Writing Journey

Finding Inspiration When There’s None

Once upon a time, I posted a story on this blog every Thursday without fail. The only times I skipped a week or two were perhaps once or twice a year when I’d go on vacation—almost as if I took an ‘annual leave’ from blogging. Alas, inspiration is getting pretty hard to come by. What was once a story a week became a story every fortnight, which eventually led to a story twice a month regardless of the weeks. Heck, I didn’t even post two stories last month!

So, what does this mean? The truth is… I’m struggling to find both inspiration and motivation. And yes, this is coming from someone who, I dare say, used to have plenty of those. Looking back at how I was able to write a story every single week amazes me. Now, where did this person go? She seems to have vanished.

Honestly, I’m unsure if this has anything to do with growing older and tired, the current pandemic, or the lack of overall creativity. I’d hate to think I lost my spark as a writer because I still love storytelling—with plenty of stories left to tell! Hence, I often wonder… where on earth can I find enough inspiration and motivation when there seems to be none?

Unfortunately, if you’re asking the same question, I don’t have an answer for you. I’m still searching—sometimes forcing myself to create just for the sake of creating, even when I know it lacks a certain je ne sais quoi without inspiration. Often, I merely write in fear that my skill would stagnate… or worse, deteriorate. And when I do hit publish on those stories, I am well aware that the process was far from enjoyable. I guess, there’s no sugarcoating it—writing is now harder than it used to be. But, if there’s any consolation, I know that I’m not alone.

If you’re in the same boat, you’re not alone, too. And I believe there’s nothing wrong with struggling to find the joy and spark in our art. After all, isn’t that part of the journey? If our adventure is free of wild winds and dry deserts, can we even call it an adventure? Every good story has its highs and lows, its victories and its losses, its celebrations and its tears—it wouldn’t be a story worth telling if there were no obstacles to overcome!

So Jeyna, and my dear reader, fret not. You’ll find the inspiration and motivation again. It may take awhile and you might have to search a little harder. Perhaps, you may even grow weary from the quest. But if there’s one thing you know for sure, it’s that your story… isn’t over yet.

Writing Journey

Have You Lost Your Creativity?

Oh, what a scary notion for us creatives who need our wild imaginations and out-of-this-world ideas to create. Yet, sometimes, we feel like we are losing it. We seem to be missing our creative spark. ‘Where did it go?’ we ask. The once blinding light-bulb isn’t lighting up our heads with grand epiphanies. And all that remains is a dull sponge squeezed dry by our reality.

Alas, feeling uncreative isn’t foreign to us. And in certain seasons of life, our creativity dips and dives like an unexpected roller-coaster ride. From moments of great ingenuity to days of zero artistry—what is happening? Why are we failing to concoct anything worthy? Are we growing too old to be creative? Have we, perhaps, lost it?

Let’s be honest, we would like to think that creativity is an eternal engine fueled by passion and determination—if we have enough drive, the sweet juices of our childlike creativity would keep flowing, churning never-ending art that we can be proud of. After all, creativity is second nature. It is instinct. And, we’re right! The good news is… our creativity is indeed eternal. Unfortunately, it is not an engine.

In moments when we feel uncreative—when fresh perspectives and novel concepts fail to surface—perhaps, it has nothing to do with our imagination. Perhaps, it is the result of the ups and downs of life. Or perhaps, our creativity is now being expressed differently—presented in a different mould, through different means. So if you wonder, ‘Have I lost it?’ Fret not.

We will never lose our creativity. It is impossible to lose this hardwired part of our identity. You may not be able to harness it now, but it doesn’t mean you’ve lost it. Your creativity is still there! After all, there is no such thing as an uncreative… creative.

Writing Journey

Who Are You… If You Don’t Create?

I tried hard to write a short story last week to be published on this blog—pulling up my work file about 3 to 4 times in hopes of completing it. Alas, I just couldn’t get past the 200 words. And it wasn’t because I was lazy. After staring at the page for minutes on end, I knew that it was simply because my mind drew blank.

So, I did what I rarely would do and missed a week of posting. Despite wanting to create, with attempts at forcing an idea into fruition, I was unable to craft. And I wondered…

‘Was it okay to skip a week of posting? Was it okay to… not create? As a creator, who are you if you’re not creating?’

Now, I know that these days, most of my readers are not following my blog for the stories. Yes, despite being an author, somehow… you guys are now into this kind of content—content that is less fictional and more personal. So perhaps, you didn’t even notice the lack of a story post last week. Perhaps… it is only I who insists on being disciplined at writing week in week out. Still, who am I… if I don’t actually write?

I am STILL… an author.

And if you’re asking yourself the same question—who are you if you take a break or can’t seem able to create—this post is for you.

You are STILL a creator.

Yes, discipline is good. Yes, being consistent helps you to hone your craft. I advocate creating and creating often! But there’s nothing wrong with taking a break. There’s nothing wrong with admitting that sometimes… you just can’t create because of reasons you might not have. And it doesn’t mean that you are lazy or that you’re giving up—you know when you’re trying! It simply means that you are human with creative struggles all humans face. And being unable to craft something new doesn’t mean you are any less of who you are.

At the end of the day, doing what you love shouldn’t be a burden. Doing what you love should be an expression of your very being—of who you are from the inside out. And if you can’t create today, fret not. You will create tomorrow… because creating is what you were born to do—it is what you do best, and it is a part of who you are.

Writing Journey

“What if they steal my work?”

One of the biggest fear for someone starting out in their artistic endeavours is the fear of having their work stolen – fear of having their ideas taken without consent, their creations plagiarized and published without credit, their art… no longer theirs. It’s a common emotion – a phase, if I can call it so. And if you’re in this phase right now, know that I’ve been there too.

When I started this blog, I only posted fan fiction. Apart from my love for Harry Potter, I was afraid the blogosphere would rob me of my original ideas. I believed that someone out there would find my work intriguing and make a profit out of them. But after a while, I realised that fan fiction alone wasn’t going to get me anywhere. To improve in my writing and grow as a writer, I needed to take a risk – I needed to share my original works. So, I braved myself. I posted an original story. I awaited feedback, while I hoped no one credited themself for it. And what I thought to be risky behaviour – which was far from risky – changed me as a creator.

If you’re fearful of sharing your original works, you’re boxing yourself from new ideas and fresh perspectives offered freely by your audience. You’re not giving yourself a chance to see your flaws and to improve them. You’re playing it safe. And by ‘safe’ I mean you’re shielding yourself from potential factors that could break you for the better. Because the only risk you’re taking, when you expose yourself to the world, is being forced to see your weaknesses – weaknesses you can overcome. In reality, nobody is going to steal your work. Or at least, the odds of someone actually plagiarizing you is extremely low.

Why do I say so? Allow me to be a little harsh – here are 3 reasons why:

#1 You’re new to your craft. So unless you’re a prodigy, you have a lot to learn. Stealing the work of someone with little experience is the errand of a foolish man. But… what if you have a few years under your belt? More experienced creators care little about internet thieves, knowing that bigger names have been plagiarized before them – it’s the internet.

#2 Ideas are plentiful, creators are few (in comparison). Chances are, you share the same ideas with many others in the world. Originality isn’t that random, seemingly unique idea that popped into your head one night. Originality is how you approach the idea with your pen and paper.

#3 You are one amongst a million others – to be found on the internet isn’t as easy as you think. If appearing on the first page of a Google search result only required one original story, people wouldn’t be investing thousands of dollars in making their businesses stand out on the internet.

Now, I’m not saying it’s wrong to have such a fear. I’ve been there too, remember? But should you keep living in this fear? No.

It’s time you step out of your comfort zone – take a risk! You’ll find yourself becoming a better creator when you stop worrying about what could happen and start focusing on creating itself. Whether you write, paint, design, or compose, choose to express yourself freely rather than live in fear. After all, you didn’t pursue your art to box yourself and limit your abilities.

P.S, if you do find someone stealing your work, take it as a form of flattery. There were a few occasions where I found my work elsewhere without my consent, and when I confronted the parties involved, they were quick to remove my work from their sites. For the most part, I don’t think they had any ill-intentions – they just needed ‘something’ to help their site grow or an ‘example’ to follow.

Writing Journey

Why You Should Stop Playing Defense

Writers do it all the time. No, I should rephrase. Creators do it all the time. It’s almost natural – something we were born to do. And after many bouts of defense, we consider it normal. To be clear, I’m not saying it’s wrong. I do it too. I’m saying we should change our game plan – we should stop playing defense and start playing offense. Because only then, we can win the game.

Recently, I’ve been playing Clash Royale (#NotASponsor). It’s a live mobile game played amongst strangers. The tutorial of the game teaches players how to attack and defend their towers. However, playing defense will not result in a win. In order for the game to end – for a victor to be crowned – one must destroy the opposition’s three towers. The only way to win a game… is to attack.

In games as such, it’s almost considered dumb to merely play defense. How long can you keep the enemy at bay? Why are you wasting troops and strategy on defense? My dad once told me that in a game of chess, you have to think about attacking not just defending. When you start moving in on your enemy, your enemy will stop making offensive moves in self-preservation. Now, you’re in control. And when you’re dominating the game, it becomes easier to win. So then, why can’t we stop playing defense?

When someone criticises our work, leaves a not so favourable comment, or voices their dislike, why do we play defense? Why do we explain ourselves? Why do we make excuses repeatedly, without considering a possible problem?

Again, I’m not saying it’s wrong to be defensive of your work. I’m defensive of mine too – I always feel the need to explain myself, my actions, and my plans. But being defensive and never taking a constructive feedback into consideration is a silly move. If we’re constantly sweeping the problem under the carpet, we’re not cleaning the mess. We’re merely hiding it until someone else uncovers it. It doesn’t make anything better. And as creators, don’t we want our works to be better?

It’s time to stop playing defense and start playing offense. Always take a step back and evaluate every comment – good and bad. If there’s an obvious problem with your work, stop making excuses and fix it. If more than one person finds something odd, stop justifying and look into it. Defend your work, but learn to attack issues that are holding it back from becoming better.

Just like us, our work isn’t perfect – there’s always room for improvement. Sheltering ourselves from the truth changes nothing. Protecting our pride will not help us grow. If we want to improve in our craft, we have to start attacking. We have to accept we’re flawed. It is only when we stop hiding our flaws – embracing our weaknesses – that we become strong.

Writing Journey

The Patreon Project

patreonproject

Have you heard of Patreon?

Patreon is a place where artsy-fartsy people share their work, and patrons (that’s you!) come and support their artsy-fartsy-ness. Patrons will commit an amount of money every month to support the creator in their hard work and creativity, giving the creator more time to create and less time worrying about paying the bills. Simply defined, it’s a crowd-funding site without the restriction of time.

Many artsy-fartsy people have been using this site for years. From YouTubers, illustrators, podcasters, musicians, to writers and bloggers, some of your favourite creators are on Patreon. Today, I officially hop on this bandwagon (and hopefully, I can be considered as one of your favourite creators too 🙂 ).

So, what is this Patreon Project?

Well, for many years, I’ve been creating fictional tales and posting them for free on my blog. I enjoy doing it and I love sharing my stories with you. However, I recently thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice to earn some money from my stories?‘ Yes, my stories are meant to be free, but maybe someone would like to throw a penny or two into my hat. Hence, the Patreon Project.

The Patreon Project is me taking a step closer toward achieving my dreams of becoming a full-time author. Honestly, I’m scared. What if you think I’m not worthy of your patronage? What if this post blows over your head? But chasing my dreams requires me to take bold steps, and even if I fall face flat and break my nose, I’ll take those step anyway. Even if no one wants to support my artsy-fartsy endeavours, I’ll keep trying… I’ll keep swimming.

This… is the Patreon Project.

Now, you’re probably wondering, are there perks of being my patron?

Of course! I’m not going to leave you empty-handed. Come on, I’m not like that. So here’s what you’ll get:

– *Updates on, and chapters of, work-in-progress.
– Un-blogged and never-before-published stories.
– Discount codes and free eBooks.
– Advance digital copy of self-published books prior to publication.
– Have a book dedicated to you.

*I’ve not told many people about this, but I’m actually working on a new piece of work with an artist. I’m really excited about it! But because we’re still in the early stages, I haven’t said anything yet. However, if you’re a patron, you’ll be the first to hear about it once it’s confirmed (which most likely it will be). You’ll also get to read it first!

So yes, being my Patron has its perks.

If you’ve made it this far, thank you. I really appreciate you taking the time to hear me out. If you don’t mind, please check out my Patreon page as well. You can support me at whatever amount you wish. If $1 is how you roll, then for that $1 I’m very grateful. Every dollar contributed brings me closer to my goal, and to have your support in this journey is a huge honour.

Thank you for considering this. And thank you in advance to my future patrons. Do know that without you, I am but a boat blowing its horn in the storm. You are the ship that helps me sail on.