Open Book

Ryan Holiday Taught Me How to Read and Write

Let me tell you a story about how Ryan Holiday taught me how to read and write.

I had never heard of Ryan Holiday, until I listened to him on the Tim Ferriss podcast. Then, again on an archived James Altucher podcast. He lured me in with his marketing prowess (I’m in marketing and he’s a master growth hacker and book marketer), but I took away his reading and writing lessons.

I always loved reading and writing. But, once I had a kid and stumbled into Internet Marketing to put food on the table, I totally bailed on both.

In high school I was good at English class and Journalism. I sucked at everything else. I went to the University of Arizona to study journalism. I worked on the Arizona Daily Wildcat covering the football and baseball teams.

In my senior year, I finally figured out I hated journalism. Mostly I loathed interviewing people. I’m a big fat introvert and setting up and conducting interviews was my worst nightmare. Even with athletes. “So, uh, what’s it feel like to lose?”

So, I grabbed my degree and promptly dropped out of that game. Did some sandwich making, social work, and assorted odd jobs. All the while, forgetting to write.

Along the way, I took some poetry and creative writing classes at the community college and that was kind of fulfilling, but eventually I stopped writing altogether. Then, I started following this Holiday guy. He’s prolific. He has an insane methodology for taking notes on all the books he reads, so he can quickly access passages he needs for reference.

He writes for every publication that exists online. And, he reads a ton, which gives him more and more ideas to write about. It’s a great system that I will never fully emulate. However, I appreciate the underlying message: “if you want to be an interesting person and write compelling shit, you need to make reading and writing a daily practice.”

I’m Writing Now

So, I started this blog to catalog my adventures in online marketing (mainly because I have a terrible memory and need to document what works, what doesn’t, and why.)

I also made a goal of reading 30 minutes a day and writing one hour. I’m slowly picking it up. It’s hard after being out of practice for so long, but it feels good. I sorta suck at writing and I’m 43 so that’s slightly disheartening, since I think Ryan met with his massive success just out of middle school (he’s really young).

But, I think if I keep reading and writing and plugging away, I’ll be decent by the age of 87. Then I’ll drop dead of impacted bowels or something equally ignoble. 🙂

Spark Up Your Brain

Anyway, if you feel like being inspired to read and write I highly recommend following everything Mr. Holiday does and sign up for his email list where he sends you his recommended books to read.

I recently read In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex, about the Nantucket whaling ship that was rammed by a whale and sunk leaving the crew to survive on the ocean in tiny boats for over 90 days. It gets pretty wild. The story inspired Melville. It was a Holiday recommendation and it didn’t disappoint.

I really do feel like my mind is sparked from the practice, and that I’m getting better ideas, and making more interesting conceptual connections.

Thanks Ryan.

Image credit: Alejandro Escamilla

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