What hinders your creativity the most?

Since I call myself a writer, I’m ashamed to say that my most prolific time of writing is when I was in school.

We had two writing classes per week. Every class was 90 minutes long. We got a writing prompt at the beginning of the class, and we spent the rest of the time conceptualizing and composing. 

When I was in college, I changed my writing routine to every Friday afternoon for two hours. My reason to only have two hours per week was that I had other classes to focus on – my college major was not Creative Writing. So two hours of writing was all that I deserved. 

It’s been three years since I graduated with my M.A. I had been struggling with writing all the time. Much more than before. 

I didn’t call myself a writer. Not when I was not published. Not when I didn’t have a writing schedule that could make me feel my “flow of inspiration” and “water spring of productivity”.

Now I do see myself as a writer. Because I write regularly anywhere online, and I have an audience.

Someone reads my story and likes it. That is good enough for me to keep writing.

Writing is creating, and self-caring for me. The creative aspect of it sometimes serves the opposite purpose of self-caring.

To be completely honest, it stresses me out.

It stresses me out because it’s “supposed” to be in some way. Like the girls are supposed to be obedient and the boys must be tough. 

Creativity starts personal and private. What’s personal and private is subjective. What’s subjective is never limited to being in some “supposed-to-be” way.

It’s that simple.

So yeah, I started conceptualizing this post by making the following list:

What does not hinder your creativity:

  • gadgets
  • big chunk of time
  • endless resources
  • huge pool/endless information

What actually hinder your creativity:

  • perfectionism
  • impatience
  • inflexibility/stubbornness
  • lack of confidence

But I’m just going to let all of this go for now.


Despite it’s true, that we don’t need gadgets, a big chunk of time, much information to be creative, and it’s true that we need to work on our perfectionism, impatience, stubbornness, and lack of confidence, the only way to be creative and keep being creative is by simply doing it.

Doing it without considering the word that carries tons of weight — “be creative”.

That word can make things really difficult if you put that on your shoulder.

“I’m a creator so I need to be creative and I have to keep being creative…”

No. Just create. And create some more. 

Find your time. Enjoy your time to create and work on your craft.

Find your audience who appreciate your voice.

That’s enough. Do your work, and have fun.

So my conclusion is this: what hinders my creativity the most is the burden of the word “creativity” entails.


I was not a good mom today

I was exhausted today. More than only exhausted. 

Lack of sleep, arms and hips hurting. 

Legs hurting.

Headache, from lack of sleep.

Hands as well, from holding the baby.

I broke down for a while today. I burst out crying from sleep deprivation and pain everywhere in my body.

But there she is. Sleeping for a bit, waking up crying. 

She demands to see the lights around our apartment, especially the Christmas tree.

She needs to drink a lot of milk. But she cries a lot when she “has to” drink from sucking on the nipples instead of from a bottle.

So I broke down. Exhausted and hurt.

I can’t be a good mother now. I’m an exhausted one that’s not taking care of myself.

When I’m in pieces, I can’t take care of my baby.

I’m now a bad mother.

I don’t know where to ask for help when my husband is at work.

I don’t have anybody around me who can help me.

Who can just take the baby for a little while so I can take a power nap.

Who can hold the baby for a little while so I can rest my arms a little bit.

There’s no help.

I remembered when I was in college, I was living alone. 

My next-door neighbors were a young couple with two daughters. A girl about 4 years old, another baby girl who was a few months old.

One afternoon, I heard someone knocking on my door.

I opened the door. There stood the mother. 

“Sorry to disturb. Would you mind keeping an eye on my baby? I really need to take a ten-minutes nap.”

So I went to their living room, to play with the baby for a little bit. 

The baby girl was in a good mood. I spent some time showing her colored blocks and rattling bunnies, while her mother was taking a nap in the bedroom.

Ten minitutes later, the mother came out, and thanked me again.

She was a responsible mother. She asked for help.

She knew  that she had to take care of herself before taking care of her baby.

Only when ourselves are taken care of, could we take care of others.

Then we are good parents.

2021 Keyword: Courage

The end of February of 2021 gave me a huge surprise.

“I’m going to be a mom.”

It was also a challenge.

At first, it’s like for most people: “What? Okay. I’m not sure what just happened. I’m going to need time to digest this very brief but implication-rich information and to process all the emotions heading to my brain…”

When all the reasons noising in my head, my gut made me realize that it was the right thing to do.

So I have done something that I don’t usually do easily: I gathered all the courage in me and listened to my gut. I normally would think and calculate for a long time, and often go with my reason, even if it’s against what my instinct tells me.

But this time, instinct was overwhelmingly strong. So I said: “Challenge accepted.”

It was not an easy journey.

Hell, it was extremely hard, especially at the beginning.

The instinct was strong, but not new.

What’s new was that courage to follow that gut feeling, that instinct.

I was not a fan of children. I couldn’t imagine myself being a mother. I still need to work and develop myself professionally. I still want to make my own dent in this world. I still have so much I want to do before it’s too late…

But amidst all that noise, I felt this was right.

So I just went for it, even though I would need that great courage during this year again and again.

Now I’m here, with a new person in my life, who I don’t need courage to protect — because that’s just default, and default doesn’t need courage — I’m thankful.

The courage to trust my instinct made the best of my 2021.

There’s a reason why the road is long and wearying.

Because nature’s way is tough but rewarding.

Memoir, old feelings, and new wishes

Maybe it was not the most important to have your memoir written as a statement for the court. 

Our brains alter our memories slightly or significantly to adjust to our current situation.

So how you are telling your stories from the past says less about how it was, but how you want it to be remembered now.

I want to write my memoir starting from my earliest memories. They are extremely fragmented that I’m having a hard time picking up anything else than very little pieces. I used to remember a lot of things from my early childhood. But now there are only “feelings” but no “scenes”.

Are those feelings also worth writing about?

How I felt excited when I was secretly awake during nap time at noon when I was in kindergarten.

How I felt scared when I really didn’t want to finish my bowl of noodles because I could taste ginger in the sauce. My mom was mad with me, and I cried.

How I felt confused when I couldn’t really cry at a funeral of a close relative because I didn’t know him well, even though I tried to cry like everybody else. And the only thing I remembered of him was how he looked at me – a long, long look. That made me sad many years later.

All these memories of “feelings” were from before I was five.

Now if I write them into my memoir, I will probably want to give meaning to them. 

Are they made-up memories? Maybe.

I’m sure the meanings will be made-up. And that’s ok.

Those meanings are my wishes.

Wishes for me, and that little girl who would become independent, loving, and spiritually close to her mother forever.

You are a bucket of water from the sea

“Babies are all born as a blank paper.”

Well, we’ve got proof now that it’s wrong.

How are person is since birth, and how she/he is becoming after that, is a combined effect from both nature and nurture.

Does it mean that we are born “as papers already have something written on them?”

I don’t resonate with this metaphor. I think how we are is more dynamic and multidimensional than drawings on paper.

Like… a glass of water. Or a bucket, a cup, or a bathtub of water… Pick your own container.

In her book Untamed, Glennon Doyle said to her daughter that we are buckets of water who came from the sea. We were one. You were in me and I was in you. We are going to be one again someday.

I can’t remember how exactly she said it. But that metaphor stuck in my head.

“But, what’s the point?” I hear me asking myself.

“What’s the point of being in a bucket just to be later poured back into where I came from?”

We are not born with a purpose. We are born with the things we are naturally capable of.

Just like water. We are similar in many ways — even the same in most ways. But there are many, many ways can water be used. 

There are many, many different paths for water to find its way back to the ocean, where it came from.

The purpose is not to go back to where it came from.

The purpose is the journey, the circulation, the individual path to get to the start and endpoint.

For most of us on this earth, we are not born to be who we are. In which family we are born, on our physical features are, in which area or community we are born into… none of these things say who WE are. 

Because from that moment on, all we do is “becoming”.

Becoming who we are — something we can say, not as a static but a changing definition, that only holds true at the point of our lives when we are looking back.

And especially, at the moment when we get to go back to where it all started.

Like water, with every step forward, it becomes a little different than before. It’s always “becoming”.

Water can be anywhere. Even the desert has a certain amount of water somewhere in its air or way deep down its ground.

Where do you wanna be? Where do you wanna go?

What path would you choose?

Standing where you are, how do you want to define yourself at this moment?

And what do you want your inner water to be “becoming”?

Take a moment to look around.

Where is your water right now?

Which path is it on?

Stationary lovers don’t write much (usually)

When I was in high school, I noticed that the girls who are obsessed with stationaries, like colorful pens and stickers, notebooks, and washi tapes, are usually not the ones with good grades.

I know I am generalizing here. But that was my observation.

Now in my work, I keep noticing a similar phenomenon. The majority of the people with the fanciest equipment, gadgets, software, and setup, produce the least content. They seldom get so far as to ship their work.

If they do, their work is not of good quality.

Most people I know with great talent and who produce amazing work constantly are those with the simplest setups. They might take their good content to another level by deploying professional devices. But they produce their gold-quality content first, in the simplistic way that they are used to.

We only have a certain amount of energy to focus on something. What we need to do is to ignore the shiny objects like fancy gadgets and new software, and only focus on all the energy on producing every bit of our content.

Those shiny objects do make your work better.

But you need something good, to begin with, in order to make it even better.

The performance with a telephone

There’s a photo of me as a toddler at my grandparents’ place.

In the photo, the three-year-old me was holding the handset of a telephone to my ear. I looked curious and was saying something into the phone.

As for how I remembered it, it was an unused phone. There was no one on the other line.

I was just “performing” a phone call.

That’s what I did as a small kid. I did “performances”.

Singing and dancing were the regular performances for me. But what I also did was “acting”. And “telephoning” was one of my favorites — even my signature “show”.

I used to memorize every telephone number of all our family members. My parents’ home, their work phones, my grandparents’ place, my grandpa’s work phone, my aunts and uncles’ homes, and their work phones… That was before cellphones became available everywhere. Everybody used to have a little address book where they noted down their contacts’ numbers and addresses.

I was really proud to be able to remember all these telephone numbers. I loved how impressed everyone was when I recited these numbers to them. So “making the call” became one of my special performances.

I would “call” my family members on command. Then I would make up reasons why I needed to “call” them.

I was calling my grandpa asking him when he’s coming back from work for dinner.

I was calling my mother to ask her whether I could wear my white skirt with yellow flowers to kindergarten.

I was calling my aunt to tell her that I missed her and looked forward to seeing her next week…

I was making those “calls” because I saw the grownups doing it.

What I did was not just perform but practice. Because I didn’t miss any chance to make a real call by myself.

The phone in my hand, to me, was able to magically bring everyone I love instantly to me. The confirmation of the connection, the strengthening of the relationship gratified my little heart. That’s why I enjoyed the telephone.

Oh, the good old days…

I wonder what kind of similar experience with telecommunication my daughter is going to have along her way.

Don’t settle for less than true love

The most important lesson I’ve learned in my career is about myself.

About what kind of a person I am.

About what I’m able to and what I refuse to become.

I must work on something I can stand behind.

I need the trust. I want to believe in something before I can work on it.

I don’t want to have a job that’s separated from my life.

I can’t do “a job” between 9 to 5, and then “come back” to my life after that, and hope there’s a balance to be found and kept between the two.

I want to do a job that I love enough to make it a part of my life.

I don’t want to count minutes at my job, so that “I can finally go home and do something that makes me happy.”

I want to actually enjoy what I do at my job, while not minding when and where I am doing it.

Having a job is like having a relationship.

I don’t want to have one just because I should have one. Otherwise “I’d be lonely, weird, and probably be dying from depression.”

I want to have one because of love.

I know. I know.

“Don’t do what you love. Instead, love what you do.”

But it’s like saying “don’t be with someone you love. Instead, love the one you can get your hands on.”

It’s just immoral.

You might say, “marriage is the way to kill the love between you.”

What a cynic?!

True love is never only rosy and sweet, romantic and exciting.

True love is complicated.

True love demands hard work and great patience.

True love is meant to have ups and downs.

True love is a belief. It tests you and also grants you the strength to keep going.

Because true love is much more rewarding than anything that is not it.

I’m not going to settle for anything less than true love, for anything else is waste of time.

And the thing that is worth caring about is time.

The only currency that matters to me.

Let me make it clear: true love is not “the one”.

If there’s no “the one”, there’s more than one possibility to have one love that is true.

I will have many opportunities to build and use my skillsets.

I will have the motivation to do many things.

I’m just waiting for the chemistry to be right.

I’m still searching for some work that I love.

I will find one.

And if you are like me, you can find one too.

Just don’t settle for less.

How to make a plan (a Dreamer’s edition)

Photo by Ike louie Natividad on Pexels.com

If you are a dreamer, you might easily get stuck in your head.

Your brilliant ideas never get to become reality.

You start to work on building your dream, but always get distracted by some new idea, or stop working on it because it gets dull.

As a dreamer, you need another way to make plans.

You will have to plan according to your sparks and flaws. If you do what others do, with the tight schedules and willpower draining, you will keep beating yourself up with frequent quitting or simply forgetting about what you wanted to do in the first place.

Here is what I did (and am doing). Hope it’s helpful to you too.

First, we need to distinguish what’s the difference between our superpower (dreaming great ideas) and what it needs to make anything into reality (a plan).

A dream vs. a plan

A dream can be idealistic — a castle in the clouds; whereas a plan is structured, specific, and actionable.

A dream is self-entertaining. You need dreams to release endorphins into your brain to feel hope and joy. I used to dream of living somewhere on the beach, working from anywhere on my laptop, drinking pina colada in the morning, or whenever I want.

I had that dream when I was mentally drained by my 9 to 5, repetitive, dead-end office job. How I was living induced pain. Dreaming rewards you with joy now. Therefore, dreaming was my painkiller at hand. I needed it to survive the everyday pain that came like waves in the sea. But the worst was when the painkiller wore off, the next pain waves became even less bearable. What came next was self-loathing because I felt helpless. Because I didn’t take action to achieve that dream.

Because I didn’t make a plan. A dream can inspire a great plan.

A dreamer’s plan

A plan is a self-discipline. You want to keep yourself on track with every step according to plan, even if it’s painful, dull, and difficult.

To make this dream a reality is going to need a series of well-structured, thorough plans.

To make a plan, I need a goal, a roadmap, and a timeline.

For example, if I want to be able to work from anywhere and at any time, I need to be my own boss. Before starting my business, I can be a freelancer. What does every freelancer need nowadays? A website with a portfolio showcasing what I can do. There I have it. That’s what I want to build. That’s the goal of my first plan.

And how to come to that goal is the roadmap.

A website can be built. It’s the content of that website I need the most.

A website with an empty portfolio is nothing but a bad personal ad. So the most urgent plan is to put together a portfolio.

Don’t forget, I want my roadmap to be specific. So I need to state that I want 5 presentable projects for my portfolio.

Now it’s time to make the timeline.

When do I want to have a finished website so that I can start promoting it on social media and freelancing websites? In 12 weeks.

I know I can make the website quite quickly. So I will get on creating projects first.

For every project, I need 2 weeks, 7 buffer days (for review and adjustment), and another week for the website.

If I need to make specific timelines for every project, I will do it here as well.

After this comes to the most difficult step: execution.

How a dreamer conquers “execution” roadblock

A plan without execution is just another dream. 

Execution is the biggest block for 99 percent of people with great ideas and big dreams.

To be realistic, a plan is to be broken. One helpful tip here is to make your plan specific, but achievable and most importantly, relatively flexible

That’s why I always plan in buffer time.

What’s subjected to change usually doesn’t include the end goal and roadmap. The timeline can be adjusted, as well as the order of certain elements in the roadmap. For example, I can choose to move building a website earlier on the timeline; but I won’t change building a website into building a Youtube channel. 

Making a plan and sticking to it rewards you later.

Sometimes much later, especially when your end goal of the plan involves seeing some kind of “quality leap”, such as from “having zero followers on social media” to “becoming a 10k-follower influencer”.

Another thing that helps is to keep an activity log or progress log

Sounds pretty dull? Well, here is the catch:

Make it public. 

Not necessarily to the people you know, if you don’t feel like sharing your ambition with them.

Make it public to strangers on platforms such as Medium, Youtube, or Twitter. (If nobody knows you have these accounts, of course)

Even if you don’t have an audience there (you might get more and more eyes on your posts with time), publishing something to the internet and making them visible to strangers can give you satisfaction after accomplishing your smallest goals, and keeping yourself on track. 

Or, you can do it like me. Set up a separate blog and write about them every time you did anything towards that goal.

Some more tips:

Making plans gives you a high of endorphins, too. That’s why most of us stop at the point when we finished planning. But be aware. Don’t stop before you can finally start.

If you get stuck during execution, use your buffer time to spot the problem and keep on schedule. But if you fall off the schedule (which might happen) remember to come back as soon as you can. All you need to do is to either speed up from now on. Or the “worst” case: you need to push the whole timeline a bit further into the future. Anything but give up. Always come back to doing the work and back on schedule. Like meditation. 

Be sure about your end goal and roadmap before you even start. It’s very frustrating and discouraging if you keep working on something hard while it’s the wrong thing to work on. Save your most energy on the work that deserves to be done.

I am a dreamer. I have ideas. And I bet you do too.

But a dreamer goes nowhere if she doesn’t make the right move, and keep moving.

The hidden meanings behind taking long walks

After re-watching “Midnight in Paris”, I was brought back to my own strolls in different cities in the world.

Thinking a lot about the plot of this movie as well as of my own experience, I realize some very interesting things:

Whether you take long walks, and how you do it, says more about you than you think.

Long walks in cities have always been one of my favorite activities to do alone, or with some good company.

Don’t know if it holds true for you too. I’ve met people who complain about walking too much and getting sore legs and hurting feet after (only) one hour of walking, while I can joyfully accept a 5-hour long walk with a good conversationist in an interesting city. (Provided that I’m not in heels)

The beauty of such activity lies in the simple but dynamic form of spending time: when I’m alone, I observe the street and the people in it. I listen, I smell, I feel the vibe. If I’m with pleasant company, I can enjoy both the conversation as well as the scenery around us.

Poster “Midnight in Paris”

In the movie, Owen Wilson’s character, Gil, takes long walks in the street of Paris. Sometimes alone, sometimes with “a girl of his dreams” — literally, since she’s living in the 1920s and in Paris — both the most Romantic symbols for Gil that are unattainable and nostalgic.

When Wilson’s character wonders alone in Paris, in the sunshine, and in the rain, I feel envious.

I wouldn’t go so far as to say “that’s the dream”. But being able to take walks aimlessly, with no time stress, in a fascinating city like Paris must be a blessing.

One thing is subtle but significant: Gil (Owen Wilson) doesn’t walk in Paris because he lives there. He’s not walking in his world, but in a place that serves as the stage of his imagined “Golden Age”. That’s why Paris is magical to him.

Paris in the 1920s means the ideal world Gil would like to live in. Yet what he experiences in “that world” is not real. Paris becomes Gil’s world only after when he starts a conversation with a Parisian girl from his own time.

The same goes for his walks in the city. He has been an outsider watching, and mostly, imagining what has happened there. The city doesn’t belong to him. And he doesn’t belong to it.

He wants to “move there”. To be part of it.

But he has to learn something first: moving to Paris could only be as fulfilling as he wants it to be when he accepts his reality and begins to appreciate the messiness and the precious beauties in his homeworld.

Photo by Rene Asmussen on Pexels.com

I do the same. When I’m alone, I’m walking down the street, and the next, and the next. I’m spending half the time watching other people, dogs, and buildings; the other half time, I’m spending with my own thoughts.

Spending time in another reality.

Not everyone can do these long walks. In recent years I find it difficult to do it, too.

The problem is not that I don’t have time. We all have time. It’s just what time means to us changed.

What a shame.

If I can just spend a day somewhere in a beautiful city by myself, in the streets, that’d be wonderful. And I would be proud of myself for having a strong and clear mind.

Because no fear for time is the greatest martial art for the mind.

Another thing about long walks that I really love, is to walk and talk with a really good friend.

I used to do that a lot with some friends back home where I grew up.

The walking-talking sessions were usually one-to-one.

We used to meet up somewhere and started talking and walking, aimlessly through the city.

No destination. No restaurant. No bars.

Just a friend and I, in the street of a busy city.

We passed by street food stands. We ate, and then kept walking.

We walked for hours, hardly touching our cellphones.

Anything we saw along the way could spark up a new topic or a sequel of what we just talked about.

We laughed hard, crazily.

We laughed so much that we had to crouch down, didn’t care what other people were thinking.

Today’s me would have hated us back then. So careless and loud.

So rogue and not give a damn.

So free.

What I can’t forget is that, while feeling so free, I was feeling very safe as well.

I don’t mean that it’s dangerous to walk with one person in a big city (at night, maybe). But the sense of “security”, the feeling of “certain” and “sure” of yourself and everything in your life… that kind of “safe”, “assured”, and even “content”.

Because the person you can take these long walks with must be very special.

You talk for hours but it’s not just about you nor only about her/him, but both of you.

Interestingly, I felt more “safe”, “assured”, and “content” when I was in my early twenties. But less and less when I’m getting older and older.

And of course, these people with whom I could take these long walks are fewer and fewer.

Well, even I can hardly find the headspace to take such walks.

But I hope you have at least one person in your life with whom you can do such things.

The things that look like wasting time. But in fact precious like gold.

With someone, you feel loved and supported, and you will love and support her/him with all your heart.

If you have such a person in mind, just go ask him/her:

“Would you put on some walking shoes and stroll in the city with me? Make sure to take a bottle of water. And we will stop for ice cream.”

Good luck.