Beautiful People [5]: My Darkest Writing Secrets

Hey there, lovelies! If you could fill in this short survey to improve Insanity Inc. for 2015, you have my eternal love and virtual cookies. (For those who've already filled it in, VIRTUAL COOKIES TO YOU.) And would you be interested in seeing the results & planned changes? If so, say so in the comments!

And now, onto the actual post:
Beautiful People is a linkup hosted by Cait @ Paper Fury and Sky @ Further Up and Further in, where writers answer questions about their books/characters. I did do a Beautiful Books the other month, and today, I'm talking about myself!

1. How many years have you been writing? When did you officially consider yourself a ‘writer’?

I've been writing for a really long time. Discounting school compositions, I think I decided to write a book when I was seven. Needless to say, mess. I dropped it for until I was thirteen, i.e. two years ago. At that point would be when I officially considered myself a writer, and started a Figment account and blog and everything.

2. How/why did you start writing?

When I was seven-ish, I read A Series of Unfortunate Events and had ALL THE FEELZ for it. I think that's when I decided I would write an equally awesome book and become an awesome author. Yeah, I was a bit clueless. When I rebounced at thirteen, I start my writing journey again with the Internet.

3. What’s your favorite part of writing?

In terms of the writing process, it's seeing my characters come to life and sometimes do things I never expected them to do. And then they sort of get their little slices in my brain and take over my dreams and stuff. But in terms of just writing, it's definitely hearing from readers.

4. What’s your biggest writing struggle?

Erm, editing. I'm still trying to get the hang of it—I figured out a rhythm on the go with my last ms, and I'm hoping this one will turn out better? I'm not very good at spotting how to improve my work.

5. Do you write best at night or day?

Night! For the entire months of September and October I allocated half an hour before I slept to writing. If I couldn't meet my quota, I didn't sleep. (How we punish ourselves.) It worked, though.

6. What does your writing space look like? (Feel free to show us pictures!)

All my writing ends up on my computer, but before that here are a few places I scribble:

In order: a notebook with chemistry and writing in it, a printed-out ms for first readthrough, and tiny notebooks with tiny handwriting. A future blog post will elaborate more on where I write :)

7. How long does it typically take you to write a complete draft?

Considering that I've only written two complete drafts (well done, Alyssa), I can only say the first one took half a year and the second took two months.

8. How many projects do you work on at once?

One novel at a time. I can't handle more. I can juggle a few more short stories, though.

9. Do you prefer writing happy endings, sad ones, or somewhere in between?

SAD ENDINGS ALL THE WAY. I'm evil. And my characters must SUFFER.

10. List a few authors who’ve influenced your writing journey.

Some authors I really, really admire: J.R.R. Tolkien, David Handler (Lemony Snicket), JK Rowling, Kate DiCamillo, Phillip Pullman, Philippa Gregory, George R. R. Martin.

Quick shout-out to these fellow online teen writers who give the best support a writer could ask for: Christina, Topaz, Nivedha, Rona, AnQi, Taylor. HAVE SOME TAKEOUT, GUYS.

11. Do you let people read your writing? Why or why not?

Funnily enough, I'm all good with letting people read my writing online — I'm on Figment — but I don't actually let real-life people read my stuff. I just cringe whenever someone glances at my writing and I have to see their reactions. Reading comments/critiques online are just fine, though.

12. What’s your ultimate writing goal or dream?

Become a published author! (And be Cait's Minion #1 as spokewritesperson. Great honour.)

13. If you didn’t write, what would you want to do?

Well, I never envisioned writing as my sole career; something sciency is definitely happening as well. Either science research or medicine or both, I'm not sure. Depends on my grades.

14. Do you have a book you’d like to write one day but don’t feel you’re ready to attempt it yet?

Yep, a memoir-ish diary-ish thing about what it's like here in Hong Kong. Politics, life, school, etc. I'm just mildly irritated that Hollywood thinks we're a mafia spot or something.

15. Which story has your heart and won’t let go?

Other than my current ms, I'm also pondering a Shadowplay sequel tentatively titled Matryoshka.

I might elaborate more on this idea and the memoir in the future, but this is getting a bit long :) If you joined the link-up, do leave your link so I can check out your post! Any praise for the awesome me? (Thank you, thank you.) Share any of my quirks? Leave a comment below!

Loved this post? Click to Tweet it for karma and takeout points:


  1. I'm incredibly prone to the whole, WOW this book is awesome I want to write one like it! thing TO THIS DAY. For instance, I generally write realistic fiction and I'm very happy with it, but reading, say, Maggie Stiefvater makes me want to write ALL THE FANTASY, so. ;) Also, I know the feeling of cringing when someone reads your writing; I've had to work to get over that because my mom and sisters are always enthusiastic and want to read it all and I had to learn to be okay with that, because I always used to feel all embarrassed. So I totally get that, too, haha!

    And I have to say that I think it's so cool you write by hand and then type it up! I love the idea of that process, but whenever I try it ends up a horrible mess. I prefer typing because when I realize I need things to go in a different direction I can revise the past few sentences/paragraphs without scribbling out and rewriting pages of notebook paper.

    And last but not least: Thanks so much for the shout-out! *grins* Your support means a lot to me, too, so thank YOU as well. :)

    1. EXACTLY! It's just you have all the feelz and then you think of another way you could experiment with that and aarrrgh. My parents/friends aren't that keen on reading what I write, so I'm still hiding in this hermit crab shell, ahaha.

      Thanks! I actually write if I'm not next to my computer and transfer it later, but if I'm on my computer and inspiration strikes, I just type directly to save time. Writing stuff out is a bit more rambly because, like you said, I can't revise and cross out as easily, but it also has more raw potential, I think.

      You're very welcome! You deserve it :)

  2. Only SAD endings? It was a long time before I ever started THINKING about sad endings :P

    1. Ha, yes, I'm morbid. And not the most cheery of people. Thanks for reading!

  3. Finding a rhythm to editing is hard! I always thought I would go into science as well as writing too.
    I love the idea of a memoir/diary of living in Hong Kong! It must be an interesting place to live :)

    1. Awesome! *high-fives* I love finding fellow writers who are into science, and the other way round. It just seems like the BEST COMBINATION EVER, in my utterly unbiased opinion. (Funnily enough, I've never written sci-fi.)

      Thanks, I'm glad you're interested! It's not exactly a roller coaster ride, but it has its ups and downs :D

  4. Editing has always been pretty tough for me (though I have to say I enjoy it a lot more than plodding through the first draft), mostly because I'm always worrying that I'll just make my story worse, not better. I usually write my first drafts by hand, too, and I thought I was one of the only people left on the planet who did that! Great post, and thanks for sharing :)

    1. I actually quite enjoy the first draft, because it's where my ideas really start to take off. But I aim to learn to love editing :) Hehe, I don't write out the entire thing by hand or my bones would all be broken, but I do write out all my short stories. Thanks for reading!

  5. I'm still trying to figure out my editing rhythm as well. I'm currently in the process of editing one of my novels for the first time, and while it's certainly difficult and overwhelming, it's also more enjoyable than I thought it would be. I hope to be published, too, someday. My really big dream is to be published as a teen, but I'm not quite sure that will happen. Also, I've never considered writing full time, either. I would like to be a computer engineer as my day job and write part time.

    1. I didn't actually like editing much the first time round, but I'm just beginning to dive into edits for my second completed ms ever and I'm actually beginning to enjoy it. Still finding my way, though!

      Yeah, it would be awesome if I managed to get a novel published before twenty, but that's just too uncertain to be a real goal ... more of a wish, hehe. And yay for women in STEM and writers in STEM!

  6. You write by hand?!! WOAH YOU ARE AMAZING. I am so bad at writing by hand no one can even read my grocery lists. -_- I think it takes dedication to write by hand, so good on you. ;-) Editing is hard. AGREED. I never know if I'm wrecking my story or making it better. It's so hard to knooooow.
    Thanks for linkingup with us!

    1. KNEEL AND WORSHIP ME. (Oh wait, that's your line. Sorry!) I don't write the entire draft by hand, just when inspiration strikes and my computer's too far away. I knowwwwww. This is why betas and CPs are like my saviors.

      No problem, I really loved writing this post! Thanks for hosting the linkup and visiting!

  7. I'm so with you on the editing thing. It's kind of my biggest pet peeve, actually, which is why it takes me so much longer than the actual draft. WHY CAN'T I JUST WRITE ALLLLL THE FIRST DRAFTS?!

    Also: you... write... by... hand. I do not understand this sorcery. (See? I KNEW you didn't exist. This is not something regular mortals can accomplish.) By the way, when you're a multimillionaire author/scientist/takeout tester, those pages will be worth a fortune, so you should probably save them. ;)

    THANKYOUSOMUCH FOR THE SHOUTOUT. *squeezes you + shoves chocolate at you*

    1. The worst thing is, I actually know it needs work, I just ... don't want to work on it. And I don't know how to work on it. *weeps*

      *defensive tone* I don't write ALL of it by hand. Only when I don't have access to my computer. *flails* Aw, thank you. You should cultivate this habit so I can buy your pages. And you're welcome! *chokes and eats chocolate*

  8. Ugh, editing. My arch-enemy. Mostly because every time I attempt to edit a first draft I see SO MANY PROBLEMS and just want to start all over from scratch.

    Also, I feel kind of guilty because I don't really know any of the authors that you like. I haven't read ANY Harry Potter books. (I'm slightly terrified that if I don't like them the entire internet will come after me. *shudders*)

    I used to write everything by hand because it made me feel so accomplished. But now I don't think I could do it. I type so much faster and I can actually remember what I was going to make happen by the time I'm done with a certain part. :P

    Shadowplay is a class in the ArcheAge game!! It's also my favorite (I just love dual swords and daggers and STEALTH), although Sorcery comes a close second. What's Shadowplay (as in your book :P) about?

    1. I feel like the dislike of editing is nearly universal in the writing world, ahaha :)

      That's totally alright, everyone has different preferences! Heather at Sometimes I'm A Story wrote a post about how she doesn't love Harry Potter as much anymore (; it's really insightful.

      That is true! Writing by hand generates a better feel, I think, but typing is faster and a little more polished (because you're doing a mini edit every time you finish a sentence or something.)

      Ooh, I had no idea about that. Shadowplay is about how an assassin has to reconcile with her estranged father to defeat a politician trying to take over the government. I might shelve it, though, because looking back it's not as good as I'd hoped ...

  9. I can totally relate. It is much easier for me to allow perfect strangers to critique my work then to allow my friends and family to take a glance. Sharing writing is a frightening business!

    1. It is! It's much worse when you see their immediate reaction, because you're just freaking out internally "aaah what if they don't like it". Thanks for reading my post!

  10. Good grief, I haven't been able to take a look at this for two days and I feel so behind. Anyway, I'm definitely with you on some points. It's hard to let real people read my writing, especially since it feels like I'm letting them take a look at a soul fragment and if they don't like it then it's like they don't like me and I have to see that in their face. Also, I don't know any real writers in real life.

    I love your notebooks, though, and would love to hear more about them! I have a big box of notebooks myself, and I can only admire when others join me. :) It's fun to write by hand! Not always convenient, but it works.

    And I would like to learn about Hong Kong as a not-mafia spot. Just saying. I mean, it's really hard because I don't know what sources to trust (I mean, obviously not Hollywood, but news and stuff, too) so I think writing a story like that someday would be very, very cool. :)

    I enjoyed your writing secrets, XD. (I am overwhelmed with irony.)

    1. EXACTLY. Is this how Voldy felt when he handed the Horcrux to Bellatrix? "Now, Bella, I'm giving this to you for safekeeping. WHY ARE YOU FLINCHING. SO WHAT IF IT'S HUFFLEPUFF. It's my soul!"

      I just alternate between handwriting and typing depending on my mood at that particular second. I'm slowly gathering a box of notebooks too - I think I have six so far and several empty ones to fill :D

      Minor benefit is that we don't get targeted by terrorists in Hollywood, ahaha. But yeah, I know the feeling because I don't even know which news sources to trust. Some documentaries are super nostalgic and others just disregard our culture entirely. That story's not coming for a long while, but I am planning to start a blog series about Chinese & HK culture, so look out for that! :)

      Thank you very much for reading, and Tweeting about it as well! It meant the world :D

  11. Aww A Series Of unfortunate Events! I remember I lovedd that book series. (I need to read it again b/c I forgot how it ends. O_O) As for #10 - I recognised quite a lot of authors so I guess we have the same reading taste! Or maybe I'm, jumping to conclusions, LOL.)

    Oooh hey, you're interested in medicine! So is a friend of mine. She likes to write too, but not that much (most of her time is focused on studying biochemistry.) *gaaasp* you're in Hong Kong!! I'm curious about what it would be like to live there. I guess I'l be keeping an eye out for your memoir then.

    I enjoyed reading this post! I found it from the link-up. I want to do it, but I've been so drained from work that I cba. Maybe. Hopefully. I do like the Paper Fury link-ups. Good luck with your writing!

    1. I know the feeling, it's just like bits of the book float away and since I read fanfiction I mix up canons with fanons, ahaha :) Well, probably we do! And in my utterly unbiased opinion, said reading taste is excellent.

      Your friend sounds like my Internet twin, because I'm also doing a project in biochem currently, hehe. Mmm, thank you, although I'm afraid you'll be waiting for quite a while. XD

      Thanks so much! Just relax and don't stress yourself - you have the entire month if you still want to join :)

  12. I used to write by hand! (Two full novels written by hand that I still have. I keep them because they have potential...) That so cool you write by hand! :D and as for how long it takes you to write first drafts: *applause* Good on you! I love being able to write a draft quickly just to get that done then move on to the next step! Totally awesome!

    I actually quite enjoy editing. Just not a fan of fixing all my showing and telling mistakes -_- UGH :P

    (I did this linkup too btw Only putting this in case you said you wanted to see others linkups :P ;) )

    1. Definitely keep those, so when you become a bestselling author you can sell them for millions or frame them for nostalgic purposes ;P It does have a sense of accomplishment when the first draft is finished, but like I said, editing is not my fav thing, so ... *this is where the work begins*

      Definitely interested in checking out your linkup :)

  13. This is super cool to see! I can't write by hand AT ALL so anyone who can gets major points from me. *hands points* YES. SAD ENDINGS. *cackles* Sad endings are just the best. Also, writing one thing at a time. I always have the hardest time figuring out how people do multiple projects at once - is there magic involved? How???

    Aimee @ To the Barricade!

    1. *gobbles up points* Thanks! It was actually born out of necessity since I kept having all these thoughts at school and without my computer. Then it became sort of a habit. On another note, we should form a society for sad endings, wherein authors can be evil. Mwahahaha. And I honestly cannot for multiple projects. I'll end up not finishing any of them. Thanks for dropping by!

  14. Yay for night writers and sad endings! I do all my best writing at night and while I go for sad yet hopeful endings, I prefer my endings lean a little more towards sad...because I'm evil like that!

    I love the idea of that memoir, I hope one day you get around to writing it. And being Cait's #1 Minion is definitely a very important, and awesome, goal. =)

    Happy writing! =)

    I hope you'll have time to check out mine and Grace's post: Our Beautiful Books Post!

    1. *high-fives* Yeah, even when my protagonist succeeds, I can't help but throw in so much 'bitter' that it's too sad to even be bittersweet. That memoir actually has gotten a lot of attention, which I'm pleasantly surprised about, since that's very, very far down the road :)


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