The most common type of email I get is pretty simple. It’s normally a kid with a plan to be something – say, a journalist – but they look at it like it is only a matter of being crowned with that title. And they want to know what I think they should do.

The answer is to try to break it all down. If they stopped and looked at the histories of the people hoped to be, they’d see more than a long history of writing employment. They’d find a variety of jobs and intermissions and activities and experiences, many of which have nothing to do with writing but had everything to do with getting them to where they are. Rarely is the path to something paved in rote emulation of the end you have in mind; you don’t write your way into a writing career, it is the child of having something to say.

Being a journalist, or whatever you hope to become, is a sum made up of many parts. Realize that the conglomeration of those parts is a long way down the road and focus on the pieces – the ones that you can do now despite lacking resources and access. A place to start? Judgment.

Written by Ryan Holiday
Ryan Holiday is the bestselling author of Trust Me, I’m Lying, The Obstacle Is The Way, Ego Is The Enemy, and other books about marketing, culture, and the human condition. His work has been translated into thirty languages and has appeared everywhere from the Columbia Journalism Review to Fast Company. His company, Brass Check, has advised companies such as Google, TASER, and Complex, as well as Grammy Award winning musicians and some of the biggest authors in the world. He lives in Austin, Texas.