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For most of my life, I was never an avid reader. I tolerated reading, yes. But when it came to fun, books? Well, they’d always been a last resort.

I never saw reading as a form of entertainment or a key to self-improvement. Instead, reading had always felt more like a chore than anything else. It always felt like work.

My early disinterest in reading is an awkward fact to admit. After all, I spent the start of my career in news media. Conventional wisdom would lead most people to assume all journalists are voracious readers. …

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I’m a slow writer.

Always have been and likely always will. Writing has never come easy for me. Perfect prose doesn’t pour out of me while producing a first draft.

Despite the thousands of words I’ve written throughout my life and career, writing is still hard.

But even though writing is difficult for me, that doesn’t mean I don’t find joy in the process. In fact, quite the contrary is true. Writing can be like a good workout at the gym. Sometimes, it’s a little painful. But in the end, it’s rewarding because I stepped up to face the challenge.

If you’re a fellow slow writer, let go of your angst and let go of your frustration. …

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Every time I write, the process always starts the same. It never changes. It always starts with plenty of thinking, pondering, and wondering.

How that process plays out, though, is always different. I know where I’m headed whenever I start a new story. But I’m never sure about how I’ll arrive.

That uncertainty causes many unpleasant feelings when I write. If you write (and chances are you do because why else would you read this piece?), you understand what I’m saying. …

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James Ham on set with Doug Christie and Jim Kozimor at Golden 1 Center for Kings Pregame (Photo:

Give or take, James Ham appears on TVs inside thousands of households about 40 to 50 times a year. As the Sacramento Kings Insider for NBC Sports California, he gets to do what he’s always loved doing.

Talk NBA hoops.

James knows how blessed he is to have his job. Most would-be reporters never make it this far. But thanks to a combination of hard work, lucky breaks, and family support, James has carved out a lasting career.

How he became a journalist, though, wasn’t by design. In fact, James never grew up dreaming about having the job he has. …

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You’ve powered on your laptop. You’ve fired up your word processor. After days, weeks, months, and years, you’ve finally committed to write.

Congratulations! Better late than never, because lots of people never start. For many of them, that distant someday doesn’t ever arrive.

So here you are, sitting at your desk. You’re finally prepared to pounce on that blank page. But there’s one small problem.

“What should I write about?” That’s the question that plagues you today.

It dawns on you that the white space on this empty document is an ocean to fill. Inner tension builds, and the pangs of anxiety rise. …

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Writing is an act of faith.

It’s a blind belief that you can transform a blank piece of nothing into something worth reading. To write is to have an unwavering assumption that you can manifest coherent prose out of vague ideas.

Every time you write is a venture into the unknown. You know where you’re going, but you’re not sure how you’ll get there. The only guide you have is a will to keep on writing.

This act of faith, though, doesn’t come without trepidation. To feel nervous at times isn’t unusual. In fact, it’s normal for all writers. You’ll often wonder if you can finish the job you set forth to do. Writing is a practice of capturing concepts out of thin air, after all. …

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At its core, writing is a solitary effort. Whether with a notebook, tablet, or laptop computer, it’s you, your notes, and a single blank page. Nothing and no one else.

This can be intimidating; for many of us, even paralyzing. Whether we’re new or seasoned scribes, starting from scratch is never easy.

Willpower can get us far when facing a blank page, but often it’s not enough. What we also need is a set of directions and instructions, a map to our final destination. In short, we can use some guidance when it comes to the navigation.

Lucky for us, there are other writers who’ve charted this path before. They not only sympathize with our circumstances; they empathize because they understand the craft and have been in our shoes. They know that writing is hard, persistent work. Remember, they’ve been in the trenches, too. …

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Yoyogi Park in Tokyo, Japan

Sometimes, life gets the best of us. There’s no shame in that. In fact, it’s normal. We’ve all had moments when life has punched us right in the face.

When these moments hit us hard, it seems like we’re down for the count. But give us enough time, and we can get back up.

Life demands us to deal with stress. As much we’d like the opposite, there’s no escaping it, which isn’t actually a bad thing. Stress, in manageable amounts, keeps us on our toes and pushes us to grow. …

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Tres Cruces in Medellin, Colombia

Breathing brings life.

There’s no denying that. It’s a function of your body that’s critical to your survival. But I’d bet that, most of the time, you’re not wondering whether you can do it any better.

Instead, you probably accept the status quo. After all, breathing is intuitive. It’s a natural process. What more can you learn?

A lot, actually.

On the surface, breathing may seem like a dull subject to explore. But consider exercising some curiosity instead. When you do, you’ll find that it’s possible to reap a few unanticipated rewards.

Learning how to breathe better won’t solve all your health problems. After all, it’s not a magic bullet. But rethinking how you breathe can become a keystone habit. It can be a small and simple solution that leads to bigger, widespread change. …

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This is what it’s actually like to see the Mona Lisa in person.

I arrived at my gate breathing heavy and sweating through my clothes. Sprinting through an airport because you’re running late will do that to you. Trust me, it’s not an ideal state in which to begin a transatlantic flight.

Only the gate agents remained when I arrived. Every other passenger had already boarded Norwegian Flight №7068. I was the last.

But the frantic rush to catch my flight on time did serve one good purpose. It kept me distracted from the gravity of the moment. …


Jon Santiago

Freelance writer covering a variety of topics including marketing, career, travel, lifestyle, and more. Learn about me here:

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