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.
Photo: Isaac Smith
I remember the first time my ex-girlfriend took me to a proper hair salon. It wasn’t something I was ready to do when I was nineteen and broke, but she said she’d pay, so I went.
It was the first time I didn’t get a haircut alongside Old Master Q comics and Japanese hairstyle magazines. They even served tea and actually washed my hair, something I wasn’t used to, having grown up with Indian barbers or those dingy places where the aunts in flip-flops looked more like they belonged on the set of Kung Fu Hustle than at the salon.
Photo: Remi Jacquaint
I’d like to think I have a universal face. That’s probably the reason why people tend to speak to me in their mother tongue at first meet. I’ve been mistaken for a Filipino, Thai, even Vietnamese, but I seldom get people speaking to me in Chinese, which actually makes up half of what I am.
As a result, what’s supposed to be just a transactional conversation often turns into a tactical decision. Should I continue speaking to them in Malay, or do I reply in Chinese and risk a follow-up conversation that I don’t have the energy for?
Photo: Nicolas Thomas
Every once in a while I get people asking me if they could write for a living, and my answer’s always: “Why of course.”
Then they ask if they should make the switch from their current careers to writing, to which I’d say: “What. Why! Why would you do that to yourself?”
It’s not that I’m in any position to give out career advice. Eight years in various writing positions probably makes me an average minion at most, but since I’m like one of two writers in my entire circle of friends, the responsibility of pointing hopefuls in the right direction kinda falls on me.
And most times, that direction is away from the publishing industry.
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.
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.
Photo: Trent Szmolnik
I know, I know. Enough of ‘just write’ articles. If you’re a writer worth your salt, you’ve probably procrastinated more than five times the amount you actually work, so I’m sure you’ve come across your share of similar articles during these times of ‘creative rest’.
I’ll be upfront and say that this article is probably not for you—no wait don’t close the browser. What I meant to say was, I had a rough time piecing this story together and I almost sent this draft to the trash, but I’d recently made a decision to increase my writing output, and part of that commitment involves finishing my shit.