Getting rid writers' block

I have been sitting on my incomplete manuscripts for quite a while due to several reasons, the main of which, is this huge invisible barrier stopping me from going near the manuscripts.

When I say manuscripts I literally meant several books in the making. All of it is fiction and not in the same genre. I have a romance book written midway although the plot lines are complete, a horror/fantasy in its first few chapters with half complete plot lines and finally a satire/women's fiction in its first few chapters with a complete plot line.

Now, with three completely different books, it is quite difficult to complete any one of it without worrying about the others. Thus, this barrier came up. Also the worry of not being able to fulfill the demands of the characters, not able to find the time to fill out the plots, do more research, stress at work, lack of time and various more petty issues, had me freezing up and my ideas drying out. is not easy getting rid writers block.

It is indeed distressing and frustrating to be staring at the screen and rereading the first few chapters and not be able to continue with it. So to overcome this self-induced writer's block, I came up with several methods which worked for me.

1) Relax and start doodling (or fiddling with the keyboards - whichever medium you are using to write) - formulate words and sentences not necessarily related to you book. It could be anything, just random words. I find that this often ends up with me continuing on with my storyline.

2) Check out writer's blogs - not to get ideas but essentially to have a feel of how they deal with such situations and also to immerse yourself into the writing world. This exercise often gets me all geared up and inspired to write.

3) Stop staring at the empty screen/notebook - the words are not going to write themselves. If it is stressing you out, just walk away. Go take a short walk, have a cup of tea/coffee or just stare out of the windows to clear your mind and stress. Stress is the one main factor blocking the ideas from flowing.

4) Read a really good book by your favourite author - great works are really great inspirations and motivations.I always find myself raring to type the moment I put down a really good read.

5) Work on the plot instead - okay, so you are really coming up blank. Why not go into the basics of the story line instead? Come up with complete biodatas for the characters, give them family backgrounds, career backgrounds, likes, dislikes, places they've been, where they were born, what was their first words and complete your research on any facts in the story. At least, you are getting some work done instead of staring at an empty screen!

These are but a few tips I find quite useful for me. So, now that my block has been destroyed I have a very real problem. Which one should I complete first? I think I will work on the romance and hopefully, I will be able to get it completed and out of the way!


Paid to blog!

It is indeed a wonderful way to end the year. PayPerPost just paid me $20 for by blog post last month.

I know, I know, it is not much and I have not been active in my blogging recently but hey, $20 can buy me lunch and even part of my dinner. That's not bad at all!

Other than that, I found that I do not qualify for most of the open opportunities there. has something to do with my rating or ranking, I think. Must be all the slow inactivity of recent times. And of course, my lack of links with other bloggers. I should really start linking with more blogs and leaving more comments and make myself known.

Err...that is if I ever find the time.

With the year drawing to an end and everyone around me pledging to a whole new list of new year's resolutions, I refuse to jump onto the bandwagon to make a resolution to read other blogs, leave comments and make more links.

I think it utterly pointless to make a list which we may not keep. Also, why a list for a year? Why not a lifetime list of things to do?

Seriously, if we have a goal or dream to achieve, is one year really enough? What about the goals of achieving true happiness, contentment and peace? Will one year be enough? Sure, short term goals such as losing the final ten pounds or getting a new haircut or giving your wardrobe a makeover could take one year.

But then, these short term goals often don't mean much. More often than not, most people who made their resolutions find themselves breaking it. So, what's the point?

Sigh. I will endeavor to visit more fellow bloggers' blogs, leave comments and link more. If only to get more traffic to my blog so that I will be able to take up more of the PPP opportunities. Considering I have Hubpages to update, job boards to check, projects to complete, a hyperactive toddler to care for and a day job to pay the bills, I'm gonna need the time travel watch Hermione Granger used in order to attend more classes...Perhaps, she won't mind lending it to me now that the whole series ended already. :-)


Tis time to celebrate!

Yep, I am so excited and happy that I was awarded two projects after weeks of patiently bidding and visiting job boards. And right before Christmas too! I would definitely see it as a Christmas present as these two projects are definitely one way for me to get some feedback. The extra income is also of course a bonus!

The first project I got was a virtual assistant cum writer sorta job which involved coordinating, composing emails and writing short articles. It should be fun as the subject is an interesting one.

The second project is a writing job where I have to produce articles, blog posts and copy writing for the employer. The topic at hand is a relatively new one for me so it will prove to be an eye-opener and I will definitely get to learn something from it.

On top of that, I have finally got my high-speed internet connection in place so no more waiting for sluggish downloads.

Triple YAY!!!

I have already committed a several hours of work to these two employers each day, five days a week, for at least a month. But I am still going to continue bidding for other projects, perhaps those which does not take too much time to complete. Hopefully, I will be able to manage and still get my required shut-eye everyday. The idea of going around Panda and blurry-eyed like a zombie is not really good in the long run.

Oh and I almost forgot. I was suddenly struck by my long missing muse and have started outlining a new fantasy fiction book. It has promise of becoming a five-series book and I will have to set time aside to work on it too.

And finally, another YAY for the year-end bonus which was banked in last weekend!

It is actually not a bad way to end this year (despite having more out-of-office work to do). As long as I am on the path towards working from home, I am happy as can be.

So, a Merry Christmas to all and Happy New Year!


Job boards and bidding

It is not easy to bid and win projects in job boards, free or otherwise.

This I have discovered in this past month. In the free job boards, it is even worse as competition is stiff and more often than not, some bidders' rates are so low it is hard to compete with them.

In paid job boards, competition is equally stiff but not as bad and there are also bidders whose rates are so low, you wonder how they could actually make a living with those rates.

Another thing I found out is that it is very difficult for new freelancers like me as we do not have any positive feedback from other employers yet. Many of the employers preferred those who have positive feedback and of course, also the lowest rate.

With this conditions, it is very difficult to break into the market. I noticed many new freelancers lowered their rates in order to win some projects so that they could get feedbacks at last and perhaps, be able to get more customers in future.

I have contemplated that but I could not bring myself to it. I am of the opinion that I should not lower my rates just to get a project when the amount of time and energy put into it cost more than the quoted rate. It does not make good business sense.

In situations like this, it reminds me of a very wise advise from the shoe fashion guru, Jimmy Choo, whom I interviewed a few years back.

"We must always set a standard and pricing for our masterpieces and never lower it no matter how much you needed the money."

The reason is simple, he had said that if the price was lowered, you lose your integrity and customers will expect you to lower it again in future. It would be very difficult to bring the price back up without losing customers.

Not surprisingly, Jimmy Choo was practically broke trying to sell his handmade shoes in the beginning because he placed a very high price for his shoes and were not getting any customers. He only had his big break when his shoes were showcased in a women's magazine and the rest is history.

Despite being world-renowned for his beautifully crafted shoes, Jimmy Choo remembered his poor background and remained a humble, nice and polite man. Even now, he is very friendly and courteous to everyone he meets.

But I digress. To get back to the point of bidding and rates, I decided to follow Jimmy Choo's advise. Considering where he is now in the fashion industry, I am sure he is not wrong about setting a standard for our work and never lowering it just because we needed the money.

So, I shall steadfastly stick to my usual rates and continue bidding till I get my break!


Tis the season to be...

down with the flu complete with fever, blocked nose and raspy coughing judging from the two very sick males in my household.

It has been a fairly stressful time for me what with my boss away on her Christmas leave and I am left to man the fort, so to speak. If that is not bad enough, both my husband and baby fell sick and I suddenly got an additional job of playing nurse to them.

Believe me, when a grown man fell sick, it is much much much worse than a sick baby. He would practically be like a baby, sniveling and moaning and generally acting as if he could fall dead on his feet any minute - not that he could even get on his feet from the way he was going on and on about how he can't walk, can't eat, can't breath properly, etc.

As for LR, he is a real trooper. Despite having a high temperature, he is as active as ever. The only difference is that he tends to be more clingy, expects more cuddles, wants to be held most of the time, tires easily and gets cranky easily because he does not like to get tired so easily.
He does not even act as if he is down with the flu.

So, to cope with all this stress, it is fortunate that my best buddy in the whole wide world is here to comfort me during those lonely nights of keeping vigil over them while surfing through freelancing job boards.

Who is my best buddy? Why the very wonderful euphoria-inducing, delectable, mouth-watering, satisfying, sinful chocolate of course! Who else? Luckily, even with two people in my house down with the flu, I escaped the misery although in the escape process, I managed to add on some padding to my hips thanks to those forays into the fridge for dear old choccie...


Writers an underpaid lot?

Yep, I would definitely think so judging from the rates I see at freelance online job boards these past weeks.

Previously, I have no idea what were the rates charged by freelance writers, especially on the net and in other countries. That is until I saw those low rates at the boards.

Imagine my shock to see rates as low as $1 to $2 for a 600 word article. That is even less than 1 cent per word. I mean, sure, it is relatively easy for us writers to come up with 600 word articles but to get paid only a buck for putting our talent to use? I don't know, it just does not seem right!

A 600-word article often takes at least 30 minutes to complete and by complete, I mean to write, edit and polished till it is ready for print. That does not even take into account the research that has to be done before the article can be written.

Okay, lets say on average, the process of researching and producing an informative yet creative article takes about 1 hour. The rate is $1 which means the hourly rate is $1. Isn't that a bit too low for even minimum wage?

Even at best effort, a speedy writer can research and complete an article within 30 minutes, that would mean, the writer is being paid a $2 per hour rate.

Writing is not only a skill. It is an art, an expression of self, a way to paint a better picture and most of all, a professional trait. So, why the low rates? Sure, sure, I've been told this is what is called the open market system where the market price is often controlled by the demand and supply, etc.

Still, I find it extremely ridiculous to be paid pittance for our creativity. Can you imagine an artist selling his paintings for $1 or $2?

Just like painters, our written work are our masterpieces. Our work should not be traded as if it is worth nothing more than pocket change.


Stop violence against women and children!

It is really disheartening to read the newspapers everyday to see news of women and young girls who were abused, raped and murdered.

What is happening to this world that women and young girls are no longer safe even in their own homes?

The bigger question is what are the decision makers/ policy makers / authorities actually doing about it?

What about the general public? Many have become so jaded that such gruesome news no longer bothered them.

I do not have the actual figures but I am sure that every minute of everyday, a woman or a young girl is being abused, sexually harassed, raped or murdered. Many women's groups and non-governmental organisations have been fighting this cause for a long time and despite wide proclamations by politicians and such on how they will fight to protect women and children, the violence continues.

I personally feel these inhuman violence against women and children started with how children were brought up.

Those who prey on women and children obviously started out as children just like the rest of us. And we all know, all babies are born innocent and helpless. So, how do these adorable little bundles of joy turned into blood-thirsty, evil monsters?

I do believe that every child is innocent and not capable of evil deeds (except for the ones in movies in The Omen).

The turning point probably stem from how they were brought up. Their childhood experiences and what they were taught from young. It could also be like an egg and chicken cycle as some could have been abused as a child so, without proper counseling and help, they too grow up to become abusers themselves.

Then there is discipline and environment influences.Children should be taught from young to respect each other and not to use violence to solve problems or disagreements.

Fighting is never the answer. They should be told in no uncertain terms that using brute force to get their way is very wrong.

Boys should be taught to treat girls with respect and as equals.

In this modern times, it is just so wrong to teach boys that girls are only good for cooking and keeping house and that they should be under the control of men. I do know of certain Asian cultures that still teaches boys to treat girls as nothing more than a maid or worse. Some cultures still considered women as the lesser being, have no rights to say or do anything without the permission of men and if anything were to happen to them, it is their own fault for not obeying the men.

This is what really get me. Despite all the efforts by so many groups, we still live in a men's world where male supremacy seemed to rule us all. You may disagree with me but just stop and look around. Yes, there are many women holding high positions in huge corporations or in governments but there are also millions other women who were abused, suppressed, not given minimum wage, sexually harassed and generally being treated as nothing more than scum.

Can we actually use the few great women of our time to reflect the actual status of women all over the world? It is just like saying all Americans are multi-billionaires just because Bill Gates is an American.

That said, I just wish to end this post by wishing for more women to start standing up for their rights, to start fighting for justice for themselves and their children and to move and initiate change for a better future.

Let's stop violence against women and children together!


The secret to time management...

Is not that easy to find if you have an over-active toddler at home, a demanding day job and a household to run.
These past few weeks of trying to establish myself as an e-freelancer while managing a household and showing a modicum of commitment to my day job, I found myself practically out of breath and running around like a sugar-high toddler.
Darn it, why didn't I ever chose to be born a multi-billionaire and not have to be so bothered with trying to break even from freelancing so that I could stay home for LR?
Day dreams aside, I found myself crashing into bed (yep, you read it right, I really do crash into bed) at around 1am the earliest and 3am the latest. Every day.
Can you imagine the beautiful eye shadows I have obtained from these endless late nights or shall we say, early mornings?
So, I decided to come up with a plan to manage my time so that I could at least go to bed by midnight. After all, I still do need my beauty sleep to keep those panda attributes, wrinkles and other late-night related ugliness from marring my very;-)

The plan goes like this:

Morning plan:
Get up at break of dawn, hurry through my exercise routine (Must always spare time to exercise!), prepare breakfast and pack my lunch, complete some chores, hop into the shower, grab anything from the closet and throw it on (no more spending 10-15 minutes staring at my clothes and wondering what to wear), feed LR, clean him up, change him and out the door to drop LR at the babysitters' but sometimes hubby does that so could spare at least 20 minutes when it is his turn.
Time: 30 - 50 minutes

Work-time plan:
Complete my assignments at record time, sacrifice lunch time by munching on my homemade sandwich while completing my assignments, grab some spare time in the afternoon to check emails/bid for projects at job boards/ monitor job boards/ blog, leave at around 5.30pm.
Time: between 8 - 9 hours

Evening plan:
Curse at the horrendous traffic jams, pick up LR, go home, prepare his evening snack, feed LR, play with LR for awhile (I couldn't find it in me to cut this special time short), bathe and change LR, read bedtime stories, sing nursery rhymes and tuck him into bed, do more house chores, do some light yoga stretching, shower, spend some time with hubby, then finally, take out the laptop to check emails/bid for projects/ monitor job boards/ blog.
Time: between 5 - 7 hours.

Aww...shucks. With this plan, I still end up going to bed at around 2am. I really am at a loss. It is not as if I wasted my time faffing around. Sigh...I better come up with better plans.