Doing the Most is a special series about ambition — how we define it, harness it, and conquer it. Journalist, writer, and activist Naomi Klein is the author of seven books, including No Logo , The Shock Doctrine , and This Changes Everything . Over the past 20 years, she’s reported from the front lines of progressive movements from Occupy Wall Street and beyond, and is known for her unflinching critique of capitalism and globalization. Recently, Klein has turned her attention to climate change. Her latest book, On Fire , inspired by youth climate activists like Sunrise Movement and Greta Thunberg , argues the case for a Green New Deal . Klein is currently the Gloria Steinem endowed chair of Media, Culture, and Feminist Studies at Rutgers University, and she lives in New Jersey with her husband and son. Here’s how she gets it done.
On a typical morning: I get woken up by my son, Toma, who is now seven. There is no meditation. It’s a good day if he lets me sleep until 6:30. There is a cockapoo, Smoke, who sometimes also jumps on my head, too. We got her right after the wildfires in California, and she looks like little puff of smoke. I do miss some pre-child aspects of life. In particular, before I had a kid I was fiercely protective of my morning brain. I really do believe I’m sharpest in the morning. I try to make a smoothie for breakfast, and I try to make it as healthy as possible but still as tasty enough that my son might drink it. There are green things but also purple things.
On her work schedule: The whole idea of having a job is completely new and exotic to me. I haven’t had a regular job in 20 years. I’ve been working from home, or I’ve been on the road. Right now, I’m only teaching once a week, and I arranged it like that because I’m on book tour. But last semester I was I was going into the office every day for the first time in my life. And it was really nice to have that rhythm and that separation.
On writing: When I’m writing a book, I set up a lot of elaborate boundaries to protect that space. My inbox is a really intense place and there are a lot of demands — most of them are incredibly worthy and lots of them are really exciting, and they’re all distracting. When I wrote The Shock Doctrine, and for the first few years I was working on This Changes Everything , I was physically isolated in a remote part of British Columbia. When I’m doing hard writing, when I’m immersed in the worst that humans are capable of doing to other humans, it’s a real balm to be able to take breaks from that and hike in old […]