In an ideal world, only positive things happen to us. We have all the time to write and are in the best psychological mindset. We’re free of stress, always in a zen-like state, can jump into our WIP, and immediately get into a flow. We never let anything get us down, have never experienced writer’s block, and are always in a perpetually creative mood.
The truth is most of us have bad days. We have days where we don’t feel like writing. We have days where if writer’s block doesn’t impede our creative process, circumstances outside our control land on our front doorstep. Some weeks we might be on top of the world, and then all it takes is an unexpected traumatic event to tear it down. We saw the unexpected with the pandemic and how it changed the world. There is a whole list of stressors that experts rank as being the hardest to overcome. Some of us have dealt with illness, career change, moving, the untimely death of loved ones, and more. What they all have in common is that life goes on despite hardships. Relying on good times or our feelings is as reliable as driving a 1970s Ford Pinto. The gas tank could rupture during collisions, not only a scary thing but a potentially fatal one.
September 18, 2022, was like any other late summer Southern California day. The weather was nice, and my family and I were excited to use our Disneyland annual passes. As we prepared to leave, we noticed our then 15-month-old son was extra clingy and kept wanting to be held, which wasn’t unusual. But soon, clingy behavior turned into favoring one leg, and then he wasn’t willing to walk.
At first, we thought he strained his right leg trying to climb out of his crib. He was normally our little Tasmanian Devil, climbing up on furniture and running around. So, the fact that he suddenly wasn’t willing to walk was worrisome. We almost went along with our plans to go to Disneyland, figuring he would spend most of the day in his stroller, anyway. But we followed our parental instincts and took him into the emergency room. We had no idea what was in store for us. My husband and I expected to be in and out of the hospital, possibly with a prescription for pain meds. We hoped it would be nothing more than our son being needy. While my daughter was advanced and an early speaker, our son was born premature by 6 weeks. He was trying to communicate with Mommy and Daddy as best as he could. He was telling us something was very wrong, even as he couldn’t speak.
There’s an old writing rule that seems to supersede all rules, even Stephen King’s infamous quote on why he feels, “The road to hell is paved with adverbs.” Yes, despite King’s aversion to adverbs, the biggest writing rule every writer constantly gets lectured about is that we should never be concerned about revising while we’re writing.
We’ve been made to feel that if we don’t write, write, write it blindly down and let it out that somehow the spur of creative vision would leave us. We’d never be able to snatch it back or not capitalize on our creative juices while the flow is iron-hot. After all, that’s what NaNoWriMo is all about, isn’t it? A reported 427,653 writers were documented to have participated in NaNoWriMo in 2021. There are pros and cons to powering through your first draft without looking back.
The one thing I’ve learned as a creative professional, having worked for companies in addition to pursuing personal aspirations as an aspiring author, is that everything within the content creation space is subjective. This means that we must be conscious of the lengthy process to get to a final revision on anything and be willing to leave our egos at the door.
This is especially true now that our lives and the way we work have been permanently changed since the pandemic. Working remotely has reminded me that as a creative professional, it’s essential to be prepared to make revisions and be open to requests for changes. However, what’s even more critical is having very clear communication to reduce misunderstandings. Especially now that everyone works in different time zones, flexibility is even more vital than ever. We live in the age of emails, DMs, and virtual video meetings. As a creative professional who normally gets paid to produce fresh content, work has never been a 9 to 5 gig. At least, it has never been for me, but I love that aspect of being a creative soul because you can’t simply turn off creativity. Ideas hit you at all hours, and you have to capitalize on them when inspiration strikes. That’s the difference between a very left-brain position and a creative professional job where your creative juices are on-the-clock 24/7.
All my life, I’ve been asked ethnically probing questions, and often times people aren’t even correct in how they pose them. They’ll often ask things like, “Where are you from?” I often ask my own question for clarity sake. You mean, which state was I born in? You mean, how long have I lived in California? Or do you really mean, since I’m a Person of Color, what ethnic origin made me a brown person?
May is Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month. It’s a month where I reflect on my own experience as a multi-ethnic Person of Color that doesn’t call herself a “Latinx” or an “Asian.” Where are you from?—is a question I’ve been asked at least a million times. What the real question is: What is your ethnicity? Ethnicity is different than nationality. People can be ethnically from a different country than their nationality. My nationality is American. My ethnicity and the ethnicity of other People of Color are no one else’s business. Our ethnicity isn’t relevant to our qualifications for being the right job candidate, and it shouldn’t be a subject of casual conversation. So, why is our ethnicity constantly asked on every single job application? On many applications, they ask if you’re Hispanic or not. I am forced to answer this question with a “No” because I identify with more than one ethnicity. Once I answer “No” on many forms, I’m prompted to pick from other groups of ethnicities. I’ve often seen this option: “Two or More ethnicities (not Hispanic.) See the screenshot below from an actual LinkedIn application.
There are plenty of fast writers out there that can rival Stephen King’s ability to complete any manuscript length in three months. Many aspiring authors, debut novelists, and those trying to land book deals get inspired by King and other fast writers. The one thing we all forget is that the man’s been writing since 1967!
Fifty-five years is longer than some of us have been alive. I mention King because he’s one of my all-time favorite authors. His writing advice is a favorite in the #writingcommunity. Many writers turn to King’s well-known memoir “On Writing” and dogmatically attempt to practice his advice on how much time a first draft should take.
“The first draft of a book—even a long one—should take no more than three months, the length of a season,” King has famously advised.
March 8th marks International Women’s Day, designed to reflect on our values as a society and honor multicultural women globally. As an aspiring author, creative professional, and multi-ethnic Asian-Hispanic woman, I see the call for diversity as a major focus in the publishing world as it seems to be throughout all businesses.
While wanting diversity is an important step, as a woman of color (WOC), I have experienced the hypocrisy in the call for people of color (POC) to have the same opportunities as white writers and working professionals. Yes, #diversity, #POC, #BLM are all fun, #woke little hashtags, and look really 21st-century-cool. Yet the need for inclusion is more than the preferred pronouns someone lists on their social media. Inclusion goes beyond an antidote to an EEOC claim brought about because an applicant was pre-judged based on their race, age, gender, or sexuality. But the scream for diversity has started to feel like a trendy marketing ploy. It has been my own experience that brown people are becoming exploited in superficial marketing claims from companies to be more inclusive with no legitimate intention of following through.
We’re in the age of sharing…everything. Whether it’s checking in to Yelp to report what we’ve eaten for lunch to posting our sweaty workout pictures on Instagram just to show off our abs. After all, we worked hard on them, didn’t we?
Oversharing is more than what we post on our social media platforms. Have you ever been in a situation where you’re compelled to discuss your project or goals? Sometimes people feel that by sharing, we are holding ourselves accountable. But, I think there is strength in working hard in silence instead of boasting to anyone willing to listen. There isn’t anything wrong with taking pride in our work. There isn’t anything wrong with sharing our success stories or opening up about our daily lives with the world. Many influencers, content creators, and celebrities out there do just that. In fact, that’s how some creators make money by sharing their every waking second of success or failures with hungry fans.
When we hear the words “break down,” we automatically think of a nervous breakdown, a mental collapse, or a slump in our life where we reach our lowest point. But breaking down isn’t always so melodramatic. In fact, it can be a simple breakdown in communication, having to relearn how we remotely work with others.
We go to college, get our degrees, and expect to be done learning. We can be subject matter experts and leaders in our respective fields. But true leadership comes from personal knowledge of self and having the understanding that we’re never done growing.
Over the years, I have leaned on certain group therapy sessions, back in the day when being in groups wasn’t a scary thing. What stuck out to me while doing these pre-pandemic group therapies was the most basic exercise that a leading therapist would do. It’s called positive reframing, and it can be a powerful, simple tool to create a mind shift that works almost instantly.
Regardless of where you are in your professional pursuits, the simplest thing that hinders growth is our own negative thoughts. This is especially true for vulnerable, creative professionals such as aspiring authors.
Since the pandemic, the job market has changed as many people work remotely or in some type of hybrid position. Creative professionals that are designers, writers, videographers, and other content creators are pressed more and more to have portfolios at the ready for prospective employers. This should includesuccessful personal blogs and social media accounts because it demonstrates knowledge of popular CMS such as WordPress and social media platforms.
If you’re looking for new career opportunities and you’re a creative professional or someone who works with content creation, there may be times when you’ll be asked to do a spec assignment. There are ethical dilemmas to a spec. But first, what is spec work?
Currently, I’ve been extremely fortunate to be in a position where I’m open to new opportunities. Many people stay stagnant and get stuck for so many years in a particular situation, where they must remain at a company. But, I’m a believer in growth, expanding my knowledge, being in a place where my wings will not be clipped, and I can fly to new career heights. Since being open to new opportunities, I put my son in daycare because I realized I’m not Superwoman. What I am is a wise woman who recognizes when she needs all of her attention to focus on her next career move.
The biggest thing that’s come up thus far has been hiring managers wanting to see a portfolio.
As someone that has a project management certification from Villanova, I’m excellent with managing multiple projects at once, including juggling professional and personal projects, from short-form content to long-form passion projects, plus #momlife of a precocious six-year-old that’s an avid, advanced reader already wanting her own YouTube channel, and a teething six-month-old that desperately wants to walk before he can crawl, grabbing everything in sight and finally smacking me with the reality that I’m NOT Superwoman!
Ugh…(deep breath)…having a new baby has been hard.
Change has been on the horizon for many of us, whether we like it or not. If you’re one who resists change and has difficulty adjusting when your routine goes sideways, then you might find yourself struggling with the new norm.
The pandemic has forced us to get used to our living arrangements because, let’s face it, many of us have now work from home. That’s become the biggest change is the new hybrid and fully remote work models. Not only that, there now seems to be a shortage of just about everything. One of my ultimate loves is Diet Coke. After I had my son, I couldn’t find caffeine-free Diet Coke anywhere. Why? There’s a nationwide aluminum shortage, otherwise known as the “candemic,” resulting from more breweries choosing cans over glass. The aluminum shortage is also partly due to China’s crackdown on energy usage to meet its carbon-emission goals. Auto industry experts are now warning of a magnesium shortage because the chemical element is a key ingredient in making aluminum!
Thanksgiving is the one day out of the year where we survey our lives to uncover what we ought to be grateful for. Some of us have a generic list. Others might like to come up with unique reasons to count their blessings. But if we’re all honest with ourselves, some days it’s hard to see the silver lining, and that’s okay. So as long as we rise from struggle and understand how gratitude can make us better.
Gratitude, in many cases, has become overly used. It truly has become the go-to phrase whenever anyone is upset. There’s nothing worse than clichéd responses to personal challenges, trauma, and real difficulties we face. It’s easy for someone else sitting where you’d like to be in life and is not in your shoes to tell you to “just get over it” and to “be grateful for what you have.” If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard someone say that, I’d be a billionaire.
The best gift you can give yourself this season isn’t the latest gadget on a Black Friday sale but the gift to be open to learning new things. I absolutely love to learn, and in all honesty, if college was free, I’d be a perpetual student enrolled forever. However, there are ways to improve your skill set that doesn’t cost a lot of money.
Why is it important to keep learning? Being open to learning not only helps you in your professional life but also improves your skills as a writer and helps you become a more self-aware individual. On the other hand, having a know-it-all attitude stunts our growth and can potentially tarnish our relationships. Let’s face it, no one wants to be around someone who thinks they have the answer to everything. While we can be experts in a particular field, things are constantly evolving. There’s new software, innovative strategies to market products, advancements in technology, and a butt-load of skills that we’ve yet to learn.
November is the perfect opportunity to consider giving back and not just to others but to ourselves. It’s the month for turkey dinner, Black Friday sales, Cyber Monday blowouts, and, for many writers, National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo. If you’re trying to crank out 50k words by the end of the month, it could help bust your tendency to procrastinate.
However, you should also consider working on consistency as a writer no matter what month it is. Some writers need a muse, and NaNoWriMo could offer that to them. It’s a cool and fun challenge to get us all trying to write every day. Other writers wait for inspiration to hit. Many of us often have work, kids, and lives full of distractions. There will always be a reason not to start. Excuses are very easy to make because they’re the quickest way to allow procrastination to get in the way of accomplishing not just our daily word count but any goal, for that matter.
Admittedly, I’m a very passionate person. I’m passionate about my content producing and social media management expertise, and I’m passionate about my writing goals as an aspiring author. In my professional and personal life, I’ve learned that passion requires management. Sometimes excessive passion can run a situation over the cliff before you have time to—oh shit—stop it.
People often use the word passion quite liberally, but have you ever actually looked up the definition?
There’s a huge debate in the writing community whether or not having a very detailed plot outline is invaluable or a waste of time. Does it really make a book better? There’s a new story idea I’ve been toying around with and so I’d considered plotting out my next manuscript.
With my last one, I sort of had to do a super light outline because I had multiple POVs and a dual timeline. But it was the second book in a duology, and so I already knew the characters. It’s a lot different if you’re writing out a series and you already know the characters, the storyline, and kind of know what he/she would do next. It’s a lot harder to start from scratch when you are simply going off of a brand new idea that you haven’t quite fleshed out.
October is Mental Health Awareness Month, and it’s a subject that is deeply personal to me.
I wish I could say that I wake up every morning smiling from ear to ear. I wish I could say that I have an infectious laugh, a bubbly personality, and skip everywhere I go.
I wish I could say that winter weather doesn’t affect me and that COVID didn’t affect my mental health. I wish I could say that I don’t mind isolation, that I can celebrate everyone else’s success with a huge fucking grin on my face, even though all the while I’m feeling like a big fat failure.
The hardest part of writing a novel isn’t starting but knowing when to stop without perfectionism stalling progress. It’s easy for people to start something and fiddle around with it for years. I’ve spoken to writers who have taken 10-15 years and are still tweaking the same novel. Meanwhile, I’ve read drafts where I can tell the writer rushed through the process, and the manuscript requires many more revisions.
One of the biggest concerns us aspiring authors have is whether or not our audience connects with our protagonist or our cast of characters, for that matter. Did we make a likable character? Did our readers care about the character enough to keep reading?
Every writer has a different method when it comes to editing their WIP. Some writers insist on printing pages. Though, I have found Kindle to be a great tool that can help during revisions. How can Kindle be a great asset to the editing process?
First off, let’s answer the bigger question: Why is it important for a writer to get better at editing their own manuscript?
Sometimes writers intentionally want to create big worlds, so they go out of their way to write a huge cast. If you’re like me, you might’ve unintentionally done so. During the revision process, I discovered that I had named too many minor characters. Many of these characters never return.
Note: I’m deviating from my typical writing topics to discuss mental health because many writers, myself included, battle depression and other mental health issues. It’s a topic that has been taboo for far too long. Self-care as a writer is just as important as any writing tip.
Mental health has been one of the most under-discussed topics throughout COVID. We’ve talked about washing our hands for at least twenty seconds, carrying around hand sanitizers, wearing masks, and keeping six feet from one another. But we’ve failed to highlight the importance of prioritizing mental health.
When my husband and I were trying for our second child, we thought it would be simple because we conceived our first child on the first try. Little did we know the long road we would have to endure ahead. Being the creative person I am, trying to breathe life into my manuscripts and a little human at the same time was the hardest period of my life. It felt like my body was rejecting me at every turn, and so were traditional publishing houses.
Writing a novel isn’t the hardest part; it’s the entire process that can be time-consuming. Editing takes up the biggest chunk of time because it’s more than spell checking and grammar. It’s also getting feedback. Reading your work to yourself isn’t enough. Having additional eyes on our work is one of the most valuable aspects of the editing process.
Good beta readers and critique partners can be hard but not impossible to find. Luckily, social media has opened up a great window of opportunity for writers to connect. Twitter has a dense #writingcommunity that is very supportive. There are also large groups of beta readers and critique partners on Facebook. Joining a group can be very helpful and the first step toward getting more perspectives on your writing.
Woman. Writer. Hard Worker. Sister. Wife. Mother. Aunt. Best Friend. Korean. Puerto Rican. Mixed Minority. Non-Bilingual. American. Educated. Social Media Maven. Content Producer. Book-Nerd. True Crime Buff. Insomniac. Major Depression Battler. Self-Help Junkie. Sushi Fanatic. Nature-Lover. Dog Mom. Eternal Learner. Human.
None of us fit in one box, and most of us wear many hats. That’s why I’ve never liked questions where I’m not just asked but forced to choose one ethnicity. Am I Hispanic or Latino? Well, yes, but I’m also half Korean. Where’s the box for that? You don’t see— Are you German? You don’t see—Are you Irish? It’s only—Are you Hispanic or Latino? That damn question is everywhere and on everything and not just job applications. I’ve always wondered why the hell does it even matter that I’m half Hispanic or Latino? It forced me to admit one very hard truth—it does matter to our society. Our society wants us to fit in something that they can identify, to help them categorize us.
The first rule of being a writer is learning to accept isolation. Separating ourselves from outside distractions enables us to focus on the words and listen to the internal voice that helps us to follow our vision. Read the rest of this entry »
I admit it as a creative soul, as a writer I’m quite the escape artist and there are many forms of avoidance. A glass of red wine or two. A mind-numbing videogame on my cell phone. Even a good book. Read the rest of this entry »
I wasn’t familiar with the Overdrive App until my sister told me about it. Her daughter had a reading assignment, and her teacher passed along information regarding the app that has changed the way I sit in traffic. Read the rest of this entry »
Everyone says that confidence is a make-it-or-break-it trait. A lack of confidence shows in everything that you do. It is as if people can see the “L” for loser branded on your forehead. If you don’t have confidence, you’re doomed. You’ll likely never reach your goals, you’ll never amount to the success you’ve been trying to reach. Read the rest of this entry »
Losing is key to personal growth, character building, and even success. I think without our losses, it’s impossible to taste victory. Imagine if there were no such thing as tears. Imagine a world without pain, without struggle, without rejection, without losing. While this might sound like Utopia or maybe even some old Star Trek episode, there’s a sense of wrongness to it. Without pain, we’d never grow, and without growth we can’t fully appreciate the sweetness of winning. Read the rest of this entry »
Heading into the New Year, we all love the feeling of starting out fresh. Who doesn’t want a new beginning? The start of a New Year can also mean getting out of our comfort zone. For writers, the first thing that comes to my mind is tense. Are you considering writing in a different tense or POV this 2019? Read the rest of this entry »
Let’s just say after a few Twitter DMs and emails, we set up a time to meet for coffee, as we’re both L.A. locals. An inspiring author myself, I had to meet the funny man behind the hilariously written article. I found his humility and natural comedic personality refreshing. We sat and had coffee and he answered all of my questions about the writing world and the TV industry. I then ordered Ken’s book AMP’D, an adult commercial dramedy, and absolutely loved it!AMP’D briefly landed on the Los Angeles Times Bestseller List and was later nominated for the 2017 Thurber Prize for American Humor, “losing” to Trevor Noah’s memoir Born a Crime. Read the rest of this entry »
Productivity often feels better when we’re going at warp speed, but manic levels of workaholic loads come with a price. Here’s what I’ve learned in a crash course of Go! Go! Go!: What comes up, must come down. At the end of our long day, what we could all use more of is a little something called balance. Read the rest of this entry »
Caution: This post contains purposed run-on sentences and fragments. Grammatical freaks read at your own peril.
Having a minimalist approach to success means understanding how to quantify your wins. Success is often measured on a large scale, but you don’t have to win the Nobel Prize to feel like a winner. Read the rest of this entry »
Of all health awareness issues and causes, mental health remains an under-represented topic.
World Health Day is more than an opportunity to complain about our rising health insurance premiums. Health coverage differs all around the world, and of course, the U.S. doesn’t rank as one of the best. This includes the lack of mental health services. Read the rest of this entry »
I’ve been MIA because I was writing so much for a contract. Let’s just say I pumped out over 80 articles, most being almost 1,000 words long. Add those up and you get 80,000 words, which is roughly the length of an average novel. Read the rest of this entry »
There is nothing that weakens the human spirit more than discouragement, and there’s also nothing more powerful then gifting unconditional love. While Valentine’s Day tempts romantics to binge watch Hallmark movies, re-read favorite romance novels, and swoon at the drop of the slightest amorous gesture, there are those of us who cringe at the sights and sounds. Read the rest of this entry »
My New Year did not start off as planned, I found myself faced with issues of mortality. The choice between life and death doesn’t always get placed in our hands. However, I soon found myself having to play God and forced to make a very personal and sensitive decision. Read the rest of this entry »
December is a perfect time to reflect as we enter into the New Year. Whenever it comes to goals, most of us can say that we’re not quite there. While there are rare individuals that can boast that every area of their life is absolutely perfect, it’s not common. Read the rest of this entry »
I’m a believer in diversifying your reading list because it flexes both your writing muscle and your ability to identify good plot. Strong characters come in all genres, and impactful page-turners are genderless with regards to the author. Read the rest of this entry »
While I slept peacefully, thanks the Seroquel I take for my insomnia, hundreds of people were running for their lives. As a deadly massacre took place in the city I once lived in for more than 10 years, where I went to high school. The city of sin and lights…Las Vegas.
This is a city where my mom, sister, brother-in-law, nieces and nephews still live. While I am not a big country music fan, my sister and her family are. Luckily, they were not at the concert that night, but many others were. But what if they had made the Route 91 concert a family event? What if they all had gone that night? Read the rest of this entry »
My face hit the floor, as I was literally brought to my knees, begging and pleading with snot and tears running down my face. I might as well have been kissing his feet, and all to make him reconsider ending our marriage.
The response I received started as an arrogant scoff that accumulated into explosive laughter. He rolled his eyes at me with not an ounce of sympathy or concern and mockingly spit out, “Get up off the floor and stop making a fool of yourself.” Read the rest of this entry »
At 32, I entered one of the worst relationships I have ever been in. The man was manipulative and yet a smooth-talking charmer. He was younger than me by four years, which is not much but still enough to boost my ego. His blue eyes and sweet boy-next-door looks swept me off my feet. Read the rest of this entry »
The day after Mohamed Bzeek turned 62 years old, doctors diagnosed him with colon cancer. This time in his life could not have been lonelier, as his wife had recently passed away, and his son was unable to provide support due to his disability. Mohamed found himself without a soul to lean on and in the hospital scared. Unsure if he would even survive, fear consumed him and so did the thought that perhaps he would die completely alone. Read the rest of this entry »