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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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The Story Behind ‘Grace’

My name is Jeyna Lim Sue Chen. It’s the name on my birth certificate and my identity card. And, as you may have noticed, there’s no ‘Grace’ anywhere in it. So, where did ‘Grace’ come from? Why is my name Jeyna Grace on most of my social media platforms? And why the word ‘Grace’? What’s the story? As I’ve been asked quite a number of times, I’ve decided to tell its tale. And it starts… in the beginning.

In the beginning, there was science.

At the start of my authoring career, I learned that names aren’t just names – that names have the power to make or break. They can paint images without adjectives and explanations. And they should be chosen wisely. This is especially so on the cover of a book.

As I’ve discovered, there seems to be an unintentional stereotype on non-English names. There’s this subconscious preconceived notion that people without English names aren’t from English speaking countries. Thus, an English book by a non-English named author isn’t up to par with English books by English named authors. It led me to believe that English names sold better. And having a pen name to distance oneself from a certain background was considered ‘wise’. Hence why I now have one.

However, times have changed. I now hear that publishers are looking for more diversity in their author pool, and having a foreign name increases one’s chances of getting published. But, I don’t know how true that is. And I don’t think it changes anything with existing stereotypes. Still, I believe readers have a varying approach to foreign names – whether positive or negative, it is individual. But back then, I wasn’t taking the risk.

So, how did I come about ‘Grace’?

Before I continue, I need to say that I’m not a fan of The Heroes of Olympus. I’ve heard of the books, and I’ve watched that one Percy Jackson movie, but it’s not something I plan on diving into. It’s just not my genre (anymore). Therefore, my pen name being Jeyna Grace – mirroring a fan pairing of the characters – is completely coincidental. I had no idea it was a ship name. And I only learned about it when readers asked if I were a fan. If you’re wondering the same, I hope this clears things up. Jeyna is my real name after all, and I chose Grace because of faith. Yes, you read correctly.

I chose ‘Grace’ because of faith.

I believe in God. I’m sure some of you don’t, and I’m not here to preach anything to you. However, God is the reason why I chose ‘Grace’. Personally, I don’t believe I can accomplish anything without Him. What I have today – my skill, talent (?), and passion – is because of Him. Many of my stories – on this blog and as books – are inspired by Him. And the novels I have in-store are made possible because of Him (not excluding all those who have supported me – I couldn’t have done it without you too).

Putting ‘Grace’ into my pen name is a reminder to myself that I’m nobody without Him. It keeps me humble. Whenever I look upon the covers of my books, I’m instantly reminded that it is all by His grace. Pride has no place when I reflect on His guidance and blessing in my life. And it is through my belief in grace that I rest in His good and perfect plans.

I guess, the story behind ‘Grace’ is pretty uneventful. I simply wanted to make a good first impression with readers, and I needed to remind myself to stay grounded.

If you’re considering on a non de plume, I suggest finding a reason and a meaning to the name. Your name shouldn’t only appeal to your audience, but should hold value to you. You want a name that speaks to you directly and drives you to keep pursuing your passion. Don’t pick a name just because it sounds cool – you can do that with your characters – but pick a name that paints an image you want to see. Let it empower you in your darkest times. And let it break any stereotypes the world might have upon you.

 
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Posted by on October 5, 2017 in Writing Journey

 

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The Hate In Art

Recently, I read an article about a young adult novel under fire by the YA twitter community. Influencers claimed the pre-released book was racist. They questioned the publisher for publishing it. Members of the campaign advised their followers to stay clear of it. And whatever good reviews it previously received… well, those were buried under a 1-star average rating on Goodreads. But, while I scrolled through the article – it was really long, so I skimped through – I found myself frowning. I frowned not because the book was supposedly racist – I frowned because I felt for the author. And after I wondered how she faced the criticism without breaking down, I feared… for myself. Reminded that this world is unafraid to voice its opinions – most of the time in a brutal manner – I was anxious.

Yes, we know not everyone will love our work. There’ll be haters. Many will bash the good out of our art. Some will even take it personally and attack us as creators. It’s a scary world we live in. And as much as we wish for harmony, kindness, and our faith in humanity to be restored, the reality stirs warranted anxiety. It’s something we, unfortunately, cannot avoid. So, I guess now’s the perfect time to say, we can change the world, right? Alas, I can’t say that. Because, we can’t. At least, we can’t change how people chose to respond. We can’t convince others to go easy on us. We can ask, but it doesn’t promise a kinder response. However, there is hope. Because amidst the hate, there is love.

Out of curiosity, I headed to the questionable book’s Goodreads page. There, I found an average 3-star rating. Outside of Goodreads, on Amazon and Barnes & Noble, it had an above 4-star rating. It’s safe to say, the heat it took prior to its launch didn’t burn it to the ground. Now, I’ve not read the book itself nor do I intend to -I’ve long past my teenage years obsessed with supernatural YA novels – but I’m glad. I’m glad for the author. Though the review section alternates between good and bad ratings, the book has its defenders. There are those who saw what some found negative to be positive. There are those who chose to give the author the benefit of the doubt. While I don’t dismiss the bad reviews, because some of them are objective, not all hope is lost for the future of this book.

Using this book as a case study, I realised how fleeting events are. No matter the intensity of a campaign, for or against something, it will come to an end. It has to come to an end. Though some crusades last decades, there’s always a finish line. Just like a ripple, its waves eventually abate. We cannot predict how long it takes, or when the remaining residue evaporates, but we can find rest in knowing it’ll end. And such is the case with hate.

I believe hate has no lasting throne. Despite its countless attempts to crown itself, through events, people, and circumstances, it’ll ultimately be dethroned. So the next time we find hate in a battle to take us down, let’s look at the end. Let’s find love in those who’d stand by us. And let’s not forget, that in time, it’ll be over. Hate may have the power to set us off track – detouring our dreams and destroying our passion – but hate can only do so within its short term. If we stand firm during it’s brief tenure, it’ll lose its power… and we’ll win the war.

 
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Posted by on August 10, 2017 in Writing Journey

 

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A Royal Pain

It’s been awhile since I posted something like this. I assume you have to be famous to write such a post regularly. Alas, I’m not. But no matter the frequency, to be able to write this is a blessing. Hence, here I am – on this rare occasion – to make a public update regarding The Slave Prince. And if you supported the book during the contest, or have pre-ordered it, this will be good news.

As of this month, The Slave Prince starts production. Yes, the ball is rolling! But despite the celebration, I have my work cut out for me. Unlike The Battle for Oz, The Slave Prince is receiving extensive developmental editing. This means I’ll be rewriting and editing the content a whole lot. With the first dev letter being 14 pages long, one can assume there’d be more where it came from. So… I guess it’s time I book a room in Alpenwhist. After all, it would be a while before I leave.

Since it’s just the start of production, I’ve spent the past few days responding to the general issues present in my book. At the same time, I’ve drafted a rewrite outline to be discussed with my dev editor. Also – hoping to get the book in your hands sometime in 2018 – I’m putting the writing of the sequel to my trilogy on hold. I can’t juggle two novels at the same time. But have no fear, my blog will still be here – I’ll be posting as usual.

So with all that said, it looks like everything would be smooth sailing… right? No, I joke.

Writing and producing a book isn’t easy. You probably know this. But often times, we forget. In fact, after I’d completed my countless edits of The Slave Prince, I naively thought I was done. I heaved a sigh of relief. Then, I received my first dev letter. Then, I realised I wasn’t done. And I know, I still won’t be done once I pass developmental editing. Copyediting will include another series of rewrites and edits. It would be another season of change for the book. And when I finally let go of The Slave Prince, it would be publication day. From that day on, I can only hope my hard work pays off.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying all these to deter you from writing. You know me – I’m an advocate of chasing your dreams. My reason for sharing this is to cheer you on. It’s tough – I feel you, bro. But we can do it – we have the strength to trudge through every phase of writing. And, it will all be worth it. Whether our book sells by the millions or the mere hundreds, the act of bringing them into fruition is worth our blood, sweat, and tears. We just need to stay focused and don’t lose heart. With the finish line in sight, let’s give our very best in every leg of the race.

Now, if you’re a reader, I’d like to drop you a message too. I know not all books are great – I’ve read some pretty dreadful ones. But if you could give writers some slack, that would be wonderful. If you could be kind with your reviews, we would appreciate it. I know hard work doesn’t excuse horrible writing. And I know, you have every right to dislike and leave as many 1-star ratings as you deem fit. Personally, I’m fine with that. But, you can also be kind. Go easy on your words and encourage writers to be better. Choose to build dreams instead of tear them down. Because who knows, your 1-star review might just birth the next bestseller.

As I’ve said before, writing is a journey – there would be ups and downs, easy days and hard days, great sales and no sales, fans and haters. But, we don’t choose our craft because it’ll be smooth sailing from start to finish. We choose our craft out of passion. No matter where we are – no matter who we are, whether writer or reader – let’s live with passion. It gives us a purpose, and it makes life so much more interesting.

 
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Posted by on August 3, 2017 in Others

 

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