Having fun with the Liebster Award

Thank you Naomi from Eclecticfemale’s Blog for nominating me for the Liebster Award. Please take the time to check out her awesome blog, I love the font and style of her blog including her fashion illustrations – very cool I must say. As I have promised, here it is! 🙂

liebsteraward

The Liebster award is aimed at bringing the blogging community together.  It is awarded to blogs that have supported new and aspiring bloggers with the hopes of gaining further insights into the blogging community.

Now to the juicy part so basically along with the award comes a set of guidelines in accordance with the award which are as follows:

  • Post the award on your blog 
  • Thank the blogger who presented the award to you and link back to their blog
  • Share eleven things about yourself
  • Answer the eleven questions given to you by the person that nominated you
  • Choose eleven more people, and ask them eleven questions.

So first things first, here are eleven things about myself:

  1. I am the eldest of three children.
  2. I used to study Accounting and Finance in polytechnic.
  3. But no, I am not an accountant. In college, I decided to switch to Business Management.
  4. I never excelled in Maths and Science, but I’ve always admired people who work in the Life Sciences sector.
  5. I used to want to be a fashion designer.
  6. I would love to have a job that I enjoy and is fulfilling.
  7. I would love to perform my Hajj, the final pillar of Islam, with my husband one day.
  8. I am both a tea and coffee drinker, depending on my mood and events for the day.
  9. I first met my husband when I was 19. He was 20.
  10. My husband plays the guitar and piano really well. I love that about him. ❤
  11. God and Islam is very important to me.

Finito! And now the eleven questions from Naomi.

1. Why did you start blogging?

I first started blogging when I was 19. I have always kept a journal since forever so blogging came naturally. I used Blogspot then, but stopped blogging there after a few years. I only started blogging at Mod with Love last year, when I was having some down time in my work then. Blogging reminded me how much I used to loved to write.

2. What motivates you?

God, and trying to be a good Muslim the best that I can.

3. What is your biggest pet-peeve?

People who snoop while I’m using my smartphone in the train. And dirty dishes in the sink.

4. What type of music do you listen to?

Both English and Malay songs ranging from pop to ballads to indie to country. Sometimes a dose of k-pop (Korean songs) as well.

5. Who would you most like to be stuck in an Lift (elevator) with?

Khadijah binte Khuwailid, Prophet Muhammad’s first wife. She was the mother of Islam and an amazing businesswoman. I would love to hug and chat with her.

6. If you could be any age for a week, what age would that be?

Sometimes I’d like to be 20 again, back in polytechnic where the days were carefree…

7. What is your dream job?

Hmm honestly I don’t have any right now, but it would definitely have something to do with mentoring and creativity, 2 things I love (how do you combine those two together?!).

8. What is one guilty pleasure you enjoy too much to give up?

Fried chicken wings. Breaded, honeyed, you name it… (mouth salivating just thinking of it…)

9. If you had to change your first name, what would you change it to?

My first name is “Siti” which loosely means “Miss” in Arabic. Some girls start with “Nur” which means “Light” so if I had to change my first name I’d go with “Nur”.

10. What is your favourite food?

Rendang (and most Malay foods) and pizza.

11. Where do you see yourself in five years time?

This is a tough one. Possibly an entrepreneur with a successful home-business. Perhaps with a kid or two.

*

Here are my nominations for the Liebster Award.

Ade Rahmawati, Tree Rabold, Shahira, Ida Ayu Indah, Svenja, Adelina, Linda, Lala Rukh, Rashmi, Sarah

My eleven questions are:

  1. What do you love most about blogging?
  2. Why did you start blogging?
  3. What is your favourite colour and why?
  4. Where is one place you would love to travel to?
  5. What is your favourite book?
  6. What is your dream job?
  7. Name three most important things or people in your life.
  8. Where do you see yourself in five years time?
  9. What is your favourite movie?
  10. What type of music do you listen to?
  11. Why is writing important to you?

I look forward to reading your responses so please comment on this post with a link to your own post so I can see how you answered (sorry some questions are kind of repetitive).

Alritey and with that I’m done 🙂 Kind of fun to do this one 🙂

Writing Workshop for Budding Journalists

Journalism_Workshop_2

In the Name of ALLAH the Most Gracious the Most Merciful

Last Saturday I had the opportunity to attend a writing workshop organized by Simply Islam. Titled “Social Media and How It Changes Things: Tips for Budding Journalists”, it was conducted by Saeed Saeed, a journalist with numerous publications and who is currently writing for The National. He is also currently working on his side project, MSpiration, “an online series of interviews with inspiring Muslims from all walks of life”.

The workshop aimed to cover these 3 things:

1) VALIDATION
In this social media world where information spread faster than light, how do writers sift through and validate the information that we have? What are some of the tools or processes that we can go through to ensure we are not spreading untruths?
 
2) SOCIAL MEDIA
With ever-increasing social media sites like Instagram, Pinterest, Storify and others, how do we capitalize on such platforms to benefit our writing? How do we use them to create, collaborate and share our written work?
 
3) STAYING INSPIRED
What do we do if our muse disappears? Find out tips from Saeed Saeed, a journalist who writes regularly for The National and also constantly updates his writing project, Mspiration. 
***
My first forays into journalism

Before I begin sharing about the workshop, I thought I’d share on how I got interested in writing and the world of journalism.

My first forays into journalism was in 2007 when I had the opportunity to intern in Singapore Press Holdings, with the Malay newspaper Berita Harian. I was attached to the Business Desk, or Ekoniaga and it was the perfect opportunity to combine business, writing and Malay language. I studied Accounting & Finance but did not yet want to work in my direct diploma related job. I was still in the mood of exploring other options. The internship ended in 2 months, but I continued writing for BH on a freelance basis.  One of my most memorable assignments was an overseas assignment in Negeri Sembilan, Malaysia. Students from a business competition had won a homestay trip to Kampung Pelegong, Negeri Sembilan and I was sent to cover their experiences as well as write about it. An important thing I learned during my time in BH from my mentor, Kak Haiza (or Ekoniaga reporter Norhaiza Hashim) was to write from an angle that would make the article most interesting.

Then in 2011 I had another journalism opportunity when I worked with IslamicEvents.sg. That year, IE was in charge of managing Ramadan.sg, the annual Ramadhan campaign by MUIS. My role was the Chief Editor of the website; writing and editing articles from a group of freelance writers. One of the highlights of that project was interviewing Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor, the first Malaysian astronaut, on his experience fasting in space during Ramadhan. MashaAllah, that was one inspiring interview! Through these experiences I discovered my love for writing and coming up with stories. To me, being a journalist brings about many opportunities to meet new people and new experiences and I just love the whole process of an idea becoming a story.

That’s enough of my story and now let’s move to the subject of this post, the workshop! I found the workshop to be interactive, engaging and interesting. I learned so many new things and I thought Saeed Saeed’s sharings on his journalism experiences were eye-opening and amusing. I am just going to share most in point form as how I jotted down in my notebook:

Validation of facts:

  • Statistics
  • Names (Tell me how you spell your name)
  • Quotes (Do you go back to the person to rerun their quotes?)
  • Positions (People change jobs and positions all the time – find out their current position and/or location

First Obtacle: YOU!

  • Why are you writing this story?
  • What’s your motivation?
  • What’s your intention?
  • What do you want to do with this story?
  • What do you want from the story?
  • It doesn’t work when you’re trying to please everyone
  • But don’t be a slave to your ideas. Be open to changes. Are you open to the story changing?

Second obstacle: Reliability of sources

  • Wikipedia is not a source – use it as background information, check the references instead
  • What kind of sources are you finding?
  • What sources are you going to cultivate?
  • Without your sources there’s nothing you can do
  • Just because you’re a creative writer does not make you free from research

How do you define your relationship with your contacts?

  • Key word: Empathy and Respect
  • Balance between being empathetic and professional relationship
  • If you do your job the best that you can, people will respect you
  • Even if you write something that people don’t like. Not everyone is going to like what you write
  • Journalism is a “social professional” job

On Social Media

  • Different social media platform for different uses. Eg. Tumblr for purely visual platform, Facebook for a chatty platform, WordPress for a writing platform, Twitter for reactions, trending, announcements…
  • Importance of #hashtags
  • Use your facebook to give a preview of your work
  • Use them so nothing is wasted
  • Look at the platform strength and go with it

The 5-min jump

After that session, we had to do an exercise called the 5-min jump. Saeed told us to “write about something you noticed today on the way to the workshop”. Just write and write, without any editing, as much as you can in 5 minutes.

Then, we were asked to read aloud what we wrote to the class! It was kinda embarrassing at first, to be honest. Then we were asked to listen to what everybody wrote and pick out certain words that call out to us. As the writer, we were asked to note down the feedback from others. We were then asked to condense our original passage into only two sentences, using the words that others have highlighted to us.

For example, this is what I wrote:

I noticed my friend’s brother on the way to the building, at the bus stop. I remembered Huda Lee (my friend) and that I had just visited her house with some friends last Saturday. It reminded me of her son who has bambam cheeks! It made me think of her strength and determination in life. Her strength inspires me. She is somebody who is not afraid to take risks.

The audience highlighted to me words that struck out to them; bambam cheeks, strength, determination.

This is my revision, condensed:

Huda Lee reminds me of strength and determination. She also has a son who has bambam cheeks!

Saeed said, doesn’t it now sound sharper? I would definitely have to agree! Although I was initially embarrassed to read out my paragraph, especially the non-existent word “bambam cheeks”, it turned out to be the highlight of my story. Another wonderful thing was listening to the way everyone wrote. All of us had our own distinct way of writing, MashaAllah. The words that we chose, and the rhythm in which we arranged our ideas. The exercise was also a way of us finding our own voice in writing. No doubt it would take a while to find it, you have to keep writing and editing… but it’s a start!

Some other points during the workshop that I found to be really useful on:

Staying Inspired

  • When you write free articles, you can afford to make mistakes
  • Once you write, you are a journalist
  • Even if you write crappy stories, it’s your crap – be happy with it
  • Your ideas cannot be photoshopped, that’s what you bring to the table
  • Each idea will generate another idea
  • Your first draft is gonna be crap, but you gotta own it
  • Suspend all facts and grammar from the first draft
  • Stick to a regimen. Write everyday
  • We read a lot but we forget to “hear”
  • Be someone on whom is nothing is lost – Henry James
  • Write away and don’t look back
  • Writing is a race between your creativity and your doubt
  • If writing is your fitrah, go ahead with it!

My first drafts are definitely…crappy. Haha. But from now on I am so going to own it! Thank you Allah for this knowledge 🙂