AH: …But I Need A Platform!

Hullo, world!

It is another glorious Saturday. Although so many things have happened in this world (and in my life!) in the span of just a few weeks, every day I wake up is a constant reminder that God is good. And He is able. 

Deep thoughts aside, I’ve been thinking a lot about my blogging and bookstagramming habits. This is my fourth year at SJ Barnard. Over the course of years, I’ve had setbacks, days when I didn’t know if I should be blogging, or had no idea what to write about. I also started a bookstagramme account that I have an intense love-hate relationship with. I’ve gone on too many hitouts to count. 

But every time, I keep coming back to this thing called my Author Platform. 

So, if you are a writer out there who’s felt alone or floundering on this topic, this post is for you

1. A platform is for you. 

First of all, I think we should remember that no matter where you’re at with platform building, it’s for you. 

A platform is a sort of gallery, a small nook in this wide world, to showcase the things you love, the thoughts you might have to offer, small joys and tears and everything that matters to you. (Well, not every single thing, for privacy reasons. But you get the idea.)  

Of course, it’s good to keep in mind that you’re writing to an audience. You might have even heard that you should have an Ideal Reader. 

Well, I’m here to tell you that the Ideal Reader is you

If there’s one thing I’ve learnt through blogging (on this blog and other ones), it’s that blogging, at its heart, is about telling your story. Especially for authors. I’ve heard so many people get tired, burnt out, or feel like blogging is not worth it anymore (with the rise of other popular mediums). And maybe it’s true. Not many people might read blogs anymore, at least not like in the Golden Age of blogging.

Even so–I don’t know about you, but I love reading. In all of the blog posts I write, I write to myself first. I’ve been blessed that there are other people out there who enjoy my blog & have shown so much kindness to my musings. 

When it all comes down, it’s this: Do you love what you do on your platform? If not, why? Take a moment to ask your heart. 

2. It’s okay to take a step back.

And obviously, maybe you’re a bit burnt out–especially when you feel like quitting. I’m here to tell you that, hey, it’s okay to take a break! (For those of you who might remember, I have a tendency to go on hitouts announced and unannounced at various intervals of time.)

When I first started blogging and bookstagramming, I felt like I needed to be posting continuously, or else my readership would wax, wane, and disappear altogether. Which is completely irrational! 

I want you to take a moment and think about your absolute favourite author. Now, imagine that the author has not published in a while. (Like, think Donna Tartt or J. R. R. Tolkien’s publishing pace.) Would you forget about them if they haven’t been published in years?

Of course not!! 

Likewise, once you establish a base following–it could be your family, friend, or someone across the world–they won’t disappear. Take a deep breath, a step of faith, and trust in the connections you’ve built up so far. 

3. Don’t get hung up on numbers. 

This is another thing. When you start off trying to build a platform (because authors need to market themselves), I think the numbers start to feel like everything. (Gahh, I just lost another follower tonight! They are leaving by the hordes!!)

Must I explain more? 

*inserts serious, contemplative silence*

Your value is not some number and will never be reduced to how many followers you have on Instagram or Twitter or wherever else

So there. 

RECAP:

  • DO have fun building your platform…the Ideal Reader is you!
  • DO take a break whenever you need to–you can always come back to it.
  • DON’T think that the number of following you have is the value of yourself or your platform. 

And that’s it for today!

Thank you for reading! What do you think? Do you have an approach to your platform? What are some things that matter to you? Let me know in the comments below; I’d love to chat with you!

February ‘22 Afternoon Tea with SJ

Good Afternoon to you!

I can hardly believe that my reading break is over, let alone February is over. This month felt really short compared to January (which is partly because it actually is) since my uni went back to being in-person which was kind of…well, kind of a whirlwind. ( ´•௰•`)

But overall, I am super excited to be here to sit down with a cup of tea, some Japanese sweets, and talk with you. ꒰◍ᐡᐤᐡ◍꒱

-February Afternoon Tea ‘22 Setting-

Location: Cozy home library

Tea: Hong Kong-style milk tea, Paris Afternoon green tea, Camomile tea 

Offered with: Dorayaki, Anmitsu (Japanese parfait)

This month, I fell into a reading slump. *gasps* Compared to last month, where I was sort of on fire to read as many books as possible, this month saw me picking up a book and not finishing it, then picking up another book and ad infinitum. 

Which is simply terrible.

But, to be fair, a lot of things were going on this month. Here are the books I did manage to finish:

  1. Vita Nostra
  2. The Journey of the Iwanami Children’s Classics
  3. Typee
  4. The Communist Manifesto (Broadview)
  5. Hear the Wind Sing/Pinball, 1973
  6. Mere Christianity

Looking back, although I DNFed and didn’t focus on my reading as much as I would have liked, but I can say I thoroughly enjoyed the books I did read (well, except Typee) so I guess that’s what counts!

Also, my siblings and I got a chance to visit an old used-book store in downtown that we’ve always wanted to go to. It was much bigger on the inside than we thought, and we unabashedly spent over a hundred dollars on C. S. Lewis books. (Now we have two copies of Mere Christianity, most of his major works, and a C. S. Lewis encyclopedia.) Really, I was not expecting them to have many Lewis books. Our favourite find was the Compact Oxford Dictionary the size of our Mac desktop (times two) complete with a huge magnifying glass to read the dot-esque letterings. Sadly, it was around another hundred dollars and mum told us there was no room for it. (After all, one shelf of our bookshelf is dedicated to our various dictionaries.) The bookstore itself didn’t have enough space for all the books, so some of the books were piled on the ground, on the tables, on top of the already towering bookshelves, etc. 

I am definitely going back there again. (   ¯꒳¯ )b✧

Currently reading: On the Genealogy of Morality, (still re-reading) Crime and Punishment, Wind-up Bird Chronicle vol.2

Would you like more Hong-Kong tea? My friend makes the most delicious Hong Kong tea and suffice it to say I am now a fan. 

Music 

This month, I listened to a lot of Studio Ghibli soundtracks. Some of my favourites were:

Practising: The Breakfast Song, Subarashi Hibi (Amazing Days)

Listening to: more Studio Ghibli soundtracks, Gershwin Rhapsody in Blue, anime & classical music lofi

Movie/TV Shows 

Since I was really busy this month, we didn’t get to watch a lot of new movies or TV shows. But I did continue watching some of the ones that started this January, so that was good. 

Current favourites:

  • DCU–Deep Crime Unit…the name is pretty self-explanatory and if you know anything about the Japanese actor Hiroshi Abe, you get the idea
  • Mystery to iu nakare–Do not say it is a mystery…this one is actually a dramatisation of the manga with the same title. I thought it was kind of wacky to start with, but now love the psychological elements of it!!
  • And various others…now that I think about it, I think we watch too many Japanese dramas (ˉ ˘ ˉ; )

Manga/Anime

I didn’t start new manga or anime either this month. 

However. 

I am very much looking forward to Spy Family starting in April with WIT studio!! *goes to convince mum it’s a good idea to start yet another anime*

Also, I got a Jujutsu-Kaisen T-shirt from Uniqlo which I’m hyped about. ୧꒰*´꒳`*꒱૭✧

More tea or sweets, anyone? The dorayaki is back on the menu again partly because I had some yesterday and was reminded how good they are and partly because it’s the taste of nostalgia!

I talked a lot this month about slow writing (again) and keeping a writing journal. Initially, I was planning to work on a shorter WIP after Osthauptstadt. And in the first week of starting it, I decided to switch gears to re-work Juliet. This has been one of my oldest works that I can actually call a novel and while I got to the climax of book 3, has been on hold for the longest time because of various structural issues. 

Notice I didn’t say rewrite. It’s rework. 

Reworking a novel I’ve been writing for the past seven years or more is painful. It’s fun; at the same time, I have to face the many incongruities and discrepancies in my characters and plots that I’ve so far taken for granted. It’s like taking apart a music box that’s stuttering when you only have the basic idea of its workings. Every day for the past few weeks, I had to face my fears that I don’t have enough to bring my WIP into working conditions. Some days went better, other days not so much. 

And at the end of this month, I think I’ve done the best I can for now. I still have ways to go until I can actually begin my rewriting for the umpteenth time, but I guess a little patience goes a long way. 

Have you tried the Anmitsu? It’s a kind of Japanese parfait with matcha and clear jello, tofu mochi, fruits, red bean paste, matcha ice cream &c. I tried making it for the first time this week and loved it, so I thought I’d share it with you here. (୨୧ ❛ᴗ❛)✧

Back to uni. 

I wasn’t sure if I’d enjoy being back in a classroom and I’m still not sure. Of course, it’s nice to be able to see my friends, classmates, and professors since you actually get to talk to people versus being online, on Zoom where it feels…awkward? And at the same time, it’s a bit exhausting for an extreme introvert like me. Hopefully, I’ll get fully back into the swing before my midterms and finals!!

Other than being head-flying-ly busy (imagine the current AoT season, if you get what I mean), I got more chance to spend time with my family which was great! We went shopping, went on a driving trip (for cheaper gas than in the city, lol), attended a secret meeting no one should know about, &c. (If anyone is familiar with the current Canadian politics, just pray for us. Canadian democracy has gone to the grave.)

And while too many things happened that I can’t tell everything in a single post, I want to leave you with some verses that I found encouragement in recently.

17The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.

18 For the needy shall not always be forgotten: the expectation of the poor shall not perish for ever.

19 Arise, O Lord; let not man prevail: let the heathen be judged in thy sight.

20 Put them in fear, O Lord: that the nations may know themselves to be but men. Selah.

(Psalm 9:17-20, KJV)

Thank you for reading! How was your February? What are some things you did this month that was exciting? Did you find that February passed away in a breath? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below; I’d love to chat with you!

3 Steps to Start a Writing Journal 

Hullo, world!

It’s so nice to be sitting at my desk, basking in the sun and writing this post. It’s a beautiful Sunday morning and I hope that you are having a wonderful day, too. Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about how process and the heart is what matters, not the end product. Too often we focus on what we get out of something, not what we are doing. Which, I think, is really sad. There’s a lot to be learnt from how we do things. There’s joy in baking waffles or flipping pancakes for brunch. There’s joy in reading, not in finishing a book. (Maybe both, but still.) 

And today, I want to focus on the process of writing–and introduce a tool that has helped me with being mindful of how I write…

May I present to you, the Writing Journal!!

You’ve probably heard me mention how I’m a hybrid writer (hand-writing & typing sort) but what’s interesting is how I lean more to the hand-writing side when it comes to brainstorming. Sure, I do have folders after folders in Google docs on my various WIPs. But the baseline, or kernels of my ideas, I try to grow by hand. Writing by hand, I realised, helps me not forget. It’s a more organic process for me (which is also shown by research) and overall, I fully advocate writing journals. 

And, without further ado, I will break down how (and why) I keep a writing journal–and how you can, too. 

1. Get a notebook

The first step is, very obviously, to get a notebook. The type of notebook you get will dictate the use (a little bit), but most of the time a normal notebook will work. Personally, I like using notebooks without ring-binders. (FYI, I think ring-bound notebooks are a nemesis to the whole world.) I use A5 notebooks and B5 notebooks, both from Japan (but I think Muji might carry them if there’s a local Muji around the place you live) which opens flat when I’m writing. The point isn’t to get the same notebook like mine, though. As long as you love the design and there’s practicality in the notebook, you can use it for a writing journal! 

2. WIP-wise v. Schedule-wise

After you’ve gotten yourself a notebook, decide on the two types of writing journal you’ll use for–WIP-wise or Schedule-wise. 

WIP-wise journals are solely used for brainstorming, restructuring, outlining, conducting character studies, etc. I’ve found there’s no one way to do a WIP journal since the WIP pretty much directs what you’ll need to write. 

Schedule-wise journals, on the other hand, look a lot like bullet journals. If you’re familiar with the concept, bullet journals are a system where you can quickly jot down tasks and ideas in a planner-type notebook. 

In both types of journals, I create a blank page for a title, another for an index (so you’ll be able to find things easily), and number the pages after that. 

3. 54321, Campaigns, & Daily Logs

What goes into a writing journal, ultimately, depends on you. But at the same time, here are the three basics things that help me in my writing journals:

  1. The 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, method

I explained this in detail in last year’s goal-planning post. (See the Plan section.) This is the long-mid-short-term goal setting method that works well for me.

  1. Campaigns

These are also in the same post above, but basically what I do is to come up with writing campaigns (write every day, host a writing retreat for myself, etc.)

  1. Daily Logs

This is the aforementioned bujo-ing method(?) I use on a daily basis. I write down one to three things to do concerning my writing (e.g. write chapter 13, re-read chapter 13, etc.). This is also the place where I quick-log my thoughts (“Writing went well! Happy with what I’ve written!”) concerning that day’s writing, or make notes to myself for tomorrow’s writing session. 

Overall, a writing journal is very flexible. You can put a lot of information into it, or just the bare minimum. Either way, the act of writing helps you become more conscious of your process. (Not to mention you’ll have a hard copy to refer back to later on.)

In the end, what matters is how you do it, not what you do. When writing can feel like jumping through loops, take a step back—breathe–and write down what you feel about your writing. Write down what you’d actually like to do in writing. Write down why you write. 

And, in the end, that’s what counts. 

Thank you for reading! What did you think about the post? Do you think you’d like to keep a writing journal now? Or, do you already keep journals? Are you a hybrid writer like me? Let me know in the comments below; I’d love to chat with you!