Why It’s Hard Being A Blogger. And Why Some Asians Find It Hard To Be Creative

Blogging. It’s a space where we are creative and share creativity. Our writing. Photography. Fashion tips. Handmade craft. But blogging and creativity don’t always come easy, sometimes perhaps more so if we’re Asian.

Next week marks three years since I started this blog. Three years of being a multicultural blogger writing about all things culture and what makes Australia, Australia. In all honesty, it’s been challenging getting inspired and weaving words into sentences for every blog post.

Creativity knows no boundaries. The beauty of each sunset knows no boundaries | Weekly Photo Challenge: Boundaries.

Creativity knows no boundaries. The beauty of each sunset knows no boundaries | Weekly Photo Challenge: Boundaries.

Creativity is about seeing the light, connecting ideas. It’s about discovering solutions to problems and seeing the same thing in different shades and from different angles. Each of us believes in certain values and stereotypes – two things that might hold us back from being the creative person whom we want to be.

When others around us tell us not to, we might hesitate to go after our creative ambitions. We hesitate to be a creative artist because it doesn’t sound like a practical venture. Graduating from university with a maths major in an Arts degree, my Chinese-Malaysian parents egged me to get a numbers-crunching job. Good pay, they said. And there’s creativity in maths and science too.

…an overcast winter’s weekday afternoon in July. I shut my laptop in the library, eyes weary from responding to blog comments and reading more blogs than I can count over the last two hours. Feeling peckish too. Got up, made my way to the Woolworths grocery store five minutes away. Paused beside the chocolate aisle. Looked at the sweet treats under garish fluorescent lighting. And looked some more before walking away. The taste and reality of leaving my quantitative data analyst day job.

The older we get, the more we depend on ourselves to make a living; others might depend on us too. There is the expectation in Chinese culture – stemming from Confucian ideals – that kids will take care of elderly parents when the time comes. Going down the creative path takes time, and there’s no guarantee we’ll succeed at what we love. There are only so many TV presenters, so many authors who sell millions of books, so many artists who make a living off their craft.

When we think creatively, there are a many ways in which we can see a scene.

When we think creatively, there are a many ways in which we can see a scene.

When we’re not used to being creative or doing that thing we love, sometimes we find it hard to be creative. Studies show that we tend to do better at something if we make the effort and try. With much focus on rote learning maths and science in schools in Asia, perhaps this is why some Asians hold back from exploring the arts – there simply isn’t time to try.

…back home from the store. Drafting the next blog post on my laptop. Words popped up on the screen. Slowly. Coming up with post ideas, chunking thoughts into paragraphs, post-processing post photos takes hours on end – all for nothing in return? Where am I, penniless artist, going with this? What does all this time spent buy? But none of us can see the future.

On occasions, what we see or don’t see around us discourages us from being creative. Australians from minority backgrounds are seldom seen in local media. Literature. Theatre. Dance. No one of the same race to look up to; we question if we belong. However, sometimes whether we feel creative simply boils down to personality, the choices we make. No matter where we come from, if we practise our craft, we’ll become better at it.

Blogging. It’s a conversational sphere. Blog honestly, blog about our lives, strike a chord with other bloggers. Which can be harder than it sounds. …two months ago. Writing a post on trusting others. Really want to quote and include people I’ve met, quote them in this post. Will they mind? Can we look each other in the eye after that? What to share, what not to share…

When we see the beauty in life, often we feel in inspired to be creative.

When we see the beauty in life, often we feel in inspired to be creative.

There’s the stereotype Asians are reserved, quiet. In Chinese culture, showing emotion is seen as a sign of weakness or losing control. Writing for this blog for a while, speaking up about race, culture and the people in my life now comes easier to me. Blogging is personal. Creativity and art is personal. Art knows no boundaries; art challenges stereotypes around us and within ourselves. As author Criss Jami says, when we put ourselves out there, we learn what we’re capable of:

“To share your weakness is to make yourself vulnerable; to make yourself vulnerable is to show your strength.”

Each of us bloggers blog for different reasons. Some of us blog to pass the time. Some of us take it more seriously, blogging to hone our craft, and dream of a massive following and making a living off our blog. But at the end of the day, blog views are just views, and our blogs and art often admired for fleeting moments.

Ironically, at times making a difference through our creativity lies within these small moments. Blogging about multiculturalism here certainly has its challenges and it’s easy to rub others the wrong way – we all have personal opinions on culture. It’s humbling to see some chiming into the conversation here. And that’s where the true beauty of blogging, art and creativity lies: sharing thoughts and musings, touching others who in turn see the world in a different perspective.

There’s more to life than blogging, being an artist and doing what we love. We have to stand up to live before we can sit down and write. Likewise we have to sit down and figure out who we are before we can stand up to live. Creativity comes from many a place, and when we slow down, we let the world speak to us. As author Osho said:

“To be creative means to be in love with life. You can be creative only if you love life enough that you want to enhance its beauty, you want to bring…a little more dance to it.”

When we feel stuck, sometimes we go back to the start. See things from a new angle And feel creative again.

When we feel stuck, sometimes we go back to the start. See things from a new angle And feel creative again.

….I flipped open my diary at home after a day out. Started writing down things to-do. Next blog post penciled in three weeks down the track. Respond to blog comments tomorrow. Buy groceries after that. Photograph a sunset this weekend. Tidy the house next week. Where to pencil in editing the 50,000 word first draft of my book? My eyes wavered from the pages. Wandered to the green trees basking in the warm spring sunlight under the clear evening sky outside the window. We can’t predict the future, but we can certainly notice the present and make the most of it.

Taking on responsibilities and chasing dreams go together hand in hand. Since life is full of uncertainties, the least we can do is roll with the punches. Get up. Live life. Live stories. Then tell stories.

Do you find it hard to blog and be creative?

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266 thoughts on “Why It’s Hard Being A Blogger. And Why Some Asians Find It Hard To Be Creative

  1. Mostly I love it, but then, I’m retired and have more available time than you. Now and then it’s a chore but I very swiftly move on from there. Nobody makes us do it. 🙂 Good luck with the book!

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  2. RE: “Do you find it hard to blog and be creative?”

    Not at all. Ideas are like leaves of grass, or grains of sand on the beach. Trouble is finding time to get these things down before I forget them.

    Also being a nut, crazy ideas come to me naturally.

    Before Internet blogging, I was on the “Crazy Person Network”. You ever see those blabbering homeless people talking to themselves on city streets? That’s part of our Crazy People Network. Well, when you see one talking to themselves,and you think that it is odd, please know that there is actually ANOTHER crazy person in ANOTHER CITY city also muttering a reply to them on the same frequency. It might not look like it, but all the random insane chatter is indeed peer reviewed. Great thing about CPN that was that we did not need any special hardware (sometime tin-foil hats were optional). So if you are in need of different ideas, log in to the CPL. Walk down the street or subway muttering insane things to yourself and the CPL voices should boot up and plug you in in no time.

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    • “Blabbering homeless people” always fascinated me, and I often genuinely wondered what they talked about. Mutterings about the way the world works? Or mutterings about self-pity? The thing holding me back from approaching me back is that they are stranger – and who knows how they will react to me…at least strangers here in Melbourne can be dangerous.

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  3. Hi Mabel! Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful creations and creative challenges here. Every image is magnificent! I can not pick a favorite.

    With regard to blogging and creativity, the biggest block for me is keeping up with blogs while traveling. Sometimes internet is not available in the locations I visit and it is certainly not available when I am sailing long passages, so I seem to always be playing catch up. I post/create less so that I can respond to comments and visit other’s blogs in thanks for the kindness shown to me.

    The good news is that I am will be in Australia for the next 6-18 months so should have good access which will help me stay current. However, if I am able to land a contract role while visiting here (need to replenish the cruising kitty) I will have less time for creating and giving thanks. And so it goes.

    But really, if this is the biggest problem that I face in life, I have got it really, really good.

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    • I’ve always wondered how you kept up blogging on your sailing adventures. Thank you for enlightening. But I suppose with the little Internet that you have, that forces you to enjoy the world around you as you sail along. And, so kind of you to make time for other blog. Like you, I’ve taken to creating less on the blog here – and that way I have more time to get inspired from blogs like yours 🙂

      Hope you will enjoy your stay in Australia. Certainly looking forward to hearing about it, and good luck.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Indeed, intermittent internet can be a blessing 😀And really, one of the greatest things about the blogosphere (when I do have internet access) is the ability to connect with others. Life at sea can be a bit isolating at times, but it feels much less so here.

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        • Connecting with others here in the blog world is always so inspiring. I haven’t met too many bloggers who are sailors. It’s such a fascinating life you lead and I look forward to more stories at sea from you 🙂

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  4. *CLAPPING*
    Another brilliant post from you Mabel. Your knack in writing just draws us in and keeps us engaged. Hitting the nail on the head more often than not.

    We’ve been falling off the blogging wagon a little. Life gets busy and we are finding it hard to stay continually creative when it comes to blog posts. We started blogging as a means to document our travels, it moved to making it more of a “brand” but now we have shifted the focus back to documenting and sharing our travels. Like with any “job”, we want to make sure that we continue to enjoy doing it and as long as it doesn’t feel like a chore… Do it because we want to… not because we HAVE to.

    Anyway, enough rambling from us. Keep up your mighty fine work. And stay creative! 🙂

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    • Lol, no need for clapping. I really feel that I am still in the process of discovering my writer’s voice. Honestly.

      Sorry to hear that you haven’t been blogging too often. Life often is demanding, and it’s one reason why these days I’m putting out a post once per month :/ Branding a blog often is challenging – finding that distinctive voice for your blog, updating it regularly, updating social media regularly, engaging with like-minded bloggers…blogging is more time consuming than many think. However, so long as it’s fun, I’ll keep doing it. As you said so well 🙂

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  5. I tried to both duckduckgo & google “creative Asians” to see what I could find, but all the top results were articles like “why aren’t Asians as creative as Europeans”. It might have been some articles on creative Asians on the second pages of the searches, but we all know that no one has ever seen the second page of a search result!! 😀

    I don’t know many Asians, but every single one that I do know, is creative: one is a writer for different Korean magazines (travel & lifestyle magazines), another one is a writer for a Japanese cooking magazine, the rest of them (four) are musicians. But I guess that, being a creative person myself, I tend to surround myself with other creative persons. We’re attracting each other like freak magnets (or like flies to shit some would probably say).

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    • Yes, who on earth looks at the second page of search results 😀 “..being a creative person myself, I tend to surround myself with other creative persons…like freak magnets” What a way to put it. But no surprise, like minded people often attract like minded people if we know where to look and go, and basically where and how we choose to spend our time.

      I really should hang out with you sometime. Your friends and acquaintances sound like very nice people.

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  6. Mabel, if I followed rules and standards, I would be so boxed up tight, my creativity would not flow at all. I go with the FLOW. Now, this does not mean my head is up in the clouds and I just sashay through life without a care. No. I have many responsibilities and yes I must have a schedule, but to add more to that schedule that would ruin my creativity. When I “punch out” to be in my creative zone, I fly. I don’t plan. And things just unfold, just happen, as I stand there with my mouth open saying WOW! I step into magic! And when my words start coming, I just no matter where I am, start writing them down. I have discovered how to plug into an endless well of Flowing Waters, and when I do merge into these, no-thing exists but the Present Now. Walk away from the structure and rules when it comes to your creativity, Mabel. You won’t be disappointed. Love, Amy ❤

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    • “sashay through life” I love that phrase. I think when we are creative and when we make the time to allow ourselves to be creative, deservedly, we sashay through life. It is so important to let ourselves feel free and be not afraid to fly when we are in our creative zone – as you said, that’s when magic can happen.

      Often to break free of structure, rules and boundaries the first thing we have to do is dream. Then believe it. And go for it. Live in the moment, seize the day and embrace the present. For all you know, something might take your breath away when you try ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Gosh you are very organized Mabel, organizing your posts and chores. I do not organize my posts, I might do so in my head though.
    I also do that Asian thing sometimes, look reserved and not sure emotions. When I do I think it freaks the hell out of the Spanish people I work with, lol.
    Have a great weekend Mabel!

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  8. You are so right – a lot is expected out of us Asian kids! And looking after our family and parents in their old age is a small part of it. But I quite like these traditions and family ties. Have found similar traditions among Africans as well – they hilariously call it – the African tax!!

    As for creativity and blogging – I do find myself stuck for ideas every now and then. WHile I am continually looking for inspiration all over Joburg, there are good weeks and not-so-good ones!

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  9. Hi Mabel, I love this post. I’m a little late to the party here but it’s worthwhile just to be here. Your writing really is outstanding. I haven’t said that before but I’ve thought it. Yes, I find it hard to be creative sometimes. I find it hard to justify writing as work OR as art. But that said, it is. It is. I love it. Lovely photos you’ve posted by the way. Thanks for the thought provoking post!

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    • Never too late to the party, Lisa 🙂 I think creativity comes easier to us when we work on something we know, or something close to our heart. Love the work on your blog and the discussions about divorce support. It is great work. And thank you for the kind words.

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  10. Want to wish you a Happy 3 years as a blogger Mabel. You have great insights and a way that make the reader think about your questions.
    Ive pondered the creativity issue a lot over my life. I believe we as people and cultures bottle up the ability to create. Children are naturals at creative expression until someone puts constraints on the creativity. Its sad that culture/ teachers/ society can put a dam on something that makes people more alive.

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    • Thanks for the well-wishes, Leslie. “bottle up the ability to create” An apt way to put it. Sometimes constraints are necessary in order to bring about an ordered society. Then again, there’s also beauty at times in chaos…what a world we live in.

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  11. First of all, those are beautiful sunsets. Secondly, I know what you mean about the challenge of getting inspired. In my case, coming up with new stuff to write about can be tough at times, especially since I try to post something a couple of times a week and my posts tend to be on the long side. Occasionally in desperation at not having anything to blog about, I blog about my desperation at having nothing to blog about. 🙂

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  12. Being a Blogger and Creative at the same time?

    To me, that’s the reason why I am here 🙂

    All through my life, I used to find it suffocating to keep any ideas, thoughts, plans or observations in my mind for a long time.

    I needed to give them a form and write it down, to feel light and peaceful.

    Some times, they used to take the form of stories, business plans, to do lists etc;

    But, once it’s written down and given a title, I used to feel a kind of satisfaction…

    Once I started blogging, it gave a great opportunity to share my thoughts and it’s reflections with a wider audience.

    I could get connected to many a wonderful people across the globe and the kind of appreciation and motivation I received made me confident.

    This helped me enormously during a real crisis period of my life and finally to land in a job of my dreams.

    Only thing I had done was, keep trying to be creative and let your emotions under control, ride on whatever piece of support and confidence you get.

    From the perspective of most of people none of my posts could be considered creative, but that’s the best I could manage to come up and it worked for me 🙂

    As you said, we Asians, be it Indians or Chinese, consider creativity as a specialist job(or creative people as a separate class) and all others are supposed to get educated to be teachers, accountants, engineers, doctors, layers etc;

    I am a firm believer in creativity in any of it’s forms which helps people feel good and get connected with each other beyond the political or racial boundaries.

    Thank you so much for this post and being one of my best supporters 🙂

    Have a beautiful day ahead 🙂

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  13. I love how you illustrated your thoughtful, searching, beautifully melancholy post with the subtle changes in your beautiful photographs. I wish I could just bash out posts but I can’t, every single one I want to create…something. I heartily congratulate you on almost three years blogging (for me in January!), and I do understand all you express here, although of course, I also learn so much from you about Asian culture and the expectations that are part of that culture and the added burdens you carry when wanting to take a ‘different approach’ in your studies and life in general. My struggle is against time…blogging and all that entails, editing my book having at last written the first draft (over 100,000 words), running the house, my daughter to appointments, cooking, cleaning, pets, social life, you name it. But even when I’m exhausted and burnt out, I know that through blogging I’ll always find a friend with whom to chat…such as you. I love your writing Mabel, and your photos and great quotes too. Keep creating, keep blogging and keep writing…one step at a time and you will achieve your goals, I’m sure of it! 🙂 ❤

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    • Thanks, Sherri, for the nice words and all the encouragement. Putting out posts where you want to convey a message from the heart is never easy…I too struggle with that and it’s a reason why I’m taking more time in between writing posts. Also gives me more time to think about how I want to put something in words. Art from the heart always takes time to come together.

      What a busy life you lead. But I’m sure your book is coming along. Don’t work too hard and remember to take it easy sometimes because at times those are the moments when we get inspiration to write ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Talking about being creative – if someone is, it’s you, Mabel! Your new ideas, your illustrating photos, your thoughtprovoking questions. Congratulations not only to the years of blogging, but to the whole concept and your great talent!

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  15. Hey Mabel / I am still catching up on some back posts with certain blogs – and I really enjoyed this post of yours! So many good points to ponder – and just interesting. Also, I was recently reflecting about blogging and what I love most about it – and the word “originality” came to mind – so for me – I guess what I love most is how blogs are so varied- and the creativity is so diverse – have a nice day 💚

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    • Thanks, Y. So kind of you to stop by. Originality. So true. There are so many different kinds of blog on here and it can get addictive reading blogs on here. It’s one reason why I’ve decided to cut down on posting my own blogs – more time to read other blogs and learn from them, and also more time to get my writing the way I want it ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Pingback: Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award Q&A + My Nominees | Speaking of China

  17. To answer your question, yes I find it hard to blog and be creative. Haha! I actually stated blogging almost a decade ago for the sole reason I suck at creative writing. I thought blogging was one way I could improve in the area. True enough, I actually improved at writing but the hard part remains the same: what to write, how do I stitch my ideas. So while I improved a lot, I still myself consider a “sucker” in creative writing. Haha!

    …which reminds me of very striking statement by Filipino National Scientist: “Connecting things that does not seem to be connected is a talent”. On this note, creativity comes in various forms and faces. I used to believe that in our field (sciences), there is minimal creativity. But interesting because, the most curious minds comes up with the best research ideas and innovations…I realized then that in itself is creativity. 🙂

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    • I always loved your post on your travels, be it visiting places abroad Philippines or around your area. Your posts always read and sound effortless. Miss your blog but then again, there are other things in life than just blogging.

      “stitch my ideas” Yes! That’s exactly how I feel when I write or blog – you put my feelings into words 😀 And that is such an amazing phrase that you shared. So true that both art and science fields are creative. Creativity all starts with an idea.

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  18. I agree and I find our present situation very very discouraging…but funnily enough years ago Asians were known for their art, poetry, for their craftsmanship, for their music and dance and yet now we’ve started to move away from these art forms, settling for number crunching and waiting for the next salary, its no wonder so many creative minds are never given the chance to explore all the wonders of their imaginations .. because success has somehow become synonymous with having a desk job lined up with promotions, pursuing the creative life has become a difficult affair ..

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    • You bring up such a great point. That reminds me: calligraphy is a prominent art form in Asian culture, and so is opera. Yet in many Asian families, going down these career paths is not admirable and seen as not logical. Hopefully one day this will change…but really, it has to start with each of us believing that there is no straight definition of success.

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