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.

Others

“Watch your own videos,” they said.


“You SHOULD WATCH your own videos,” so I’ve been told.

Funny, how that’s a phrase I don’t expect to hear… yet hear it anyway. And I won’t deny it—at times, I really do NEED to watch my own videos. Why? Because I’m just as human as you are. And as an un-celestial being with only the epiphanies the human mind could ever comprehend, the next best thing I can do for myself is ‘preach to myself’.

Yes, preach to myself. Heck, you do it too!

Every time you coax yourself, reason your actions, and attempt to make yourself feel better, you’re preaching to yourself. Alas, some of our ‘sermons’ are more self-deprecating than edifying. In fact, we have a knack of boasting the torments of hell more than the glory of heaven.

But why do we do that? I’m sure there’s some psychological reasoning but that’s not why I’m writing this today. The purpose of this is to remind both YOU and MYSELF that more than the words others speak into our lives, our own words have a GREATER EFFECT on us.

We preach to ourselves daily. We tell ourselves what we can and cannot do. We decide how to think and feel. And, more so during this season in quarantine—adjusting to and embracing the ‘new normal’—we speak to ourselves more than we speak to others.

So the next time you hear a little negativity in your own voice, switch the channel. Preach only what is uplifting and listen only to what is true! Choose to be a voice of encouragement to yourself because… trust me, it makes a difference.

Writing Journey

Why You Should STOP Aspiring

Someone once told me, and I paraphrase, “You are not an aspiring writer. You write, so you are.”

Now, I forgot who this person was—it was many years ago, when I first started this blog and called myself an aspiring writer. But ever since I read that comment, I stopped using the word all together. Why? Because I realised that truly owning your ambition isn’t to aspire but to do. And when you do, you become—when you become, you no longer have to aspire. You are what you say you are.

Of course, that’s not to say that the word ‘aspire’ or your aspirations are bad. This word holds a positive connotation. But there will come a time when you will have to stop aspiring—a time when you have to disown the word and take control over what you want to do. After all, you can only aspire so much before you actually have to take action. But if that time never comes… then the word carries no meaning—to a certain extent, it becomes a roadblock because you grow comfortable simply… aspiring.

So, if you’re aspiring to do something or be someone, it’s time to stop. Stop aspiring to be a comic book artist, stop aspiring to be a baker, stop aspiring and start doing. Ditch the word the first chance you get because… you don’t need it! You are what you say you are and it’s high time you own up to it.

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

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.

Writing Journey

Being The Best Writer

Before I begin, I want you to know that you can now grab a paperback copy of The Battle for Oz on Amazon at only $8.33. If you’ve not read my book, here’s a chance to do so at a 50% discount! Buying this book will support my authoring career, allowing me to write more stories for you. So visit HERE to grab your copy today!

So, back to the topic at hand: being the best writer.

If you’ve ever wondered how you can be the best writer, wonder no more. Here are 3 things you can do to be the best writer ever! Trust me, it works.

1. Stop Caring

This is applicable in life as it is in writing. If you want to be the best writer, you have to stop caring about what others think of you. You have to stop entertaining passing judgements. You have to accept, that as a writer, you cannot please everyone. You are you. Seeking the approval of someone who doesn’t like your work simply holds you back from moving forward. And dwelling upon a dislike only makes you self-conscious. This self-consciousness can mold an opinion into truth – which is not the truth. So stop caring about the world’s perception. Perceptions aren’t reality.

2. Find Your Purpose

Why do you write? Do you know that knowing why you write makes you more self-aware? We all have a purpose in life, and we all certainly have a purpose in writing. Knowing our purpose helps us stay true to ourselves. It drives our passion, it reflects our identity, and it reminds us to be us. Whether you write to inspire, to be read, or to share, our writing comes from a meaningful place. These meaningful, purpose-filled words make us unique. And these same words express our uniqueness.

Yes, I believe we’re all special snowflakes. As derogatory as some like to use the term, it’s the truth. There’s no one like you, and knowing who you are makes you a better writer.

3. Endeavour To Improve

If all this while you thought I was writing about being the best writer in the world, let me clarify now: you cannot be the best writer in this world. There’s a sea of writers, honing distinct voices, that it’s impossible to benchmark this skill and talent. So perhaps the better title for this post would be: Being The Best Writer You Can Be. And the only way to be the best writer you can be ever (!) is by endeavouring to improve in your craft.

Writing is a life long journey. When you choose to become a writer – out of passion – you choose to do this for as long as you live. You may not be ‘the best writer you can be’ today, but the more time and effort you put into improving yourself, you will be ‘the best writer you can be’ one day.

“Ah, well Jeyna, I know all this,” you say.

Well, so do I. I’ve said this before in my previous posts. And though I’ve not specifically written a post about it, I’ve repeated myself like a broken record. However, I publish this post today with a single goal: I want to remind, both you and myself, that we can be great writers by staying true to ourselves.

We don’t have to change to fit into a best-seller mold. We don’t need to repurpose our dreams to be accepted by readers. We just have to strive to be the best we can be. And, let’s not just practice this in writing but in life too. Because the only time we experience life at its fullest is when we experience life as ourselves.

(Not-so-random plug; I recently launched my fitness blog over at blogspot. Besides writing, fitness is also a passion of mine. If you’re into it too, I’d love to have you there as well!)

Writing Journey

Aspire To Inspire

aspiretoinspire

We all aspire to inspire. But how much are we willing to give to be an inspiration?

In the past 3 months, during the Geek & Sundry fantasy contest, I’ve learned that inspiring others requires a whole lot more than just being me. Yes, being me is the start. And doing what I think I do best – writing – is good too. But being me and writing stories have its limits. If I truly want to be an inspiration, I have to give. And by giving, I mean living by example.

It’s tough to live by example. For those in the creative industry – those being watched – living by example takes a conscious effort. Heck, living by example in general, requires purposeful action. Because in reality, nobody wants to be kind on a bad day, nobody wants to be generous when finance is tight, and nobody wants to support during emotionally trying times. We’re humans after all, and our lives include both the highs and lows. So to actually live by example, we have to do more when we don’t feel like it. We have to go beyond merely existing and… give.

I personally do not think I’m a good example. I’m trying to be, though. I’m trying to care about those around me. I’m trying to be generous and lend a hand to the less privileged. I’m trying not to judge others, because I’m flawed myself. I don’t know if all of my actions are inspiring others. But I do know, that when I see comments about how my stories and my dream chasing endeavours inspire people, I don’t want those to be all I have to offer. I want to try to be a light whenever and wherever I can.

Still, I’m not perfect. Trust me, I’ve imagined knocking a helium balloon out of a child’s hand. I’ve feigned ignorance out of the unwillingness to help. I’ve laughed at people’s spelling mistakes, only to realise how I make laughable Korean mistakes myself. I’m also an introvert, so being friendly is the last thing on my mind. But if there’s any consolation, I know I’m trying . And I hope that my stories won’t just be an inspiration to you, but my life will be as well. I hope that one day, Jeyna wouldn’t just be a writer. Jeyna would be a writer who lives by example. Yes, it’s going to be tough. But… you know what? My life is a story itself. And it’s the most important story I have to tell.

Often times, we get caught up in creating that we forget the most important thing: our life stories. My life story and your life story speak more than anything we can physically create. It’s the most powerful and moving tale we will ever write. And when we aspire to inspire, we are drafting this story. Sure, there will be plenty of edits. But at the end of the day, we can give our stories a good closure. Our unique plot lines can make a difference in the lives of every reader we encounter. Unequivocally, our actions will speak louder than words. Can you believe I’ve only realised this now?

I hope that one day, I wouldn’t just be the writer that writes. I hope that one day, I would be the writer that lives. And from one creator to another, let’s write a story that no one can put down. Let’s aspire to inspire not just through creating, but living.

(*I apologise if this post reads a lot like a personal blogpost. I just couldn’t help but share what I’ve learned during the campaign of The Slave Prince. And speaking of The Slave Prince, the book won the Geek & Sundry Fantasy contest! It will receive a full publishing deal from Inkshares! Woo hoo! I’m super excited. Should you like to know more, head over to the book page and follow the book. Updates on the book’s progress will be posted there. Also, if you’ve not pre-ordered the book, you can still do so. It’s at a cheaper price now, and who knows how long it’ll stay that way.)