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Rules for Writers, Part 2

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Part 2 of 2 (Part 1 here)

5. Pace Yourself.

Alas, most people in our cause are in no danger of burning themselves out. This advice applies only to the few who are.

Everything you create comes at the expense of your own substance. You spend yourself to create. You destroy yourself to create. Creation takes time, which you can never get back, and energy, which you can replenish, but only if you set aside time for recreation, literally time to re-create yourself. If you don’t pace yourself, you will burn out.

People with a strong desire to create often regard recreation as a luxury rather than as a necessity, as a waste of their time. But this is a fundamental mistake. If you feel driven to create, you must do everything necessary to create, and that includes downtime for recreation.

There are four kinds of recreation that we should try to build into our routines.

First, during work sessions, I take occasional breaks. If I feel blocked, if my concentration and energy are flagging, or if I am starting to feel stiff or fidgety, I get up and do something else, even if it is nothing more than to pace a bit, peer out the window, change a CD, or get a cup of tea. Sometimes it takes only a few minutes to come back to my desk feeling refreshed.

Second, it is important to take breaks between work sessions. Usually, I will check my email and social media, which often draw me right back into work, but not necessarily. There is nothing wrong with distracting yourself from time to time, but you should never let anyone distract you. The best break, though, has been going to the gym three times a week for an hour in the afternoon. It produces a complete mental and physical reset, almost like waking up from a good night’s sleep, and the effects spill over into the following days.

Third, at a certain time, you simply have to declare the workday over and do something else. Otherwise, work will completely colonize your life, which can prevent you from getting proper rest, which will disrupt your productivity in the long run. Again, if you feel compelled to work, you are also compelled to rest, so you don’t burn out the machine.

If you just can’t bear the thought to wasting time on recreation, remember that if you are passionately engaged with your work, it never really leaves your mind. If you focus on something else, you are simply shifting work to your subconscious mind. If you want to take your mind completely off work, you have to take several days off, which bring us to the next topic.

Fourth, take a vacation every ten years or so. By a vacation I mean: stopping work for at least a week. Business travel does not count as a vacation. In January of 2017, after a death in the family, I was feeling really burnt out. I realized that I had not taken a real vacation in nearly 20 years, so I tried to stop working for a month and had John Morgan take over the webzine. At first, I lasted for about a day, but kept trying until I was actually doing things only for fun for days at a time. It was still a very stressful time, because of the doxing directed at my friends in TRS. I still ended up doing some work, but mostly because I felt that I didn’t have to. The only exception was my piece in support of Mike Enoch. But for all that, when I returned to work, I did so with renewed joy and energy.

6. Pick Your Poison.

Mason Curry’s Daily Rituals does not just detail the work habits of creative people, it also talks about the drugs they used to aid the creative process. The most common drugs are caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol, but Curry also mentions a number of writers who took amphetamines — Auden, Ayn Rand, Sartre, and Graham Greene — often combined with downers to get to sleep at night.

The most productive writers, however, are disciplined even in their use of drugs, using fixed amounts at fixed times. Drug and alcohol abuse are simply not consistent with long-term productivity, and creative people who resort to them generally burn out. Philip K. Dick, for instance, literally drove himself psychotic with amphetamine abuse and died of a stroke at the age of 53. Rand only ended up publishing four novels in her lifetime. She burnt herself out with Atlas Shrugged and spent the last 25 years of her life writing essays. Speed also warps one’s judgment, which may not be apparent in works of fiction, but it could not help but affect Rand’s and Sartre’s philosophical output.

Nicotine definitely helps with mental focus, which is why so many creative people smoke. But it is highly addictive and unhealthy. If you must have nicotine, chew nicotine gum or buy a mouth fedora, better known as a vape device. Smoking is not only disgusting, it is deadly.

I do not recommend nicotine, alcohol, or prescription uppers and downers, all of which have long-term negative health effects. Coffee is my drug of choice, although I also find green tea to aid concentration. Killjoys have been trying for decades to prove that coffee — and caffeine wherever you find it — are bad for you, but without success.

The best aids to concentration, however, are adaptogenic herbs like ginseng and eleuthero, which simultaneously promote concentration, clarity, and relaxation. Eleuthero is especially useful when I am doing proofreading, indexing, or accounting. I find rhodiola to be highly stimulating. If I have a long day of work ahead of me — especially if I am running a conference — and I need to stay sharp but also relaxed and open to contingencies, nothing beats it.

But my favorite adaptogen of all is tulsi, also called holy basil, which for me produces the best balance between mental focus and relaxation. When I first tried tulsi, I noticed immediately that I saw the humor in things more — and laughter, as Anthony Ludovici argued quite compellingly, is our celebration of feelings of superior adaptation. After a few days, I even found myself singing in the shower. But this should come as no surprise, since tulsi comes from India, and as Bollywood shows, people there are constantly bursting into song.

Both recreation and drug use fall under the general heading of pacing, and pacing basically is a form of saving yourself. But we always need to ask ourselves: What are we saving ourselves for? Obviously, we are not going to live forever. Do we want to die with all of our powers intact? Everything you save, you lose in the end. Our success in life is not measured by what we take with us, but by what we leave behind. We want to leave a better world, and we will save the world by spending ourselves, not by saving ourselves. So the guiding concern behind all questions of pacing needs to be: How can I spend myself most effectively to save the world?

Thus I am willing to cut smokers some slack if they accept that they are shortening their lives in order to increase their productivity. But I wish they would find a less disgusting and damaging crutch.

7. Speak Plainly. Don’t Try to Impress.

We are trying to change people’s minds with the written word. In the end, the only thing that really matters is whether our positions are true. But there’s more to persuasion than just truth. You can state the truth in persuasive and unpersuasive ways. The study of persuasion is rhetoric, which is a vast field, from which I want to pick just one topic.

Impressive people are persuasive people. And the less you try to impress others, the more impressive you actually are. Bad writers are obviously trying to impress, and the most common tells are using big words where small words will do, and using euphemisms and circumlocutions when talking about ugly things.

The best way to avoid this kind of writing is to read Paul Fussell’s “‘Speak, That I May See Thee’” in his book Class. In Fussell’s terms, bad writing is middle class, because middle-class people are always insecure about their status and trying to impress others by showing off their big words. They speak of “cocktails,” not “drinks.” “Formal wear,” not “suits.” They write like advertisements, because advertising is masterful at exploiting the insecurity of middle-class people to separate them from their money. Middle-class people are also afraid to declass themselves by speaking plainly of ugly things. They don’t use the “toilet,” they use the “restroom” — where, presumably, they are merely taking a rest.

According to Fussell, plain speech is found among both the upper class and the proles, because both groups aren’t really trying to impress. So write with the freedom of spirit and self-assurance of an aristocrat or a prole. As a rule, though, it is better to err on the side of an aristocratic idiom, not because we want people to think that we are “high class,” but because it is more articulate and less given to profanity. Beyond that, we are trying to change the minds of middle-class people, and whether they are aware of it or not, they find articulateness combined with unapologetic bluntness more persuasive than swearing like gangsters and sailors, although that sometimes has its place.

8. Speak Only the Truth.

There is no point in writing anything that is not true. (This even applies to fiction.) Speaking the truth is not only a virtue, it gives one personal and political advantages over the long run.

You may be smart, but there are always going to be people smarter than you. Still, I have noticed that people who are smarter than me often use a great deal of that extra wattage to lie to themselves and rationalize bad character and bad decisions. Therefore, when competing with such people, I try to compensate for my intellectual disadvantage by being more honest with myself and others. Society imposes many short-term penalties for honesty, especially about taboo topics, but in the long run, you gain both personal credibility and competitive advantages by sticking to the truth while your enemies handicap themselves with lies and delusions.

Right now, White Nationalists have almost no money or institutional power. But we have the truth on our side, and the credibility that comes from fearlessly speaking unpopular truths. Our enemies, by contrast, have enormous wealth and power, but their worldview is based on lies, and their credibility is steadily sinking. They have never been more degenerate, corrupt, and ridiculous either. (Unfortunately, our movement has a lot of room for improvement in that area as well.)

This is why metapolitics is much more important than street activism at this time. It is the height of folly to attack the enemy where they are strongest and we are weakest. Instead, we need to attack where they are weakest and we are strongest: on the plane of ideas and values. Objective reality is the greatest ally we will ever have, and speaking the truth is our greatest source of credibility. This is why we should never tell lies or stoop to puffery and spin. Speaking the truth fearlessly is, ultimately, the only source of credibility we have, and people who depreciate that social capital need to be called out and shunned.

I believe that we will win because the whole universe of facts is on our side, whereas the social forces arrayed against us have undeniable power, but they are founded on lies, and once the lies that sustain them dissolve, they will crumble when we give them a good kick. The more of us who speak the truth plainly, the sooner that day will come.

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19 Comments

  1. E
    Posted April 8, 2018 at 9:13 am | Permalink

    When it comes to productivity, there are really just 2 approaches: task based and process based. Task based basically means todo lists. Process based means, I’ll do X every day, for 15 minutes, from 06:00 a.m. to 06:15 a.m. I don’t particularly care about the immediate outcome, I’ll just work on it for 15 minutes every day.

    Of the two approaches, process based is superior, especially for the average low dopamine person. Big industry is process based for a reason. In my totally glib estimate 90 percent of software engineer working hours are spent on converting task based workflows to process based workflows.

    Being process based removes stress because it removes decision points.

    Nature is process based. People who live close to nature are process based: get up before dawn, feed the animals, milk the cows, etc.

    People who are paralyzed or constantly stressed are usually living on task lists. Living life on autopilot, not making decisions throughout the day is actually quite liberating.

  2. Proofreader
    Posted March 31, 2018 at 4:11 am | Permalink

    While oriented towards scientists, Santiago Ramón y Cajal’s admirable little book, Advice for a Young Investigator, has advice that writers might find useful as to how they conduct their work.

    Ramón y Cajal was an eminent Spanish neuroscientist, and his book well expresses both his scientific thinking and his identitarian sentiments. A veritable enfant terrible, he was even imprisoned at the age of eleven for destroying the gate of a neighbor with a homemade cannon!

    Here’s a good example of Ramón y Cajal’s dry wit and constructive advice:

    “In Spain, where laziness is a religion rather than a vice, there is little appreciation for how the monumental work of German chemists, naturalists, and physicians is accomplished — especially when it would appear that the time required to execute the plan and assemble a bibliography might involve decades! Yet these books have been written in a year or two, quietly and without feverish haste. The secret lies in the method of work; in taking advantage of as much time as possible for the activity; in not retiring for the day until at least two or three hours are dedicated to the task; in wisely constructing a dike in front of the intellectual dispersion and waste of time required by social activity; and finally, in avoiding as much as possible the malicious gossip of the café and other entertainment — which squanders our nervous energy (sometimes even causing disgust) and draws us away from our main task with childish conceits and futile pursuits.

    “If our professions do not allow us to devote more than two hours a day to a subject, do not abandon the work on the pretext that we need four or six. As Payot wisely noted, ‘A little each day is enough, as long as a little is produced each day.'”

    Ricardo Duchesne might well appreciate Ramón y Cajal’s type of individualism:

    “The future scientist is typically an ardent patriot who is eager to bring honor to himself and to his country, captivated by originality, indifferent to material gain and ordinary pleasures, inclined more toward action than words, and an untiring reader. In short, he is capable of all sorts of sacrifices to achieve the noble dream of giving his own name to some new star in the firmament of knowledge.”

    In Good Charts, a book on information graphics, Scott Berinato writes of establishing what cooks would call a mise en place — “all their ingredients and their kitchen organized to prepare for cooking.” He identifies three types of space:

    “Mental space: Block out time on your calendar. Turn off e-mail and social channels. Focus.

    “Physical space: If you’re in an open-concept office, get a room. Even if you have an office, find a quiet, closed-off area away from your desk to minimize interruptions. You’ll be seeking others’ ideas and opinions, but you don’t want random, unsolicited comments from passers-by.

    “White space: Bring plenty of paper and whiteboards. A rolling whiteboard will allow you to take notes back to your desk. If you can’t get one, bring a phone to snap pictures of your sketches. It’s helpful to have markers and pens in three or four colors.”

    Writers need to act similarly.

    I’ve sometimes thought that it would be nice to have a monastic cell as a mise en place. It can be hard to concentrate when one is surrounded by distractions and has too many things on one’s mind.

  3. Posted March 15, 2018 at 8:05 am | Permalink

    Thanks, Greg, for this useful piece. I would also state explicitly “Don’t use foreign phrases that aren’t commonly understood without following with translations in parentheses!”

    In To the list of herbs, I would add ashwagandha. Also, the drug Provigil, which, for me, is a real blessing. A lot of perfectly normal people (students, stock brokers, writers, et al) get prescriptions from their doctors for this. I take 100mg once every 3 days, but many people can benefit from taking it every day. (For some strange reason, if I take it day after day it fizzles out on me.) This is a much beloved substance and definitely worth a try. It has enhanced my productivity enormously. It gives you energy and focus like nothing else.

  4. Asklepios
    Posted March 13, 2018 at 9:47 pm | Permalink

    Thank you, Greg, for this wonderful essay. You set an example for the rest of us.

  5. Alex
    Posted March 11, 2018 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

    Haha. Every second of that Spencer video made me cringe. He is a serious problem for white advocacy. Our eneymies must love this guy.

    What a joke.

  6. Schweinmeister
    Posted March 11, 2018 at 11:50 am | Permalink

    You could also try aswagandha as an adaptogenic herb to increase your concentration.

  7. Turkish Ally
    Posted March 10, 2018 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

    God that Spencer video… I couldn’t cringe this hard if my father became a tranny and started dating black men.

    Thank you for the wonderful writing/productivity advice Mr. Johnson. I hadn’t even heard of tulsi before. I love coffee to death but it really screws my stomach up for some reason, past a certain point of consumption.

  8. Pietas
    Posted March 10, 2018 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

    What is extreme black pilling and what did u mean when u said Occidental dissent was doing it? What is red pilling while u are at it? I take this to mean aware of the alt right issues, comes from the matrix, right? It might be neat to create an alt right glossary, defining the important terminology and various personalities with historical synopsis. In a non contentious way, people would have to approve their own profiles. I was reading anglin’s little history of the online altright and found it rather illuminating. Something like that but more extensive and non perishable. Not a full scholarly history, but more an encyclopedia, like benet’s readers encyclopedia.

    • Greg Johnson
      Posted March 10, 2018 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

      These are questions for google.

    • Rob Bottom
      Posted March 15, 2018 at 10:41 pm | Permalink

      If you want a list of personalities, just check out the ADL and SPLC’s “hate lists”.

      • Pietas
        Posted March 16, 2018 at 5:20 am | Permalink

        Yeah, something like that, but not from a hostile POV. However, Greg’s profile on one of those sites is so fair that it would almost make any person with a brain want to read him!

  9. Ichmalwieder
    Posted March 10, 2018 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

    “There is no point in writing anything that is not true. (This even applies to fiction.) Speaking the truth is not only a virtue, it gives one personal and political advantages over the long run.”

    I find this a very naive view. Constant and systematic lying did serve the jews quite well. And they really have had a “long run” until now.

    • Peter
      Posted March 11, 2018 at 12:24 am | Permalink

      Ha ha… I had a very similar thought. The truth wins automatically? No. Power wins. Power = organiszed interests. Essentially… the jew can very simply just kill us off (and is all about doing so) before the truth comes to effect (I´m of-course all for the truth anyways, I´m an Aryan and thus that comes naturally to me… but there´s more to survivial… if you have to fight a big dog… you better come to the fight also with a big dog).

      • Regina Georgelincolnrockwell
        Posted March 15, 2018 at 8:12 am | Permalink

        Ichmalwieder and Peter, I don’t think I understand. What is there to lie about that would save our people?

        The (((globalist))) worldview relies on distorting reality. The white nationalist worldview relies on observable truth. People are just afraid to say it for fear of being called a “racist” or whatever.

  10. Voryn Illidari
    Posted March 10, 2018 at 6:10 am | Permalink

    I particularly like number 7. One thing you notice about liberals, leftists, sociologists, feminists, and other people worthy of a helicopter toss is that they are ALWAYS flaunting huge words in their writing. It gets to a point where it’s as if they are speaking another language, and perhaps they are, because a bizarre language of gibberish is the only way to explain their false worldview. “Marginalizations of the contextualizations of the subaltern is culturally supplementalizing the yada yada yada barbar barbar.” How else could you possibly explain how a man who mutilates his wiener and wears lipstick is equal to a woman?

    • Walter
      Posted March 15, 2018 at 9:22 am | Permalink

      Voryn Illidari:
      That is very true. Item Seven is very important for writing meaningful texts and conveying something. Reading nationalist writings or literature, one feels a sincerity and immediate comprehension. While leftist writings usually seem contrived and heavy with big, meaningless words.
      I remember seeing a big-word matrix with five columns of five words each, i.e. 25 words in total, where one could choose one word from each column and line them up from left to right. The outcome was something of the example you give, a monster of a sentence where one wasn’t sure what it was supposed to mean, but in appearance very realistic and familiar.

  11. Posted March 10, 2018 at 4:12 am | Permalink

    “The best aids to concentration, however, are adaptogenic herbs like ginseng and eleuthero, which simultaneously promote concentration, clarity, and relaxation. Eleuthero is especially useful when I am doing proofreading, indexing, or accounting. I find rhodiola to be highly stimulating. If I have a long day of work ahead of me — especially if I am running a conference — and I need to stay sharp but also relaxed and open to contingencies, nothing beats it” – I was pleasantly surprised that you mentioned herbs as Rhodiola and Ginseng. I would also highly recommend Ginko Forte, Kava Forte Gotu Kola, and Ashwaganda as well.

    Having taken such herbs in tablet form produced by Standard Process (in America) and Medi-Herb (in Australia) for some time now, I can personally attest to how effective they are in BOTH relaxing and calming the mind as well as helping to the brain to remain focused on any task at hand (in this case, writing). They are better than any synthetic drug in my opinion, and they are not addictive nor are there any complications when one stops using them. Why smoke cigarettes, chew tobacco or consume illegal narcotics when there are a plethora of herbs and food-based vitamins that make us alert, focused, and calm at the same time?

    By the way, if you drink coffee but don’t like the jittery side effects, try taking L-Theanine with it. L-Theanine will take off the jittery edge of the caffeine, yet it will BOTh calm you as well as provide you with mental clarity. It’s also not addictive and studies have shown it to be effective for long-term use.

    • Rob Bottom
      Posted March 15, 2018 at 10:43 pm | Permalink

      I’m definitely going to check them out. In my area, most of the ones mentioned aren’t readily available as teas. I guess they tend to come as pills?

  12. Walter
    Posted March 9, 2018 at 9:04 pm | Permalink

    That is great. Work and life habits provide for productive times and the counter-poise of rest. The bough that is over-extended will break. One reason for the steadily upwards-soaring flight of Counter Currents is the disciplined guidance by Greg Johnson.
    The two-article series is adorned with a picture of Schopenhauer, a man, which I think comes very close to what one imagines a philosopher to be. He has insight and good advice on almost anything one encounters on one’s journey through life.

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