Working Weekdays vs. Writing Weekends

Hello there!

It’s been a (long) while since the last time I blogged. I know there should be no excuse for taking a hiatus this long, but I’ve been occupied with so many exciting things that require much of my attention, including: graduating from university, running a culinary business with my best friends, and having a full-time job… So many things to share! But, most of all, I had been writing a new book.

With all of my activities, writing has required a constant, substantial struggle. It had been knackering for me to juggle a full-time job and an aspiration to become a writer. I joined a multinational company that sells fast-moving consumer goods, which naturally makes our ways of working fast-paced, dynamic, and particularly challenging. The dynamics at work usually leave no time for me to write in the middle of the week. But, for a writer who had been used to writing every single day, it could be difficult for me to “restart the creative engine” to a certain extent whenever I have to take a one-day break (or even worse, longer breaks) from writing.

My typical day goes like this: wake up at 6 am – catch a train that leaves at 8 am – arrive work at 9 am – leaves the office at 7:30 pm – catch the 8 pm bus – arrive home at 10 pm.  I tried my best to plug myself away to write before bed, but it has always brought complications to my job (waking up late, being unproductive, losing focus at work, etc.). In short, with a full-time job like this, squeezing an hour or two to write before I go to bed could be back-breaking.

Nevertheless, after months and months of being sleep deprived, having a reduced portion of social life as well as exceptionally endless PMS symptoms, I finally got my hands on my new book’s final manuscript. :) It’s currently being illustrated and designed, but I’ll be sure to share some sneak peek photos once I have them!

I have been having a full-time job for one year now. Because of the experience, I have realised that I might not be the only person stretching themselves to work in a job that requires full, 5 days x 9 hours (minimum!) of commitment per week; while at the same time, still protect their dreams and find ways to reach them. In terms of managing these activities, I am still very far from Ika Natassa – one of the writers that I adore because of her capability to climb the corporate leader until now she becomes a senior manager in Bank Mandiri, yet at the same time fulfils her ambitions to be a prolific author. However, it might be helpful for me to share my writing gears that have supported me in the past two years to (finally) deliver a new book after “Dream Catcher“.

writing gears

MacBook Pro 13″
If fashion designers and photographers often have other people as their muse, I believe my Mac is my muse! I bought my first MacBook when I was in high school. After an incident that involved coffee-spilling-onto-the-screen, I had to replace it with a new one. I have been owning my current laptop for three years now and it has been my writing best friend. MacBooks could be quite expensive, I know. I chose MacBook because of its durability and resistance against “mainstream viruses”, but I only bought one after I had my own income. My writing life before MacBook was a Pentium II-powered computer with Windows 98 OS. I also spent much of my time in warnet. So yeah, it’s just a medium for you to write, and it does not have to be “fancy”, actually.

iPad Mini
I used to own an iPad and sold it right away because I thought it was kind of useless as I still spent way more time with my laptop. A few months ago, I ended up buying an iPad mini because I have an office computer that needs to be carried everywhere during weekdays. I obviously is not allowed to work on my manuscript using my office laptop – but carrying two laptops would not be wise either. So then, I bought this gadget – solely to work on my creative writing work whenever I can’t bring my MacBook along with me.

Here are the apps that I had been using to work on my manuscript:

  • Scrivener – an app that allows me to work on different chapters simultaneously. When I am finished, it compiles all my work into one file that could be exported to a .doc. It also tells me how far I am from reaching my daily word count target. I use it to write my whole manuscript.
  • Evernote – I swear by this app. Sometimes, when ideas come into my mind, I only have my phone or tablet in my hands. I just directly type my ideas in my Evernote, which then is automatically synced to the one in my laptop.
  • Pocket – writing books require an extensive research. I save the pages that I would like to read later using this app.

Writing, writing, writing
Although I mentioned quite a lot of gadgets above, I also spend much of my time writing on paper. Sketching, drawing, taking notes in an “analog” way allows me to ponder and wonder, which at times could give a packed bucket full of inspirations. If you see me on a daily basis, you will be surprised on how many Post-It Notes I could use to structure my writing, remind me of things-to-do and deadlines, rewrite scenes, and map my mind. I usually pair them with Sharpie markers, which are very comfortable to be used and give bold fonts (tremendously important benefit because I use it to remind myself of manuscript submission due dates!). I also have a Moleskine weekly planner that I carry everywhere (Star Wars-themed planner, obviously), and I swear by Uniball Jetstream pens (I have all 0.5, 0.7, and 1.0). 

How about you? Are you stretching yourself to have “different kinds of jobs” in weekdays and weekends? How do you manage your time? How do you manage both? I’m interested to read your experience. 

Ya, #AkhirnyaMilihJokowi!

Sejak awal, saya tahu bahwa saya tidak ingin bangsa ini dipimpin oleh pasangan Prabowo-Hatta dan orang-orang yang berada di belakang mereka. Namun, pada awalnya, saya juga belum yakin benar bahwa saya akan memilih Jokowi-JK. Setelah menghabiskan waktu yang cukup lama untuk memantapkan hati, hari ini saya berani bersuara bahwa saya #AkhirnyaMilihJokowi.

Ada banyak cara bagi kita untuk mencari informasi mengenai hal-hal yang sebelumnya tidak kita ketahui. Semua hal yang ingin kita ketahui bisa dengan mudah kita peroleh, baik melalui media seperti televisi, misalnya, maupun informasi seruas ibu jari yang kita baca dari layar kecil ponsel.

Saya pun berusaha untuk melakukan hal itu. Berdiskusi dengan orangtua, pacar, dan teman-teman dekat. Ada yang punya pandangan dan pengetahuan yang sama dengan saya, ada juga yang berbeda. Lambat laun, saya mengerti bahwa informasi yang dapat kita gali mengenai sepasang capres-cawapres beserta pihak-pihak yang mendukungnya tidak akan pernah habis. Beberapa di antaranya bahkan tidak dapat kita verifikasi kebenarannya. Belum lagi untuk hal-hal yang hanya dapat kita peroleh dari media – yang sayangnya, kadang bisa memihak dan mendukung kepentingan kelompok tertentu.

Ada begitu banyak informasi yang menumpuk di kepala saya. Begitu banyak opini dari orang-orang di sekitar. Begitu banyak rumor mengenai kandidat ini, kandidat itu. Begitu banyak kampanye baik yang sifatnya konvensional maupun modern. Begitu banyak tagar di media sosial, walaupun kandidat yang didukung sebenarnya hanya dua itu saja (termasuk yang saya gunakan di tulisan ini… #AkhirnyaMilihJokowi :p).

Tapi akhirnya, saya sadar bahwa memilih capres dan cawapres bisa jadi tidak melulu soal berapa banyaknya informasi yang kita peroleh. Terkadang, kita sudah mengetahui banyak hal tentang seseorang, tapi masih juga tidak cukup. ‘Fakta’ yang kita dengar, bisa jadi tidak bisa kita pastikan kebenarannya. Partai yang mengusung sepasang capres-cawapres, bisa jadi memiliki masalah internal sendiri, maupun kader-kader partai yang tidak jarang bermasalah. Informasi yang disampaikan kepada kita melalui media bisa jadi sudah dibelokkan sedemikian rupa agar artinya jadi berbeda.

Oleh karenanya, di pemilihan presiden kali ini, saya dengan naif berusaha untuk memilih individunya saja – dua individu untuk memimpin negara ini. Sedikit banyak berharap bahwa kepercayaan ini dapat mereka gunakan sebaik-baiknya untuk membuat Indonesia lebih baik dan lebih hebat, apapun yang partainya maupun koalisinya seru-serukan di belakang. Dua pribadi yang saya harapkan bisa membangun Indonesia menjadi negara yang lebih aman, nyaman dan menyenangkan untuk ditinggali.

Memilih individu bisa menjadi suatu hal yang sifatnya sangat subyektif. Semakin hari, saya semakin yakin bahwa pada akhirnya, kita akan memilih pasangan capres dan cawapres yang menjunjung tinggi nilai-nilai yang kita usung. Capres dan Cawapres yang dekat dengan kita, dekat dengan norma-norma yang kita percayai. Itulah mengapa saya memutuskan untuk memilih Jokowi.

Saya bertemu capres pilihan saya, Jokowi, untuk pertama kalinya di tahun 2011. Kami sama-sama menjadi pembicara di acara Indonesian Young Changemakers Summit yang digelar di Bandung. Kala itu, saya mengagumi pencapaian dan pengalaman beliau dalam membangun Kota Solo. Di panggung, dengan slides PowerPoint yang desainnya sederhana, Jokowi memaparkan cara-cara yang beliau gunakan untuk membuat Solo menjadi kota yang kita kenal saat ini.

Tanpa saya sangka-sangka, tiga tahun kemudian, sudah banyak hal yang berubah. Perubahan yang terjadi pada diri saya tidak signifikan: hanya berubah dari menjadi seorang mahasiswa, hingga menjadi pekerja kantoran seperti sekarang ini. Tapi, bagi Jokowi, tiga tahun ini bermakna besar – bahkan mungkin menjadi salah satu masa yang gemilang bagi beliau. Beliau sempat dipercaya untuk menjadi Gubernur DKI Jakarta, dan sekarang dicalonkan untuk menjadi Presiden Republik Indonesia. Suatu perubahan yang sangat signifikan, dan membuat saya jadi percaya banyak hal. Inilah alasan utama saya memilih Jokowi untuk menjadi Presiden Republik Indonesia periode 2014 – 2019.

Selama lima tahun ke belakang, saya selalu punya kepercayaan bahwa siapapun kita, jika kita melakukan hal-hal yang kita suka lakukan, selama sifatnya positif, kita bisa memberikan kontribusi yang positif pula terhadap Bangsa Indonesia. Awalnya, saya pikir, paham ini mungkin tidak bisa kita aplikasikan ke dalam dunia pemerintahan dan politik, yang kadang penuh hambatan tak kasat mata seperti sistem politik maupun birokrasi.

Jokowi, dengan apa yang berhasil beliau raih, mengingatkan saya pada kepercayaan saya tersebut. Melihat Jokowi dan jutaan orang yang mendukungnya, saya jadi semakin percaya, bahwa siapapun kita, apapun latar belakang yang kita miliki, kita punya kesempatan yang sama besarnya untuk memiliki kontribusi positif terhadap Indonesia.

Bagi saya, Jokowi adalah simbol Impian Indonesia. Siapa yang pernah mengira bahwa seseorang yang memulai kariernya dengan mendirikan usaha mebel bisa dicalonkan (dan didukung) oleh begitu banyak orang untuk menjadi Presiden Republik Indonesia? Membaca profil Jokowi, mendengar Jokowi berbicara, selalu membuat saya merasa bahwa dia biasa-biasa saja. Tapi, justru karena dia yang “biasa-biasa saja” itu bisa mencapai begitu banyak hal dan dipercaya oleh begitu banyak orang, saya jadi punya harapan bahwa mungkin kita – yang selama ini hanya bisa mendukung Jokowi – mungkin saja memiliki kesempatan serupa suatu hari nanti.

Memilih dan memastikan kemenangan Jokowi, bagi saya, berarti menumbuhkan harapan. Kita, tidak peduli asalnya dari mana dan pendidikannya apa, punya kesempatan untuk memimpin Indonesia dengan cara kita sendiri. Seperti Jokowi.

Berapa banyak dari kita yang dulu percaya bahwa untuk jadi Presiden Indonesia, harus punya uang banyak karena berkampanye itu mahal? Berapa banyak dari kita yang dulu percaya bahwa untuk jadi Presiden Indonesia, mungkin harus punya sanak saudara yang pernah berkuasa, atau justru harus datang dari kalangan militer?

Memilih dan memastikan kemenangan Jokowi, bagi saya, berarti menumbuhkan harapan. Bahwa, siapapun punya kesempatan untuk memimpin bangsa ini. Tidak harus sekolah di luar negeri bertahun-tahun. Tidak harus punya uang banyak maupun harta yang melimpah. Tidak harus mendirikan partai sendiri. Tidak harus bergabung di militer dan jadi jenderal. Tidak harus punya kerabat atau keluarga yang sudah terlebih dulu memiliki posisi kunci di dunia politik.

Jokowi mencontohkan bahwa untuk bisa dipercayai untuk memimpin Indonesia, terkadang yang harus kita punyai hanyalah kemauan untuk bekerja keras, dan keinginan untuk memberikan manfaat bagi orang lain. Beliau membuat saya percaya bahwa dua modal itu bisa jadi lebih dari cukup.

Jokowi menumbuhkan harapan itu: bahwa anak muda bisa punya kesempatan untuk memimpin Indonesia, sama seperti kesempatan yang ia punya saat ini.

Semoga kita semua yang berada di belakangnya mampu untuk memastikan ia punya kesempatan untuk memberi kita kesempatan yang sama di masa depan.

Salam 2 Jari. :)

Terima kasih, Adit, atas diskusi-diskusinya yang membuat pikiran dan pengetahuan saya soal politik jadi kaya.
Disclaimer: Saya tidak tergabung dalam tim sukses maupun relawan Jokowi-JK. Tulisan (dan tweet-tweet saya melalui akun @AlandaKariza) murni merupakan ekspresi pribadi saya dan tidak merefleksikan/mewakilkan pandangan tempat saya bekerja maupun organisasi di mana saya bernaung.

A love letter, to my life Changemakers

It was supposed to be a good start of the week. A few days left to thesis submission, my days always began with sleepless nights. But, as soon as I received an e-mail from an old friend, my heart leaped reading the subject. It was Fran, the Global Changemakers’ team leader. I haven’t heard from Fran for awhile, thus I was very glad to have received some news from her. Little that  I knew, it was not a good news.

The e-mail was sent to inform an important update that the Global Changemakers programme has been discontinued. It was such, such a heartbreaking news for me. Global Changemakers is a platform for youth activists from all around the world, established and run by the British Council, supported by the World Economic Forum. Every year, it organises the Global Youth Summit (as well as a number of non-regular regional youth summits) to gather young people and train them to develop projects in order to make betterment of their respective communities. It also supports the projects led by its participants, through the Community Action Projects grants scheme, as well as Changemakers’ Toolkit that it has developed.

Global Changemakers’ literally changed my life. And, this post, was written and dedicated to thank them: Fran, Gaby, Matt, Katherine, John, and the rest of the team, as well as every single Global Changemaker in the world.


A small note I left by the end of my first Global Changemakers summit.
January 24, 2009.
Today, 4.5 years later, I still feel the same. 


In 2009, I was an ordinary student in a public high school. Such a weirdo (and still am), did not really fit in school, could not handle bullying, could not manage my stress, and ended up looking for extracurricular activities outside school. I yearned to travel, to see the world, to get to know strangers, and basically, to make my life a better one; an extraordinary one. I then applied to participate in the 3rd Global Changemakers Youth Summit 2009 (formerly called Global Changemakers Guildford Forum 2009). And in a blink, my life changed.

In the summit, I trained myself to be a better person. I learned on how to speak well in front of the public, and basically how to manage a project. Most of all, for the first time in my life, I flew so far, without my parents (my last international trip was in 1995). For the first time, I landed my feet in London (and saw The Lion King at the West End!). For the first time, I finally made use of my English to its native speakers. I met inspiring young people, some of whom I’ve written about in my book. Including Simon Moss, an alumnus of Global Changemakers–who then became the respondent for my undergraduate thesis. Yet also, I got to know Fajar Anugerah, whom was assigned to ‘accompany’ me during the travels (flights). We became really good friends ever since, and he’s now like a surrogate brother to me (I could never ask for a better one).

Indonesian Youth Conference (IYC), an annual programme of Sinergi Muda, that is going to be held for the fourth time this year, was initially my outcome from the summit. After the event, the participants were encouraged to develop a project that will benefit our community in the Community Action Projects scheme, and my idea was to organise IYC. I proposed the idea and Global Changemakers provided a small amount of start-up grant, which I used to print proposals and stuff. They also introduced me to Veronica Colondam, the CEO of YCAB Foundation, who then agreed to become my mentor in organising IYC.

A few months later, Global Changemakers asked me to represent Indonesia in its programme with the G-20, in which we were asked to develop our own version of communique to be handed to the Head of States who were in London for the G-20. I did a crash course on Indonesian economics with my then-boyfriend’s Dad, especially its relevance towards the global financial crisis. We presented the communique to David Miliband in the House of Lords; and I personally met former PM Gordon Brown, President Felipe Calderon, and our very own President Yudhoyono. In that occasion, I became acquaintances with Dino Patti Djalal. He would have never come to my book launch hadn’t we met in the UK.

Time went by, and IYC was successfully held. It then became one of the most successful Community Action Projects and was featured in the Global Changemakers’ annual report. Because of that, I was asked to develop a Social Media Toolkit to help other changemakers to design and develop the social media strategy for their projects.

Now, well, I am who I am now. And I would never, ever be this person if it weren’t for the Global Changemakers.

So, knowing that the programme has been discontinued really, really breaks my heart. I really wished that there were more young people who could have been a part of it, and could have their lives changed as what Global Changemakers have done to me. But, I am surer than ever, that its legacy will live on, and every Changemaker in the world is going to leave a dent in the universe (as deep as the dent that Global Changemakers had left in my heart — a good dent, of course).

Thank you, Gaby, Katherine, Matt, Fran. I hope you would know that you have given a tremendous amount of contribution in people’s lives, especially in mine. You guys have helped me improved myself to be a better person, and supported me in reaching my dream to change the world (one step at a time). I’ve always tried to connect all the dots, and I’ve realised that Global Changemakers will always be a part of those connections (one of the bigger dots, even). I wish you all the best for your future endeavours, and I dearly hope that our paths will cross again sometime (just like what happened with me and Gaby when I had the chance to visit Bern!).

I love you, guys.

Thank you for being a part of my life, and helping me to make it an awesome one. x

That just happened

We grew up. Yes, that just happened.

Every single thing in life that happens so slowly, yet so constantly, never fail to brag to us on how we would never, ever notice that it had happened. Growing up. Finishing school. Falling in love. Losing a friend. Learning how to drive. Writing papers. Obtaining lessons from life. Then, we might go: what the hell? I’ve finished school already? 

Sometimes, we might want to ask why, why did time betray us? But then, where have we been all this time – when life was happening in our life? Yet, we will try to go back to words, pictures, conversations, memories… to relive what happened, to relive what we thought we have never experienced. But we have. Though we might forget to realise it.

You know what comes up next? The thought of realising that sometimes, words delude us. Nah, often times than not, they do. So do pictures. Memories. Conversations. Trying to encourage us to live in the past. To go back to school again, learn to drive again. To grow up once again.

Better yet. Most of us want to fall for its beauty. We want — in fact, we yearn to be deluded. But, would you? Would you sacrifice your real present to be deluded with what you thought was so good you would never ever experience again?

I probably wouldn’t.

Little Notes of Life

An afternoon in Firenze, Italy

I am a great believer of the saying that getting lost allows you to (re)discover yourself. Thus, I travel a lot, and most of the time alone. Sometimes I understand myself better when I get lost between historical buildings that are also landmarks of a city; and I get to love the person inside me stronger when my feet are enjoying the sand and the salty sea situated on one of Indonesia’s coasts. Today, I just finished a 10-day trip to Italy; spent a few days working and the rest, basically, wandering around the old city. Wondering about my life, being drowned amongst the crowds in front of the Spanish Steps. Imagining of the things that could have happened, or could not have happened. Recalling the events that have built my life up onto this moment and made me meet the people I’ve shared my life with; and the (expected) events that did not really make it.

The year of 2013 has just been here for roughly 45 days, yet so many things have come up. Plenty of things have happened, and most of them have given me a bunch of lessons to be learned. I think it would be very important to take note of them. As a reminder.

I was once a very rational person; I used to assess almost everything with my logic to give my heart a thick shield. To prevent it to be broken once again, especially when I have run out of glue to fix it. But then, love happened, and things changed. They changed a lot. But, at times, we just got to go back to square one. And start over. And be rational again.

One day, I might have a look at these notes once again; simply to prevent them from being forgotten. Consider this as a manifesto. Well, I love manifestos. I thought, someday I would have to write one like that. Perhaps that one day is going to be today. (Although these notes would probably only account a bit of it.)

Why don’t we give it a try.

Feelings are often real. But the words we use to express them, most of the time, are illusory. So, carefully think about the words we choose to use. Never say “I love you” just to create an illusion of feelings, nor to make our counterpart love us. The worst of “I love you”s are those that are not wholeheartedly said. Therefore, when you say it; make sure you mean it.

Being young is not only about leaving a mark in the world. It is also about letting the world leaves a mark within us. May it be through an event, or even more, through a person. So go. Fall in love, make mistakes, break your heart, and probably start over.

There is no such thing as “unrequited feeling”. However, perhaps, the level of requital that we get might be higher or lower than our expectations. (Perhaps it’s best not to expect anything at all, and let it be a surprise. Let life surprises you.)

When God takes away something you (thought you) have, usually you are going to get something better. However, be grateful of what you have at the moment. Keep it. Protect it. Or you might end up losing something that matters the most in your life. (And try not to regret when that happens, especially when you have failed in protecting it. Let it wander to a better place, a place that would keep it safe.)

Never fall in love in your sleep. What usually comes as a dream might suddenly show up as a nightmare. Since then, your sleeps and naps would never be the same anymore. Be in love while you are awake. Be in love knowing the risks you take, the ‘dangers’ you will face. Be in love with a person, not the idea of him/her that you have projected yourself. Be in love with a person, not the idea of him/her that he/she tries to project for you to believe in.

(Always) believe that there is probably a person out there who deserves to get the best of you. (You might meet him/her soon).

The only person in the world who could make you happy is yourself. Before others. (I usually compliment myself with ice creams too, though. Ice creams make me really happy.)

Most of the time, feeling exhausted also means that you have not make your life wasted for nothing. Keep going.

The worst feeling that you could ever possess to someone is the feeling of possessing him/her, as if that person is completely yours. Because you could never, ever “own” a person. You could only be happy when the person you choose to be with also chooses to be with you.

Words might hurt you, but words shouldn’t. (this one’s courtesy of Adriano Qalbi)

Last, but not least,

Be happy. Because you only need yourself to be happy, and because you can. Allow yourself to be happy. With or without someone else. Isn’t it such a great feeling to realise that we can be happy on our own? As soon as we have allowed ourselves to be happy on our own, then we can be happy with another person.

Enjoy your February. It’s my favourite time of the year, usually. I hope it’s going to be yours too.

Buy my books online


From now on, you can buy my books directly from me. You will also get an autograph as well as a personalised message.

PRICE (excluding shipping fees)

DreamCatcher – IDR 45,000
Travel Young – IDR 45,000
Beats Apart – IDR 75,000


Indonesia – TIKI/JNE
Outside Indonesia – EMS International


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Anugerah Pembaca Indonesia 2012


Berkat dukungan kalian, buku DreamCatcher dinominasikan untuk memperoleh Anugerah Pembaca Indonesia (API) 2012 di dua kategori, yakni Non-Fiksi dan Sampul Buku Non-Fiksi (sampul dan buku DreamCatcher secara keseluruhan didesain dan diilustrasi oleh Asyerabella Guempel, karyanya bisa dilihat di blognya). Saat ini, API 2012 masih berada dalam tahap Long List I. Setelah Long List I, masih ada Long List II, Short List, dan akhirnya diumumkan pemenangnya. Untuk bisa melaju ke tahap selanjutnya, saya membutuhkan dukungan teman-teman. Jika teman-teman menyukai buku DreamCatcher dan/atau sampulnya, dan/atau teman-teman berharap DreamCatcher bisa masuk ke tahap selanjutnya di API 2012, tolong beri dukungan dengan vote untuk buku DreamCatcher di kategori Non-Fiksi dan Sampul Buku Non-Fiksi di halaman ini.

Dukungan teman-teman akan sangat, sangat berarti. Batas waktu voting adalah tanggal 2 November 2012. Terima kasih banyak karena telah membaca buku DreamCatcher. Semoga buku ini telah membantumu meraih impianmu.

Inspiration: Wear Sunscreen

In the past two weeks, I had been out of my hometown, and I currently am missing my family, my boyfriend, my best friends. So, just now I decided to send them one of the most inspiring videos I’ve ever seen in my life. I think you’ll like it too. This video was based on a column written and delivered by Mary Schmich, and it probably is going to warm your heart.