Writing Journey

8 Destructive Thoughts

On the outside, most people think I’m a self-confident individual. In fact, I once did a Johari Window test with the closest people in my life and the top characteristics they agreed upon were ‘confident’, ‘bold’, and ‘self-assertive’. Perhaps it has something to do with the way I speak and carry myself around the people I’m comfortable with. But on the inside, I’m not as confident as I seem. I’m just like you—I drown in insecurities. I struggle with doubt. I read too much into situations because I hope… I hope I don’t suck. And, there are times where…

1. I don’t believe I will ever be good enough—no matter how hard I try, I’ll be decent at most. It might sound strange, but receiving compliments make me a little uncomfortable because I find them hard to believe.

2. I’m insecure about my appearance—I judge my reflection every single day. There’s always something wrong with this body, and it doesn’t help that others have something to say about it too.

3. I question my personality—am I annoying? Am I insensitive? Do I make others uneasy with my straightforwardness? Am I a bad person for not caring enough? Why can’t I be more outgoing?

4. I wish people noticed me—if only I wasn’t invisible. If only I was an option.

5. I wish people cared more—I can always celebrate the ups publicly, but it seems I have to go through the downs alone. And if I do share my struggles, will anyone listen?

6. I am aimless. Directionless. Clueless—I wish I had more clarity. I wish I knew where I’m going in life. I wish I could see what’s coming.

7. I feel left out—I’m always a second thought.

8. Everyone else seems to be doing better—why am I left behind? There must be something wrong with me—what other reason could there be?

Recently, I began to realise how these crippling thoughts can and will destroy me. So I forced myself into a session of introspection. I looked at every single one of my insecurities and… I found reality:

He made me good. Not ‘good enough’, but good—I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

I have the power to define what I see in the mirror—I am a work in progress and I can achieve whatever I set my mind to. I have weaknesses, but I have strengths too!

My personality makes me, me—there’s always room for improvement, but I shouldn’t try to be someone else. I’m not a bad person, but I can be a better person.

People do notice me—more often than not, it is I who don’t notice them. I don’t make them an option.

People do care—I had and will always have support. All I have to do is open up and share more.

For He knows the plans He has for me—it’s a promise. And He never breaks His promises.

I’m not left out—I choose to be. The choice has always been in my hands.

I’m doing better than I think—there’s nothing wrong with me. I’ve done some pretty awesome things and I shouldn’t forget even the smallest victories. I might not be succeeding in a way others are, but I have my own journey and my own story to tell.

I don’t know what your thoughts are, but I have a feeling we share some of these. And I want you to know that all these destructive thoughts are nothing but myths. None of them are true. We are our worst critics. We judge ourselves more than we should. So don’t buy into these lies. Rather, choose to believe in the truths—we are flawed, we can be better, but there’s nothing wrong with us.

YOU are worthy. YOU are amazing. YOU are unique. YOU are stunning. And YOU are, most certainly, meant for greatness.

Writing Journey

Imagination Is A Superpower [#TRUESTORY]

JG Cover

This story begins in 1999. You might be wondering if I got the year right, and chances are, I might be a year off. But let’s just assume it was indeed 1999.

At that age, I had a classmate who was a great storyteller. Her tales were so unbelievably far-fetched, yet oddly I bought every one of them. And because she often sparked my imagination—like how she attained a publishing deal as a nine-year-old—I started creating stories of my own. It began with the haunted Barbie doll that sat on a black dustbin near the library. God knows how many tall tales I concocted about the doll—a doll which strangely no teacher seemed to care enough to get rid of. There was also that haunted storeroom, in the classroom at the end of the top most hallway, with existing horror stories that I added to. Random question: why is everything haunted as a child?

10 points to Gryffindor if you can spot me!

In 2001, I moved to a different city and enrolled in a new school. This was when I took my storytelling up a notch with a group of friends. It was during that season that Charmed became my obsession—what can I say, magic has always been a fascination of mine. So during recess, my friends and I role-played as the Charmed Ones. I was Piper. I had a Leo. My friend who was Phoebe had a Cole. All these names would sound foreign if you have never seen the original Charmed series. But if you know what I’m talking about, you can safely assume we were big fans for having our own Book of Shadows.

A couple of years later, I started secondary school. Role-playing had moved from play-pretend to internet forums. It was in secondary school that I had access to the Harry Potter books, and thus began the sleepless nights and eager evenings to continue a story I was writing with five other Potterheads. And because role-playing was no longer expressed physically, I didn’t just write stories online, I started concocting tales before bed too. In the privacy of my bedroom, I imagined going on adventures with Harry and the gang. I even vocalised the dialogue. It sounds insane but trust me, writing my own stories make me seem more insane—this was just the tip of the iceberg.

However, as I aged up, I gradually stopped with the crazy imaginations… because honestly, it felt crazy to me too. So instead of feeding my imagination before bed, I turned to writing. I wasn’t very good. And people knew that—they were aware I wasn’t the best at stringing words together. I didn’t win a single writing contest. And on two accounts, someone close to me said I wasn’t going to make it—that I should quit because I wasn’t going to be good enough and that I was talent-less. If you’ve had someone close to you put fire to your dreams, you probably know how it felt. Did I believe them? No. Did their words hurt? Yes, so very much. But I was determined to succeed. And so I chose to use my imagination instead.

Born an imagineer, always an imagineer.

Imagination is a superpower. And with great power comes great responsibility. Just like any other superpower, you can use it for both good and evil. You can choose to imagine the worst, where you feed your doubts and crush your dreams. Or… you can choose to imagine an epic adventure where you ultimately become the hero of your story. When such a power is in your hands, the choice on what to do with it is entirely yours. And, I chose to keep my dream alive.

These days, I don’t use my imagination in the same way as I did growing up. As an adult, I channel my flights of fantasy into novels and the positive what if’s into reality. I imagine what could be with a dash of hope in the impossible. Of course, I am not completely free from the monsters of my imagination. But just like in any story, no matter how many times a villain rears its ugly head, it never wins. So if you’re an imagineer like me, start using your imagination in a way that will propel you on your own journey. And if you think you don’t have this gift of imagination, take a look at your childhood—screen through those years where you were free from reality. I honestly believe that the spark is still there, and all it needs is for you to reignite it… again.

Writing Journey

Why You Should Be A Failure

Failing is scary. And we’re all afraid of failure. We’re afraid of failing in our exams, in our relationships, in our businesses, and in our life. We are so afraid of failure that we find excuses not to encounter it, if we can. And for some, that would mean allowing this fear to hold them back from pursuing their dreams.

Are you afraid of failure? Is the fear of failure robbing you of your future? Today, I want you to be a failure. I want you to embrace it, welcome it, and face it. I want you to own up to your failures. Because failing is probably one of the best things you can ever do in your life.

Bold statement—I know. Here’s why.

#1 Being A Failure Elevates Your Skill

Wait, doesn’t failure reinforce your inabilities? Doesn’t it broadcast your lack of skill to the world? How can failing make you better?

I believe that every failure is an opportunity to learn from your mistakes. So yes, it showcases your weaknesses. But the more you fail, the more chances you have to eliminate the causes of your past failures. Each fail brings to light your shortcomings, allowing you to better yourself in those areas. If you’re afraid to fail, you will never be able to answer the how, when, why, and where.

So, should you be afraid of failure? You can be—facing your weaknesses is no easy task—but start seeing failure as an opportunity to grow in your craft. Don’t fear it, embrace it!

#2 Being A Failure Strengthens Your Passion

If you fail one too many times, you are at risk of giving up. You’ll start to question your passion and the reason behind your relentless pursuit. Failure will tempt you to throw in the towel… or will it?

Failure does indeed challenge the purpose of your passion. It will inevitably question your dreams. But failure also gives you the chance to reevaluate your reason. If you don’t have a strong reason behind your pursuits, failure is the perfect time to find that reason. It allows you to strengthen your intentions, helping you to keep failing until you succeed.

So, should you be afraid of failure? Yes—you’ll have to answer questions that will determine your future—but allow failure to build a sturdy foundation for your dreams and goals. Don’t fear it, welcome it!

#3 Being A Failure Builds Your Character

Nobody feels good when they fail. Failure makes us feel incompetent, worthless, and insignificant. Failure presents a package of negative emotions that will drag us down a lonely and hopeless road. However, failure is one of the few places where we can rise from the ashes.

Determination and drive don’t come from sunshine and rainbows. What kind of a person would you be if your life was a storm-free ocean? Calm seas with no turmoil—you’ll be the same person you’ve always been, safe within the borders of your boat. But, if the seas were rough—if you were tossed into the raging waters—you would’ve been forced to swim. And if you successfully pulled yourself out, saving yourself from the depths of the sea, you won’t be the same person as you were before. You now have a strength that came from the experience. You have become a fighter.

Those who fail and fail often are not afraid of the ocean. They once were, but the waves have made them stronger. So, should you be afraid of failure? Of course—you’ll have to swim for your life—but failure might just be the push you need to do greater things in life. Don’t fear it, face it!

Failing is scary, but it isn’t as negative of an experience as we think it to be. You need to fail. So allow yourself to fail, and fail often. Gather whatever courage you have and charge at this daunting monster. Don’t run. Don’t hide. Don’t let failure hold you back. Slay the beast before you and become the warrior you were meant to be.

Writing Journey

How To Master Perseverance

Perseverance is a skill as much as it is a personality trait. And by personality trait, I believe it is developed through circumstances and experiences in life. You’re not born with it—babies don’t enter the world with a determination to succeed. So, not having perseverance now doesn’t mean you cannot master it. You can develop a skill in pursuing relentlessly. And, you don’t have to wish yourself bankrupt. You most certainly don’t have to jump into a dark hole of grief and regret. You can build this skill in your day-to-day life with one simple principle.

All you have to do… is stop comparing. Stop making success a competition. Stop trying to outdo someone else. Stop hoping for another person’s story, expecting yours to be exactly the same. Stop trying to live someone else’s life.

How often do we question our gift and skill because someone else seems to be doing better? How often do we contemplate giving up because someone else has become more successful? How often do we place ourselves in a box because that is what someone else is doing?

If you want to win your race, you have to focus on the track ahead. The moment the whistle blows, your purpose isn’t to triumph over the people around you but to cross the finish line. It isn’t about earning someone else’s medal, but accomplishing what you’ve set out to do. So yes, maybe it will take a little longer—maybe you won’t be an overnight success. But if you set your eyes on the finish line—when you stop turning your head to look around, in fear of those catching up—you’ll find yourself undistracted. Your goal, purpose, and dream will fuel you, and you’ll find the determination to succeed.

You see, our life is like a book. We are the protagonists of our own stories. We have our own obstacles, villains, and victories. Now imagine if we crafted our stories following a template, hoping to imitate someone else—will doing so make our story interesting? Can we call that story our own? Is it a story we can be proud of? What will happen if all the books in the world have the same length, the same plot, and the same characters? Will we be reading cliches or hearing uniquely individualistic tales?

We were not meant to follow a template. Our stories aren’t meant to be the same. We are not clones and neither are our adventures. So why then are we trying to copy someone else’s journey? Why do we seek the same plotline and strive for the same chapters? Our stories are different and it’s time to embrace it. Let’s accept that some of us will have standalone novels, others might have trilogies, and many will run the course of a 7-book long series. Let’s be prepared for our own hero’s journey, with our own dragon to slay and our own original ending. Let’s not compete with other tales but be inspired by them. We can share the same goals and have the same desires, but let’s all write a story that is uniquely ours.

Writing Journey

3 Months Ago, I Became A ‘Hot Shot’ [#TRUESTORY]

This story begins three months ago—on June 1st—when I was offered a spot in the ‘Hot Shots’ campaign.

The ‘Hot Shots’ campaign is organized by CLEO magazine, where ‘every year, we select 30 successful women across industries to speak of their success, background, and how they’re reshaping the landscape of their industries.’ I know this might sound surprising, but when I read the offer, I hesitated. Yes, I actually hesitated. I asked my mum and my colleagues if I should go for it. And only when they said, ‘Yes! Of course!” I said, “Yes,” myself. Strange, I know.

Now, despite saying ‘yes’, I didn’t actually announce the nomination—I didn’t tell anyone but those who already knew. Why? Because I wasn’t sure if it was truly going to happen. I doubted. I didn’t think I was ‘Hot Shot’ worthy, and I thought CLEO might change their mind. So before CLEO sent me the official email, with my photoshoot and interview date, I kept the news to myself. Pretty understandable, right?

My photoshoot and interview date was June 12th. At 10.30 a.m. that day, I hopped on a Grab and headed to a hotel in Kuala Lumpur. The entirety of the experience was foreign to me. And upon my return home, I wrote a Facebook post summarising the event.

On August 1st, CLEO’s ‘Hot Shots’ issue hit the shelves. Firstly, let me just say, I’m not a fan of my picture. It wasn’t me. But CLEO is a fashion and lifestyle magazine, so what most people are generally used to is not something you would see on such a publication. That being said, after flipping past my profile, I started to read about the other 29 women. And, only then, I realised that being a ‘hot shot’ didn’t necessarily mean being a millionaire—a hot shot could be anyone who is doing what they love and making a change through their works regardless of the magnitude of their success. So hey, maybe I am worthy of being called a ‘Hot Shot’ after all (nope, still doubting).

This proves how nobody knew Clark Kent was Superman.

Then, August 21st rolled around and CLEO posted my full interview—both video and written—on their website and social media. As I’m not a fan of seeing myself in action, I cringed a little watching myself in the video interview. But I’m glad… no, I’m relieved… that I shared from the heart. There was no pretending. My words were true—if you’ve been following me for a while, you know they are. The only thing that wasn’t true to Jeyna was the makeup, which made me seem a little intimidating.

A couple of days after my profile went live, I went for a CLEO high-tea event. It was a weekday, so I had to take a half day off work. It was one of the most awkward experiences in my life. Remember when I blogged about ‘How To Balance Passion & Work’, where I mentioned about how I dislike networking? Well, which introvert actually enjoys networking? I was completely out of
my element! If you follow me on Instagram, you probably saw the instastories. But if you don’t, here’s the status update on my personal Facebook account summarizing the whole 2 hours.

“Thursday, 5 p.m: Currently on my way home from the CLEO event—it’s safe to say that this is my first ‘networking’ event, so I guess it’s understandable to act and feel extremely awkward. But hey, at least I managed to strike up a conversation with a 20-year-old MMA fighter, her manager, and a singer signed under Yuna’s record label. Also, I got a free cookie and a makeup set from Wet & Wild. Overall, I’m glad I did something completely outside of my comfort zone. But next time, can I not go alone? Can I have a plus one please?”

It’s safe to say that I will remember this entire experience for a lifetime. I never imagined being recognised for my work on such a scale. Though I’m still a long way off from living the dream, the past few months introduced me to a world I didn’t know I could be a part of. So I’m grateful, tremendously grateful, for the opportunity. I’m glad, despite the fear of unfamiliar environments, that I stepped out of my comfort zone. And, if nothing more comes my way, I’ll continue to celebrate this moment. Because through it, I have bravely traversed uncharted territory and I’m now more than ready to sail into the unknown… again.

Try not to cringe! You can watch the video interview below and read the written interview HERE!

Writing Journey

The 3 Kinds Of Stories You Should Tell

Stories are powerful. They have the ability to motivate, inspire, and drive people into action. Whether they are works of fiction or factual accounts, stories can impact and change lives. They are more than just forms of entertainment. They are not just updates on what’s happening around us and across our borders. Stories can and will change the world. So why then are we not harnessing its power? Why are we not telling stories that matter? Why are we holding back—afraid to tell the stories we own?

Whether fact or fiction—written or spoken—stories should be told. It doesn’t matter how exciting or how uneventful they may be. Every story has the potential to leave a mark—an imprint in the world and the lives within it. So if you’re not telling stories—withholding your tales–it is time you do. Don’t worry, you don’t have to write a novel. You most certainly don’t need to take up a course in journalism. You can simply start with these three kinds of stories in any form you’re comfortable with—the three kinds of stories that can make a difference.

#1 Stories That Make People THINK

This is my favourite kind of story as I love thinking. Whether its an article that brings up a question on ethics, a tale from Sherlock Holmes that has me wondering about the culprit, or a personal account that requires a solution, every story that makes me think allows me to examine my own thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and goals. It creates the opportunity for introspection—the chance to understand myself better, to find reason and meaning, and to choose who I want to become.

The fact that I like this kind of stories reflect in the kind of stories I tell. Some of my fictional works and personal sharings are open-ended and without conclusion. Why? Because I like giving my readers an opportunity to stretch their creative muscles—to imagine beyond my words and to determine an answer that is uniquely theirs. You see, nobody can tell you how to think. But a story that makes you think… has the power to change and shape your thoughts.

#2 Stories That Are TRUE

True stories are based on experience. Stories that are written from experience will resonate with anyone and everyone who has undergone the same. The fastest way to connect with anyone is to share something personal. And the easiest way to help someone is to share an experience—a journey you took and how you survived, or a journey you’re on and how you’re surviving.

With true stories, you don’t need a perfect ending. True stories can be incomplete—unfinished. Sometimes, people just need to know they’re not alone. It’s not about the answer you can provide, but the understanding you have to offer. Such stories can bridge gaps, give hope, fan passion, push boundaries, and inspire lives. They speak directly to the heart—the very thing that makes us human.

#3 Stories That Serve A PURPOSE

One of the most powerful stories you can tell is a story with a purpose—a story with a personal reason. Why? Because—though not wrong—a story without a purpose often falls short. It doesn’t leave an impact. And it falls short mainly because your audience can tell. They know when you’re creating for the sake of creating—it is content churned out for the sake of having content. Your audience can sense that, especially if they’ve been following you for awhile.

I’ll be honest, I have written stories for the sake of fulfilling promises. And when I publish these stories, I’ve noticed that my readers aren’t as engaged as when they read stories that were written with a reason. I don’t blame them for being disconnected—I was disconnected myself. But if I truly want a story to be impactful, it has to be told with a reason. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with stories without a purpose. The question is, is that the only kind of stories that you want to tell?

I believe that everyone has more than one story within them—more than one story that can influence and shape the world around them. You may not see the ripples or feel the reverb of your tales, but the moment you tell them, you’ve left an imprint somewhere, somehow, and in someone. So start telling stories that can make a difference. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, to be vulnerable, and to strive for a purpose. Start wielding the power that is already in your hands—the power that resides within you.

Writing Journey

How To Balance Passion & Work

One of the biggest, and probably most difficult, decision we have to make in life is the choice between surviving and pursuing our passion. Which is more important—doing the things that we love at a cost or work to pay the bills and perhaps live a more comfortable life? It always seems to be one or the other. And, we often believe that those who get to do what they love and make a living from it are the blessed minority. But here’s what I’ve come to realised… there’s actually a way to do both. It won’t require much except for a little courage and a change in mindset.

Let’s start with our mindset. As passionate individuals, we often want to live our passion—solely our passion—nothing more, nothing less. We have the biggest dreams and the wildest goals. We aim for the stars. And, there’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, it’s something we should keep doing. Heck I do it all the time and perhaps too often. But, if all we strive for is what we idealise—refusing to try anything new—our dreams will remain as dreams.

Speaking from personal experience, I’ve spent way too many years focused on the dream of becoming a full-time author. It has been all I’ve ever wanted that it tunneled my vision—building walls around my other abilities. Because that dream was my sole focus, I shied away from trying new things, exploring new industries, and stepping outside of my comfort zone in fear of ‘jeopardizing’ my dream. But, after a few uncomfortable experiences, I started to see what the world had to offer. I found opportunities that could actually help me achieve my dreams. Yes, they may not be about writing or directly related to my passion, but they can and will bring me one step closer toward being a better writer as a whole. I still want to be a full-time author, but I’ve chosen not to box myself. I’ve made a decision—a change in mindset—to try, fail, and seize everything the world throws my way.

Now, of course, if you’re an introvert like me who has been boxed for far too long, doing something new is daunting. Choosing to embrace new environments is scary. What if you say the wrong words? What if you fail to meet expectations? As many opportunities as there are to advance yourself, there are equal or greater opportunities to fail. So, we make excuses. Despite knowing what a great stepping stone it may be, we give ourselves a reason not to do it. What a waste, isn’t it? Here’s the thing, we actually don’t need a lot of courage to break those walls. Sometimes, all we need to do… is close our eyes and say ‘yes’.

I’m a socially awkward individual who has trouble connecting and meeting new people. But I’ve learned to say ‘yes’ to social events because I know it will do me good. I still hate it—I do not like mingling—but if it’s a good opportunity to advance myself, I say ‘yes’. I may regret my decision later on—diving blindly into an unknown environment—but I say ‘yes’ first and worry about the outcome later. After all, we cannot predict what will happen in life. But I believe that every open door presents an opportunity to go further and do greater things. And with all these doors, it only takes one step—a pinch of courage—to step through them.

If you’re in this stage of your life where you’re struggling to balance between your passion and work, perhaps it’s time to be bold and break the walls you’ve built around you. The odds of you achieving your dream is higher when you do more. Confining yourself at the notion of protecting your dreams doesn’t preserve your passion. Instead, it’s hiding your gifts and abilities from the world. So be brave fellow dreamer. Start learning new things and exploring new ideas. Start challenging yourself for the sake of your awesome dream.

Writing Journey

So, What’s Next?

Recently, I’ve been asked this particular question by almost everyone I meet, “What’s next? Are you writing another book?” So to answer everyone else, who may have this question in mind, I thought to share my response here.

The next, after The Slave Prince, is the Raindrops trilogy.

Or, at least, I hope it remains as a trilogy and not become a series. Why? Because trilogies and series aren’t really my thing. I’ve discovered, through writing Book 2, that writing a trilogy is quite a challenge for me. As Book 1 was completed–sent to beta readers–in April 2016, a handful of story facts have gotten lost in time. I’ve misspelled some of the not-so-important character names, I’ve confused certain plot lines, and… I’ve forgotten how some of the places actually looked like. I had to reread Book 1 before writing Book 2. And yet, even after doing so, I’m still making mistakes!

When I think about it, a trilogy is just a really long book. It shouldn’t be too difficult to remember what I, myself, have concocted. Alas, I’m better suited writing standalones of 60k to 70k words–my sweet spot. And funnily enough, I’ve only just learned this fun fact about myself. However, I am going to complete this trilogy. With Book 1 done, how can I not write Book 2? It would be silly to stop a story when I’m this far in. I just have to tough it out and get it done–you have no idea how many times I’ve coaxed myself to keep going. Why did I even think writing a trilogy was a good idea? This writer, right here, had no idea what she had gotten herself into.

With that said, I plan to pitch Book 1 to agents once I finish the first draft of Book 2–it should be done by this year despite the turtle pace. I also plan to spend a good amount of time next year rewriting Book 2. Honestly, that is about it with my plans. All I can do as a writer is to keep writing–to keep running the race. I don’t know what will happen along the way. I might not find a publisher even after I’ve completed the entire trilogy. Or, I may land a publishing deal next year. Anything or nothing can happen. But, I do know what’s next.

For me, it will always be the next word, the next sentence, the next chapter, and the next book. It’ll always be one story after another. Despite how tiring it may be or how unmotivated I sometimes feel, I’ll keep writing. Stopping midway in this journey is, and never will be, an option.

PS, if you’re curious what Raindrops Book 1 is about, let’s just say it follows the tale of a teenage king in search of his father who many believe to be dead. With the magic in raindrops, this youthful king leaves home to travel to other realms. From the hazardous trip behind enemy lines to the festive East Asian-esque Meihua; from the kingdom hovering above the clouds to the military-driven Bevattna; from the heterogeneous society of a tunneled realm to his duel with the heir of Tentazoa, every step in his adventure uncovers a gem of his past, present, and future. And in one foresight, this young king learns the daunting fate of his own realm. That… is all I can say. Hopefully, you’ll get to read this book one day.

Writing Journey

5 Ways To Become A Bad Writer

Why do we strive to be a good writer, when we can be a bad one? Here are five things for you to work on if you want to become a bad writer in no time!

#1 Don’t Write, Just Talk About It

Go ahead, talk about the stories you want to write but don’t actually write them. Tell everyone you want to write a book–that you have this fabulous idea– but don’t bother with taking it one step further. Don’t actually sit down and try to devise a good plot. Don’t turn on your laptop for anything other than non-writing activities. Buy a fancy, overpriced notebook but leave its pages blank. Don’t write, just talk about writing!

#2 Always Blame Your Lack Of Talent

You suck because you have no talent. You’re not gifted with words, thus you’re a bad writer. So why bother trying, am I right? If your story needs improvement, it’s probably your lack of talent. If your characters are dull, it’s probably your lack of talent. If your world-building is flat, it’s probably your lack of talent. You don’t have talent, thus you’re a bad writer. The easiest way to excuse your shortcomings is…you know it… your lack of talent!

#3 Hate On Your Critics

These people don’t deserve you or your work. After all, their mission in life is to critique you and everything you do. So, in return, you should hate them . Discredit everything they’ve done because they say your story is boring. Curse at them because they criticise your writing. Take it one step further and hunt them down, because the only way you can change their minds is to make them actually dislike you.

#4 Give Up Because It’s Taking Too Long

Wow, it’s been a year since you started writing and you haven’t accomplished anything. What are you doing? Clearly, writing isn’t for you. You should stop doing it all together. Go and find something else to do. But, if that new thing is taking too long for you to see success, make sure to stop doing it too. After all, time is of the essence! You need to be gratified like… right now! So if you don’t see immediate success, it’s a waste of time.

#5 Play It Safe

Do you have a crazy idea that may ruffle some feathers? Don’t you dare write it! Always play it safe–always write to please the masses. After all, you’re not writing for you. Your goal in life is to write stories that makes everyone but yourself happy. Your words are not yours. Your words are dictated by what your readers want to read! So lest you offend them with unconventional characters and controversial plots, it’s better to stick to what they ask of you.

There you have it–five easy ways to become a bad writer! But just in case some of you think I’m actually serious, I should clarify that I’m being sarcastic. No, I don’t want you to become a bad writer. In fact, I want you to be the best writer you can be! I want you to believe in yourself–yes, you do have talent. I want you to actually start writing, because your story is actually worth telling. I want you to be kind to your critics, because criticism will help you grow. I want you to be patient–to keep persevering because the journey brings more fulfillment than the end. And, last but not least, I want you to write without restraints.

Don’t let these five points dictate your future, your dreams, and your passion. Rather, stay clear of them because, by default, you have the ability to be an amazing writer! Remember, the only person that has the power to sabotage your greatest achievements is yourself.

Writing Journey

This Story Begins In 2005 [#TRUESTORY]

I scrolled through my blog recently and realised that I don’t share enough personal stories. I do address certain topics based on experience, but nothing from, ‘hey, I was once an annoying kid,’ to, ‘wow, I said the cringiest things on Facebook.’ So today, I thought, let me share a #truestory.

This story begins in 2005. It was during those formative years in secondary school that I began exploring other forms of writing aside from short stories. I would write scripts for my school’s drama competitions, and I would write poetry–a whole lot of poetry. I thought I wasn’t good at short stories because I never won any writing competitions. So, I tried poetry instead. But even then–churning out both story-based and self-reflective pieces–I knew nothing about the rules and the mechanics of this art. I just wrote. And whenever I wrote, I would submit my poems to a local newspaper in hopes of being featured in their Wednesday student column.

Then 2007 rolled around. It was my final year in secondary school and I experienced the loss of two family members in a single week. My maternal grandfather passed away a few days prior to my paternal aunt. I wasn’t close to either of them as I can’t speak mandarin or hokkien–two of the few Chinese dialects in Malaysia. And, I only saw them once a year during Chinese New Year. So the loss was a strange kind of loss. I was sad–I cried when I heard about my grandfather, while I was unexpectedly called out from school–but… I didn’t know why.

At their funerals, of which I had to travel from one state to another just a few days apart, I wrote two poems. I used to carry a notebook around for when inspiration strikes, and conveniently, I had my notebook with me that week. Of course, I wouldn’t say their deaths were ‘inspiring’, but it led me to writing a piece titled, ‘Death’ and a piece titled, ‘If’. They were rather morbid pieces if I could say so myself. But it seems… I write better when in unpredictable and uncomfortable situations.

Shortly after those events, I returned to school and my carefree teenage life. Since I had two new poems, I submitted both of them to the same local newspaper. I didn’t expect anything, but twice, my friends hollered at me–after having flipped through their daily newspapers. They came into class saying, “Jeyna, you’re in the newspaper!” You see, my school allowed students a paid subscription to the daily newspaper. These students would receive their copies every morning. I wasn’t one of these students–my dad would buy the newspaper himself–and thus, I had no idea if my work was published. I had to be told, and on both occasions, the announcement from my friends and teachers were awesome surprises. Alas, it only happened twice. There was no third time, despite the dozens of poems I submitted.

Eleven years later, on May 30th 2018–coincidentally a Wednesday–I received a Facebook message from a friend with a snapshot of a different, but also local, newspaper. I knew I did an email interview. I even chose a handful of pictures to send to the journalist. But, I had no idea when the piece would be out. Being Facebook message–oh, how technology has advanced–brought back that same feeling when I discovered I was featured in 2007. This time however, almost a decade later, it wasn’t just my name. It was an almost full-page spread with my picture. Eleven years later… “Jeyna, you’re in the newspaper!”

Read The Online Version

If you’ve actually made it this far into my story, or if you follow me on Facebook and Twitter and have seen my status update itself, you might have noticed something. It took me eleven years. Eleven… long… years. Not one year, not three years, not even five years to be somewhat recognised, but eleven years. And I say ‘somewhat recognised’ because it’s only the first step. It’s a small accomplishment in comparison to the dream of having my book made into a movie. But, it’s a success nonetheless–one worth celebrating, just like the time my poems were published.

Now, if you don’t mind me asking, how many of you have been at your craft for almost a decade? If you raised your hand, let me applaud you for your tenacity and passion. Perhaps it’ll take you longer to see the fruits of your labour, but you will see it one day. You already have the drive to keep going and you shouldn’t stop. Don’t waste the years of blood, sweat, and tears. It is all worth it. Your dream is worth it. Your passion is worth it. Your story is worth it.

On the flip side, how many of you have been at your craft for less than a decade? If you’re thinking of giving up, don’t you dare! I cannot say you will achieve something in eleven years, but you shouldn’t give up just because ‘nothing’ is happening. Something is always happening when you invest in your talent. The only ‘nothing’, I dare say, is that ‘nothing’ is impossible. It might take you eleven years–it might even take you more, or perhaps less than eleven years–but nothing is impossible. Every step you take toward your dream is the first step toward something big. It’s just the start! And just like those of us, who have been chasing after the stars for many years, your dream, passion, and story are worth it–every muddy road, narrow trail, and arduous climb. After all, every path you take will eventually lead you somewhere.

This is a true story. This is my story. But this can be your story, too.