a source of encouragement. I do what I do because I want others to believe in their dreams. I do what I do because I want to make a difference—no matter how small the impact may be—in the lives of those around me. And that… is all that matters to me.

Now, why does your passion matter to you? Why is your dream important to you? Once you know why it matters, you don’t need talent. Yes! You. Don’t. Need. Talent! You don’t need talent to do what matters. You don’t need to be a creative genius to do something of value. You don’t need to have an impressive IQ to live a meaningful life. After all, when something matters to you, you will do it anyway—you’ll find a way to achieve success, overcoming every obstacle, unfazed by the world of talent around you.

So… if you’re in a stage of life where you’re questioning whether you have what it takes—if you are gifted enough to pursue your dreams—start looking past talent. Don’t limit yourself to your physical abilities but look within you to find the reason for your ambitions. Ask yourself why what you’re doing matters to you, and stop living on the currency of talent. Make a decision… to start running on purpose instead.