Interview with Aaron Lewis(@aaronzlewis)
It all started with a tweet.
I sent that beautiful48 character message out into the abyss that is Twitter not expecting a retweet or a favorite let alone a reply. But sure enough...
And so it began!
Aaron Lewis is an extremely cool dude. He is a Sophomore at Yale University. He is a really outstanding writer and publishes his work on his Medium blog which you can check out here. Aaron is also working on an original site where, in the future, he will be publishing longer essays. I'm pumped for that and you should be too!
How/why/when did you start writing?
In first grade, my teacher would have us practice tongue twisters every morning. I think those fun little exercises introduced me to some of the amazing things you can do with language. The next year, I started writing short stories on the computer that my parents had just bought. I was most proud of this one called "The Rock that Came Back." It's about three kids who go on an oceanic adventure with a talking fish after the rocks they'd been skipping start boomeranging back to them. Once I started writing, I just never really wanted to stop.
How/why/when did you get involved with Medium?
I like to keep up with all the new and exciting things that are going on in the tech industry. When Evan Williams and his team launched Medium last year, I requested an invite as soon as I could. After a good few months of waiting, I forgot that I'd ever even signed up. Then, in April, an email showed up in my inbox from Medium saying that my application had been accepted! The user interface for writing is incredibly well designed. It's as simple as possible, but no simpler. There are no frills, no flashy buttons—just you, the cursor, and your thoughts. A blank page can be really intimidating, but Medium's UI goes a long way toward alleviating that fear.
If you could travel back to your tenth grade self and give him one piece of advice what would it be?
I'm not sure I'd give any advice at all, for fear of messing with the space-time continuum or something. But I'd probably tell tenth grade Aaron that you don't have to wait for a degree or until society thinks you're "old enough" to work on cool projects that matter. Just start. Then, I would make him read "What You'll Wish You'd Known" by Paul Graham. I'd also tell him to make a Spark file. The basic idea, as writer Steven Johnson describes it, is to maintain a single document where you keep all your hunches: ideas for articles, startups, or just any interesting thoughts that come to mind. Looking back on your document is almost like brainstorming with your past self.
What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
1) The most important thing is to just start. You can think about writing all you want, but you won't get better unless you actually sit down and do it.
2) Write something every day—even if it's just a sentence or two. Writing every day changes the way you think. If you know you're going to have to write something before you go to sleep, you'll be on the lookout for interesting things throughout the day. Writing, in many ways, is about discovery. It's like a spotlight for you subconscious. Once you start writing, you can find things that you never really knew were there.
3) Publish your work somewhere, even if it's just on a simple blog. And tweet! Learning how to distill a thought into 140 characters is actually a very useful skill. Most writing is rewriting. Plus, Twitter can help you reach a broader audience. (But don't worry too much about audience; write for yourself, edit for your readers.)
5) Be an active reader. By this, I don't just mean "read a lot." When you're reading something you like, try to study what techniques the author is using or what it is that you like so much about it. We all have the same 26 letters at our disposal. Figure out how your favorite authors manage to string them together so beautifully.
What's your favorite food?
I love Chicago-style deep dish pizza!