Ryan Holiday: “Wanting to be a "writer" was your first mistake”

“The problem is identifying as a writer. As though assembling words together is somehow its own activity. It isn’t. It’s a means to an end. And that end is always to say something, to speak some truth or reach someone outside yourself.


No one ever reads something and says, “Well, I got absolutely nothing out of this and have no idea what any of this means but it sure is technically beautiful!” But they say the opposite all the time, they say “Goddamn, that’s good” to things with typos, poor grammar and simple diction.”

Holiday is one of those guys who has achieved quite a lot at a young age, and can dole out advice like "go do interesting things" as a 26-year-old without a hint of pretension.

This particular post really speaks to me for two reasons:

  1. I do self-identify as a writer. It's my standard response whenever asked what I do for a living.
  2. I don't lead a particularly adventurous life. A happy one, sure, but it's hard to write interesting things when most of your time is spent at home.

If nothing else, Ryan has given me some food for thought. Perhaps a little more adventure in my life is in order, hm?

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If you want to read more from Ryan Holiday, I recommend his book, The Obstacle is the Way. It's all about applying the tenets of stoicism to view life's obstacles in a totally different light. He also has an excellent book recommendation newsletter I've been subscribed to for years.