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Real Life Struggles Of An Author

Often times, the struggle isn’t writing a book. Often times, the struggle is being an author who needs to write a book. I don’t really have a choice–writing is a part of who I am and I just need to do it. It’s a love-hate relationship. And unfortunately, this is where the struggle begins.

If you’re an author, I’m pretty sure you can relate with some of my struggles. If you’re not, here’s an insight to the tug-of-war between me and myself. These struggles make writing both enjoyable and dreadful. Yes, I know it sounds strange. The practise of writing is often like having a sibling you fight with but still love. It’s like owning an old car that keeps breaking down but you can’t sell it off. It’s something or someone you’re stuck with for life–something or someone you don’t necessarily like being around, but you’re too attached with to let go. And thus why the struggle is real.

So, ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to…

#1 Wait, what’s going on? I think I forgot something. Did I spell his name correctly? Was it fourteen or fifteen feet? Which chapter was it that I mentioned her age? Why on earth didn’t I note any of these down?

#2 I’d rather stare at a wall than do any form of writing today. Heck, cleaning the house sounds so much more fun. Should I volunteer to do all the chores? Yes, yes I should– I’ll do anything but write today.

#3 This wasn’t part of the plan, but OK. I’ll just run with it. It seems to be going somewhere better. It’s not like it matters anyway–the time I spent trying to plot the whole thing. Wait, does this mean… Does a story actually write itself? Did I just…. unlock a philosophical thought that I should totally blog about?

#4 The ending is going to be so awesome. I can see it in my head. It’s so freaking cool! I’m so tempted to write it now. I just need to write another ten chapters first though. Ten… not so cool… I-have-no-idea-what-I’m-doing chapters.

#5 Why did I even start? Why did I think this was a good idea? Why was I so ambitious? Was I even in the right state of mind? I actually have to finish this now. I have to put another idea on hold for a story I’m no longer as passionate about as when I first started. What was I thinking?

#6 Google, ‘types of eye shapes’. Google, ‘shades of blue’. Google, ‘east Europeans’. Google, ‘name of skin colours’. Google, ‘the different parts of a merchant ship’. Google, ‘medieval commoner clothing’. Google, ‘what is ‘magic’ in Latin’. Google, ‘pariah definition’. Google, ‘best TV series to binge watch’.

#7 I’m tired. I should go to bed. But wait, why do I have this sudden urge to write? Why now–when I’m brushing my teeth? Why couldn’t this strange, uncontrollable desire come when I was bored out of my mind five hours ago? What is wrong with me? I’m going to sleep.

Indeed, the struggle is real. Out of these seven points, how many can you relate with? And, if you’re a creative of another form, do you face similar struggles? Or, are your struggles a little different?

I’d love to know the challenges you face in your craft, so list your struggles in the comment section below. Let’s share our love-hate relationship with our passion. Sometimes, admitting that it sucks–being aware that it isn’t always rainbows and sunshine–helps us to keep our end goal in sight. And that’s important–in the pursuit of our dreams, we should never lose sight of the finish line.

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Posted by on July 19, 2018 in Original Works

 

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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.

 
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Posted by on June 21, 2018 in Writing Journey

 

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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!”

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.

 
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Posted by on June 7, 2018 in Writing Journey

 

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How Do You NOT Give Up?

How do you keep going without burning out? How do you stay inspired during dry spells? Where does your determination come from? Have you ever thought of giving up? How do you not give up?

Familiar questions–questions you might have asked, received, or pondered upon. And, important questions too, especially when it comes to our dreams and passions. We all know success comes from not giving up. But sometimes… well…

So, how do we not give up? Personally, I…

#1 Don’t Focus On The Negative

Constructive criticism is great for improving my skill, but outright negative comments aren’t. Comments that are hurtful and mean have the ability to destroy my hopes and dreams. And, because I can’t tell people what they can and cannot say, the only thing I can do is ignore them–turning away from those negative words and focusing on the encouraging ones instead.

Focusing on the positive helps to keep the wheels turning. I often find myself returning to positive words whenever I doubt my abilities and strengths. I would read an old comment or book review and my day would be instantly brightened. Words are powerful. The ones we choose to listen to dictates our path. So don’t focus on the negative. Start focusing on the positive instead.

#2 Set Achievable Goals

‘If your dreams don’t scare you, they’re not big enough,’ that’s what they always say. But not all of my dreams have to scare me. Not all of my goals have to be star-high. I need achievable goals too. They sharpen my skills and take me one step closer to my bigger dreams. If all I’m focusing on is the end and not the path before me, I might just trip and never get back up again.

What are achievable goals? They’re not what I plan to achieve in my lifetime. Achievable goals are the books I plan to write before 2020, the number of chin-ups I aim to complete by the end of the year, and the amount of savings in my bank account for my next big trip. They’re small–far from scary–but they bring me closer to my dreams, one step at a time.

#3 Make & Execute Plans

To get somewhere, I need a plan. Setting achievable goals is part of making a plan, but it doesn’t complete the equation. I need to execute my plans too. Perhaps this is one of the most challenging parts when it comes to chasing my dreams. Execution requires me to be disciplined, diligent, and persistent. But sometimes, I’m just too lazy. So how do I counteract this laziness? I choose to do it anyway.

I’ll be honest, some of my blog posts are written at the very last minute–this one included. Despite having an idea on what I intend to write, I just don’t feel like doing it. But instead of calling in sick–giving a lame excuse as to why I missed this week’s post–I do it anyway. I carve out time to write. And by doing so, I don’t give myself any excuses–I stay disciplined and on track all the time.

#4 Celebrate Every Milestone

It’s easy to overlook small accomplishments at the desire to accomplish greater things. But if all I focused on was what I could’ve achieved, instead of what I’ve already achieved, I’m not motivating myself. Contrary, I’m discrediting my efforts for the what if’s and could have’s. And instead of acknowledging my hard work, I’m putting myself down.

I am my own biggest critic. And what I say to myself matters–my own words are as powerful, if not more, than the words of others. So it’s important to give myself credit where credit is due. I may not be able to say I’ve finished the race, but I can celebrate the journey. It is the little accomplishments that will keep me going–the little accomplishments that make the end worth pursuing.

#5 Know My Reason

I’ve written about this before–perhaps one too many times–and I’ll reiterate. Knowing why I write is the key to never giving up. I can religiously practice the four points above, but if I don’t know why I write, I won’t get far. This applies to all areas of my life too–areas where dreams and goals are present. If there’s no reason as to why I’m doing what I’m doing, what I’m doing will merely become a hobby. And as you know, hobbies are ever changing.

So, why do you do what you do? What is your reason? If you want to know my reason, I wrote a post solely about it here. I can guarantee you, that if you have a strong reason for your dreams, you will never give up. In fact, it becomes almost impossible–giving up is no longer an option.

If you’re on the brink of giving up, don’t lose hope just yet. There’s a way to stay motivated, driven, and passionate. You may have gone off the road, but getting back on track isn’t impossible. Remember, your dreams are worth chasing. They’re achievable. So don’t stop believing in them. And don’t ever stop believing in yourself.

 
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Posted by on April 12, 2018 in Writing Journey

 

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The One Time I’m Never Good Enough

The one time I’m never good enough… is when I write.

“But, you’re a writer,” you say.

Exactly. I’m a writer. Yet, I feel like I’m never good enough and never going to be good enough when I write. No matter what people say–no matter the reviews I receive–I find it difficult to believe their words. It’s not that I think they’re lying. It’s just that I can’t see what they see. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying this to fish for compliments. I don’t need compliments. More often than not, I have no idea how to respond and react to compliments. The only thing I can say is ‘thank you’. And though I might add a few exclamation marks and a heart emoji, I’m not actually jumping with joy. I might smile, but only for a while. Because the glimmer of hope, that I’m finally good enough, often vanishes within minutes.

Why is this? Shouldn’t I be proud of what I’ve accomplished? Shouldn’t I be confident with what I bring to the table?

No, I shouldn’t. In fact, I can’t. Because in this field, I will always be my own worst critic.

I know I cannot please everyone. I know I cannot produce flawless pieces of work. I know not all my ideas will be good. Yet, in every occasion, I wish I was better. And, I often tell myself that I can do better. But when I compare my work with the more established authors around me, I find myself falling short every time–as though I can never be good enough. And honestly, I don’t think I’ll ever be. Still, in the tug-of-war of finding the worth in my work, I do not stop writing.

It’s strange, isn’t it? Not all my stories will be worth reading. Not all my characters will be loved. Not all my worlds will be captivating. And, most certainly, not all my plots will be exciting. But… I’ll still write them. I will invest my time and money into my creations, well aware they’re flawed. It’s a risk I’m willing to take. Because the only time I’m good enough… is when I accept my abilities and my flaws.

Despite the imperfections and horrendous mistakes, I’ve learned to accept what I can do in every season of my life. Yes, I’m not good enough at writing–I’ll never be good enough in my lifetime–but I can do my best. I may not achieve great success, win awards, and have my works widely read, but I can strive to be better. I won’t see myself as a good writer–only decent at most–and I’m OK with that. Because being good enough isn’t reflected in my work–being good enough is loving myself and the shortcomings of being me.

So, if you’re like me and you feel you’ll never be good enough at your art, don’t beat yourself up. You’re already good enough when you’re chasing your dreams and working on your craft. It’s the perseverance that counts in life, not your popularity score. Even if you’re your own worst critic, you can still choose to be good enough at being you. We can always strive for perfection in our work, but we must also strive to love our imperfections too.

 
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Posted by on March 15, 2018 in Writing Journey

 

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I Resolve To Give Up

Giving up – one of the easiest things to do. It takes an effortless decision. It welcomes the peace of mind. It helps us come to terms with our inabilities. And it puts our anxieties to rest. So to give up is what I resolve to do.

In the past years, I’ve given up quite a fair bit. I’ve given up on increasing my kill-death ratio to 1.0 – I’ve resolved to remain a noob in the FPS arena. I’ve given up on building my fitness blog – I’ve resolved to make fitness a personal project. I’ve given up on certain friendships – I’ve resolved to believe some people aren’t meant to be in my life forever. I’ve given up on activities, things, and people. And as strange as this might sound – something you might not hear if not for this post – giving up isn’t a bad thing.

“So… you’re telling me to give up?” you ask.

Yes. I’m telling you to give up. But don’t give up for nothing – give up for something.

For the things that matter, give up your time, resources, and creativity. For the people who matter, give up your plans, ideas, and pride. When it matters, resolve to give up and persevere. How odd – opposing thoughts coming together. But in this context, they’re a perfect match. Choose to give up on the insignificant for the significant.

Ever since I started my book writing adventure, I’ve given up on the disbelief around me. I’ve given up on my pride, my fears, and my insecurities. And though they constantly return with a passion, I’ve persevered. When I make a decision to toss them aside, I replace my restlessness with peace. I come to terms with my imperfections – knowing I’m in constant need of improvement. And the worry of being a success becomes unimportant. When I give up for my craft, I grow.

Who knew giving up could result in growth? I didn’t. But clocking in hours to hone my skill, subjecting my heart to harsh critiques, and accepting that I’m not great, has led me to this.

When I wrote The Battle for Oz, I thought it was a good book. But as you can see, the amount of copy editing required proved otherwise. The comments on the book weren’t what I expected, and I was quite stubborn toward the changes suggested. However, it has taught me to give up – not on my passion – but on the things holding me back from becoming a better writer.

Two years later, The Slave Prince undergoes copy editing. But in expectation of the same red mess on the manuscript, I find only minute changes. The contrast between the two manuscripts surprised me. Did I really improve? Am I a better writer now? Is The Slave Prince a better book? I dare not say ‘yes’ to those questions, but I’m certain I’m no longer the same author I used to be in 2015. I’ve grown simply by giving up on the things that didn’t matter for the things that did.

So entering the new year, I resolve to give up on a lot more. I resolve to give up on distractions, on my persistent doubt and pride, and on the things holding me back from my passion, my purpose, and my craft. I will give up and continue to persevere, because I know it’ll make me a better writer… and a better person.

 
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Posted by on December 21, 2017 in Writing Journey

 

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The ‘Numbers’ On Your Creative Passions [Statistics]

According to statista.com

the revenue of eBooks in 2022 will be 13.5 million US dollars. In five years, there’ll be a 2.3% revenue growth. This means the digital publishing industry will continue to expand, and that you should start publishing digitally. It’s the only way to succeed.

the rock genre holds 14.3% share of music album consumption in the US. It is followed by pop and country at 13.4% respectively. This means that rock, pop, and country are the most popular genres, and that you should change your music direction to include them. It’s the only way to succeed.

the most popular film genre in the UK is documentary. Animation and fantasy rank last on the list. This means that there’s little viewership for animated and fantasy films in the UK. So if you’re a UK filmmaker, you should start making documentaries. It’s the only way to succeed.

the top selling video game genres in the US are shooter at 27.5% and action at 22.5%. These fast-paced games make up 50% of the video game market. This means that other genres – role-playing, strategy, adventure, and racing – aren’t as salable, and that you should stop developing click-based adventure games. It’s the only way to succeed.

the leading countries in art auction sales in 2016 are the US (582 million US dollars), UK (399 million US dollars), and China (362 million US dollars). France comes in fourth at only 41 million US dollars. This means that art outside of these countries do not auction at high prices, and that you should reconsider pursuing art if you don’t reside in any of them. It’s the only way to succeed.

the percentage of people who’ve never been to the theater, opera, or playhouse in Germany is 57%. Only 39% occasionally visit, and the remaining 4% are regular attendees. This means that performing arts isn’t a growing culture in Germany. So if you’re in Germany, you should pursue a more lucrative career. It’s the only way to succeed.

the percentage of adults in England who dance ballet is 0.6%. Those in the circus, 1.2%. Those who write poetry, 3.1%. Those who craft (calligraphy, pottery, jewellery making), 4.4%. If you do any of these, you’re in the minority. What benefit is there being in the minority? Do something everyone else does. It’s the only way to succeed.

While reading the above, did you shake your head in disagreement? Is it safe to assume you disagreed with the deductions made from these statistics? If you didn’t at first, you probably did at the end. But if you think any of these claims are viable, therein lies the problem.

You see, there’s no ‘only way to succeed’. If you believe in the ‘only way to succeed’, you will not succeed. Statistics and research articles are great, but they shouldn’t determine your direction in life. Sure, one thing sells better than the other. Conveniently, some countries perform better than others. But ultimately, it is your passion that matters.

Don’t put a number on your passion. Don’t box yourself with facts. So what, if your creative passion is least likely to succeed? So what, if you don’t come from a first world country? At the end of the day, you determine your success. We may live in a world where some are more privileged than others, but having a passion is a privilege in itself. And if you have the privilege to dream, don’t allow your environment to rob you of it.

Forget the numbers. Dream big. Pursue your passion. And succeed against all odds.

 
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Posted by on November 9, 2017 in Writing Journey

 

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