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Award-winning Author Felix Cheong Tells You What it Really Means To Be A Writer

About Felix Cheong

Felix Cheong

Felix Cheong is a local award-winning writer with 10 books under his name, including Vanishing Point and Singapore Siu Dai. He has also written for various publications as a freelance writer and spoken at writer’s festivals around the world, from Edinburgh to Hong Kong. He conducted a workshop earlier this year at Bolt’s offices where he shared more about how to tell great stories. We took the chance to ask him about the writing industry in Singapore, and this was what he had to say:

1) What was your most memorable experience as a writer?

Meeting and interviewing celebrities such as Willem Dafoe and Tony Leung. They were articulate, very down to earth, no airs about them.

2) What’s the one thing you feel is missing in local writers today?

Spelling, punctuation and turns of phrase. Their lack of reading shows – the prose is often flat, with a staccato rhythm that belies a lack of love for language.

3) What are some tricks you use to overcome a writer’s block?

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photo by photosteve101

Do more research. You’re often stuck because you don’t know enough. Read; ideas bounce off other ideas. And keep writing until something comes. Words have the ability to pull out other words.

4) What’s the best way to set yourself apart from other freelance writers?

Know your niche, what you’re interested in and be able to write lucidly about it. As my creative writing supervisor once taught me: what is written with pleasure is read with pleasure.

5) What does “finding your voice” mean to you, and what advice would you give to a writer struggling with that issue?

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photo by Howard Lake

Your “voice” has to be honed and developed over time. It is your personality in action, your fingerprint on the page. And it can only come about through practice. No shortcuts, I’m afraid.

6) Do you think the sheltered lives of young adults have compromised their ability to tell better stories?

Not necessary. This ability is an intersection between talent, skill and insight. You need the talent to write, the craftsmanship to discipline that talent and also the insight (that only experience can teach you) to make everything come together. “Voice” (see above) is very much these three things working in tandem, sometimes in tension.

7) What kind of advantages does your history in literary writing afford you the world of journalism? (what are the most important skills you’ve transferred over)

1. Attention to detail

2. To show, not tell

3. Narrative structure

8) What are some habits you think good writers should develop?

1. Time management

2. Deliver copy on time

3. Be curious about what’s happening around you.

9) There seems to be a rather romanticised view of writers nowadays, but what are some hardships you think writers will face, and your strategies for combating them?

Writing is not often perceived as highly in the market as specialised professions like doctors and lawyers. Everyone can write – that’s the myth, which is hard to bust. 2. As a result, writers are not as well-paid as other professions. So don’t expect to earn a million bucks by the time you’re 35. It will not happen. Go into the stock market instead.

10) How do I tell if a writer’s path is really for me?

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photo by Ritesh Nayak

Ask yourself these ten questions:

1. Does a blank page or blank word document scare you?

2. Are you extremely kaypoh (a busybody)?

3. Do you write well?

4. Can you take criticisms about your writing?

5. Are you comfortable chatting with strangers, making them feel comfortable enough to answer all sorts of questions?

6. Are you good at networking?

7. Can you work to deadlines?

8. Are you prepared to accept pittance for your work out of the sheer joy of writing?

9. Are you able to work independently?

10. Do you have a life outside of writing?

11) What tips would you give a fresh grad trying to get into the content industry?

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First things first: get a writing portfolio done. Put together your best pieces to showcase your writing skills. Next, check out the magazine rack in a bookshop, or surf to find out which publication you’d like to write for, and which publication pays for freelance writers.

Editor’s Note: Don’t have a portfolio yet? We have got you covered. Sign up for our beta now for the easiest way to set up your portfolio for free.

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Bolt is a content marketing platform that connects writers to brands looking for quality written content.  For more articles for writers, click here. Or if you’d like to join our database of writers for potential projects, sign up for our beta here.