Insightful Wheels

Ramadan Flyer for Chakri Palace, KLCC

Ramadan Flyer for Chakri Palace, KLCC

Wouldn’t it be nice if I could join Martin on this assignment? A food tasting for the Ramadhan Buffett at a swanky restaurant in town.

That was the thought sent to the universe and, thereafter, forgotten. Lo and behold, a few days later, Martin sent an invitation. I jumped at the chance and said yes.

The day is now here. I make my way to KLCC and meet up with Martin. He introduces me to two lovely ladies. Let’s just call them D and P for now for I don’t know if they’d like to be identified. Anyway, once pleasantries are exchanged, we make our way to Chakri Palace for what promises to be an evening of deliciousness.

Sawadeeka

Sawadeeka

The Marketing Manager greets us at the entrance of the restaurant. I must admit that I dare not look into the eyes of the other seated patrons. I can feel their hunger as they wait for the appropriate time to break their Ramadhan fast.

One look at the opulent setting and food laid out for us in the private room and I’m worried. Have I starved myself long enough in the past week? How am I going to burn all this off since I’m still on this diet? On the good side, though, I will probably sleep very well tonight as the food looks divine.

So as not to look like an absolute glutton, I busy myself with the menu card and learn a little more about the restaurant. This is some of what I read:

Chakri Palace was founded in 1999 in our quest to bring the finest Thai cuisine to Malaysia. ‘Chakri’ represents the current ruling house of Thailand; ‘Palace’ allows guests to experience the exquisite taste of Thai cuisine like royalty.

‘Chakri’ is also a word that has Sanskrit origin; it means wheel.

I glance around the place and true enough, there’s a gigantic portrait of King Chulalongkorn. Seeing this, I am reminded of a story about this king and his connection with my home town of Alor Setar. It’s well known that the musical instruments used by royalty in Kedah (more commonly known as ‘Nobat’) is special. They are used during very specific occasions such as the Sultan’s birthday or coronation. If I remember my history correctly, there was only one other time the Nobat was used during an official welcome for a head of state other than the Sultan of Kedah: When King Chulalongkorn visited Kedah state in 1896.

My reverie is interrupted when a waiter walks in to add even more food to the table. There’s lots. So, I’m going to concentrate on those that I eat.

The first is called ‘Tom Yum Prawn Soup’. The word I would use for this dish is ‘deceptive’. When I’ve order this dish at other restaurants, the soup has a reddish tinge to it. This one is clear and I assume it won’t be spicy. A minute later, mouth on fire, all I can think of is how foolish I am. Just because it doesn’t look like hot doesn’t mean it’s not hot.

This ‘heat-wave’ continues with all the other dishes, from the ‘Thai Papaya Salad with Tuna’, ‘Stir Fried Beancurd with Hot Basil Leaves’ and ‘Green Curry Crab Meat with Rice Noodles’.

None of this means that I can’t taste the food. In fact, once I am past the heat, I savour the delicate taste of each dish. As I call for the waiter and request more water, the Marketing Manager tells us all: “We don’t use any preservatives. No MSG.”

D and P are quick to respond: “Ah! Good. If not, we’d be drinking lots of water.”

Premium Crab Ball in Yellow Curry

Premium Crab Ball in Yellow Curry

My favourite dish, by far, is one of the last ones – ‘Premium Crab Ball in Yellow Curry’. It’s beautifully delicate and melts in the mouth.

As I sit back to take a breather, so do the others. The conversation veers to things a little more personal than work. And soon, the night comes to an end. So as not to make this piece very long, I shall list the one conversation that will make laugh for a long time to come. (I have the order of things, but you’ll get the drift).

For ease of reference, everyone will be referred to by their initials. D and P, you already know. M will be Martin. A is me (Aneeta). MM will be the Marketing Manager.

D: Oh, I’m so full. There are things I can’t take.

M: Yah. D follows the blood type diet.

A: Blood type diet? Oh God. I can’t even remember what my blood type is.

M: You can’t?

A: It must be the most normal one.

D: That would be ‘O’.

A: So, what am I not supposed to eat?

[D fiddles with her phone then reads some stuff off the screen.]

D: No dairy.

[I say nothing for I have dairy every day. In fact, one of the few things that helps me sleep at night is a glass of milk.]

P: I think I’m A. I know I can’t take pasta sauce.

[D fiddles again with her phone.]

P: Yeah. But I like seafood. The food here’s great.

A: I really liked the sotong.

P: That was great. Actually, all the seafood is great. Lucky there was no octopus.

[We all nod.]

P: I don’t eat octopus because they’re insightful.

[I lean forward. Did I hear right?]

A: Did you just say you don’t eat octopus because they’re insightful?

[She nods, nonchalant.]

A: I can understand if you’re allergic to octopus. Some people don’t like those suction things on their tentacles. They think they’ll stick to the tongue. But…

[I frown and look at her closely.]

A: Insightful?

P: Yeah! They’re insightful.

I look at the others around the table. We burst out laughing, but there is an underlying sense that she’s quite serious. Maybe, I should reconsider eating octopus in the future as well.  After all, it doesn’t seem right to an insightful octopus. Would you?

  • all the images used in this post are courtesy of Chakri Palace, KLCC
  • to make a reservation, please visit http://www.chakri.com.my

***

By Aneeta Sundararaj
(16 June 2016)


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Are You a Writer Who Doesn’t Plan?

By Rohi Shetty

“A plan is a dream with a deadline.” ~Napoleon Hill

Do you intend to make a living off your writing and quit your day job? Then you need to think of yourself not only as a professional writer but also as a creative entrepreneur.

What’s the first step in transforming your freelance writing efforts into a business?

A business plan.

Most writers either don’t have a business plan in place or spend too much time creating an elaborate business plan, which is neither practicable nor actionable.

Your first business plan should be short and easy to implement. And most important, it should be flexible, so that you can adapt it to changes in your circumstances, interests, or goals.

Here’s the template for a basic business plan that you can complete within 30 minutes. Don’t procrastinate on this. Schedule 30 minutes today, set your timer, and fill in this template.

Even if you have a business plan already, this template will help to clarify your vision for your writing career and help you to act with greater focus. (And if you want a 3-year plan, check out Mridu Khullar’s blog post in the resources below.)

Business plan template for writers:

  1. Ideal Reader / Client Who is your ideal reader? (Who do you want to serve?) What are his / her defining qualities?
  2. Channels Where does your ideal reader hang out? How will you find him / her? How will he / she find you?
  3. Problem What are your ideal reader’s biggest problems? What are your ideal reader’s biggest desires?
  4. Solution How will you solve this problem or satisfy this desire? What is your unique selling point (USP)?
  5. Revenue What will you sell to your ideal reader? a. Services (article-writing, blogging, copywriting, editing, ghostwriting) b. Products (e-books, online courses, membership sites, etc.)
  6. Business Strengths What are your biggest business strengths? (List your skills, relationships, experience, etc.)
  7. Expenses What costs will you need to build this business? (Equipment, software, web hosting, email provider, advertising, etc.)
  8. Personal Fit Define what it means to be happy with your writing career. What kind of lifestyle do you want? How are you going to create space for both love and money in your writing life?
  9. Elevator Pitch Combine your problem, audience, solution and USP to create your elevator pitch. (Write at least 20 versions and select the one that appeals to you the most.)

Action this day!

Please do this today.

Write at least one line for each question. You can add more details later.

Business Plan Follow up

Look at your business plan regularly, preferably once a day.

Set specific weekly goals based on your business goals:

      • Writing Goals
      • Pitching / Submission / Publication Goals
      • Marketing Goals (including social media)

Resources:

The Freelance Writing Three-Year Plan by Mridu Khullar
Year 1: Build a Foundation
Year 2: Increase Your Income
Year 3: Build Relationships

The 7-Step Business Plan for Writers
A simpler version by Jane Friedman

Introducing the Business Plan for Writers Worksheet
Includes a downloadable worksheet by Jami Gold

Reinvent Your Writing Career ($198)
Check out this six-week audio course by Mridu Khullar to fix your writing career and transform it into something you love.

Join the conversation:

Did you write your business plan?

Which part did you find the most challenging?

Let us know in the comments below.

(22 June 2016)


Rohi Shetty has published nine Kindle books and blogs about writing and digital publication at rohishetty.com. You can download all his books for free here.


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When Napoleon was Listed Among the British War Dead

Bill Keeth looks back to 1879 and a death that shocked England and France quite as much as the more recent death of Diana, Princess of Wales

The only child of the Emperor Napoleon III of France and the Empress Eugenie, the Prince Imperial relocated with his family to England when his father, son of a younger brother of Napoleon I, was ousted from the French throne, after the Franco-Prussian War.

He trained as a soldier and, keen to see action, he, his mother and Queen Victoria herself  persuaded the British to allow him to participate in the  Zulu War, where to Baron Chelmsford, the infamous loser of the Isandlwhana massacre was ordered to take care of him.

But on the morning of 1 June, without a full escort, Louis accompanied a troop into Zululand where 40 Zulus rushed toward them screaming. The Prince’s horse dashed off before he could mount, the Prince clinging to a holster on the saddle—after about a hundred yards a strap broke, and the Prince fell beneath his horse and his right arm was trampled. He leapt up, drawing his revolver with his left hand, and started to run—but the Zulus ran faster.

The Prince was speared in the thigh but pulled the assegai from his wound. As he turned and fired on his pursuers, another assegai struck his left shoulder. He tried to fight on, using the assegai he had pulled from his leg, but, weakened by his wounds, he sank to the ground and was overwhelmed. When recovered, his body had eighteen assegai wounds;

His death caused an international sensation. Rumours spread in France that the prince, being the last of the Bonapartes had been intentionally “disposed of” by the British.

(22 June 2016)


See Amazon Kindle books recently published by Bill Keeth: Every Street in Manchester, Manchester 9, Write It Self-Publish It Sell It, Boost Your Pocket Money and Pension

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Are You a Writer Who Doesn’t Pitch?

By Rohi Shetty

There are two kinds of writers: those who write for themselves and those who write for others.

If you write only for yourself—journaling, three morning pages, notes to yourself—life is simple and flows like a sweet song.

However, if you wish to write for others, you have to submit or publish your work to editors. And usually, before submission, you have to “pitch” your idea to the editor of your chosen publication or website.

Are you stuck because you don’t know what to write or for whom. The answer to both these questions can be solved in only one way: find a suitable publication and pitch an idea to the editor. Unfortunately, you are not sure how to find online paying markets. You are in luck! I have done the research for you.

Here’s a list of websites that will pay you to write for them:

  1. The International Freelancer

Mridu Khullar Relph is the founder of The International Freelancer. She has written for The New York Times, TIME, CNN, ABC, The Christian Science Monitor, Ms., Marie Claire, and many more in a career spanning over 13 years. She pays $100 for guest posts on publication via Paypal.

(Subscribe to her newsletter, The International Freelancer, for a wealth of resources including a free e-book, 21 Query Letters That Sold.)

  1. Writers in Charge

Bamidele Onibalusi is a highly successful freelance writer from Nigeria and has been featured on Huffington Post: Bamidele Onibalusi: The Ultimate Nigerian Business Success Story. Subscribe to this site to download his free e-book 110 Websites that Pay Writers

Here are links to Bamidele’s Posts about Paying Markets for Writers:

(Thanks to Lorraine Reguly for compiling this list.)

  1. Make a Living Writing

Carol Tice is an award-winning freelance writer, writing coach and founder of Freelance Writers Den. She has recently compiled a list of 92 Websites That Pay Writers $50 or more.

  1. Be a Freelance Blogger (BAFB)

Sophie Lizard is an expert freelance blogger and founder of the free online BAFB community. Subscribe to her site to get her list of 75 blogs that pay $50 to $2000 per post.

Sophie also conducts a Pitchfest every three months—a blog post pitching contest. You write your blog post idea (in the comments section) and her team chooses our favorites, with prizes of up to $100 for the winners. Not only do you stand a chance of winning $100, but you also get the opportunity of reading all the other pitches along with public feedback from Sophie, Laurie Tharp and fellow bloggers. Here’s the March 2016 Pitchfest.

  1. Let’s Write a Short Story

Joe Bunting writes short stories and is the author of Let’s Write a Short Story. If you are interested in submitting short stories for literary magazines, check out his post: 46 Literary Magazines to Submit to. In addition to the above sites, Joe recommends duotrope.com, an aggregator of literary magazines, particularly their 100 most favorited markets list (select “Most Favorited Markets” from the dropdown menu).

  1. Bonus Tip

If you want to research paying markets tailored to your interests and expertise, read this helpful post by Pius Boachie: How to Use Google to Find Endless Freelance Writing Opportunities

Beware!

The biggest danger is that you will happily bookmark this monster list of paying markets and then let it gather dust on your hard drive. Or you may even click through and list a few sites that are of interest to you.

Unless you take action and send a pitch to one or more of these sites, you have wasted the time you spent reading this post!

Action Step: Pick the site that appeals to you the most, research the kind of article that the editor is likely to accept and send your first pitch right away.

Parting Quiplash:

“My philosophy, and it’s easier said than done, is that I’m only in competition with myself. Every day that I’m better than I was yesterday is a day that is a success.” ~Mridu Khullar Relph

Additional Resources:

Now that you have learned where to pitch, learn how to pitch with either of these courses:

30 Days, 30 Queries ($249)

by Mridu Khullar Relph

(How to break into top publications with a marketing strategy that works)

Self-paced online course—starts now with lifetime access.

Freelance Writer’s Pitch Clinic 2016 ($497)

by Carol Tice and Linda Formicelli

(Learn to pitch to editors at consumer and trade magazines… and get the gig.) Course starts on 6 June 2016.

Join the conversation:

Which among these sites will you pitch first?

If not, why not?

Let us know in the comments below.

(1 June 2016)


Rohi Shetty has published nine Kindle books and blogs about writing and digital publication at rohishetty.com. You can download all his books for free here.


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Part 2 of Introduction to Big Pains, Small Pains…LetMyPeopleGo

The Story of Pains – Part 2

(for Part 1, please click here)

…That was not to be. The Chief ignored him. He kept a straight face and maintained that cops have received several crime reports about that uncompleted building. Ozo brought in an attorney to help. The cops rebuffed him. He promised to defend the boys in court if need be. Ozo’s wife pleaded with the Chief to release her sons that they are not robbers. They went there to cool off. But the cop was not moved.

“You can lie on the ground Madam. I’ll not release your boys. We shall soon put them in cell.”

She froze. Then her lips trembled just as the pain on her face suddenly made her look older. The thought of her boys in the dreaded police cell through the night chilled her blood.

“That place is not safe,” she confided in a broken voice to a friend comforting her.  “Anything can happen to these boys overnight.”

Few minutes later, the Chief walked to the attorney. “The vigilante boss has to make a statement. One of the boys has to go there with the IPO-Investigating Police Officer.”

Jethro looked unruffled. But he was defiant and resisted the cops. Every attempt to make him go was not successful. He lambasted the Police Chief and threatened to press charges against him for unlawful arrest and detention. ‘I know my rights’ he said repeatedly. Jordan was sober. He was later ferreted out from behind the counter handcuffed, lips swollen, jaws in pains. He did not speak. No one spoke to him either. The sight of his manacled wrists cut his father’s heart. His mother broke down in tears.

“God why me,” she cried.

“Why should it be another person,” Ozo snapped at her, his nerve on edge. Get hold of your self. This is the time to think not lament.” The pain of the family was visible.

Off they went to get the statement. Getting there, Ozo instantly disliked the place. He grimaced as he looked at the rough terrain, bad dirt road, decrepit buildings and filthy environment that dotted the landscape. “What were my sons looking for here,” he wondered.

The vigilante boss confirmed the building is notorious. Hoodlums and bad boys use it as hideout to spring on passersby and local residents. Complaints mounted and the vigilante stepped up surveillance there. Anybody seen at the building is a suspect. His men were instructed to arrest anybody seen there. It’s unfortunate the young students sat there. He intervened when he saw them beating up the boys and directed them to the police station.

He turned to Ozo: “You can see what your boys do in school. They may not be robbers but they smoke marijuana.”

And to Jordan: “Why should you students make your parents pass through such pain. The pain of university teachers strike is more than enough for them to bear in these hard times. Read your books and steer clear of trouble.”

Jordan stood still, subdued and silent. His stooping broad shoulders and bowed head made him look defeated. His thin line of beards and sullen face showed signs of fatigue. Ozo was worried as he observed his boy but did not speak. He watched everybody face expressionless. ‘Do I believe this vigilante boss or my boys?” He wondered.  That would wait until my boys tell their story.

Back to the station, the cops discarded every statement made and demanded 30 grand for quick resolution of the case. The quest for the vigilante boss statement was a ploy to waste time and pile pressure on Ozo to pay for freedom.

“Where can I raise this amount of money this night,” he asked no one in particular.

The cops maintained their rigid position. “Bring the money now or meet us in court tomorrow. Innocence of the boys does not arise here. We have the marijuana as evidence.”

A lot of haggling followed to reduce the amount. No deal. It is 30 or nothing, the cops insisted. The Chief, middle aged and slim, dressed in mufti, with tribal marks on his hard face, kept his distance. He left the wheeling and dealing with his IPO. He entered and left his office often and paraded the grounds of the police station apparently to show he is in control.

At times he stood in front of the station’s gate to watch the traffic and discuss with his IPO in low tones. Probably he was getting feedback on negotiation for the money and fine tuning the deal. Late that night, Ozo painfully handed over the money and the police handed over his boys.

It was at home he got to know how the vigilante troop rounded up his boys. Jethro reported that the attackers whispered in local language they have made another big catch as the boys look like children of the rich. To make the offense look real, they brandished the bag of marijuana at the police station as evidence.

“What the hell were you boys looking for in that dingy area?” Ozo asked. “It’s certainly not a place for students like you. Jo Boy, are you guys on drugs?”

“No Dad. We went there to check out a friend. He was not home so we decided to cool off with cold drinks. Those vigilantes are criminals looking fror…for…” the older boy stuttered because of his wounded jaw.

“Innocent boys to rope into trouble to make quick money,” Jethro cut in. We were shocked when they brandished the bag of weed at the police station.”  Dad, how can we buy that quantity of stuff? That will cost a fortune.”

“You have a point there son.”

“This is organized racket,” the boy continued. “Pains for victims; gains for oppressors. Our psychological pain was more than the physical. Dad, you shouldn’t have given those cops any money. Bribery must stop. It feeds Corruption.”

“I had no other option Jet. The system is bad. You and Jo Boy just could not pass the night in those terrible cells. They are death chambers.”

“Even at that Dad, we resolved to take the pains and stick it out. We did not commit any offence. We are victims of a racket run by corrupt leaders. Enough is enough. Corruption must die!”

“That’s true son. But the fact remains that truth does not stop pains in this country. I overhead one of the female cops telling your mom you’re a hardened guy.”

“They haven’t seen anything yet,’ said Jethro as his lips twisted in a snarl. “Just wait until hard guys get down on it with bold ideas.  We must fight Corruption to standstill. If we fall we rise to fight on. Young David brought down Goliath with improvised weapon and courage. The pains are too much. This must stop!”

“You are determined son. You have used ‘must’ three times. Corruption must hear this.”

“You got it Dad. Determination feeds courage. Even beasts of the jungle run from courage.

“I agree with you Jet but you have to accompany Jo Boy to the clinic now. Tomorrow he will see a dentist. Let this not happen again.”

“That’s the meaning of your name Dad.”

“You are correct son but who will set us free?”

“If elders can’t the young will using our imagination,” Jet answered.

“You bet. You remember the power of Imagination.’

“Yes Dad. You told me if you switch it on you do great things.”

“The young shall grow son.”

“But not in pains Dad.”

(1 June 2016)


Eric Okeke is a CSR specialist and strategist in brand marketing and mobilizing support for corporate and social issues. He is the brand storyteller, writer, speaker, author and media consultant, with training in chemistry, marketing and business journalism. As a business writer and speaker, he has recorded a good career in media consulting and journalism which he started at The Guardian, Lagos.

Eric’s communications niche is storytelling which he is now using to empower professionals and improve business returns in Nigeria. Email him at, ericokeke@gmail.com, ericosamba@yahoo.com Tel +234 803 301 4609; +234 817 301 4609.

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Centenary of the Easter Rising: Easter Monday, 24 April 1916

By Bill Keeth
 
Looking back a hundred years & more, courtesy of half a dozen books and a DVD
 
If, nowadays, an armed force of determined defenders made a stand against an infinitely stronger army of occupation there would be an almighty furore worldwide. Questions would be asked in the House. Representations would be made to the United Nations.  Presidents Obama and Putin would lose no time at all in despatching trained mediators to the trouble spot. Political pundits would chunter on interminably within the hermetically-sealed newsrooms of Sky, the BBC and ITN.
 
This is not the way it was in Dublin on the morning of Easter Monday, 1916, when fewer than 900 men and women secured various strategically-located public buildings around the city.  Chief amongst these was the General Post Office, from the roof of which a republican flag was soon flying. Then, at a few minutes past noon, Patrick Pearse (teacher, lawyer, romantically-inclined patriot and poet) strode through the front entrance towards Sackville Street (now O’Connell Street), where he proceeded to read to an audience of bemused onlookers the Proclamation of the Irish Republic.
 
A troop of lancers bore the brunt of the first fusillade of shots.
 
With its being a Bank Holiday there were more insurgents than British soldiery at this point, though reinforcements soon arrived. Then the city of Dublin became a war zone for just short of a week, at which point the same Patrick Pearse agreed to British demands for an unconditional surrender.
 
Retribution was fast and furious.
 
During the first two weeks in May a total of 15 rebels were executed by firing squad. Patrick Pearse was amongst them (whistling as he went, according to one British source); his brother Willie, too (guilty of being Patrick’s brother); with labour leader James Connolly last of all (propped up on a wooden chair on account of wounds sustained).
 
Outrage ensued throughout the land – not least amongst the more circumspect elements directing the British war effort. Because 200,000 native Irishmen had already enlisted in the ranks and widespread mutiny was feared. Meanwhile, with Eamon de Valera, Michael Collins and other leading insurgents just temporarily gaoled the stage was set for a more extended conflict.
 
Sadly, so many aspects of the Easter Rising combine to mar its remembrance – the use of dum dum bullets by some of the insurgents, contrary to the Hague Convention; the British Army’s resort to courts martial of a type illegal under the Geneva Convention; the shameful pro-military pronouncements of Cardinal Logue and the owner of the Irish Independent at a time when James Connolly’s fate still hung in the balance. Worst of all by far, though, is surely the number of civilians who perished – 148 in all, with pensioners and young children amongst them. So, in preference to passing rash judgment on the events of 1916 it might make more sense to consider them as part of a wider overview of Irish history, courtesy of  a half dozen books and one DVD, as follows. (See Amazon and eBay.)
 
A trilogy of historical fiction by Walter Macken …
 
Seek the Fair Land (about Cromwell in Ireland in the Seventeenth Century)
 
The Silent People (about the Great Famine of 1845)
 
The Scorching Wind (about the Irish War of Independence, 1919-21)
 
Strumpet City by James Plunkett (fiction about the lock-out of 1913)
 
Interface: Ireland by Kevin Dowling (fiction about the conflict in Northern Ireland)
 
Ireland, a History by Robert Kee (non-fiction, a fully illustrated accompaniment to the authoritative BBC/RTE series of the same name)
 
Finally, the aforementioned DVD is Michael Collins, starring Liam Neeson and Julia Roberts.
 
There is an undeniably epic quality to this film due in part to its outstanding cast, with Charles Dance as a G Man and recently-deceased Alan Rickman as a sibilantly snakelike Eamon de Valera. Courtesy of director, Neil Jordan, too, Liam Neeson comes into his own here to the extent that it is quite impossible to imagine any other living actor in the title role.
 
Incidentally, author Anthony Burgess thought well of Kevin Dowling’s novel, Interface: Ireland – and said as much, too. Well do I recall a press photograph of the two Mancunians in Monaco when the book was first published in 1979. Sadly, the partisanship endemic to those troubled times has so far denied Kevin Dowling’s masterpiece its proper place in literary history. Nevertheless, this is one author who was ever appropriately lauded at my family’s Blackley address. Indeed, how could it be otherwise when his mother had served as midwife to mine during pregnancies plural in number?
 
(18 May 2016)


See Amazon Kindle books recently published by Bill Keeth: Every Street in Manchester, Manchester 9, Write It Self-Publish It Sell It, Boost Your Pocket Money and Pension

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Are You A Writer Who Doesn’t Write?

by Rohi Shetty

Are you afflicted by “writer’s block” or Resistance or procrastination?

And what’s your excuse?

Stuff it!

You know that if you really wanted to write, you would. So what is actually going on here? Why do you often do everything but write?

In a recent interview with Marie Forleo, Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, lists five reasons why you may want to be a writer but don’t write as often or as much as you want to.

  1. Fear of failure

This is the biggest cause of writer’s block. Gilbert says: “Irrespective of what we say, the real reason we don’t move creatively ahead is always and only fear.”

All of us are afraid of criticism and rejection. We feel we don’t have the talent and every time we sit down to write, we feel like an imposter.

Though fear is necessary and protects us from actual physical danger, it is the biggest foe of creativity. That’s because fear is nervy and can’t tell the difference between real danger and pseudo-danger.

The good news is that we don’t need to overcome fear. We only need to acknowledge it and not let it paralyze us when we write.

Fear often takes on the insidious form of the internal critic. When you write, it’s okay to let fear look over your shoulder, but don’t let it stop you or influence your creative choices.

Action step: Start with a “a shitty first draft.” Never stop to think or edit while writing. Write fast as if your creative life depends on it. It does.

  1. Perfectionism paralysis

Perfectionism is fear in disguise, the perfect way to sabotage yourself. Gilbert calls it fear in high heels, a serial killer that kills your dreams and aspirations.

Perfectionism not only stops you from completing your work, it stops you from starting because you know that your work is not going to be perfect. So why bother!

Action step: It’s not your responsibility to be a great or successful writer; your own responsibility is to show up and write and persist in the face of difficulty and doubts. And to have fun along the way.

  1. Lofty Motivation

If your primary motivation for writing is to change the world, that’s too heavy a cross to bear not only for you but also for your readers.

Don’t be the person C.S. Lewis had in mind when he said, “She’s the sort of woman who lives for others—you can always tell the others by their hunted expression.”

In the words of Elizabeth Gilbert: “People would say thank you so much for your book, Eat, Pray, Love; it really helped me. But I didn’t sit down to write that book saying, ‘It’s high time I changed people’s lives.’

“That book was about me just looking for grace, looking for resurrection in my own life, and then accidentally, because I followed my own curiosity, trusted my creativity, made the work I wanted to make, I ended up helping people. That’s a side effect that can happen in the end.

“So if you want to help, just love what you’re doing and bring love to it. Whatever the thing is that you love, you’ll start to radiate this thing that people will want to be near and it will make them better and that’s the very kindest thing you can do for your community.”

Action step: Write because you love to write, because it gives you joy without bothering too much about the rewards or consequences of your work.

  1. Monetization woes

Here’s the biggest reason why you are stressed, depressed and frustrated as a writer. It’s because you feel that you are not a legitimate writer unless and until you earn a living from your writing.

Here’s how Gilbert dealt with this burden: “I made a contract with writing when I was 15 years old. I lit my candle and made my deal with the universe and said, ‘I’m going to be a writer for the rest of my life.’

“One of the promises I made to the work was ‘I’ll never ask you to support me financially; I will support both of us. I am a resourceful person and my parents raised me to be a worker. I’ll do whatever I have to do to pay the rent and you and I will have a love affair on the side of this that is not contingent on monetization.’”

Gilbert worked as a waitress, a bartender, a cook, and so on for the first few years of her writing career before she was published.

Action step: Don’t expect to make a living from your writing. Don’t let material necessity steal the joy you get from your creativity. Don’t quit your job just yet.

  1. Shit sandwich

Here’s the question you must ask yourself regularly, if not daily:

Do I love writing so much that I don’t mind eating the shit sandwich that comes with it?

This shit sandwich comes in different forms. For Gilbert, it was not being published for the first seven years of her writing career. Nowadays, it’s a negative book review in a prominent newspaper or an awful comment on Twitter. She asks herself: “Do you still want to do this thing?” And the answer, as always, is a resounding “Yes!”

Action step: So what’s your biggest shit sandwich?

  • Yet another rejection letter?
  • No comments on your latest blog post?
  • Snarky comments about your latest story?

Ask yourself if writing is still what you want you to do in spite of it all.

The bottom-line is this:

Treat your writing as a journey, an adventure, a love affair. Because it is.

Reference:

What Elizabeth Gilbert Wants You to Know About Big Magic (video)

By the way:

A few days, I ran a free promotion of all my Kindle books. If you missed it, no worries. You can download all the eight PDF files here for free: Rohi’s Kindle Books.

And if you like any of them, I would really appreciate it if you could post a review on Amazon. Thanks in advance.

Join the conversation:

Which among these five writing blocks is your biggest obstacle?

Let us know in the comments below.

(18 May 2016 2016)


Rohi Shetty has published nine Kindle books and blogs about writing and digital publication at rohishetty.com.


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