Writing Journey

Imagination Is A Superpower [#TRUESTORY]

JG Cover

This story begins in 1999. You might be wondering if I got the year right, and chances are, I might be a year off. But let’s just assume it was indeed 1999.

At that age, I had a classmate who was a great storyteller. Her tales were so unbelievably far-fetched, yet oddly I bought every one of them. And because she often sparked my imagination—like how she attained a publishing deal as a nine-year-old—I started creating stories of my own. It began with the haunted Barbie doll that sat on a black dustbin near the library. God knows how many tall tales I concocted about the doll—a doll which strangely no teacher seemed to care enough to get rid of. There was also that haunted storeroom, in the classroom at the end of the top most hallway, with existing horror stories that I added to. Random question: why is everything haunted as a child?

10 points to Gryffindor if you can spot me!

In 2001, I moved to a different city and enrolled in a new school. This was when I took my storytelling up a notch with a group of friends. It was during that season that Charmed became my obsession—what can I say, magic has always been a fascination of mine. So during recess, my friends and I role-played as the Charmed Ones. I was Piper. I had a Leo. My friend who was Phoebe had a Cole. All these names would sound foreign if you have never seen the original Charmed series. But if you know what I’m talking about, you can safely assume we were big fans for having our own Book of Shadows.

A couple of years later, I started secondary school. Role-playing had moved from play-pretend to internet forums. It was in secondary school that I had access to the Harry Potter books, and thus began the sleepless nights and eager evenings to continue a story I was writing with five other Potterheads. And because role-playing was no longer expressed physically, I didn’t just write stories online, I started concocting tales before bed too. In the privacy of my bedroom, I imagined going on adventures with Harry and the gang. I even vocalised the dialogue. It sounds insane but trust me, writing my own stories make me seem more insane—this was just the tip of the iceberg.

However, as I aged up, I gradually stopped with the crazy imaginations… because honestly, it felt crazy to me too. So instead of feeding my imagination before bed, I turned to writing. I wasn’t very good. And people knew that—they were aware I wasn’t the best at stringing words together. I didn’t win a single writing contest. And on two accounts, someone close to me said I wasn’t going to make it—that I should quit because I wasn’t going to be good enough and that I was talent-less. If you’ve had someone close to you put fire to your dreams, you probably know how it felt. Did I believe them? No. Did their words hurt? Yes, so very much. But I was determined to succeed. And so I chose to use my imagination instead.

Born an imagineer, always an imagineer.

Imagination is a superpower. And with great power comes great responsibility. Just like any other superpower, you can use it for both good and evil. You can choose to imagine the worst, where you feed your doubts and crush your dreams. Or… you can choose to imagine an epic adventure where you ultimately become the hero of your story. When such a power is in your hands, the choice on what to do with it is entirely yours. And, I chose to keep my dream alive.

These days, I don’t use my imagination in the same way as I did growing up. As an adult, I channel my flights of fantasy into novels and the positive what if’s into reality. I imagine what could be with a dash of hope in the impossible. Of course, I am not completely free from the monsters of my imagination. But just like in any story, no matter how many times a villain rears its ugly head, it never wins. So if you’re an imagineer like me, start using your imagination in a way that will propel you on your own journey. And if you think you don’t have this gift of imagination, take a look at your childhood—screen through those years where you were free from reality. I honestly believe that the spark is still there, and all it needs is for you to reignite it… again.

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

The 5 Quirks Of A Creative

First and foremost, I’m not claiming these are the 5 general quirks all creative people have. By a creative I mean this creative; me. And I’m sure, even if you have a more analytical mind, you probably share some of these quirks too. I just thought, ‘hey, why not show people how weird I am, and find others who’re like me. I can’t be the only one talking to myself, right?’

If you have any of these quirks, do shout it out in the comment section. Let’s make – what is sometimes considered – weird, normal.

#1 Audible Monologuing

“This pillow smells nice. I’ll put this here, and this here, and this here. Mhmmm, cake. I like cake. No, you cannot eat that. But why? Ugh, I want it so badly. Ah, the moon is round tonight. What am I doing? I shouldn’t close the curtains, it’s not the weekend. Now, for the eggs. Wait, where’s the vanilla extract? Gotta have it ready.”

I talk to myself. I talk to myself aloud. I talk to myself aloud a lot. I’ve talked to myself to a point where I question if I’ve subconsciously vocalised my internal thoughts in public like a mad person. Once, my brother walked past my bedroom and back-paddled to ask, “Are you talking to yourself?” I’ve never scrambled for a reason so desperately before. But I think he knows now – his sister talks to herself.

#2 Thoughtless Shading

There are times where I’m required to be creative, but my brain is full of grey matter. So, I’d grab a piece of paper and a pencil and start shading. I would draw shapes and shade them. I’ll sometimes write random Korean words because they’re shape-y. If I have a colouring book nearby, I might do some colouring. But only using a single colour pencil – adding more than one colour requires creativity, which I have little to spare.

My thoughtless shading is almost a figurative act, of dumping my dull ideas onto paper to make space for livelier ones.

#3 Midnight Role-playing

You know how you’d occasionally have an awesome dream you wish didn’t end? I have those too! Who doesn’t, right? But because I sometimes don’t want these dreams to end – when I’m awakened for no apparent reason – I’d continue them in my head. I wouldn’t return to sleep. I would play out the rest of the story. This isn’t lucid dreaming, guys. This is midnight role-playing, which results in regret – experiencing lethargy for the rest of my day.

#4 Imagining What Will Never Be

I like playing pretend. I may act like an adult, but inside I’m a child. Some days, I pretend I’m a YouTuber. I pretend to be vlogging about my life. I pretend to be live streaming a game. I pretend to be shooting a cooking video, while actually baking a cake. I can do all these in real life. But nope, I’d rather pretend. It’s fun with no real work required.

Then there are days I pretend I’m friends with that famous actor. I pretend we hang out, go to the gym, and… fall in love. I pretend to be stuck in a burning building, only to have him rescue me. I know, it sounds silly. Merely typing this paragraph is embarrassing itself. So if you’re reading this paragraph, know it has required some courage on my end not to delete it.

I like imagining what will never be. It’s an escape from reality, and a form of priceless entertainment. You do it too – don’t lie.

#5 Imagining What Could Have Been

Now, on the other end of the spectrum, I like to imagine what could’ve been. It’s one of the reasons why I love visiting historical sites. The storyteller in me wants to imagine what life could’ve been years ago. I may not know what happened, but I can imagine what could’ve happened. I may not know who was present, but I can imagine who could’ve been present. Still in the past, I like to imagine what my own life could’ve been too.

I don’t regret my life. Given the opportunity, I wouldn’t change the past. However, the could haves make a good story. And as a writer, a good story cannot go untold – at least to myself.

Yes, to some of you I’m weird. But I know, some of you find my quirks relate-able. There are many of us in this world – people of creative and analytical nature – and we’re all unique in our own way. But we do share many similarities. We have common oddities. And it is through this mix and match that we connect – a mix and match that brings us together while being different in nature. That’s pretty cool, isn’t it?

So the next time someone calls you weird, know you’re not alone. To someone out there, you’re pretty normal. But if normal sounds boring to you, know there’s someone who thinks you’re weird (they just haven’t mentioned it yet). That’s the irony of being uniquely you – you’re both weird and normal at the same time.