Past Uncertainties and Convictions
It has now been almost 1/2 a year since I’ve graduated college, and although I have been keeping busy diving into my own personal interests, I have yet to draw any clear path about where I want to be in the future.
Is this normal for a recent graduate? Maybe, maybe not.
Either way, I know panicking won’t do me any good, so I remain relax and focused.
It’s not that I don’t spend time thinking about the future – I do and I do it often – but I want make sure that when I find my niche that it is something I can become fully engaged in. The last place I want to be in 40 years is at some dead-end job with no love or pride for my craft.
Long ago I came to the conviction that there need not be a difference between work and play. That one can simultaneously do what they love and prosper from it if they put their mind to it. First, I need faith in my capacity to think, grow, and create value.
Believing I can achieve something must be the first prerequisite for actually going out and doing it.
Throughout my life I have always had some desire to write. As a kid I remember thinking up short screenplays, reviewing video games online, and expressing my feelings about loved ones through lyrics and poetry. Today, I continue to make a conscious effort to improve my writing ability by blogging on sites such as this one and Libertarian Minds.
The past year has been an experiment to see if I can stay committed to blogging and still come out enjoying it in the end – I do.
That is why I now want to take my craft to the next stage. This, to me, means turning it into a profession.
First, I want to create a mission statement. Then I will write it above my desk, so I can recite it every morning. This one simple ritual will help me to maintain flow and keep my mind concentrated on the habits I need to adopt in order to be successful.
Here is a picture of my mission statement written on a dry-erase board:
To become a professional writer I will follow my self-appointed mantra of RAWA meaning “Read A lot, Write A lot.” In it there are 6 tenets: consume, digest, rest, grow, repeat, and evolve.
1. CONSUME A LOT OF MATERIAL
Lucky for me I love reading and I already go to all sorts of different websites on a daily basis. Over the year I have accumulated a list of my favorite and most informative resources:
Sites to follow the most up-to-date news of popular issues.
Ludwig von Mises Institute
Campaign For Liberty
Foundation for Economic Education
Center for a Stateless Society
Ayn Rand Institute
Libertarianism from A to Z: Jeffrey Miron’s blog
Marginal Revolution: Tyler Cowek and Alex Tabarrok’s blog
Austro-Athenian Empire – Roderick Long’s blog
Free Advice – Bob Murphy’s blog
Ideas – David Friedman’s blog
Fringe Elements – Ryan Faulk’s blog
Economic Policy Journal – Robert Wenzel’s blog
Free Association – Sheldon Richman’s blog
Professional resources and personal blogs to help build a comprehensive libertarian philosophy. More to be added.
New York Times
The Daily Caller
The Conscience of a Liberal – Paul Krugman’s blog
Other resources to stay knowledgeable about opposing opinions. This is important to help keep a well-rounded view. More to be added.
I will try to visit most of these sites at least once every week. The big ones like CNN.com (or ones I really enjoy like Mises.org), will probably be visited more frequently. I also go to reddit everyday where users post articles from all over the web.
The main point of building a huge list like this is to always have reading material available and to have access to a wide range of viewpoints and philosophies.
2. DIGEST IT ALL
It would be wasteful to read hours everyday but to never think critically about the content. I believe contemplation is one of the most important mechanism to human learning.
Studies have shown that when rats are given time to reflect, they learn faster than rats who don’t. Time spent introspecting on one’s thought patterns can help us better understand our beliefs. We may even discover that we have made a logical fallacy or a cognitive bias.
Humans are infallible but they are also self-correcting. There is no need to be alarmed when a belief of ours has been challenged. Instead it should be seen as an opportunity for growth. Those who deny their mistakes will always remain fixed where they stand, but those who are willing to weigh other alternatives are more likely to progress their understanding and step forward as intellectuals.
Digesting material means to put a conscious effort into reflecting on what we have learned and how it fits into our worldview.
Between all this reading and thinking I am going to need some leisure time. This means things like nap-taking, hanging out with friends, listening to music, watching Mets games, and going out to dinner. Life stuff. Stuff less mentally-intensive so my mind has a chance to rejuvenate itself. After all, variety keeps the mind healthy and balanced.
Including rest in your routine is the difference between hard work and smart work. Also, one positive thing about actively taking your mind off of your work is that it lets your unconscious mull over ideas as you engage yourself in other activities.
Once I have consumed, digested, and taken a healthy break, I am then ready to apply my knowledge into the form of writing.
While the digestion phase was about breaking down information, the growth phase is about integrating information into an article that conveys a coherent theme. All writing, whether fiction or non-fiction, is the process of connecting old ideas and transforming them into something new, something more contemporary, and something more aligned with the zeitgeist of the times. It is the process of moving knowledge forward.
To fulfill my goal I must write each and everyday, even if it is just for a little bit. If by the end of the day I am not happy with what I have written – and it never gets published or even posted on a blog – it is still a worthy exercise in critical thinking and creativity. I think of it as analogous to a professional baseball pitcher: although it may not always be there day to start a game, they still go out in the bullpen and throw some pitches everyday, because that is how they keep their skills sharp.
If you want to be good at something you need to live and breathe it. It needs to be a part of your daily routine. By aiming to write everyday I am setting a precedent to continuously improve until I reach that next plateau.
5. REPEAT. REPEAT. REPEAT.
We all have certain habits which we repeat day-in and day-out. They become automatic or “second nature.” One beauty of the human mind is that we can consciously choose to replace existing habits with new ones – to reinforce “positive” behavior and punish “negative” behavior (however an individual may come to define those terms).
Over the last year I have built up a habit of reading, thinking, and writing about political philosophy, economics, and society at large. It is something I have developed a passion for which is why I now picture myself doing it as a career.
I don’t want to be simply good at it but great at it. I want people to read what I have to say and walk away more educated, more independent-thinking, and more inspired by life around them. I want them to think, “this is so good, I want my friends to read this.”
But this kind of value can only be created if I am dedicated to my craft, which means: practice, practice, practice. I believe that the more I immerse myself in an activity, the better and faster of a learner I will be.
Evolution is a series of adaptations and changes over time. In many ways, it is spontaneous and unpredictable. Often the order is not clear until you look back on it.
This post marks a starting point for my pursuit as a professional writer, but only time will tell where I will end up a year, five years, or ten years down the line.
While I may not know the specifics of where this path is heading, I do know that if I stay devoted to my mantra of RAWA (“Read A lot, Write A lot”), and its 6 tenets, that it will lead me somewhere productive and fruitful.
The human mind can facilitate positive evolution by identifying value and producing it over time. Only by adding value to our lives and the lives of others do we progress as humans and make life worth living.
At its core the RAWA strategy is simple: get emerged in reading and writing and I will soon build the skills to enter the professional domain.
Of course, this is not all one needs to be successful. Along with actually having the ability, one also needs to know how to network, market their product, and land opportunities. These will be issues I will try and resolve in later posts.
For now, my main focus is thinking of myself as a writer, reinforcing these positive rituals (consume digest, rest, grow, repeat, evolve), and eventually building a portfolio of my best material to send to editors.