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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

Travel & Write

I love traveling – most of my friends, and even some of you, know that. I actually make it a priority to travel at least once a year. And because I’m not living in luxury – despite few assuming so, due to my escapades – I save as much as I can every month to make travel possible. It has become a ‘need’ in my life. But why?

There is, of course, the reason of ‘taking a break and seeing the world’. That’s the best reason anyone can give. It’s also a very legit one. But aside from that, I’ve found another reason to travel: inspiration. Traveling has inspired my writing. In fact, it has made me a better writer. Flights of fantasy frame a tale, but an experience gives it life. I endeavour to travel because I believe it gives my stories life – it makes them real. But how so, you ask?

#1 Cultural Understanding

Whenever I hop on a plane, I subject myself to a culture unlike my own. There’s a whole new way of doing things in a foreign land – a new mindset, upbringing, and belief. This unfamiliarity is the perfect opportunity to broaden my perception of the world. It corrects my former notions, and opens my mind to different possibilities. This understanding helps in my writing, especially when trying to break from a mold.

Often times, we box our characters in an ideal world – a world with a common set of cultures and beliefs. We do so because it’s safe – it’s what we know. But by experiencing other cultures in the real world, we gain a new understanding. Through the diversity, we’re able to sculpt a story from a fresh perspective. And by infusing the variety of life, we make our stories relate-able. Such stories live beyond the final page.

#2 Sight Beyond The Picture

There’s a difference between seeing a picture of an icy mountain peak and actually seeing it in person. There’s a set of emotions that come from sight beyond a picture. When you stand before a colossal work of nature, you’ll find yourself lost for words – awed at its magnificence. But when you look at a picture, you only feel a pinch of that emotion. You cannot grasps its magnitude and beauty, and your imagination will have to fill in those gaps.

When you’ve seen something in reality, your capacity to describe becomes far greater. The hustle and bustle, of a crowded street, is easier written when you’ve been jostled by the swarm of bodies. Compare that to a snapshot of Shibuya crossing, you can only imagine being sardined. Writing through an experience will leave a sense of reality with your reader. But to paint a real picture for them, you have to see its reality for yourself.

#3 Play Of Emotions

How important are emotions? Very. A writer needs to feel, before a reader can do so. But how can you feel anxious, overjoyed, fearful, and excited in writing, if you’ve not felt it in reality? There are many emotions aside from the common, everyday Inside Out posse. To know what it feels to be truly lost, is to be truly lost. To know what it feels to be wonder-struck, is to be truly wonder-struck. To know what it feels to be… you get my drift.

Traveling gives you the opportunity to experience and play with emotions you normally don’t. It helps you grasps the true meaning of a word. It helps you explain it in words, drawing from your very own encounters. Invoking emotion in a reader requires an author who knows that emotion inside out. And the only way to know an emotion is to feel it.

I know I’ve sold traveling as if it’s the best thing a writer can do. I also know that traveling may not be a luxury for some, while it may not be a priority to others. Whatever it is, I want to encourage you to see the world. You don’t have to board a plane to do so – you just need to try something new. Explore a part of your city you’ve not traversed. Try exotic dishes at a foreign restaurant. Befriend somebody from another country. Go out and experience the world first hand. Trust me, it’ll make a whole lot of difference in your writing – this, coming from a wanderlusting author.