What Being A Teen Writer Was Like

I used to think being a teen writer was the best thing ever. I remember feeling a desire to be one forever. How delusional of me, huh?

While I love writing and hope to write for the rest of my life, I’m looking forward to being an adult writer.

After all, I spent most of my time as a teenager telling stories.

I started writing when I was about thirteen or fourteen, right around my early teens.

I’ve been writing for the past six or so years. Time flies.

I still can’t believe I turned twenty today.

Being a teen is tough enough as it is. I’d argue being a teen writer is even tougher.

Not only are you finding yourself and figuring out who you are as a human, you’re also doing the same as a writer.

I’ve learned a little every time I faced the blank page.

I wrote stories and poems last year. I’m currently transcribing them. Even with my critical eye, I can see my gradual improvement. I’m constantly taken aback by how far I’ve come in just a few months, much less several years.

I’ll miss the opportunities afforded to teen writers. I’m not eligible for a lot of things now that I’m officially twenty.

Even though I got into writing earlier than most, I wish I had applied to more contests and competitions for teens.

Still, it’s been a great journey. I’m quite happy, pleased even with where I am right now.

Overall, I accomplished more than I thought I would as a teenager.

I’m not too sure what’s next for me. I don’t know what tomorrow will bring, which is the one thing that both excites and terrifies me about being a young writer.

I hope being a grown up adult will be everything I hope for. Am I being greedy? Is that too much to ask for?

Fortunately, I’ve had these past four summer months to reflect on my past and contemplate my future.

I want nothing more than to keep telling stories and writing words. I invite you to do the same, regardless of whether you’re a teen writer or a seasoned veteran.

Age is just a number anyway.

This Or That: Writing Edition


Just a fun game of this or that with a writing twist because why not.

Pen or pencil?

I used to be a pencil kind of gal when I was a kid, but now I'm old. I don't make mistakes that I need to erase. I don't get ink stains on anything. There are so many reasons why I love pens, I could write a blog post on it.

Spiral or non-spiral bound notebooks?

As much as I love the look of journals without spirals, they aren't as practical for me. I can hold a spiral notebook in one hand easier. Or maybe I just don't have any arm strength.

Write in the morning or at night?

Nighttime. I tend to read and edit in the earlier hours of the day. But when the sun sets, my muse suddenly wants to come out to play. So much for sleeping eight hours every night.

Work inside or outside?

I like not having to leave my house. I can stay in my pyjamas. I don't have to do my hair or makeup. I'm lazy. That's not news.

Music or silence?

When I'm handwriting, silence. When I'm typing, music. If I had to choose just one, I'd probably play songs in the background at a soft volume.

Write a little every day or a lot every so often?

A little every day. That's what I'm currently doing because it works best for me. I like writing enough to do it even when I don't feel like pulling words from my brain and putting them onto the page.

Short stories or long novels?

I tend to write short stories and read long novels. Perhaps novellas are my true love.

Lined paper or blank paper?

Lined all the way. I'll take lines on paper over dotted, graph, etc.

Characters or plot?

The former obviously. Characters make or break a novel for me.

Which choices would you pick?

How To Make Writing (More) Fun

Admit it, writing isn't always fun and easy. Unless you aren't human in which case maybe you beg to differ.

Sometimes you just have to make putting pen on paper more enjoyable.

This is what I recommend:

Play music.

I like typing with noise in the background more than silence. So it's a no brainer for me. I almost always play some of my favourite tunes while smashing keys on the computer.

Reward yourself.

Schedule something fun to do like hanging out with friends or going to the beach. That way, you have an incentive to write and work while still making time to play. Win win.

Change location.

If you're bored and stuck, try moving to a coffee shop you haven't been to or a library on the other side of town. If that isn't feasible, go to another room in your house you don't typically write in. It might be enough to get your creative juices flowing again.

Set challenges.

Maybe because I'm a competitive person by nature, I tend to perform better when I feel challenged by something or even someone. Which brings me to my next point…

Find writers.

Look for individuals who motivate and inspire you. Seek them out. There are wonderful human beings on this planet who want to help you and see you succeed. Never let those ones go. Besides, writing with others is an experience every writer needs to experience.

Take breaks.

I don't care who you are, writing is not fun when you're burnt out. Working for hours at a time over an extended period of time isn't the best idea then. So rest and relax. Don't you dare guilt trip yourself for not writing every second of every day. You're human after all.

Edit later.

Writing is fun until editing comes along and ruins the creative party. Buzzkill, much? Revisions can wait. Fun does not.

That's all the suggestions I have for making writing more fun. Let me know what you do down in the comments below.

Happy writing and having fun!

20 Reasons Why I Write

In honour of turning two decades old later this month, here are twenty reasons why I'm still a writer.

  1. I love writing with all my hollow heart.
  2. I'm not horrible with words.
  3. I am terrible with numbers.
  4. Stories have changed my life for better or worse.
  5. I'll face the blank page over boredom any day of the year.
  6. Being published is better than not being published.
  7. Real people aren't as cool as fictional ones.
  8. Every day is an emotional roller coaster I'm never ready for.
  9. Other writers keep me from going insane.
  10. Therapy is expensive.
  11. I can write alone, by myself, on my own.
  12. I've learned more from writing books than reading textbooks.
  13. It's fun to inflict pain on fictional characters.
  14. I enjoy the suffering of others.
  15. I can relive experiences as many times as I want.
  16. Writing provides me some much needed perspective.
  17. I don't want to talk to people.
  18. People interrupt me on the rare occasion I do open my mouth to say something.
  19. Writing makes me happier than anything else in this world.

Why do you write?

Why I Have A Hard Time Sharing My Creative Writing

Sharing my creative writing with others is a challenge to say the least.

The other day I was trying to pick a story to send to two strangers for their feedback. I had the hardest time emailing a copy of my work to them.

There's something personal about openly sharing your stories with someone else. To an extent, some of my blog posts are personal, and I don't have a problem posting those for the world to see. With creative writing however, I feel as though I'm exposing more of myself.

As I've said, these two are strangers. I think I'd be more comfortable with sharing if I knew them longer, trusted them more. I'm sure they're wonderful human beings. It's still tough to open up and feel vulnerable in front of people you hardly know.

If I had a penny for every times I've said I wanted to get better, I'd be one wealthy woman. Even though I do hope to improve, I'm not the best at asking for feedback. Ditto for applying any feedback I receive.

I'm stubborn. Worse, I have a gigantic ego that loves to get in the way. On a good day, I'm able to shove it aside for the sake of my art.

Every time I've put my art first before my ego, the former benefits greatly.

I say the following not to brag, but to make it clear that I had a different, unusual path when I started out as a writer and blogger. I found success early on in both endeavours. In some ways, I was even more successful a few years ago than I have been recently.

So, for many reasons, my ego was inflated in high school. A part of me thought I always knew what was best, what was right.

Of course, that's not always the case.

Over time, my ego has taken a good beating.

I'm at a point now where I feel confident, not cocky in my abilities. After all, I've come a long way, but I still have plenty of room for improvement.

I can identify strengths and weaknesses in my own work. But having an outside perspective point out certain problems can make all the difference.

What I want to say ultimately boils down to these points:

Sharing your writing with strangers isn't easy. It can be a vulnerable experience. That's okay, though. So long as you don't let your ego stop you from improving your art in every way possible. And sometimes the best thing you can do is to put your ego aside and listen to others.

I think I've reaffirmed what I knew all along. Egos suck.

How To Write And Win Essay Based Scholarships

I'm not an expert by any means, but I've written my share of essays for school and scholarships.

These are my tips to increase your chances of standing out and possibly winning a scholarship.

Apply for them.

You can't win if you don't apply. Was it Einstein who said, "common sense isn't always common practice" or was it another intelligent human being? Either way, the point stands.

Brainstorm ideas.

You need to write about something. So having a couple topics to explore can't hurt. Obviously, you'll want to pick the best one and run with it.

Cut the unoriginal.

Be different, interesting. After all, sometimes you're judged on creativity or originality.

Don't repeat the essay prompt.

I'm not keen on telling people what not to do, but imagine reading 999 entries that started off by restating the prompt.

Easy reading means hard editing.

Give yourself enough time to edit your essay. At the very least, put it aside for a few days, so when you come back to your work, you see the words with fresher eyes. Even several hours between writing and editing can do wonders.

Follow the rules.

Do what's asked. Provide any necessary documentation. You might be disqualified otherwise.

Grind through it.

At times, you may feel tempted to give up. Keep going. You'll better than you think.

Help yourself.

You want to avoid sabotaging your own entry in any way. Never overlook a small detail or do something that's the opposite of smart. Answer what's asked. Fill out your contact information accurately. Review your submission for grammar and spelling mistakes.

I'm realizing this post isn't all that helpful. Go figure.

Maybe one day Herminia Chow will create useful content that isn't just spewing common sense. Today is not that day.

Face Your Fears As A Writer

I like to think I am more fearless while writing as opposed to when I'm not. What a surprise.

I wouldn't compare myself to a chicken because I'm worse.

In real life, I hold myself back from doing things because I'm scared. And I wonder if my fears also faze me in creative pursuits such as blogging.

I know I can take bigger risks and push the envelope more so to speak. But I don't.

Is it because I'm terrified of the unknown? Am I afraid to depart from what I'm used to and do something different?

Yes. And yes.

Sometimes I feel as though I'm only taking small baby steps. It's still better than not taking any, never moving forward.

What gets me is the fact that at one point in my life writing was risky.

I didn't always write. I wasn't good at it. Even though I had no idea what my future held, I figured writing wouldn't work out for me.

So many years ago, I took a risk one day by picking up a pen and putting words on the page.

Now all I want is to create better content, tell greater stories. Tough to do so if I'm scared of failing or rejection.

Maybe your definition of risk is different from mine. That's fine.

But isn't it insane to imagine how the things you do now were a risk or a fear five years ago? That what you consider risky now might be totally safe, even routine a month from now?

I guess what I'm trying to get at is our fears change. Our definition of risk does too. Almost everything and everyone changes. Don't be afraid of change. Embrace it.

After all, you can live your whole live letting fear hold you back or you can show fear what you're made of.

Here's to conquering our fears. Face the page and take risks. You have more to gain than you have to lose.

Life is a journey, after all. Might as well enjoy where you are right now.

Doing more, doing better happens gradually. You don't make leaps and bounds in progress overnight. But every time you face your fear, you're improving yourself.

It's okay to be afraid. But it's not okay to let your biggest fear hold you back.

I don't have an easy solution. The best we can do as writers and human beings is to confront what's holding us back from reaching our full potential.

Dig deep. Find the strength you need to overcome your greatest insecurities.

Realize there's no feat quite like facing your demons and coming out victorious.

I raise my glass of water to all of you. Keep taking risks. Remember you're better than you fears.

Spewing Bad Writing Advice

I spew plenty of advice all the time, especially when it comes to writing.

So here goes nothing.

The first sentence of your story should make readers want to read the second. So on and so forth.

Try to establish a conflict or some kind of tension as early as possible. If you can do so in the first paragraph, fantastic. If the conflict arises on page one hundred and ninety-nine, you may want to revisit everything before it.

What's necessary? What isn't?

Clean up your messes. It's fine to info dump everything in your head on the page the first time around, but take care of them when you come back to edit.

If you listen to nothing else I say, for which I don't blame you, hear me out on this: you are not obligated to follow anyone's writing advice. Listen. Learn. But you are your own writer.

What works for you may not work for someone else. Similarly, what works for others might not work for you. So you should do what works best for your own writing.

Make your reader care. Give them a reason to. Many even.

Dare to say something different. Think about what others are saying and say the complete opposite. Play devil's advocate.

Never neglect any element of storytelling. Create a compelling character or twenty. Throw them into a messy situation with conflict. Advance your story's plot at a good pace. Establish setting, location. Think about themes.

When you're stuck, consider the five senses. What can your protagonist see or hear? How do they feel? Does he or she smell something strange? Don't forget about taste.

Be unpredictable. Do the unexpected. Surprise yourself and subsequently your readers as well.

Take writing one word at a time, one day at a time.

Writing an entire novel or 100,000 words can seem daunting.

But writing 1,000 words or one page every day for a year isn't so bad.

I'm a broken record, aren't I?

A Confession And Reflection

I have a confession to make. I didn't participate in Camp NaNoWriMo this July. Explains the lack of Camp this and Camp that in my blog posts, doesn't it?

I began the month with every intention to write a novel from scratch. Writing 50,000 words wasn't exactly my goal. I just wanted to write a lot of words for a new novel I could potentially publish one day. Perhaps not traditionally but possibly.

Instead, I wrote a bit of everything. Some prose and poems, fiction and nonfiction.

I don't consider July to be a complete failure. After all, I wrote every day.

Even though I didn't manage to complete the first draft of a novel, I did come out of July with some good writing. Pieces I will likely work on further in the future.

I think I needed a month of writing whatever I wanted. Especially since I worked on a novel not that long ago in April. It's like I went straight from April to July, skipping May and June entirely.

Also, I wanted a slight break from everything. From feeling pressured to meet a certain word count, feeling obligated to stick to a singular story, etc.

I like to believe I've spent the past 30 days or so regrouping. I did some soul-searching wherein I ask myself what in the Herminia do I want in this life. And, to be quite honest, I still don't know.

Right now I want to continue writing as long as possible. Wherever I go, whoever I am a year from now or a decade down the road, I hope I'll always remember my humble beginnings.

I cherish the memory of when I first reached for pen and paper, when I finally let my thoughts flow freely. It seemed so easy at the time.

My first ever Camp NaNoWriMo coincided with an attempt at finishing my first novel. I'll spare all of you the boring details. But even now, I can recall a younger Herminia pressing keys with her not so nimble fingers several years ago. She had a blast.

So I owe it to myself to have as much fun as I used to or more every time I voluntarily face the blank page.

On Self-Confidence And Writing

I can't be the only one who has confidence issues, especially when it comes to writing, right?

I wonder if I'd feel more or less confident if I wasn't a writer. I'll never know. The word is practically stamped on my wide forehead, tattooed on my black heart.

Writing every day is challenging to say the least.

I have doubts. It feels like I'm always plagued by them. Go away. Leave me alone. I'm trying to tell stories.

I question whether I'm good enough, if I'll ever be enough.

After all, I'm my own worst enemy when it comes to everything, writing specifically. I make things tougher for myself. Creating is so much harder than it needs to be because of me.

Then again, I feel like a lot of people are the same way.

I don't know what to tell you. I wish I had a simple answer, an easy solution.

The best I can offer is this: keep writing. Keep believing in your dreams and visions. Don't stop writing until they're a reality. When you realize your old dreams, chase new ones.

You're good. You're good enough.

You'll get better.

Start and never stop believing in yourself.