31 January 2022

Well, what d’ya know… Turns out having a weekly newsletter means you spend all your writing time producing the newsletter, and leave your blog in utter neglect and despair. I am ashamed.

I guess it’s not totally surprising. We’ve got limited hours in a day. Something’s got to give.

I can’t believe it’s been almost half a year since my last post on this blog. I hope you’ve all been well and haven’t missed me too much.

Maybe you haven’t noticed I’ve been missing at all. (Boo!)

Since starting the newsletter in May 2021, I’ve been averaging a writing session every couple of weeks, which I guess isn’t too bad. But it’s not just been writing. I chose to have a presence on social media (I’m @valthinkswriter everywhere). And maintaining a regular presence on social media means producing content for social media, which ironically takes up just about as much time as writing.

I remember reading from somewhere that to try and make it as a writer, you spend 30% of your time writing, and the other 70% self-promoting. I have no idea if that’s true or if I totally made the figures up in my dreams, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s what it takes to build an audience.

So far, I’ve got a handful of engaged readers of my newsletter, which I’m very thankful for. But the newsletter hasn’t been growing as I’d like it to. (In fact, it hasn’t been growing at all.) Which is why I signed up to this programme called Substack Go which is aimed at helping writers make it (go?) on Substack, my platform of choice.

[Here, have another shameless self-promotion link: CHECK OUT VAL THINKS ON SUBSTACK.]

It’s a month-long programme which connects Substack writers so we can “build our publications, together.” I joined it almost on a whim, with a vague idea that I’ll get to “meet” other writers and learn from their growth strategies. I was probably more curious than anything.

Anyways, I got accepted (yippee!)1 and tomorrow evening I’ll be struggling to stay awake in the kick-off session. 8pm is way too late for anything that needs proper focus for an ultimate early bird like myself, but it’s the only time slot that works because I’m not living on the right side of the planet.

The late hour isn’t the only inconvenience the programme brings. I’m actually also on holiday, which means I’d ideally like to not have to be kinda working at 8pm on two evenings. But I think (I hope) it’ll be worth it.

So far, I’ve already used the Writer Directory compiled as part of the programme to reach out to this Thai lady who’s doing something really interesting on a topic close to my heart—mental health. She seems legit cool, and I can’t wait to meet her in person for a coffee the next time I’m in Bangkok.2

So, even if these 8pm Zoom calls come to nothing, I will have gained a new legit cool person for my network. (The Empire expands.)

In typical “A Day in the Life of Val” style, I’ve rambled my way through this post, grasping at each strand of thought that appears, more struggle than fluidity. It’s not been a good 20 minutes for writing. My brain is all muddled up and I feel a dull throbbing on my forehead.

Maybe I’m tired from waking up early for the morning flight. Maybe 5pm is too late for me to be writing (oh God, how on earth will I survive the 8pm workshops). Maybe the Vietnamese coffee I got from the homestay owner at 12pm is wreaking havoc on my system. Vietnamese coffee tends to do that to me, which you might imagine would be inconvenient given that I live in Vietnam, but really isn’t because “Italian” coffee is available everywhere (all hail Arabica).

I’m thinking I should end this post now before it makes even less sense than it already does. But strangely, writing about struggling to write seems to be easier than writing about writing. Words are coming more easily now.

I want to make some sharp, witty, intelligent-sounding comment about the above paragraph. But I’m afraid my brain is in no state to accomplish such a task.

So I’ll just leave you with the view from the balcony where I’m currently sat fumbling my way through this post. A view I can’t actually see unless I stand up, which I’ll go do in a minute once I’ve published this.

I’ve missed this stream-of-consciousness writing. I shall endeavour to come do this more often. And I do apologise for my absence.




  1. They probably accepted everyone who applied.
  2. We’ve actually connected on LinkedIn. I didn’t just dream up this coffee meet.

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