These days, I can typically track how busy I’ve been by how many days go by between each of my blog posts. Since I started doing this, I’ve missed days at least twice (if not more).
This is the longest it’s been between postings. But it wasn’t totally because I was busy.
The truth is, I’ve been dejected. In September, I wrote two pieces for submission — one fiction, one creative non-fiction. Neither one made the cut.
Since the start of the year, I’ve been questioning my ability as a writer. And suddenly, hit with these two rejections, one of which I didn’t even really care about getting into, my entire professional identity came into question.
Who was I, if not a writer? And could I even call myself a writer if I wasn’t getting published enough?
Even as I hit milestones in the other work I do, I wonder why this hasn’t been happening for my writing.
What if this was as far as I could go? The thought frightened me.
So I worked on other things. I read books, played games. The blank screen suddenly seemed like the scariest thing in the world.
But then I remembered something I’d read years ago: the answer to the question “when can I call myself a writer”.
“I’m not sure how I fit into the media industry,” I said to a media consultant earlier this year.
I still haven’t figured out the answer, yet I follow industry news and how-to articles as if I was still working in media. Perhaps in this day and age, we all are.
I have been fascinated lately, by reports on how young people consume news. I believe that it’s important information for both media companies, as well as companies that do content marketing.
Back in 2012, when I still officially a journalist, I was often asked if I was working in a dying industry. It’s 2019, journalism isn’t dead yet and I still believe now what I did then: journalism will evolve. Rasmus Nielsen who is the Director of the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism wrote a beautiful essay about the fight for the future of journalism.
I’ve been experimenting with podcasting for a while now. I get decent sound quality by recording in a quiet room with no moving air (no fans / air-conditioners). This article in journalism.co.uk provides six tips for getting even better audio quality.
My other obsession currently is newsletters. Anne-LaureLe Cunff shared a case study on how she used ProductHunt to launch her newsletter and got 2,000 news subscribers via the platform.
This article on the Global Investigative Journalism Network about how English is “skewing the global news narrative” was thought-provoking. Does having good English equate to being a good journalist? What sort of news goes international?
One of my hobbies is testing out website builders and content management systems (CMS). I recently got around to building a proper website on Squarespace and this time around, it seemed a lot easier to use.
Previously, I couldn’t get over the fact that the only way to access the CMS was through the page builder and that put me off working on the pages.
But after today, I realise that the website building experience is actually a lot simpler compared to WordPress (which is usually my first choice).
It also has email marketing built into the website, which can be convenient. There’s no need to sign up for separate marketing software.
On the other hand, I don’t love the fact that, compared to WordPress, there’s limited flexibility in terms of design. It’s also slightly more expensive and there’s no free tier.
The email marketing plans are also on the pricy side, compared to tools like Mailchimp, Mailerlite (current favourite for marketing) or Substack (current favourite for content).
In terms of analytics, Squarespace again provides a lot of convenience with their built-in analytics, which is comprehensive enough. Using it means one doesn’t have to set up Google Analytics (Google Search Console still required though).
After trying it out this time, I’d say I would probably use Squarespace to build a portfolio website or a content website with a fixed focus but likely not as a personal blog.
I’ve been a reflective phase the last week and thus, have been struck the most by content that’s somewhat related to reflection and self-examination.
I found this post about how one should “cross the world four times” very beautifully written. I’ve only crossed the world once and I’m not sure if I did all I could have done. Now that I’ve read this, perhaps I’ll do better when I cross the world for the second time.
Carl Sagan’s paper on The Art of Baloney Detection provides some tools for “skeptical thinking”, which I felt was important seeing as I’ve been reading a bit about the treatment and eating of animals in Animal Liberation.
Sidenote: I subscribe to the Fermat’s Library newsletter, which sends a “paper of the week” each week. It’s a great way to read academic writing from a range of different topics.
After reading Josh Spector’s post on how being specific can help one’s success, I realised that I tend to be a little too vague at times. Spector provides five areas where being specific can be especially helpful.
Sam Andrew left his hedge fund job after nine years working in finance to travel the world. He shares some of the lessons he’s learned after “a year of discovery”. One thing he’s learned is that one should “enjoy the journey”.
He writes, “If the journey is not fulfilling, don’t fool yourself into thinking the destination will miraculously bring you fulfilment.
I also found this Simon Sinek video on how to measure success quite insightful. He says that the metrics that we use to measure success is incomplete. For example, there are metrics to measure performance, but none to measure trustworthiness.
I have been caught up in the world of The Wheel of Time. The complete series in ebook format has been sitting on my e-reader since earlier this year and I’ve been putting off the re-read.
Now that principal photography for the TV series has begun, I thought it was time to begin.
I first started reading The Wheel of Time at 14, when nine of the books had already come out. I kept up with the series up till the 11th book, then somehow after the four-year gap until the next book, I never continued.
It was the first sword and sorcery fantasy series that I’d picked up, and it spawned a love for the genre. It broadened my reading horizons — which at the time, was mostly chick lit and sci-fi. In a way, WoT led me to The Lord of the Rings.
In discovering WoT, I found myself discovering more and more fantasy stories and as always when it comes to reading, one thing leads to another. I eventually found Terry Pratchett, who led me to Neil Gaiman, who led me to even more writers.
In the past couple of years, I haven’t read much fantasy. And now that I’m immersed in the world of high fantasy again, I realise that I’ve missed it.