Writers’ Commitment Renewal

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Last night I discovered someone’s Instagram handle. Out of curiosity, I clicked it and I was led to a feed full of heavily edited travel photos, urban landscapes and social gatherings.

Very typical, indeed.

But what caught my attention is the bio of the feed owner. It says: “travel writer”.

Wow!

As a linguist and bibliophile, I just cannot help myself admiring those who have a knack for and talent of writing.

Writers are always intelligently sexy to me. And that is irrespective of their physical shapes.

Travel writers in the glory days of leisure economy are known as a highly respected profession.

They travel for – well maybe – free.

They make money in the process.

They showcase such a leisure lifestyle that everyone envies.

They are on holiday all the time, it seems.

They enjoy being in the wilderness and still looking lively, sprightly, fashionable, photogenic and cool ice cream.

This is a to-die-for job for millenials of my age and generations that follow (Gen X, Y and Z).

But as I clicked, I found a webpage that is dry and deserted.

The most recent post was dated back on some day in 2016.

I compared to his Instagram feed which has quite a huge following for some unknown self-proclaimed travel writer (or it is I who do not know his level of popularity).

Well, I formed a conclusion that now one does not need to get certified by anyone else but himself to be called “travel writer”.

Though you may think I am as sinister buffoon as one can be, I take some lessons to learn for myself from this disappointing discovery.

And one of those is UPDATE YOUR BLOG MORE OFTEN THAN YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA FEED!

That is especially recommendable for someone who claims himself or herself a writer by profession. No matter what the field s/he is writing in.

Because if you don’t, you deceive the public.

Social media services has sucked up so much of our time and turning us from writers (read: content creators and producers) to readers (mere consumers of ideas, emotion and information).

So the next time some people think it is enough to become a travel writer by showing a heavily edited holiday photo with a short caption on Instagram, I would say: TRY HARDER. (*/)

Sent from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone.

Slow Writing for Better Results

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(Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com)

NOW I’m confident enough to say that my slow typing habit is justified and defended by science.

I saw J.K. Rowling showcased an admirable typing speed in the documentary years ago. She punched that keyboard with the enthusiasm I’ve never seen.

I’ve never been and never will be a fast typist. And I once wanted to be a faster one when a friend saw me typing and commented,”Apparently, you do not type with all of your ten fingers. Strange though, because I can.” He continued, he was taught typing with ten fingers long ago while in high school. What kind of school was teaching typing skills, I wonder? It couldn’t be a secretary school because this friend is a guy.

But anyway, that friend tore my ego as a writer apart.

Should a writer be able to write and type faster than non-writers do?

The question haunted me so long until I saw this scientific finding from the researchers from the University of Waterloo.

They said whoever types slower writes better. That means, the quality of our writing enhances when we slow down, not speed up.

The scientists said it was because typing with one hand only seemed to affect one’s important skills in writing, such as how to select apt words for certain contexts. There is no further explanation as to how this is the case but I suppose this was made possible because someone had more time to make decisions regarding words to pick or remove from their compositions.

This is especially true when you aim to write to make impacts.

And maybe the case is so much different if we write only for fun, relief and self expression, or write to take notes for academic purposes in classes or for professional purposes during interviews with some sources or amid meetings with other colleagues or superiors.

I conclude that it’s NOT the speed of writing that can ruin one’s writing quality but it’s more because of the impulsiveness. When I write fast, I notice that I tend to rush (deadline is looming!) and make less accurate choice of words. What I want to achieve is to get the job done. Period.

I’ve heard that writing is basically rewriting for a numerous number of times. To improve writing quality, multiple revisions are not avoided but strongly required even.

Which is why I can totally get it when David Sedaris, one of my favorite living authors, said before he sent a piece to The New Yorker, he had rewritten his article for more than twenty times.

All in all, when writing for quality, just slow down. But writing for emotional and psychological relief, choose to be quick and less picky with vocabularies. (*/)

One Sure Way to a Better Writing

1130px-Albert_Anker_Schreibendes_MC3A4dchen_1902RAISE your hand if you hate reading a book that frustrates more than entertains you.

Well, I’m no exception.

I’ve recently started reading Yuval Noah Hariri’s “Homo Deus”. And in spite of the buzz that this book is extremely cool (and thus reading this in public makes you look intelligent, critical and impressively updated), I still have to struggle to find enjoyment in reading it.

But then I realize that a book is supposed to be a main food for thought. And reading a good book is like feeding yourself a nutritious super food. It definitely makes you healthier and more alive than ever before.

So I came to the conclusion that a good book is also like a healthy food: it’s not as delicious as junk food but it offers numerous benefits in the ways we’ve never imagined.

The fact that I write for a living also pushes me to read not only good but great books. It’s more about enriching my vocabulary, strengthen my linguistic ‘muscles’ than keeping up with all the trends.

Yet, what happens now is that I – and a lot of us – am reading more online materials than great quality books. We read more trashy, clickbait articles that are produced or reproduced within minutes and fewer book that are very well thought and heavily edited and revised by experienced editors of major publishers.

And it’s no wonder that our linguistic skills including our writing skills just suck, getting rotten and rusty from day to day underuse.

If you’re a writer or copywriter or anyone working in the domain of language and creativity like me, chances are you’ll find your work or your sentences monotonous, boring and less enticing the more you consume ‘junk’ content every day.

It totally MAKES sense! If you read trash, you write trash as well!

Simply put, to write better, watch your reading materials. Make sure you consume good quality materials.

And science even justifies this!

A study by the University of Florida and published in International Journal of Business Administration revealed that people who read only online content (social media content and popular online news outlets with less quality) have the lowest score in their writing complexity than people who read journal articles or great quality fictional works such as novels written by critically acclaimed authors.

What is ‘writing complexity’ we are discussing here? There’re many factors that show someone’s ability to produce advanced and complex structures in writing. This complexity may encompasses lengths of sentences that one produces, how sophisticated someone’s choice of word (diction) is, and so forth.

Complexity of writing sometimes does NOT necessarily mean you have to write lengthy sentences that confuse readers. Making complex yet efficient sentences means we are able to tactfully organize more than one ideas in a sentence without being lengthy. We just have to make sure that every word is impactful enough to be there. Each word has its own reason to be in a sentence.

What is interesting to note is that this is irrespective of duration. That means it’s not about how many hours you spend, but more about the quality of reading materials you consume on daily basis. Those who have better writing skills admitted they only spent several hours a week reading quality materials instead of online stuff that is packed with listicles, clickbaits, or hoaxy and sensational news items.

And because writing is a type of communication, this rule also applies in speaking skills learning. Someone who wants to master better speaking skills must also try to listen to great quality oral materials.

I know that not all online content available is bad for our writing skills development. But if you’re a writer or someone who earns a living by writing, please take this piece of advice: “Read well-written things”. A co-author of the study mentioned some of the best online news outlets such as “The Economist” or “Wall Street Journal” or “New Yorker” magazine but in my opinion well-written and well-edited books, be it non-fiction or fiction, are still the best option.

And because I’m Indonesian, I can translate the advice to this: Read more “Majas Kreatif” or “Tempo” magazine and less Detik.com, IDNTimes.com, Brilio.co, Tempo.co (yes, the online channel of Tempo just displays cheesy and racy clickbaits), Viva.co.id, Merdeka.com, TribunNews.com, Suara.com, OkeZone.com, etc. (*/)

 

After 9 Years of Blogging Tirelessly…

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Why do you keep blogging if you don’t make money of it at all? (Photo by Pexels.com)

I am still going strong!

The 27th of October has been always a special day on my calendar since forever. Besides the fact that it’s my birthday (cough!), it’s also National Blogger Day in Indonesia. Today also marked my ninth year of blogging. I’ve never thought I would’ve gone this far. Especially these days, when social media enjoyment has taken over the joy of hitting ‘publish’ button on your blog dashboard and get some likes and comments from readers of your blog(s). But this is definitely not the end of my blogging pursuit.

It’s true that I’d never planned to develop this blog to be a really professionally-managed one so that I can make some money of it. As you can see, this blog has some spots of Google Ads but to be brutally honest, it doesn’t generate even a single cent of income for the blogkeeper. That said, I get into thinking that I must soon take down all these useless ads and quit being the disgruntled ad publisher. It doesn’t add value for my readership anyway.

So why do I keep blogging if I don’t make money AT ALL? You may ask.

In my first amateurish blog (akhlispurnomo.blogspot.com), in the most confident and shameless way I picked a tagline, “Blogging, My Second Religion”. You can laugh at it now, but that’s somehow still the perfect description of my reason of writing this blog (and some others).

Very few of these write-ups on my blogs generated enough money to feed me, at the very least. Yet, I always long for the satisfaction that I can only feel when there are some readers who leave comments or silent readers who never leave comments but someday I ran into and told me they liked some of my articles a lot. Probably this is very self-centered. It’s a way to satiate my hungry ego, but once again why should I stop blogging when I can entertain and inform people around me or around the world with some bits of my thought and opinions?

I’ve got to admit that I almost completely abandoned this blog’s domain, which is like a hard-earned domain. I once had a domain of my full name but along the way I failed to renew it (blame it on the M@#$%^& credit card!) and it got bought by some opportunistic domain buyer who may have thought I would beg him or her to give me the domain at a much higher cost.

Just a month ago, before my domain expired, I came to a decision that I might just let this go. “It’s a hobby so why bother spending money for it?” I thought. I considered relying only on the free blog hosting service like WordPress.com and Blogger.com but then I reweighed it after a course of content marketing that I took. It said owning a domain that bears our name is a must if we aim to be a competent, competitive digital player. Well, I made up my mind and renewed it.

Each word in this blog (and some others) shows you my ups and downs; progress and regress; happiness and sorrow. It’s a long winding road of my life journey and self-development. I get almost completely intellectually naked in my blog write-ups, which I further think is quite scary and risky in the future. That’s why every time I write, I keep reminding myself of the risk of posting stuff on the web. No blogging allowed when I get angry and emotional!  Or else I’ll regret it. And even if I intended my write-ups to be less offensive and more helpful for some, I still find some others getting upset by what I write on this very blog.

Lesson to learn? We can never satisfy everyone.

Though I humbly admit that my blog is not an extremely popular one, I take pride of it. In this social media age, when Instagram caption or Facebook status or tweets is what you call ‘write-ups’, I can still find time and collect my intellectual energy for this seemingly pointless undertaking.

I guess this clearly defines what passion is really. Passion is something we still do even if we no longer (or never) can make money of it, or something we keep doing even if we have to make money from other jobs but we still stick to this one ‘useless’ thing.

So I can say after 9 years of tirelessly blogging, I hardly made money from this blog but the blog has made it POSSIBLE for me to land many jobs, ranging from a journalist, a copywriter, a translator, an editor, a book writer, a magazine writer and even a guest lecture, which never snapped on my mind. All these jobs are paying ones (forget about the image of a lonely, tortured, poverty-stricken writer). This would be different if I had spent my time for writing Facebook updates, producing tweets like crazy, or selecting the right diction for a caption on Instagram to impress followers.

Anyway, happy National Bloggers Day! Keep blogging no matter what! (*/)

 

 

 

 

My Portfolio [as of February 2018]

Here is a collection of my published works in various media, both print and online. Some are written in Indonesian and some others English. They’re chronologically ordered, from most recent to oldest. Click on the titles of article to read further.

February 2018

“Indonesia’s Top Foreign CEOs 2018” Book

With Pieter Daniel Van Zyl of Allianz Utama

With Marc Louette of Sampoerna Agro

December 2017 

Perjalanan 3 Dekade Nurhayati Rahman Lunasi ‘Utang’ La Galigo [Magdalene.co]

November 2017

One of Writers of “Indonesia’s Top CEOs 2017” (Warta Ekonomi)

August 2017

Writer of Art Republik Magazine (3rd edition)


August 2017

Co-facilitator at Social Media Workshop (August 8th, 2017) for Itjen Kemenkes’ public relations division

 

July 2017

A keynote presenter  and facilitator at Social Media Workshop (July 27th, 2017) for Itjen Kemdikbud’s public relations division

 

A keynote presenter  and facilitator at Social Media Workshop (July 27th, 2017) for BPKP public relations division

 

June 2017

Translator of “Ensiklopedi Suku Bangsa Indonesia” by Zulyani Hidayah (funded by LitRI and to be published by Springer, Singapore)

October 2016

Runtuhnya Wibawa Pusat Bahasa

 

September 2016

Penulis, Pajak dan Kesejahteraan [Detik.com]

Mengapa Entrepreneur Perlu Lebih Skeptis Saat Membaca Biografi Orang ‘Sukses’

 

Kenapa Seks Sehat bagi Wanita Tapi Bisa Memperpendek Umur Pria?

August 2016

Jebakan Kuantitas dalam Inkubasi “Start-up”

April 2016

Kintamani Bali Dog (as editor)

 

January 2015

One of authors in “Menemukan Makna, Merayakan Cinta” (Yoga-themed collection of writeups)

October 2014

Writing for YogaInIndonesia.com. (click to read the article)

January 2013

Featured on Tabloid Nova as social media officer of @ciputraway (which I initiated in August 2010)

 

 

YEAR OF AUTHORITY

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Writers versus authors: Who wins? (Image credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Dear beautiful souls,

I have a friend who is kind but sometimes likes to make a scene. I don’t mind all that because again she is basically kind.

One day she blurted out. “I’m no writer. I’m an author,” she rebutted. She claimed writers and authors are different. How different are they, besides the spelling? According to my WordWeb dictionary, the word “author” itself refers to “someone who writes professionally” and “writer” “a person who can write and has written something”. There is some overlapping between the two obviously.

Writers are, she argued, those folks with exceptional and versatile writing skills. They can write about anything they ‘wish’ to or, actually, anything their big clients want them to. It’s more about making a great deal of money through publishing and media industries.

In a tone full of pride, she declared:”While authors have more freedom. They are more independent from this marketing and sales factors. Writing for the sake of passion is what they more likely do.” We almost threw up. Luckily, we didn’t. We hadn’t had anything to eat so there was practically nothing to be thrown out of our system.

I remember how enraged she was when an editor told her to read a best selling book and ask her to revise her works based on it. “Why don’t you try to write like this man? He sells a lot,” the editor blatantly suggested. “Blahhh!!!” the thin skinned lady stealthily sneered at the editor. An epitome of pig-headedness she truly was.

Yet, in some way I agreed with her thoughts. Authors — compared to writers — have more authority over their literary pursuit. They are liberated creative souls that seems to be utterly fearless, intuitive, easy going and fun.

Apart from that innate talent of picking best words to convey messages and knack for playing with words and sentences and all those literary tools, in the word of “author” lies also a meaning of the power or right to give orders and make decisions  not only in one’s literary journey but also life in general.

Be the author in our own life. And let God edit the drafts. And no matter how ruthless the editing process may become, promise ourselves we don’t quit writing and rewriting.

Happy new year and may we all live a year of more authority in 2016.

XOXO,

AP

JK Rowling Shared Her Writing Tips

“Would you like to be an author? Read as much as you can. I’d say read anything. The more you read the better. Because it’ll teach you what you like and what you think makes a good writing. It will increase your vocabulary. And you just have to keep on and on writing and then you’ll find you hate most of what you write at first but sooner or later you’ll write something that you quite like. And lots of trees would have to die and it’s because you’ll be crumpling everything up…” – J. K. Rowling

Elevator Girl

‎Do you know the feelings when someone – of all people you have encountered in a place this huge and tall you frequent – happens to know a book you are reading? Exactly know the book like you do! That is what exactly what my friend feels today.

He finally found someone who knew the book he is read‎ing is the one read and favorited by the murderer of John Lennon decades ago. And that is not a kind of piece of information anyone knows even for a literature student. So this person is so so erudite, literaturewise. A person who knows and recognizes the fictitious world beyond this mundane, floody and boring real world.

Isn’t it wonderful? Life always surprises us, he told me jovially. I can’t agree more with him.

“Should I fall for this person?” he asked.

That sounds absurd. To fall for a girl who happened to know the book you are reading is quite beyond my ken.

Yet I know if his heart wants it, I told him to simply ignore what I uttered.

He told me again and again how smart this human being seems to be at a glance. She looks more than just a lowly slave of a big corporate. She has got that thing, he explained. What is the “thing”‎ is something he cannot explain further. It is stuck there. Without any clear explanation whatsoever.

"Writing is an Art and You Don't Rush Art" – Super Wealthy Authors

‎I hate disturbingly affluent authors. Not that I want to choke them to death or beat them with pebbles or decapitate them like that poor Japanese journalist. I’m not that mean, seriously.

It’s more because they have the luxury and privilege ,or whatever you call it, ‎ to write their best works without having to give a single ( sorry) damn to what the market or readers or buyers or publishers desire. Deadlines are given but still they make sense and there’s still much time to produce and rewrite and rewrite like a thousand times so the best stuff can be served to people awaiting to read.

Joanne Rowling aka J. K. Rowling once said she never bothered whether she had to publish “The Casual Vacancy” or not. She for a period of time enjoyed ‎the secrecy and privacy of writing for the sake of writing, something missing while she was writing Harry Potter series for 17 years. She clearly didn’t write solely for financial purposes after being filthy rich. After the wildly successful Harry Potter series, Rowling seems to be very very very few authors on the Earth who least need more sources of income to support her daily basic expenses and besides, her spouse is a doctor!

Just like Rowling, Elizabeth Gilbert shared quite similar a fortunate story‎. After becoming a rich and illustrious memoirist, Gilbert also found solace in the abundant wealth she got in exchange for her privacy. You know what I mean because she wrote a heartfelt memoir on her love and spiritual life. Such a larger-than-life topic to cover within a single literary work, in fact.

But with the loss of privacy, she obtained the freedom of writing. She can use the money she’s got from the previous memoir royalty to fund the publication of her next ambitious fiction project‎, The Signature of All Things.

I’m convinced that these authors are not just lucky. Even if it is luck, I can argue that luck must be built. They worked their way up there. They started early, they’ve known what‎ they wanted to do since childhood.

Writing is an art, and you can’t rush art but why do deadlines exist in the first place? Anyone knows?

Lessons from the Book Launch

The coach mentioned, as long as my memory serves right, about this site called future.me. As he told in an exuberant manner on why everyone should visit the site and write down to his own future self, I got a shiver.

“You can write down your own life plans there to your future self. And what matters most is that… y’all will get the plans in your email inbox at the specified time. So if you set it to be sent 10 years from now, you’ll get the email 10 years from now. As simple as that. So if you cannot rach your desired goals, you’ll be so sorry. That means you suck and you must work harder and find the answer as to why you suck in this life,” the coach extolled the undertaking of planning life.

The audience kept silent. They moved nothing. Their eyes might roll in bewilderment. “What this ambitious, seemingly successful and wealthy young man was trying to tell us?”they might think.

I was stunned by this. Do we really have to think that way? Do we need to insult ourselves in the future just because we fail to achieve the objectives in our 10-year, or 20-year, life plans? Some people think we do.

I don’t, however.

I’m not that mad to plan my life in such a way. Not because I don’t have any ambitions in life. Not at all. I do have a list of ambitions. I want to get published a lot. I want to meet great people. I want to write books and anything useful for others. I want to have more freedom in life, making choices and taking responsibilities. I want to have my own family someday. I want to enrich my life with yoga, whether it be teaching or practicing. I want to be happy, ample and free. And the list goes on.

But life doesn’t always go your way. You cannot control life anyhow, no matter how great you are. Life is too powerful to conquer and to be controlled.

All these years, it has dawned on me that being a human being means accepting the fact you’re microscopic cosmic dusts in this infinite universe. Seriously, we in fact almost means nothing. Whether we exist or not, the world keeps going as it has to be. The sun keeps on shining even if your most beloved ones are dead. The Milky Way is still up there even if it’s time for us to leave this world. We’re really a mere complement to this world. Not more.

That said, I arrive to the conclusion that life always offers you failures. But some failures are not real failures. This type of failure leads us to a better life at times. What seems to be bad luck sometimes changes into an unbeaten, hidden path leading us to a higher level of life achievement which you didn’t even plan or never cross your mind before.

So when my future self receives the email in 2025, I might crack a smile and write a satire of it. Because it feels like I read a letter from a childlike version of me. Life so far has taught me how fast humans can change their minds, their beliefs, their spouses, their careers. And chronicling it enables us to track down the development of our foolishness.

I may lose some things in life but it doesn’t mean I’m a total loser. So long as I do my best in life, how can I become a loser?

To the coach, I wish I could say this:”Get a life.”

But thank God I held my sharp tongue. He’s still in his twenties. I hope he learns a lot over time.