Why Being A Writer Is Hard

It’s never easy being a writer. Some days the words flow, and some days they don’t. Sometimes we know exactly how our stories will end, and sometimes when we write we wonder, “Where is this all going?”.

Winter along the Yarra River. As writers, our stories naturally change over time, just like how seasons change (Photo 1/2) | Weekly Photo Challenge: Dialogue.

Winter along the Yarra River. As writers, our stories naturally change over time, just like how seasons change (Photo 1/2) | Weekly Photo Challenge: Dialogue.

Recently, I got tagged to participate in a writing tour by Sofia from Papaya Pieces and Lani over at Life, the Universe and Lani, which involves answering four questions about the “writing process”. These questions certainly reminded me of the frustrations of being a writer.

What am I working on at the moment?

A few weeks ago, I started planning my first book about feeling culturally different as an Asian Australian and a creative person. I’ve also been busy with freelance writing assignments – mostly unpaid – on youth and human rights issues and this blog.

As writers, our patience is always tested. Countless times ideas hit us – when we’re standing on a packed train, when we’re in the shower – and we just can’t sit down then and put them into sentences. Sure, we can jot the ideas down quickly on paper so we won’t forget, but it’s always some time before we get the chance to make stories out of them.

Juggling a full time job alongside writing projects, finding time to write at my own leisure is hard. The best time for us to write is when our heads are clear and we’re settled in a comfortable spot. Crafting stories takes time: we need time to research, time to give our stories a certain “flow”, time to put our thoughts into coherent sentences us and others will understand.

And so writing takes a lot of planning and it comes with the challenge of being logical in the midst of creative chaos, pulling tangled emotions from the depths of us and weaving them in between organised words.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Multiculturalism and race are sensitive topics, topics which are usually discussed within academic and niche circles in Australia (think Alice Pung, Michelle Lee). This year I’ve been blogging about these issues from lifestyle angles in everyday language, breaking away from writing about what has already been said on being Asian Australian and culture.

I chose to do so to broaden the appeal and raise more awareness about these topics, and because I want to stretch myself as a writer. It was a struggle dropping academic lingo from my writing, writing in more informal tones. Wasn’t used to it. In this sense, being a writer is hard: taking our work in new directions, switching writing styles, is like learning another language.

Why do I write what I do?

As writers, we live in uncertainty all the time. Signing with a publisher and making a living from selling books doesn’t happen to all writers. A career in writing isn’t championed much in traditional Asian families like mine, and what I earn from the occasional paid freelance writing assignment only buys me a dinner or two. But above all, we fear we won’t have as much time as we like to write – and that’s hard to face when it’s a reality.

I write when I can because it makes me happy, and I write to share the beauty of cultural differences. Not for views or praise. Not to get published.

How does my writing process work?

Writing is something us writers do alone. There are days when we hide away from the world just to write. Writing alone is something we have to do to stay true to our craft and sometimes we have to put up with others judging us as anti-social because of this.

Each Saturday morning while still in bed and wrapped up in my blankets like a toasty cinnamon bun, I check out the week’s photo challenge on my phone. Then I rack my brains for a topic to write about that week: the photo challenge might inspire a topic or I’ll go with an idea I’ve been thinking for a while that fits the challenge. Come Saturday and Sunday night, I plan, write and edit my blog post. On Monday night, I touch-up photos to go along with the post and schedule them all to go up noon on Thursday (Melbourne time). I really don’t have much of a social life on the most social days of the week.

Autumn along the Yarra River. Stories change. Seasons change (Photo 2/2)

Autumn along the Yarra River. Stories change. Seasons change (Photo 2/2)

Not everyone likes reading as it takes effort to read. Maybe that’s why getting others to talk about our work isn’t easy. On top of this, time and time again we face writer’s block. And so we might think we’re not that good at writing. It’s important to remember that creativity – and creating with confidence – comes from within. As Kristan Hoffman says:

“The hardest part of being a writer…is not coming up with ideas, or hitting your word count, or breathing life into your characters. It’s trusting yourself. Believing in yourself. Being yourself, and being okay with that.”

Being a writer means being honest with our stories. Being prepared to work hard and settle for second-best. Writing, is a journey. What matters at the end of the day is getting dizzyingly lost in our words, finding passion to turn them into stories and plucking up the courage to share them for nothing in return. That’s when we feel alive.

Do you find writing or blogging hard?

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115 thoughts on “Why Being A Writer Is Hard

    • That happens to me a lot when I sit down and try to write. I want to write, have the urge to write and so either take out pen/paper or open up my laptop. Then…I will just stare at a blank page. I might have an idea in my head, but will struggle to express it accurately to my heart’s content in words. Maybe we need to stop being so perfect.

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  1. Other than the difficulties of conjuring ideas for writing, there’s the emotional investment with one’s writing. I’m writing my first book right now and, two hundred and fifty pages into it, I am beginning to hate my own narrative voice and feeling the fatigue of constant editing, time in front of the computer and solitude with a pile of papers. But if I set a chapter aside for a couple days and focus on other more important things in my life, that’s when the anxiety and boredom of not having a project in one’s hands sets in. At least, that’s my take on it, I certainly have a love-hate relationship with the writing process.

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    • It does take a lot of out of us emotionally, writing a book. It’s not just about getting a story out, but about pouring your heart into each sentence and making every “boring” descriptive phrase and character sound lively and important.

      Drafting and editing are two completely different things. You can get away with saying as much as you want in a draft. But when it comes to editing, you really have to pick out the correct words and paragraphs for your story. When I’m writing a difficult article, sometimes I feel happy when I’m done with the first draft…only to come crashing down once I start editing and pulling it all apart.

      Love-hate relationship with writing. Spot on. I hope you find a balance between writing and life. After all, we need to live life in order to craft stories. Good luck with your book, and let me know when it’s done as I would love to read it. Thanks for stopping by again and reading, I really appreciate it.

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      • As for the writing process, I write non-fiction about history, popular culture, music that people want to buy and why they want to purchase certain titles. The process is rather formulaic. First, I get an idea of a topic, then address trends and primary sources about the music of a given period of time as well as collect secondary sources about the context of such songs. I then put together a rough draft and outline without citations, which usually gets gutted and retooled three or four times. After that, and hating my own narrative voice at this time, it’s editing and more editing until, some how, I like what I write. Usually without any indication of progress, I find myself in front of a piece that I find informative, entertaining, engaging and well-argued.

        But juggling writing with normal life is sometimes tough. I have a full-time, oftentimes stressful job, and so after a full day’s work, I’m just not interesting in writing or editing. Other times it is a blessing to “tune out” for a while and not think about stuff, to have a nerd project to come home to. Socially, I have never really been the most colourful of social butterflies and I find it tough, especially when I have narrative in mind, to connect with friends, even by telephone. But I manage. There’s nothing better than the feeling of truly crafting a piece of writing and reading the end result, almost to the point of narcissistic self-congratulation over one’s own work.

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        • Your first paragraph summed up exactly how I feel when I write articles on sensitive issues such as multiculturalism and race. There are usually existing arguments around non-fiction topics. As writers, it’s always important to do our research, trawling primary and secondary sources (spot on) to find out what’s been said. And it’s our job to expand on these existing ideas. And yes, then we move on to the plan, draft, and editing. It IS formulaic: writing follows a sequence, sort of made up of stages. But within each stage we will always run into hurdles and that’s when writing doesn’t seem formulaic at all.

          “until, some how, I like what I write”. Like you, feeling lost and plodding on along drafting and editing, suddenly I’ll see the light at the end of the tunnel. It’s like something magical has happened right in front of us. I’m sure you’ll agree it’s a rewarding feeling…sort of like a reward for the hard work we put in into writing.

          Sorry to hear that it’s stressful juggling a full-time job and writing. It’s never easy. Writing requires energy and concentration and usually after work, I’m just too tired to “work” anymore too. As I mentioned to Ray in the comments below earlier, I don’t partake in social occasions too often. I don’t know about you, but I find that I need time to go out alone and get inspired to write. Can’t see how being alone and writing is selfish, though: we’re ultimately creating works that others will read and (potentially) get inspired to do their own thing.

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  2. Mabel I appreciated your honest reflection in this piece. I don’t typically find blogging hard because I am really doing it for fun. I am not looking for a career so I don’t have the same kind of pressure. Having said that I do find doing research around historical information more challenging. I’m better at the entertaining aspect I think.

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    • Ah, Sue. You always seem to have so much fun, so I’m not surprised to hear you say you don’t find blogging hard! Maybe as we grow older we learn to have more fun…

      I’m not looking for a career actually…more like something that will pay the bills for the long term. Different kinds of writing and blogging requires different research. You certainly entertain and tell ace stories through photos. And your hubby is a wonderful character to read about 🙂

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      • I agree Mabel with age I have become less hard on myself. Still I have no goals about paying any bills from what I am doing so that makes it easier and of course you are a ‘writer’ and I am just dabbling at story telling. 🙂

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        • I hope to grow wiser someday, but that comes with time. In the meantime, I will enjoy the journey. I am sure your hubby pitches in with the bills…and fixes everything that goes wrong or needs attention 😉

          Yeah, I’m just a ‘writer’ at the moment, lots to learn. Need to pay more attention to storytelling too. I can learn from you, you know it 🙂

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  3. Writing is good because you can express what’s on your mind. Happy or sad – the mood reflects what you narrate. I used to have a personal blog. I wrote about my musings, but I decided to deactivate it for its nature became monotonous. I get bored easily. As a full-time mom with lots of free time, I started funfamilyfeats to be occupied. I find it therapeutic. I’m more on the photography side rather than the story telling. Like you, I base my blog on photo challenge topics (most of the time). I blog not to impress, but to share my pictures plus our family experiences. Blogging is not about popularity, it’s not about how many followers or likes you get. It’s true, you cannot please everybody! But it feels rewarding whenever people appreciate my work and leave kind comments. Also, one of the rewards of blogging is gaining friends. They brighten up our days. It’s great that in this network, you find people with the same interest as yours or may be not… people of different races in other continents with different time zones but still and constantly keeping in touch with you. I thank you for that. Keep on writing, Mabel! You are doing great 🙂

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    • Certainly. Writing is a reflection of our mood. I reckon if we’re happier, we are more inclined to write about something happy and if we’re down, then we might feel the urge to write about something less than happy.

      It’s always fun to participate in the photo challenges, isn’t it? As writers and bloggers, we always need something to inspire us to write – and also see the world. Which is why I follow the photo challenge. Traveling around the world, you have so many photos and stories – I am sure it makes writing for you easier than me 🙂

      Exactly. Blogging isn’t a popularity contest, it’s not a competition. We all blog and write for different reasons, maybe to practice our writing, share photos or start a discussion. Meeting people along the way here in the blogosphere is always heart warming and they make me re-think the topics I’ve shared – like you, Kai.

      Thanks so much for the nice words and for commenting. I’m glad we met 🙂

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  4. Thanks for sharing your routine.

    Most people don’t understand how mentally exhaustive it is to write. They assume that it takes as much time to read as it does to write. Not even close. Especially if you want to do a good job and put the proper effort in. That takes a lot of time writing and rewriting and slaving away over ideas…

    It’s great that you are pursuing what you love despite the lack of immediate monetary compensation and societal approval. Know that you are respected for it. Keep it up.

    Like you say, different kinds of writing are like different languages. From whatever point of view, some languages are easier than others. I find blogging fun, but I do try to take it seriously and that can make it harder than like writing an email. I write private journals as well sometimes, and I’ll never show anyone, and that kind of writing flows out of me somehow effortlessly. At this point in my ‘career’, lite travel journalism is pretty easy to churn out. Just go through the motions and I have a decent article. Although book reviews are pretty time-consuming because I have to read the book first (Still, long as it’s a good book, it’s fun).

    The hardest kind of writing, and the least rewarding so far, is what I consider the most important form of writing. That’d be fiction. That’s be taking out a year or two of all my free time to write novels. Not easy. And nothing else I for one would rather do with my time.

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    • It’s so true what you said about how mentally exhausting it can be to write. The time and energy we invest in crafting a well-written post far exceeds the time it takes for someone to read it. At least for my posts, anyway!

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      • Indeed. It’s like that for a lot of creative things. An illustrator slaves away at a painting or ocmic, and we just look at it for two seconds. Film/TV takes incredibly long hours to produce and laymen seem to just expect it to take as long to watch as it takes to film (which is a big disappointment to your bored friends when you ask them to help with your student film…)

        Most of all, a book. Reading a book already takes effort and is time-consuming. But that means for the author, multiply that time by a thousand. Years and years to write a book it takes someone a week to read. Even a well-crafted blog is a microcosm of that.

        So, good for you on crafting those posts and putting in the energy.

        Liked by 1 person

        • So true. You could probably say the same of home-cooked meals, too! Haha. We spend an hour or two on a meal that gets consumed in mere minutes. 😉

          And anything of lasting value will require time and energy of our time.

          I admire your dedication to writing novels! I once wrote a short, eight-chapter story when I was maybe ten or eleven years old. It wasn’t very good, though. 😛 Have you managed to publish any so far?

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    • Oh yes. Writing is not tiring, but as you mentioned, mentally exhausting. I reckon a lot of people think of writing akin to “talking”: that us writers speak to imaginary people or having imaginary characters having a conversation in our heads and easily translate those words onto paper/screen. This cannot be further from the truth, and is a big misconception about writing and writers 😦

      Drafting (a book) is a long process. Sometimes editing takes longer. It’s not just correcting spelling and grammatical errors, but also culling ideas and bringing in new ones and adding new scenes…it’s frustrating.

      Like you, I find writing in a private journal – usually about the people I meet, my personal feelings about things – easier than other kinds of writing. I guess during these times we’re truly writing for ourselves and living up to no one’s expectations. Those works are for our eyes, and our eyes only. But I haven’t ruled out sharing these stories on this blog or in a future book. We’ll see…though no one will know if I do.

      I applaud you for having self-published e-books. It must have taken you a lot of time and effort. Won’t be too surprised to see a book of yours in stores soon 🙂

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      • Good point, people to liken writing to talking and it is not that at all.

        Hey do you ever have conflicts with people about needing extreme amounts of time alone? I find this is hurting me in relationships lately; nobody understands that to do what I do sometimes I need everybody to leave me alone.

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        • All the time 😦 There are weeks where the only people I chat with in person are my colleagues. Avoiding social outings has become normal for me since I started writing seriously two years ago. Some friends do encourage me to go out and hang and such (exploring places, brunching, meeting new people…outings which drag on). They always express disappointment when I say no, like there’s something wrong with not being social. I am lucky that my circle of friends are small, and I think most of them understand.

          I find that I need time to go out alone a lot to get inspired to write 😦 This is all a great discussion.

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  5. I totally understood when you said it takes time before we jot down an idea and then get to write a story out of it! Immediately I thought about all those times I look back on my notes and go, “What was this supposed to be about?” or “Why did I write this?” or “What was so exciting about this idea?”

    Beautifully written Mabel!

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    • That’s so me, Lani. So me. Sometimes when I get an idea, it all sounds awesome and fine and dandy. But when I revisit it, it just sounds like a terrible idea! That magical idea of a moment lost forever… I hope that’s not the case with you and blogging all the time. Your blog posts are always well thought out and have a natural flow to them.

      Thanks for tagging me in the challenge, Lani. I think I might have been a bit adventurous and turned the challenge on its head 😀

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      • Nah. I liked how you made it your own.

        Have you ever thought about recording your ideas instead of writing them? Maybe the “magic” would hold better?

        And it’s not the case for me, all the time. What I like is when I forget an idea and discover it after a long time. I’m like, “Oh, yeah!” or “Hmmm, maybe.”

        I wouldn’t stress over the ideas, the important ones come back, right?!

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        • I have thought about recording my ideas with a voice recorder, like the one on my mp3 player or phone. But never got around to it. It is a very good suggestion and I think worth a shot 🙂

          Hehe, rediscovering an idea or looking at it in a different way down the track gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling. I don’t know about the important ideas coming back to us, though…I guess if they matter enough to us and leave us with an impression, it will come floating back to us.

          Any idea can be turned into a story. Un-motivating ideas always challenge me to write differently and in a different style.

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  6. It’s great to have you back, Mabel! You were missed last week. 🙂

    There so many ebbs and flows for me when it comes to writing. Starting my blog has reminded me just how much work goes into writing something that’s worth reading. And the motivation changes all the time. Sometimes it’s just to be heard. Other times it’s to process something. And yes, I’ll admit it, sometimes it’s just for the sake of writing something.

    I think for me the biggest challenge right now is finding my voice. I spend a good amount of time listening to other content creators and many say that one of the first major hurdles is finding your “creative identity.” We all have different ways of communicating, and I guess I’m still looking for the way that best expresses who I am.

    Another challenge I find is writing something that is both personal (relates to my life and current experiences) and engaging for others (so they can relate to what I write about). I don’t want to be so narcissistic and just write about me, but I also don’t want it to be so impersonal that ANYONE could write it.

    So, yes, I would say writing/blogging is hard for me. 😀

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    • The “ebbs and flows” of writing. Love that three-word-phrase. Motivation. I’m glad you brought that up because as writers, without motivation very unlikely we will churn out stories, let alone words. Indeed, motivation changes all the time. Sometime I write because I want to get an idea out and share it. Other times it’s writing ideas out and analysing them to see if there are any other related ideas.

      Finding your voice. Funny you mention that. I’ve been thinking about this all year. This writer I follow explains it well, and I will let him explain:

      http://goinswriter.com/writing-voice/

      Oh yes. Finding a balance between incorporating personal anecdote and analytical thought is challenging. Most of the time, readers identify with personal stories. But at the same time, some of us write to educate and to seriously raise awareness about certain issues and so need to incorporate facts and a more formal writing tone. On top of that, different audiences react differently to each kind of writing.

      Ah, so you noticed. I was missed? 😉 I was feeling poorly a couple of weeks ago and coupled with a new job, wasn’t in much shape to blog. I was disappointed not to see a post from you last week, Chris. But I’m sure all is well with you and you were just living life. As all writers need to do 🙂

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      • I love Jeff Goins! Thanks for the link. I remember reading it a while ago, but it’s still worth a repeat reading. I think I also just need to write more in order to find my voice. Did you go through the 10 steps he lists in order to help find your voice?

        Sometimes I wrestle between writing for myself and writing for others. I think my principal goal is to offer something of value and to initiate a conversation, but that doesn’t always happen so easily!

        Yes, sometimes we writers just need to have a break every once and a while. I’ve toyed with the idea of cutting back to just 2 or 3 posts per month, especially as I will be starting up university next week. But we’ll so how that goes. There might be another project in the works, so stay tuned. 😉

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        • I don’t think I’ve found my writer’s voice yet. There’s this blog where I post in a casual tone, and then there are my other pieces of freelance work that demand a different tone and “voice” altogether – so many stories. But going through steps 5, 7, 8, 9 and 10 has helped m experiment with a more laid-back approach to this blog this year.

          Writing for others is always challenging! Usually you’re submitting to someone else’s writing style and opinion. But it sounds like you know how to stick to your writing values, and I applaud you for that 🙂

          Good luck with university! I am sure you will need to write lots more then 😉 Quality over quantity. I’ve enjoyed your posts so far, looking forward to see what other stories you have up your sleeve. I too have toyed with the idea of blogging less and fortnightly for a while…we’ll see!

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          • I haven’t read some of your other works, but I definitely appreciate the tone of your blog. I find it relaxing, insightful, and engaging. All things that I strive towards for my own blog. So it’s super helpful when I find those writing elements modeled in bloggers like yourself. 😀

            When I said “writing for others,” I really meant “writing what others want to read.” Kinda like trying to write for the view counts rather than for what I want to talk about – though those two things don’t have to be mutually exclusive!

            My university studies will thankfully be limited to a single subject (Mandarin), so I probably won’t be doing too much writing for class. At least I hope not!

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            • Thank you, Chris. Always so encouraging 😀 This week’s upcoming blog post will be quite different, especially in terms of tone and there are very serious bits. Back to the old days… It will be interesting to see what others think of it, it really is geared to a select audience.

              SEO or optimising my post has always been challenging for me, still figuring out. I don’t usually thinkg about about “writing what others want to read” when I’m writing, rather how can I make my work easily understandable 🙂

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  7. Thanks Mabel, a lovely behind the scenes peek into your writing process. And welcome back after your week away, you were missed.

    I often struggle with the tension between the isolation needed to write, and my need for social contact. I guess that’s the challenge of working full time. Self doubt is also a tough challenge sometimes. But when I’m really in the zone, the words just flow, and I love that.

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    • Working full time is very much time consuming, you’re spot on there. When the weekend rolls around, it’s a struggle to choose between catching up with friends or staying home to write. Or going out to practise my photography skills. Something’s got to give. I hope you get in the zone often, it IS a great feeling. Traveling round Australia for work, I’m sure you have many stories to write and tell 😀

      So like Chris, you noticed I was gone last week too. Just wasn’t physically up to it. But now back to normal. I am planning to write more about the writing process in a month’s time for my 100 post, I think you will enjoy that, Maamej.

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  8. Morning Mabel! I really enjoyed reading your process and good luck on the book you’re writing. I know what you mean about randomly being somewhere like a packed train and getting an idea. I often think, if I were thorough, I should have a small notebook with me and write this down now. (I don’t though).
    One of the things that I like about the multicultural issues you write is that you write sensitive things that I think of but don’t have the guts to write about on my blog – just because I think my blog has a positioning that is “lighter”. So I love reading your blog because you do have the guts to publicly write about certain things.
    Oh and about reading being hard, gosh, having a food based blog – quite nasty of me to say this – when people comment it’s so easy to tell if they’ve only looked at the food photo or if they’ve taken the time to read what I wrote about. Though I’m pleased to say that most do read 🙂
    I can’t wait to hear more about the book you’re planning. xxx

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    • I love your light-hearted blog Sofia, especially how you manage to combine your travels and piano into food posts. It is very seamless writing and not only do I learn about food, I always learn about how to cook and how diverse and friendly your town is.

      This year I feel like I’ve moved away from writing about hard-hitting sensitive topics. People seem to like that. Another reason is because I’ve always wanted to write about other topics, and it’s nice fusing everyday life topics and multiculturalism together. But in saying that, I do want to write about more sensitive topics soon. I just need some inspiration.

      Planning is the key word here. Planning my book. That may take a while. Getting the book out there is another story and ballgame altogether 🙂 Thanks for the nice words, Sofia. It made my face go 😀

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      • Yeah your topics have been less sensitive lately, but I do like them 🙂 I think in my case, apart from the fact that my blog is positioned lighter, people like my mum read my blog, so I don’t want to get too drastic in certain sensitive topics. Maybe I should make a secret blog for that, lol!
        Planning for a book sounds awfully complicated. Gosh and getting it out there even more so. I myself would like to write a book one day (not ready to start yet) so I wish you all the luck, and fun in the making! xxx

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        • Hehe, I will be making a return to the hard-hitting topics slowly, starting with this week 😉 I definitely love the light-hearted vibe of your blog. When I read your writing and blogging, it’s easy to understand and digest.

          You could write a recipe book someday, Sofia. Some of your recipes are very inventive, especially the sweet dishes. I would love to see more cakes on your blog!

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  9. Writing can be hard at times and at other times it just flows.

    My current routine for my blog is basically I start with some ideas during the week, write few down and then on saturday create and outline. On sunday I often can just finish my short articles within one hour and then just select photos from my collection/ edit them a bit.

    But I do not always use the ideas I collect during the week, sometimes a good story just pops up on my sunday writing day and I use it as a story. At other times I dont get anything good to use within the whole week and struggle to write something up. And then there are also just stories I write which I had partly prepared weeks or months before but at that time didnt feel right to post online.

    When I was more actively writing on my little book I was forcing myself to write at least 90min a day, even if it was bad stuff and then next day review the whole written mess. I hope after life is more settled down in our new home (renovation, finding a job!) that I can create some kind of plan to write on my book once again.

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    • Thanks for sharing your writing/blogging routine, Crazy. Very interesting to read, and sounds quite similar to mine. It’s always a good feeling when a good story idea pops up suddenly AND you are sitting down and are able to bash it out into words. Sometimes these stories are so easy to write and when you finish, you finish on a high 🙂

      “whole written mess”. Love how you say that. A lot of the stuff I write is like that all the time – incomplete sentences, jumbled thoughts on a very bad writing day. You write a lot, Crazy. Your past proves it. You know what? You are a writer and I hope you think so 😀

      As of now, I am still planning my book, fretting over titling and planing out chapters. To me it still feels like your book will come out first!

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      • Even though I have been writing much last year I am still missing a lot. I have the feeling that the book might reach over 80.000 words, as it is now incomplete and with a lot of mess at around 60.000 🙂

        I still dont even have a title or a good chapter layout but well, hopefully by the end of the year it is taking some structure again

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        • Wow, Crazy. You ARE a writer. A closeted one, perhaps 😉 I knew I was right. Your book is well on its way. That is a lot of words. I’ve heard the benchmark for a non-fiction book is 40,000-60,000 words. But no reason why you can’t write much more, of course.

          Always good to have lots of words rather than none. You’ve got a lot to work with. If you keep at it, it will fall into place. Maybe think of book writing as writing for your blog…only in much more depth.

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  10. Yes writing is a hard solitary occupation but it also has an addictive quality. Then there is that sense of fulfilment when piece is finished. Good luck with your book – persevere, remember the words ‘I can do it – I can do it.’ :))

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    • Thanks, Katy. Oh yes. When we’ve finally finished a piece after numerous drafts and edits, we feel a mixed bag of emotions – relief, happiness and exhaustion. Maybe even sad, because we’ve closed a chapter in our writing lives and moving on to the next. Thanks so much for your encouragement. “I can do it”. Wise words indeed.

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  11. I think paid professional writers have a tougher time in today’s marketplace because their services are being devalued..employers want to play lower rates. Unless you get a lovely govn’t communications job.

    I don’t find blogging hard because I only publish 1-2 times per month. I don’t think I always post the best writing since I tend to ramble a bit. So better I cut myself in terms of verbiage. Writing for my job which involves business proposals, training content is different since clearly I am writing for a specific audience with predefined outcomes/objectives that I’ve set. Is it dull? No, just learning to get into other people’s headspace so that I can persuade them.

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    • Cutting back on frequency definitely makes blogging a lot easier! I started off my blog with a blistering 7 posts in the first month, and then I quickly realized that there was no way I could sustain that frequency. Haha.

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      • Writing well-thought out posts is one thing. Responding to comments in a thoughtful manner is a totally different thing altogether, and so is taking the time to read, engage and learn from other blogs. And so is reading a book. Man oh man, us writers have it so difficult!

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        • That’s so true. I understand now why some bloggers can’t respond to all their comments. It requires a good amount of time to respond in a way that adds value to the conversation.

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          • As writers and bloggers here, I’m sure we value and are thankful for each person who reads on our blog. It’s one thing for someone to read your blog, and another to have them comment 🙂

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    • I think you’re right about professional writers not taking home a handsome paycheck. Why are they devalued? I reckon a lot of us think writing isn’t that hard. If you can think logically which I’m sure a lot of us can, you can list down points and conjure a simple argument. It really isn’t that hard if you are good at English. But good and knowledgeable writing is another thing altogether. A lot of communications departments I’ve come across in Australia are small…also not uncommon for a small-medium companies to have one comms person to flesh out their content in writing online and in print.

      I always enjoy your blog posts about your town and hobbies, Jean. Very insightful. Quality over quantity. Best writing? We all have different writing styles and thoughts, so I do think there is no such thing as an ideal standard of writing. If there is, I think writing would be very dull.

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      • Thx for your good thoughts, Mabel.

        I make my comments in light of some paid writers that I know. One thing noticeable for some writing is the lack of sufficient research in validated information sources.

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  12. Beautiful post about being a writer, Mabel. I found it very moving to read about your writing journey. I especially like how you wrapped it up with Kristan H words. Thank you so much for sharing your insights, journey, and your passion for writing.

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    • Thanks, Amy, for waving a flag cheering me on in my corner. I am glad you liked this writing post. It’s the first post that doesn’t really have anything to do with diversity…though writing and any art is diverse. My writing journey is far from over. Some writing days are good, some are bad. But they go hand-in-hand. There’s always something to learn no matter where we’re at 🙂

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  13. I enjoyed reading this post quite a lot. So many things you said are also true for me and I’m sure true for most of us. I love the quote from Kristan Hoffman….trusting ourselves can be very difficult. Sometimes I think my fear of success is bigger than my fear of failure!!

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  14. Writing for fun versus payment are different things to my mind, although occasionally they may mix. I suppose a different mind set is needed.

    Writing is hard? Every job/task has its difficulties – some common to all areas, others unique to the task ahead. Everything is relative and you must accept the challenge of the difficulties that come with your chosen path, or change paths.

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    • Writing for payment usually entails writing for an organisation or publication. Most of the time you have to bend your words to cater to a specific audience and to project a certain voice that’s never really yours.

      You’re wise as always, Dragon. Every job comes with its own set of challenges. Writing is hard for me on many levels, and ironically that keeps me motivated to keep writing. I will stop complaining now 🙂

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  15. Another wonderful thought-provoking post! Writing is definitely hard, but in a very different sense than say, running a marathon. I wouldn’t say one is more difficult. Just different. One must train for a marathon just as one trains to write.

    But there are similarities as well. Both take a dedication that supersedes common, everyday existence. Every word is a dream, just as every step forward. It’s the journey that matters to me. Finding the right voice to communicate effectively to my audience is one of the greatest feelings I’ve had the pleasure to experience.

    So yeah, writing and blogging is definitely hard. But it’s worth it!

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    • Thanks, Matt. You are right. Every task and job has their challenges – and if we want to get anything done we have to work for it. There are always lessons to learn along the way.

      “Every word is a dream”. Never realised that. Sort of makes me think that writing and blogging is one big dream 🙂 It’s great to hear that you feel great from writing. Sure, it feels frustrating when you get writer’s block or can’t figure out where your stories are going, but once it’s done, it’s done. And it’s always, “Wow. What a feeling.”

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  16. You are always good at writing, Mabel. It’s me who’s late at reading always…I do believe though, that every work that involves much creativity is very tough sometimes. Especially if you have got deadlines.

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    • Thanks, Leya. It’s never too late to read…and I’m always humbled that you take the time to read my posts, no matter how long they are. I’m with you, not a fan of deadlines. Sometimes you are forced to rush a piece of creative work as such. But on the flipside, deadlines force us to get things done 🙂

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  17. You truly write well, engaging the reader is so difficult but you have the gift. It is interesting getting this insight into your writing and style…the way you go about it. Strange how the solitary effort that is necessary with writing also contributes to the isolation felt when writer’s block arrives 🙂 Cheers and enjoy your weekend!

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    • Being alone give me peace and quiet to think. It’s only my thoughts entertaining me, and I get to reach right back into the recesses of my mind. Everyone has a different writing process and style – reading your blog, your writing is very different from mind and I am sure your creative process is different too.

      Thanks for the nice words, Randy. Don’t know if I have the writing gift, I just enjoy what I do. IT really does make me happy. You have a good week ahead, Monday’s almost over now over here 🙂

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  18. As usual, Mabel, an excellent topic well said. I remember when I wrote my first unpublished novel how much I learned. For the next one (one of these days) I will take an entirely different tack. Often at night I dream of the perfect novel, the Great American Novel, that Hemingway or Steinbeck or Melville would love. I forget it before my first cup of coffee but I keep thinking one of these days I will remember it long enough to start it.

    My favorite first line of all time is Melville’s, “Call me Ishmael,” as the wonderful Moby Dick begins.

    I am pretty good with first lines. It’s all the following words that sometimes get tangled up.

    It was a dark and stormy night…every time I get stuck, I write that sentence and go back and read the whole paragraph that follows and then suddenly I can start writing again.

    I hope you find your true voice…somehow I don’t think it’s about being Asian in a white world. I think it’s deeper than that, but then again, perhaps you’re the next Amy Tam.

    Be good.

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    • Didn’t you know you were a writer too, Kongo. Always glad to talk to fellow writers. Good on you for writing your first book…maybe someday it will make it’s way out into the open for us all to read. Writing the perfect novel? I think that will happen when we least expect it. Writing takes time, good writing takes even more time.

      I know what I want the first line of my book to be. Other times, with blog posts and non-fiction articles, that’s rarely the case with me. The middle bit of articles tend to form in my mind most of the time. We’re all different writers at the end of the day.

      Sounds you write fiction very well 🙂 Don’t know if I’ll be the next Amy Tan. I don’t know, I really just want to be Mabel Kwong 🙂

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  19. This is beautifully written, Mabel. Your sacrifice in choosing this style of writing over more academic ones is not in vain. Your writing is easy to understand, an important thing for me who has not much time figuring out what words mean or to savor words.

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    • I still write in academic style these days. Not often, but when I do it comes very naturally to me and it’s usually when I’m writing about more sensitive topics about race and culture.

      Thanks for the nice words, Imelda. I’m sure you know what words mean – you write poetry so well!

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    • Ah, deadlines. Sometimes we don’t really mind them because they force us to get things done, but on the other hand deadlines can be really stressful as you mentioned. Personally I don’t really like deadlines as I like to take my time to do things – and if I rush I make mistakes. Thanks for stopping by, Sylvia 🙂

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  20. I remember my first few months of blogging here on WordPress. I struggled a lot. Back then, I already feel accomplished if I could post one story in a month or two. I was only good at sharing what I call “products of the humdrum juncture”–mostly rants about life.

    Then one day, I decided to try writing about my experiences in traveling. I was able to post three or four stories for three months. The stories came in the form of notes that are just pure recollections of what happened in the trip. I struggled with doing a poetic kind of delivery. I tried to do what I thought was okay until the universe conspired to give that needed luck for me to bring my stories to the next level so to speak. That was when my very, very short story about one of the capital city’s most visited sites (Manila Ocean Park) got featured on Freshly Pressed. Subsequent to that was being invited by a blogging friend, who is a member of the Philippines’s most elite travel bloggers called the Pinoy Travel Bloggers, to submit my application to said group. I was rejected during the first try because I wasn’t able to meet the minimum requirement. That is, for a blog to be considered a travel blog, it must have at least 20 posts with a minimum 80 percent of posts travel. I was advised by the administrator to write more travel stories and come back in due time. I did, and I must say the rejection turned out to be an opportunity to enrich my experience as a blogger. I learned how a little bit of research can help improve my narratives. Constant reading contributed to the improvement too.

    I was finally accepted as a member of the Pinoy Travel Bloggers after three months. My secret affairs with the mountains brought me to places and taught me how to describe nature’s beauty and deliver the adventures in more metaphorical way. I am still working on that part though, and I know as I go on sharing the stories of my wandering feet and mind, with the help of reading the stories of writers like you, I know I will grow. Add to that the interaction that comes along the way.

    And, yes, I still taste the hard days of being a blogger. Actually, a lot. In my case, distractions from work are usually the cause of the so-called “block”. What I do most of the time to cope with it is I take a moment to pause. I let the block take over and get back when I feel like it. Fortunately, I never got to a point where I felt like quitting. My love for doing what I do will always find a way to get me back on track no matter how hard it is for me to put the words into a story at times.

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    • You’ve come a long way with writing and blogging. Wow, to go from not knowing what to write to becoming a travel blogger for your country is very impressive. And in the midst of it all, you feel even more in love with travel and decided to make it your mission to travel more – and so share more stories with us. Sometimes things just come full circle, don’t they? I don’t believe universe gives us luck (well, maybe sometimes…just sometimes) but that we create our own luck by standing up for what we want.

      So many achievements with your blog and writing. I wonder what’s to come next from you.

      I also remembered my early days on WordPress. I was just having fun, putting up posts and saying what I want. It felt liberating as finally, I had an outlet to express what I’ve wanted to say and share for so long. I remember your blog was one of the first I checked out (you posted on my About page so I found you there) and felt intimidated because your posts were very travel-informative, accompanied with such beautiful photos. But I had so much respect for you as a blogger back then after browsing your blog for a few minutes, and somehow I knew I would come back to visit your blog…almost two years later :/// I was browsing through the Weekly Photo Challenge and chanced upon your gravatar, and the moment I saw it I knew I visited almost two years ago.

      It has been great talking to you on here…through words. As bloggers and writers, we write, and maybe we connect best with each other through words. Thanks for supporting as always, the nice words and keep writing, Sony. Do what you love, you know it.

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    • Blogging blues…. hahaha, Dedy! You always have something funny to say, Dedy. I wonder where you get your humour from. Even your cooking posts are funny to read, especially when you talk about your family 😀 Maybe one day you will be a funny writer of some sort 😀

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  21. So many things can affect the (creative) writing process, both positively and negatively. I think that the most important aspect for me is to enjoy it. If it’s proving to be a chore, then I’d rather go out for a walk or play golf, as the output is unlikely to be any good anyway. Keeping a journal for overheard conversational snippets and thoughts for stories is a good way to collect ideas. Also, things that other people do or say that surprise you are often a good springboard to a story.

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    • You are so right, BB. And I completely agree with you on enjoying we what do. If we don’t like it, why do it? It will only make us miserable and stress us out. Sometimes we do need a break from what we love doing. Sometimes a a writer, I’ll think of one point over and over in my head and how to express it in words – and I can get worked up over it. I have to force my self to take a walk to relax and come back to writing with a refreshed mind.

      Oh yes. Talking to others is always an interesting experience and you can get a story out of it. You never know what they will say, and you never know what story you will come up with.

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  22. And then there are the times that life intervenes, and it’s hard to get BOTH reading and writing done. What an appropriate post for “dialog” — (last week flew past me, on both R&W counts). Tell us more about the articles you’ve published — Sandy

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    • You are SO right. Life intervenes all the time – for instance, maybe the laundry needs washing and ironing or you have to do a favour for a friend. Reading goes hand-in-hand with writing, and both take up time. I suppose if we like what we’re doing, we’ll make some time for it.

      I publish articles here and there, though not too often. Yes, I will share if the articles if I’m passionate about them. Thanks for stopping by, Sandy.

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  23. i blog from the heart so it doesn’t seem difficult. writing however is another story. i’m not a writer to begin with so i don’t even try. you, on the other hand, is a good writer! you know yourself and you know your craft! more power to you, Mabel!

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    • I always enjoy your blog posts, Lola. Just like the title of your blog, your words and photos are simply beautiful. Very easy to understand and read. Seems very effortless 🙂

      Thanks for the nice words. They are very encouraging!

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  24. I am planning to reply this last week but wp reader was not working properly…Yes, sometimes I feel blog writing is hard so imagine if I have to write a book 😀 For blogging I use my photos to speak up more and maybe also language barrier. As my Dutch is improving, my English is deteriorating :D. Blog writing is harder than writing a report for my office – well, report writing is lots easier in term of making the readers bore with it… 🙂
    Like you mentioned, to make the readers enjoy the article is the hardest part. And I do enjoy your post – I think you are a good writer and my best wishes on your book writing! I am sure that will be an interesting one!
    And congrats on getting selected to participated on the writing tour!

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