Joining Write of Passage

I have been gone without much sleep for 5 weeks straight. No kidding.

You see, I was part of Write of Passage, an online course about writing on the internet. The classes were held on Zoom by instructors mostly in the US, followed Eastern time. Since I was across the globe in India, I spent all my nights awake attending the sessions. During the day, I’d attend college lectures, while the nights would go by with me in front of my laptop.

Write of Passage (WOP) was started by David Perell, a prolific writer who made his career by posting content online. He is someone obsessed with learning on the internet and hopes to empower others to use the internet to share their ideas and connect with like-minded people.

Every week, he writes 2 newsletters where he talks about his work and shares the most interesting links from across the net. They orbit a wide array of topics, like philosophy, business, media and more. I religiously read them every week, and trust me, each issue leaves me more knowledgeable than before. 

Check out his newsletter here. 

I first came across David in a video by Ali Abdaal, where he talked about how the internet allowed anyone to share their message with the world. He said that the internet was the perfect place for anyone with a niche interest to connect with similar people across the globe.

This hit me hard.

Throughout my life, I’ve been OBSESSED with nature. I’d spend hours flipping through encyclopedias on the natural world, devouring as much as I could. I would wake up at dawn to catch special episodes on National Geographic on TV. I’d spend many hours on my balcony spotting squirrels in the trees around my house. I was (And still am) consumed by all things wild. 

As I grew older, I began spending more time in nature. I’d come to run after leopards, elephants and unfathomable numbers of birds. I’d spend entire afternoons sitting beside King Cobras and other snakes. Nothing could satiate my appetite for knowledge and experience with the natural world.

Elephantscapes by Ishan Shanavas
I am just completely in love with wildlife

But I soon found that my immediate friend group did not share my interests. They were very supportive, but we were enthused by very different things. When I wanted to talk about tigers and bears, they’d want to discuss the specs of the latest iPhone or Android. The jaguars I wanted to talk about were very different from the kind they were enthused by. 

I had no way of sharing my passion with the world.

I was about to give up on the dream of connecting with fellow nature enthusiasts when I came across David’s work. It was like a breath of fresh air, one that was long overdue. For he finally showed me a way to mobilise my passion.

What followed was years of reading every article, listening to every podcast, and watching every Youtube video by David. I studied his method as best as I could, taking detailed notes and planning out my strategy with a tenacity that shocked all my peers. My teachers from school would have been shocked at the amount I was studying.

It was then that I came across Write of Passage. But as a college student, I couldn’t cough up the 4000$, and there was no way I’d ask my parents to pay that amount. So I watched the course from the periphery, attending all the free workshops and reading all the newsletters. 

After a couple months of research, I began building my personal website and newsletter on my own. I began writing about whatever interested me. I knew at this point the goal was just to get started. I did not think about a niche or a target subscriber count. I just had to get started. On August 13 2021, I went live.

For the first few hours, I saw a huge spike in traffic. All my friends swarmed to the website, and I thought I would be an instant hit. But soon enough, in a few days, the traffic sputtered to a halt. It remained like that for the next few months, with every odd article attracting a few viewers. 

Even though I wasn’t getting many readers, I grew to love writing. I realised how it was a way of not only articulating your passions but discovering them as well. The act of sitting down and trying to formulate your thoughts helps refine your thinking in ways that not even the best words can describe. The clarity that comes with intense introspection allows you to see things about yourself you’d otherwise miss.

And so I continued to write just for the heck of it. Soon at least a dozen people would read every new article. I reworked the website constantly, adding new features as and when I deemed fit. I began taking on bigger projects (read about them here).

Some articles on my writing process

David talks about how, by sharing your ideas and work online, you attract a whole host of opportunities. Slowly but surely, my blog got in front of the right people. I’ve gotten the chance to work on documentaries and explore a tiger reserve in southern India. This was something I never imagined was possible.

Then, on one serendipitous evening in late 2022, I came across David’s tweet about scholarships from WOP. It said that for cohort 9, they were giving 10 full-ride scholarships to anyone who could convince them they were worthy.

So, in a blur of instant inspiration, I clicked the application link and copied the questions into a new document. For the next 2 weeks, I poured my heart onto the page. I tried to look deep into my heart and showcase my most authentic self on the page. 

And by a great stroke of serendipity, I got in. 

For the following 5 weeks, I got on dozens of zoom sessions. We talked about everything related to writing. I was shown how to build a steady writing habit and use the internet to share my thoughts with the world. I saw how I could utilise my best thinking to attract all kinds of opportunities. I have gained enormous insight into the life of a creator. I’ve learned about systemising the writing process, overcoming imposter syndrome, saving and distilling your ideas, building a consistent publishing cadence, reaching out to mentors, finding impactful stories within my experiences, and much more.

Read some of the posts I wrote in Write of Passage!

I realised that following a structured approach to learning a new craft greatly impacts your learning. WOP walks you through everything you need to hit the ground running so that you can publish quality ideas. It showed me that I must continually refine my craft to polish my writing. 

WOP shows you how writing and creation can become a way of life. This has absolutely changed me as a person. I am forever searching for new and exciting topics, saving all the interesting thoughts I come across. Over time, this builds a repository of thoughts and ideas I later use in my content creation. 

The conversations I had with others in courses were the kind I had waited years to have. I realised how talking to like-minded people can transform you. It pays well to have someone on the same journey as you. And by the end, I had several new friends from across the globe. They gave me copious amounts of feedback on my writing and content strategy, which hugely helped me.

I got feedback on all my essays, which greatly improved my writing!

I am going to hit the two-year mark in a couple of months. While I might only have a modest following, I have the tools and mindset that will allow me to effectively spread my ideas. It is a very empowering place to be, so if you’re interested in something, use WOP and share it with the world. You will be shocked at how your life will change.

Click here to check out Write of Passage! 

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Published by Ishan Shanavas

I am a young adult, interested in nature, photography, art and culture. An aspiring polymath, I share my learnings through my blog. I also include insights from my favourite books.

5 thoughts on “Joining Write of Passage

  1. Hi Ishan

    I enjoyed this latest article and review of your journey with write of passage. I was going to leave a comment but hit a roadblock with not knowing or remembering my wordpress log in. Were you going to move to Substack? Anyway, I always appreciate your writing. Hope your adventure is going well.

    Rick Lewis


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