NON FICTION: The Case For Writing One Sentence A Day

Fountain pen and cursive writing

Photo: Alvaro Serrano

Think about getting off your chair right now and doing thirty minutes’ worth of bodyweight exercises. Think about writing a book. Think about picking the salad instead of that pizza you were craving.

Chances are, you probably have a long list of things you’d rather do, and why shouldn’t you? None of those ideas seem like fun, even if they’re already part of your routine.

Yet these are the types of tasks we wish we could do to replace our Netflix binges and nights out drinking. They’re just boring as hell to get started on.

So let me offer you a way out.

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NON FICTION: Why I Won’t Just Work For Money Anymore

Man holding cash

Photo: Lucas Favre

“So I’ll need you to do a travel assignment for like a coupla weeks,” an ex-friend said.

“Well you came to the right guy.”

“I’ll need sixty articles total.”

“That’s, a lot.”

“You’ll need to write two articles a day, about five hundred words each…”

“I guess I can manage.”

“… while on the road, for like eight hours a day.”

“Okay…”

“Expenses aren’t covered.”

“Oh.”

“Food’s pretty cheap in Myanmar,” Jess said. “So what’s your price?”

I did a quick calculation and quoted the average market rate for 30,000 words.

“We can’t pay you that much.”

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NON FICTION: To The Writer Who Changed My Life

Man staring up at skies

Photo: Matese Fields

A stranger changed my life. Someone whose identity I’ve forgotten. I don’t remember the byline, neither do I remember his face in the pictures, but he’d single-handedly set me on a path I didn’t know I would take.

I was a hairdresser, going through the motions every day just to pay the bills. On a particularly quiet day, while I was flipping through all the FHM magazines, I came across this story about an unfit writer’s journey to fighting an amateur boxing match.

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NON FICTION: Sometimes, All A Writer Needs Is A Little Bit Of Faith

Hands writing in notebook

Photo: Cathryn Lavery

“Maybe your writing sits better with westerners than with Asians,” Nick said, comparing between the lacklustre performance of my blog posts against the attention (read: more than five readers) for my Medium articles.

I nodded with reluctance, only half-agreeing. It’s not as if there wasn’t a thriving reading community in Malaysia, and there was also a good amount of westerners on WordPress.

But yet there was no denying it: I’d posted the exact same works on both platforms only to get much more traction on Medium. As much as I’d like to believe that hard work and talent trumps all, I’ll bet that more people will read this article on Medium than on my blog.

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NON FICTION: The Problem With Being A Writer

Boss and employee

I’ve started putting down books more lately. I’ll give them one chapter of boredom before I cut my losses and move on to the next book. I used to be a completionist when it came to reading, but as I grow older, I realise how little time I have to read all the books I want, so I’m learning to be more meticulous with my reading time.

It’s not the books, it’s me. I’m aware that different authors have different styles, and not all of them are going to suit me. I’m fine with that. The literary world is entirely subjective, and the path to bestsellery often consists of just craft and luck—both unmeasurable.

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NON FICTION: Supping In Sapa

Stu in a bath bucket

Yours truly in a Red Dao herbal bath. Photo: Affandi Hamid

I’d sent this piece in for a writing competition, but I didn’t make the shortlist, so here it is for you guys.

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I had begun my trip to the highlands of Vietnam expecting to learn more about the cultures of the Red Dao minority. What I hadn’t planned for was having the trip turn into a culinary experience, which in turn had me reminiscing my own identity and childhood.

It was a three hour flight from Kuala Lumpur to Hanoi, followed by a nine-hour train journey to Lao Cai. Then came the hour’s drive up the winding hills to Sapa, punctuated by the 13km hike to a Red Dao village, where I was to spend two nights.

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