Blog of Drew


People like to journal in different ways and I’ve always enjoyed hearing what works for others so here I share what has been working for me.

Normally, I’m not hardcore into journaling, but I began journaling a more while overseas. It served as a way to preserve moments while also reflecting on what I’m noticing about myself and the world around me.

Having now arrived back home, I’ve continued the journaling style I had while overseas, and I’m doing it more often too. This makes me suspect I’ve found a promising practice for myself.

Here’s what it looks like:

I open my computer and open a blank Word document. I then type away whatever reflection comes to mind.

Sometimes I write a bit, go do some errands, then come back to write more. When that happens, I use a horizontal line to indicate the break in time.

I usually find that one page is the maximum I need in any given day. Often it’s less.

I’ve really like this approach. As aspect I particularly like is starting each day’s journal with a clean, blank document. It has an inviting feel to it.


Everyone is my family is fluent in Spanish except for me.

What? How?

My family lived in South America for many years and then moved to Gringo-landia when I was very young. By virtue of being the youngest, I forgot about the mother tongue.

I used to think I was the unlucky one. Left without Spanish.

But now, I’m grateful for it.

For over a year now, I’ve been on a language learning journey. Looking back on what I’ve learnt, a key meta-skill stands out: Language learning isn’t just learning content, it’s learning how to learn. This skill doesn’t come easy. It takes trial and error, persistence and creativity. It’s been a wild and rewarding journey that continues to this day.

So, I’m grateful.


Recently, I began reading books again. This is big because I believe it will drastically improve how I navigate life. When change happens, there’s a variety of factors involved, often working together. Here, I share some of the factors involved in how I stopped and rediscovered reading.

How I stopped reading.

1. Poor note taking system.

A large part of the value I get from books is from the notes I take from the book. These notes are special to me.

When I was in high school, I approached books in this way, noting down whatever stood out to me. To this day, I have the folder of Word documents holding the notes I typed down.

As you can imagine though, typing out paragraphs is a time consuming process. The effort and time required put me off continuing to take notes which made reading less valuable, less special.

2. Overcommitment to books.

There’s a saying that books should be treated cheaply. The implication of the saying is that, as with all cheap things, if it isn’t helpful, just move on. No need to overcommit.

But not committing to something hard isn’t easy for me. I always thought that commitment is synonymous with strength, grit and success.

So, if I started a boring book, I couldn’t let it go. This resulted in books being read beyond their useby date and made the reading process very, very boring. Not only that but choosing a new book to read also became the lottery pick of death. No thank you.

3. No desire after a day’s work.

I used to have a white collar job that involved large amounts of screentime and monotonous reading.

In this context, spare time was a golden slither of the day to be enjoyed to the absolute maximum. To take full advantage, I pursued hobbies that were completely different to work and looked interesting (like salsa dancing).

The desire to do personal reading was simply not there.

How I rediscovered reading.

1. Self Authoring writing programme.

I was doing Self Authoring, articulating the faults and virtues of my present self. (Serious stuff!)

After having articulated my faults and virtues, the programme asked me to reflect on how I can respond to them in order to craft a better life.

What happened next surprised me.

My responses to a wide range of situations nearly all involved reading. Reading was the glaring answer to an array of problems.

It couldn’t be ignored.

2. If you want to be remarkable, read.

Around this time, I was also listening to a podcast, and this podcast hit the point home. Big time.

Kevin Kelly said something to the effect of: If you want to be remarkable, read. He continued: I don’t know any role model of mine that doesn’t read more than I do.

I paused for a moment and thought about who I look up to. Yup, they all read a tonne of books. The logic felt simple. To become someone remarkable, reading is a must-do.

3. Falling in love with my Kindle (and highlights).

I became convinced of the goodness of reading in a hostel in Bogotá, Colombia where accessing English books isn’t too easy.

To have get easy access to English books while travelling, I got myself a Kindle and wow, it’s been amazing.

The main benefit I enjoyed has been how easy it is to highlight parts of books and email myself a summary of highlights. As a result, I feel a huge value add from the reading I’m doing. I’m not just learning something now, I’m seamlessly storing up pearls of wisdom for future me. A gift to my future self. Something special.


A while back, I took on my first Spanish novel, The Little Prince.

It’s 89 pages so not scarily long. But it was hard (!) and not fun. I was looking up words nearly every sentence. Reading felt like learning to drive a manual car. I gave up.

Enter “Fluent Forever,” a book that suggests a helpful exercise: reading and listening to a book simultaneously. The recommended choice? Harry Potter. It brought to mind stories I had seen on Reddit where people jumped in their language fluency through immersing themselves to large quantities of Harry Potter. Maybe these myths of old were in fact real.

So, I decided to take on Harry Potter y la piedra filosofal!

Tackling this literary behemoth hasn't been a walk in the park, but with the aid of an audiobook, it has become not only manageable but enjoyable. This approach exposes me to large amounts of vocabulary and sentence structures in a fun way.

The main value-add from an audiobook has been a steady reading pace. Reading at a consistent speed ensures I’m not getting caught up in what I don’t understand and keeps the flow of the story. Although I don’t understand every word and detail, the combination of reading the words in the book in front of me gives me enough to be able to follow the story.

When I’m feeling curious, I look up the translation of words on my Kindle, but I don’t like pausing the audio so there’s limited breathing space to do this often.

Going forward, I will probably focus on books that have more comprehensible language before returning to large novels but for the time being, Harry Potter it is!

A sweet spot of practice time for me has been 10-20 minutes per day.