Every week at Praxis, participants and alumni gather for Praxis Wednesdays, weekly group sessions designed to hone intellectual ability and build practical skills applicable to the professional world. These sessions cover everything from academic subjects — philosophy, history, and economics — to technical skills participants can use in their careers — such as writing, marketing, sales, communication, organization, and general business proficiency. Many weeks we’re joined by guest speakers, and other weeks we engage in open dialogue and debate.
We recently welcomed Craig Biddle, editor of The Objective Standard, to lead a workshop on writing. Below are some highlights from the session!
Workshop Title: Writing as a Tool for Learning and Professional Branding w/ Craig Biddle
From Craig: “The better you can write, the better you can think—and the greater you’ll excel in your intellectual pursuits.”
About the Guest: Craig Biddle is an author and speaker focusing on philosophic principles that support and promote human flourishing and political freedom. He’s the editor of The Objective Standard and author of Loving Life: The Morality of Self-Interest and the Facts that Support It, as well as the forthcoming Forbidden Fruit for Teens: Moral Truths Your Parents, Preachers, and Teachers Don’t Want You to Know. His book in progress is “Thinking in Principles.”
Craig Biddle: “You have a mind, and there’s a lot of stuff in that mind, and nobody else has that mind. Nobody else has that same mixture of ideas. You share ideas with other people, but nobody in history ever has had the same integrated set of ideas that you do. You have ideas that nobody has ever put together and you’re using them in daily life already. If you can get those ideas down on paper in an essentialized manner, it’s going to help you see them more clearly, and they’ll be of tremendous value to other people.”
- How to use writing to organize your thinking
- Why the process of writing is life-enhancing
- The optimal writing process
- Writing for yourself (journaling, blogging, etc.)
- Writing for publication (third-party sites)
- How to structure your articles
- How to convey information clearly
- How to edit your own work
- Benefits in engaging in a serious approach to writing
- How to write when you have nothing to write about
From Craig: “I’ve read countless books on writing and, in terms of practical value, I think those four are in a category of their own.”
- On Writing Well, by William Zinsser — a clear and engaging discussion of how to write clearly and engagingly. The best introductory book I know of for aspiring writers.
- Less than Words Can Say, by Richard Mitchell — a beautifully written and often hilarious book about the importance of proper grammar and usage. (Chapter 2, “The Two Tribes,” is probably the best thing ever written about how misuse of the passive voice muddles writing and throttles the mind.)
- The Art of Nonfiction, by Ayn Rand — the most liberating book I know of on the writing process. Among other values, Rand distinguishes between the roles of the conscious and subconscious aspects of the mind, and shows the importance of unleashing and not “censoring” your subconscious while writing.
- Writing and Thinking, by Foerster and Steadman — a (nearly) comprehensive textbook on the principles of good writing and the “whys” behind them. I’ve learned more from this book than from any other about how to write with clarity and impact.