Five Ways to Get Your Writing Game On

Published on 5 June 2018

By: Grace Ma


Love to write but not sure how to do it? This June at The Arts House, students were shown the ropes of creative writing at Camp Lit, now into its second edition. From crafting thrilling murder-mysteries to experimenting with poetic verse, aspiring youth wordsmiths were immersed in three full days of creative writing! Students also got the chance to learn from experienced writers such as Neil Humphreys (Rich Kill, Poor Kill), Audrey Chin (Nine Cuts), Clara Chow (Dream Storeys), Tse Hao Guang (Deeds of Light) and the authors of the well-loved Sherlock Sam series, Adam Jimenez and Felicia Low-Jimenez.

If you are an aspiring writer but missed Camp Lit, here are some personal insights from writer Neil Humphreys (he’s a funny guy) to get those creative juices flowing!

Image courtesy of Neil Humphreys


1. Do something you love to find the inspiration to write

I love nothing more than to walk or jog along Sungei Serangoon and talk to myself! Sometimes, I’ll discuss ideas or plots with myself, out loud. Or, if I’m really in the mood and I’m working on a novel, I’ll say dialogue back and forth. This works best for me. So when I get writer’s block in my office, I hit the road – walking, jogging, cycling, whatever, just moving – getting the heart pumping often does the trick.


Image Courtesy of Neil Humphreys


2. Get really active if you hit a wall

Usually, once I have a central idea or theme, the rest flows pretty quickly. But there was this week where I was really stuck. So I found this little football and started kicking it around the five-room HDB flat I was staying in then; against the walls, window grilles, bomb shelter door, everything. After 10 minutes or so, an idea popped in and off I went. I played football in that flat every week after that until, finally, the neighbours in the flat below came up and complained.


Image courtesy of Neil Humphreys


3. Be aware of your environment, not social media

Observing the world makes us more communal and aware of the ups and downs, and coming in and going out of people around us. Without awareness, there can be no empathy. Without empathy, we’re not a society, just a collection of zombified, self-absorbed individuals addicted to our devices.

There is nothing I love more than to sit on a top deck of a bus, right at the front, stare out of the window and daydream. I’ve done this since I was kid on London’s red buses and I still do it now. I watch everything from the workers toiling in the hot sun to bickering kids coming home from school and retirees hanging out. Every character and journey is a little vignette, a slice of Singapore life.


Image courtesy by Neil Humphreys


4. Be disciplined and make time to write

I’m a happy workaholic with many hats and very much a believer that we come this way but once, so make the most of the journey! When my first book came out, I met a fellow author who’d written 10 books and was still going strong. I thought it was ridiculous then. Why write for the sake of it? Only write if there’s something to say. But I totally get it now. Here I am, 18 books later, and I feel every word, page, column, chapter and book is a race against the clock. I might send dozens of emails, write invoices or do interviews like this one in a day, but the only fulfilling part is creating something – a column, a chapter, a character, a TV or book idea, whatever. That’s the buzz, the addiction and that’s where the discipline comes from.


Image courtesy of Neil Humphreys


5. Don’t write for fame or fortune

If you want to be a writer to be rich, do something else. The real ambition is to be able to say, ‘I’m writing this or that because it’s a passion project of mine. It may or may not make a lot of money, but it’s something I’m desperate to write and it’ll make a positive difference’.

And then, there’s empathy. The arts, including writing, has to be about empathy between writers, characters and audiences. Empathy builds a better, kinder society. The very essence of half-decent prose or poetry is empathy; the need to understand the human condition of others – and one’s self.

To get your kids involved in writing or to try your hand at writing yourself, check out these programmes in June:


Or, if you’d like to try for an author’s residency yourself, Singlit Station is opening their 2018/2019 residency programmes in the 3rd quarter of this year here.

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