About the Author
Dr. Laura Williams teaches communication strategy to undergraduates and executives. She is a passionate advocate for critical thinking, individual liberties, and the Oxford Comma.
Who or what inspires you?
People, especially writers, with great courage and passionate empathy, who see further than themselves and their own culture, maybe even beyond their own time. People who use words to challenge power, to liberate people from bad ideas. Thomas Paine. Robert Green Ingersoll. Thomas Jefferson. Frederick Douglass. Nelly Bly. George Orwell. H.L. Menken. Annie Dillard. I’m also continually inspired by young children - their curiosity and empathy and openness to experience. Well-informed, rhetorically responsible debate. Exceptionally smart people who disagree with me. Plants. Caffeine. Liberty. The future.
What drew you to the liberty movement?
As a young person, I was challenged by great teachers to wrestle with the full text and import of the Constitution and its guiding philosophies of individual liberty, peace, opportunity, and prosperity. Later, I discovered logic, rhetoric, and behavioral economics which invite us to treat the world like a puzzle, and to seek solutions. I love liberty and free markets because they combine these principles: we honor the individuality and dignity of every human being, and seek to understand their incentives instead of trying to control their actions.
Lots of people who are great at what they do (CEOs, economists, scholars) aren't great at explaining what they do, but their ideas need a broader audience. I enjoy the challenge of getting into someone else’s head, soaking up their priorities and their influences, trying to capture a voice and a perspective that’s different from my own. Deep dives into topics I wouldn’t otherwise have reason to learn about (cadmium plating one week, Chinese ghost cities the next) appeal to the researcher and the teacher in me. Ghostwriting for others also allows me to be a writer-thinker-learner full time, to pursue my own writing, and to spend most of my days without set schedules, commutes, or uncomfortable shoes.
What advice would you give young or aspiring writers?
Learn to see writing and editing as two different processes. First drafts, real inspiration, require a kind of altered state. You can’t get there if you’re thinking of a better synonym for three words ago. So let go of what it’s supposed to look like. Just get it all out, get it onto the page. You’re entitled to a terrible first draft. Or first three drafts. Revision (to imagine again) isn’t a punishment, it’s a reward. Deliberately block out the self-conscious critique of the inner editor; this frees your mind to do the invention and creation.