Chrissy Clarke is a writer at the Federalist, the host of her own podcast, and a dog-mom. She started her own print publication at Michigan State University. From covering the Iowa primaries on the ground to pumping out articles every day, Chrissy has accomplished quite a lot in the one year since she graduated.
She spoke to me on the phone about how she developed good habits in college and keeps to a healthy routine working from home in Washington, D.C.
Q: Where did your interest in writing come from?
A: I was a dancer before then I went to college and I knew I wanted to perform in some way and still be on camera and on stage, so broadcast journalism kind of seemed like the way to go. I actually ended up quitting broadcast journalism and going into political science and … major[ed] in Statistics.
Q: You write remotely, so even before quarantine, you had a good work from home routine. Could you walk me through a day in your work life?
A: I ran through it on my podcast recently too. [T]he biggest thing for me is I don’t get up and start work immediately. For me, just like it would start at nine o’clock if you went into an office. So if I wake up at 7:30 am, that doesn’t mean I start working at 7:45 am. I don’t start work until nine o’clock…So I get up, take my dogs for a walk, make breakfast, and get my day going.
I’ll go and take 30 minutes for lunch and walk the dog again. It’s about finding a way to stay to that obligation at your own house. People think it can be really distracting to be at your own place, but it’s actually really quiet and nice to build a workspace for yourself.
It is about finding a balance because you work and live in the same space, so you have to create those boundaries for yourself. I think a lot of people in the pandemic are probably feeling trapped in their work, especially writers right now. So for me, it’s about the clean delineation between work-time and play-time.
Q: What do you think the biggest messaging problem that young conservatives have online, if there is one?
I sometimes think that the oversimplification of things can lead people to be confused… I used to work for a branch of Turning Point USA.
During my senior year of college, I was recruiting students to run for student body president and other positions in student government. I found that sometimes saying, “socialism sucks,” and oversimplifying things weren’t actually getting at the reason why a lot of people are conservative.
I definitely think there’s a necessity for a Turning Point in the larger conservative movement because they do simplify things in a way that most conservative organizations fail to. But I do think that oversimplifying it, once you get people in a group like that, has led to silly Twitter Wars and just a poor job at actually teaching young conservatives about issues and how to be nuanced in their perspective.
There are two different kinds of young conservatives, there are young conservatives that know their friend and parents are Republican and conservative…they’re a little quiet and apathetic towards it [being conservative].
Then there are the really loud people on campus that are just so obnoxious about their conservative values. They almost push people away [who have] the potential to get involved.
Being a leader and having, especially, young women in these conservative leadership roles on college campuses is so important for marketing in the movement at large. It’s really hard for people to understand complex issues such as gun issues [and] pro-life/pro-choice issues.
Q: What is your prep like for your podcast and what do you enjoy most about producing it?
A: Yeah, it’s a lot of work. I tampered with the schedule a lot at first…. What I found to work is just to] see what articles do best during the week and then discuss them at length because, if they’re doing well on a website, then they will probably do well in video form.
Wednesday, every week I usually write a script. The script isn’t really so much a script as it is a bunch of bullet points. And then me sitting there talking to my computer, trying to figure out what I will say and just trying to get bullet points down…the podcast takes about 30, 45 minutes on Thursday.
I preload them and then set them for 8:00 AM to release on Friday morning. On Thursdays, I usually do work a little later because I don’t like my personal podcast to take up time.
For now, it’s just an end of the week type thing that I do just for fun, just to grow a following and practice. I want to go on TV and eventually find my way into that realm.
I would recommend to lots of people at least, even if you’re not in front of a camera, just do it to get into the practice of it.
Q: What advice do you have for people who are just getting into the conservative movement or conservative politics and are interested in writing?
Read a lot. And don’t just read a lot of conservative stuff, read a lot of everything. For instance, this year, The Federalist wanted me to cover the 2020 election.
When I got that [assignment], I bought Kamala Harris’s book, Joe Biden’s book, Bernie’s book, Elizabeth Warren’s book, and Pete Buttigieg’s book. I am still reading Joe Biden’s, but I’ve finished all the other four books and it just really gave me an insight into what I was watching on TV. It helps you to make your own analysis. If you want to start analyzing things, you can’t just give your opinion.
Q: Has your workflow or habits changed since you graduated and how do you build healthy habits as an undergrad?
A: It’s not about getting an article in every single week because my work, like obviously you’re in college for four years. You should want to enjoy it…But the really big thing that I struggled with was I would always get some doubt in myself because I’d wanted to do everything, and be perfect at everything. And that’s just impossible. It just doesn’t happen like that, obviously. Now looking back on it, I wish I didn’t beat myself up so much about writing and professional stuff.
If you’re doing the right things and you’re putting your whole heart into it, and you’re passionate about it..whether you got ten things accomplished or five things accomplished that you wanted to get done in a club or a given year… just accomplishing one goal every year is actually a way bigger deal than you would think.
It’s okay to make mistakes in your first articles. You’re going to learn a lot more. Your healthy habits are about enjoying your school and work and then finding a good goal for yourself that you can accomplish. Not ten crazy, insane goals that you’re never gonna live up to.
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Author: Ella McRoberts