Videos

The #1 Cause Of A Creative Block

Guess what? It’s not a lack of inspiration or ideas.

A creative block occurs even when you have everything laid out. So no, it’s not because you’re NOT CREATIVE enough. It’s definitely not because YOU DON’T HAVE TALENT. There’s something else… and it always seems to get in the way.

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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

“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

3 Ways To Crush A Writer’s Block

Currently, I’m working on the second book of my trilogy. And as I’m trying my best to tie up book one and prepare for book three in this middle book, I find myself struggling to keep the story exciting. In fact, closing one adventure while prepping for another has never been this difficult. Of course, I knew writing a trilogy wasn’t going to be easy. A trilogy is a huge commitment and requires more layering than stand-alone novels. However, I didn’t expect to hit a block barely midway into the series. It’s frustrating. I’m tired. But I need to get it done! So to get past this stage, I’ve been practicing 3 things. Hopefully, these 3 things would help you too… should you be in a similar predicament. After all, stuck is the worst place any writer can be in.

#1 Vocalise Ideas

Personally, I find that voicing my ideas help me generate more ideas. The more I say them out loud, the easier it is to fix and improve them. Yes, I know how talking to myself makes me look. No, I’m not crazy. In fact, I voice my daily thoughts more frequently than I should. But off late, I’ve been internalizing my ideas. I’ve been keeping them boxed, that they’ve gone stale. Realising this, I decided to give them some fresh air – bouncing them off my room wall, behind closed doors. And lo and behold, a plot twist recently hit. So, if you’re not already monologuing, I suggest you give it a go. You never know what crazy idea would come your way, simply by acting a little mad.

#2 Dive Into Similar Works

Disclaimer: I’m not promoting plagiarism. You should never copy someone’s work. But, there’s nothing wrong with drawing inspiration from others.

As my trilogy is about a young king, set in a medieval world of magic, I’ve been diving into similar works of its genre. I’ve been watching countless historical dramas, to grasp palace politics while exposing myself to old world architecture. Because I cannot travel back in time and work as a palace maid, it’s impossible for me to write a story based on my experience. Hence, the only way for me to gain perspective is to embrace the works of others’.

I seek to be inspired by parallel worlds – to see it play out before my eyes, and to live vicariously through works of fiction. And not only do these stories oil the gears of my own, I’m left thoroughly entertained too.

#3 Run Head First

I’ve probably mentioned this before. Wait, I believe I’ve mentioned it before. But, I’ll say it again: to get a story moving is to write it. A story cannot write itself and it needs us to finish it. So despite the herculean block, shadowing us from the finish line, we have to charge forward. We have to crush that block by writing the most horrendous chapters. Yes, you’ll need to rewrite them. And yes, you’ll want to weep at the horror of your own words. Trust me, I know. But thankfully, those words have been written – you can go back and fix them, because they’ve been written. So run head first. Charge at the wall. It’ll hurt, but the pain is worth the finish line.

As I strive to complete my book this year, I hope you endeavour to finish your own projects too. We’re all on the same boat, navigating the rough waves. But no matter what comes our way, we’re the authors of our stories and we have the power to bring them to an end. No block is too big for an author to overcome. And knowing this, there’s no stopping us.