NON FICTION: This Is Your Life As A Struggling Writer

Bunch of people taking notes

Photo: The Climate Reality Project

You wake up, you check your phone. You want to know the latest stats for the article you’d posted yesterday. Two views. No likes on Facebook. One spam comment.

An e-mail comes in. It’s from that fiction competition you joined five months ago. “Thank you for your participation,” it reads. That’s always a bad sign, and a quick scroll through the rest of the message proves it.

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NON FICTION: Write A Shitty First Draft. I Dare You.

Brown typewriter on tabletop

Photo: Pereanu Sebastian

Ah, the infamous shitty first draft. The place where hopes are simultaneously born and slaughtered. The one thing that writers fear the most.

The first draft can be anything. I can write poop all over again if I want. Poop poop poop. I can, like, use punctuation however I like—I can even make sentences no meaning at all fire escape what yes.

Perhaps I’ll rewrite that later. Perhaps not.

But that’s the point. That’s what the first draft is. The canvas where you start creating your art. You probably thought that the blank page was the canvas. Well you thought wrong.

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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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