How Emily Giffin Went From Lawyer to 10x New York Times Best Selling Author
Ep. 108
| with
Emily Giffin

Follow Along:

    This week’s incredible guest is Emily Giffin. She is a former lawyer and 10-TIME New York Times bestselling author. It wasn’t until after law school when she had moved to Manhattan to work in a big law firm to pay back her loans, that she began writing in her spare time and dreamed of becoming a writer.
    In 2001, she decided to quit and move to London to pursue her dreams full-time. It was there that she started writing her first breakout hit, Something Borrowed, which was turned into a movie that starred Kate Hudson and Jennifer Goodwin and John Krasinski. And the rest, as they say, is history!
    While I’m so excited to talk to her all about her journey and her incredibly inspiring career as an author, I think her story is such a great example of the power of taking a risk. So often we’re paralyzed by what we could lose that we fail to even consider the immense opportunities that we could gain if we just tried. Emily and I talk about how timing and luck has a part in all of our stories. But if she had never taken the chance, if she had never decided to take a risk that most people wouldn’t take, she would’ve given up a career so many only dream of. And what a shame that would have been!
    In this episode, we dive in to talk about her journey, her new book called The Lies That Bind (it is so good!), and so much more!

Show Transcript
Hey, there I'm Goli Kalkhoran, and this is lessons from a quitter where we believe that it's never too late to start over, no matter how much time or money you've spent getting to where you are. If ultimately you are not happy and it's time to get out, if you're feeling stuck and you feel like there's gotta be more, there's gotta be a way to feel fulfilled and excited about what you do. Then this is the podcast for you. Each week, I will sit down with an inspiring guest who quit their professional career in order to forge their own path and create a life that they love.

Hi friends welcome to another episode of lessons from a quitter. I am so excited that you are here. I hope you guys are great. I just kicked off my 12-week group coaching program, stuck to strategy, and I am so excited to jump in with this cohort.

These people are so inspiring already in what they are doing and all of the things that they've done, and I'm so excited to help them get on a path that is more aligned with what they want to be doing. We did a five-day challenge that led to this, and that was just such a transformative experience, both for the challengers. And for me, it was the first time I did that and I loved doing it. I will likely do it again. If you did not join and you are interested in maybe getting more clarity on finding your path. I do a coaching call that is free once a month, just on zoom, you can jump on and we can talk about whatever it is that you're struggling with. You can sign up at quitter

Okay? Now that, that is out of the way. I am so excited about today's episode with them.

Amazing Emily Giffin I'm sure you'd have heard of her, but if you haven't, you're going to want to run out and buy her books. She is an eight, 10 time New York times bestselling author. That is unbelievable. Her incredibly successful career as an author is something to aspire to. But what I am so excited to talk to her about is her journey of getting there and like many people who have come on the show, she started out as a lawyer. She went to college at Wake Forest University and then went on to the University of Virginia school of law. And it wasn't until after law school when she had moved to Manhattan to work in a big law firm to pay back her loans that she began writing in her spare time and dreamed of becoming a writer. And in 2001, she decided to quit and move to London to pursue her dreams full time.
And it was there that she started writing her first breakout, hit something borrowed, which is a story of a young woman who upon turning 30, finally learned to take a risk and her heart a message that is very close to this podcast message. And her gamble paid off. She landed an agent and signed a book deal, and it went on to become a huge sensation. And it was actually even turned into a movie that starred Kate Hudson and Jennifer Goodwin and John Krasinski, like how incredible, but what I'm so excited to have her here for and to talk about besides the fact that she has a new book called the lies that bind that is so good. And you should pick up is just this idea of taking a risk. We talk a lot about the luck involved in all these other things falling into place, but if you don't put yourself out there, it'll never happen.
And I think so often we all focus so much on what we might lose. If we leave, we worry about the sunk cost. We worry about, well, I spent this much on my education and I spent this many years and what'll happen if it all goes to waste and all of that stuff. And we don't look at the opportunities that we are giving up by staying stuck. And we don't look at the possibility. And obviously I think when Emily started, she couldn't have envisioned that she would have, you know, 10 New York times bestselling books and this incredibly successful career, but had she not taken that risk, then none of this would've come to pass and what a shame that would have been. So I will stop rambling so that we can jump in and talk about all of the amazing things that Emily has accomplished. So without further ado here is Emily given. Emily, thank you so much for joining me today.
Emily: Yay. Oh, thank you for having me. What a pleasure.
Goli: It's all mine. I am so excited to talk about this incredible career that you have, but we typically kind of start back from the beginning. And I know that you are a very accomplished author at this point, but what a lot of people may not know about you is that you used to be a lawyer and you went to school. So can you tell us a little bit about what led you to law school and before you left, did you have a desire to be a writer?
Emily: For sure. Yeah. Yeah. Well, I want to go back really far in time and tell you that in the first grade was when I sort of made the proclamation too. It was one of those classroom things where everyone had to say what they wanted to be when they grew up. I said, write books. My mother, I remember my mother said, Oh, the word for that as author. And so I'm like, okay, I want to be an author. And so really consistently throughout my life, I wanted to write, I was a big reader. We moved around a lot. My father worked for Sears and we moved schools every two years until we ended up in Chicago, two books for very much, my friends' characters were my friends. And because there's always going to a new school and meeting people and it's one of the first things we would always do when we moved my mother, who's a retired librarian.
We would get like our library card and my sister and I would, you know, these to the library were like such a big part of my childhood. So it's more like, what, you know, why did I, why did I go to law school then? What did I leave the law it's right. But I think that that is such a common theme with attorneys and lawyers. And I think it's because if you knew what you wanted to do, you probably would have gone to medical school. But I think a lot of people who make the decision to take the LSAT and go to law school sort of fall into this general camp. I mean, yes, some of them have this burning passion to be an attorney, but I think a lot of us would fall into the camp of a liberal arts education. We did well in school, you know, we want to achieve, but we're not quite sure exactly how to do that.
And you know, what we want to achieve, or I wanted to be a writer, but I didn't really know how to go about, like, I couldn't just sit down and start writing a novel upon graduating from college. So I took the LSAT, went to law school and never have regretted that decision to go to law school. It kind of brought me to the ultimate decision that I wasn't doing what I loved. And so I think during that time law school, I loved, I loved school in general, but when I started to practice, I'm like, Oh, this is, this is bad. This is not what I want to be doing.
Goli: I think a lot of lawyers can relate to that. But I'm wondering when you were deciding, cause I agree with you that most people that go to law school or even different types of graduate schools, you kind of are coming out of college and you don't really know what to do with that degree. And so you kind of keep going, it feels safe to say exactly. But I think that for a lot of people it's because they maybe don't have a passion or they don't have something in school where they thought, but for you, it clearly seems that writing was something that you wanted to do or you want it to be an author. Did you ever consider like, you know, maybe I can try to make this work and then I dunno, the fear takes over or you talk yourself out or was it like, you didn't even think that that was an option?
Emily: No, I think that, well, that's a really good question because I think that for a while I considered sports journalism. I was really into it, I was the manager of the college basketball team and I love college basketball and I kind of thought about going down that road. And so I think that if I had done reporting, like that's very logical, like what you want to go do, you know, you get a job and its an entry-level job as a reporter, but to write fiction, it seems like you really need the life experience. I mean, you can sit down and start writing, but that's not going to pay the bills kind of thing. And to your question about fearing it. Yes. I mean, I think probably, you know, going after something that you really want is scarier than going after something that you think is like the smart thing to do in society accepts it as sort of, Oh, that's a great thing to do to go to law school.
So I think there was a safety and while I'll pursue this, I know I can be competent about it. I know I can like go to school hard and sort of control the outcome and get a job and, you know, go from there. And, you know, I got into it, you know, good law school. And so it was just, it all felt so much safer than going after something. And I think part of it was to your, to your point, I wasn't sure about those steps. I mean, I guess I could have gotten it gone to study, you know, at graduate level and creative writing and so forth, but I don't know, it just sort of felt like a law school's safe.
Goli: Right. And so speaking of that safety though, when you then graduate and you have loans and you get a job at a big law firm that pays you a good, great salary. And like that is the epitome of safety. And so many people find themselves in that. And you know, it's like the proverbial golden handcuffs and you're kind of now doing what society tells you to do. So at what point in that process, did you start even thinking like I'm going to walk away from the thing that I now have a degree in, and that is safe and go after this risky thing that I'm assuming even at that point, you didn't maybe quite know exactly how to go about being an author?
Emily: The first day, the very first day when we were learning the phone system sitting there at my desk, I'm like, what have I done? I mean, maybe not the first day, but very quickly as I started to do the work. And I think that was part of the problem when you do well in law school, you sort of look and the better you do, academically, the more you're at risk of falling into these traps of climbing the next wrong to what you think success looks like. So, because I did well in college, I did well, it took me to law school. And then once I did well in law school that opened up the door, particularly the economy at the time and the mid-nineties like it opened up the door for, I could get a job at a large New York city, corporate law firm.
And so why would you take this other job when you could, you know, you have these law school loans and you could take the one, you know, the big law firm job and make twice the amount and pay off your loans faster, but you're still making all these decisions - you're sort of still following that same mold of like, if a hundred people surveyed, what would they say? The smart thing to do now is so very quickly I knew that I didn't like what I was doing, but you know, at that point, as you said, it's the golden handcuffs, particularly when you have loans, it's like, well, I've got to pay these back before I do something else. Even if it's just to be a different kind of lawyer, do you know, different kinds of work, I still have to pay these loans back. So I would say in very short order, I developed a payback my loan plan and an exit strategy, maybe like a year in. Maybe I gave it a year.
I can't remember, but I think that's being generous. If I, if it was a year, it was probably more like six months. And then I said, okay, I need to get out of here. This isn't the right fit for me. And there were things that I loved about the experience. I don't know that I could see it as clearly at the time. I think with hindsight, you only see parts of your life more clarity, but I don't know that I would have lived in New York City without the safety of a job like that. And so, and the, you know, the friendships, like no matter where you are in life, you're going to meet people who are so important to you. And some of my best friends are from that era. And ultimately I think I was able to write my first novel because of some of those experiences and you know, that my protagonist characters shared that my profession and dislike of it.
And so, you know, a lot of really good things came from that. But yeah, my plan was to pay back loans. And in the meantime, right? So I started writing a novel, probably my second year practicing. I started to write a novel, like, you know, weekends and nights. And this is probably some times when I was supposed to be billing general electric or Phillip Morris or, but I would write, and it took me about four years to finish. And I got an agent which was so exciting. Cause people, you know, you always hear that getting an agent is half the battle or even more than that. So I'm like, Oh wow, I gotta have an agent. And then she submitted it. And I got all of the rejection letters that came in. Then it was a question of, do I want to take another five years to write a book because that's kind of how long it takes when you're working these long weeks. And I just decided that I didn't want to waste that much time. I wanted to go for it. I wanted to try to write another one faster. So that's when I quit.
Goli: I love that. I mean, I did the same thing when I got into big law and I was like, okay, I'm going to stay here and pay off my loan so that I have some freedom. So I'm not kind of buried under this crushing debt, but I think what a lot of people do is maybe do that kind of a plan and then think, okay, what's maybe I can jump to another type of job. That's not as demanding or, you know, and you kind of go from the next safe thing. And I think your case, the story is so interesting because so many people that may try something on the side and then if it doesn't work, you know, that doubles down their fear, like, okay, I tried submitting this and I got rejected. Maybe I'm not cut out for this. Maybe this isn't for me, this is too risky. All the thoughts come in. And I feel that we typically end up, even if we had a glimmer of hope of going after our dream, we kind of put that to the side because we tried and it didn't work. And so I love the fact that you got rejected and instead of saying, okay, I should just stick with the safe thing you realize, I'm going to quit and just go all-in on this.
Emily: Yeah. I mean, I guess looking back that was quite kind of a gamble or a risk. And I remember when I left my law firm, which happened to be like shortly before 9/11, there are so many parallels to the moment we're in now I think with COVID and 9/11. But I remember when I was leaving my law firm, the elevator door, I was waiting for the elevator doors to open. And one of the partners who I worked for who wasn't one of my favorites at the firm said to me, Oh yeah. And he knew, I mean, I'm sure he knew. Cause I had given notice and I had discussed it. He goes, Oh yeah. You're you're going to write a book aren't you or something. And I said, yeah, you know, I'm going to try. And he said, yeah, everyone's got a book to, everyone wants to write a book.
And I said, yeah, I know, I know where you're going with this Bob. I said, yeah, kind of waiting for the door jam and the button, like, come on over there. And he said, well, good luck with that. And he did the two, you know, the gun finger, double holster, good luck with that. And I'm like, Oh God. Okay. You know, that was very kind of motivating to me. Those sorts of, I have to try again, like I don't want this story to end with, Oh, I had a lifelong dream of being a writer and this love of books and stories. And I'm going to write one young adult novel, you know, while I'm practicing law and get rejected and then that's just going to be it. But I also have said, and I believe that there's a gift almost to being in a place that's miserable.
I think complacency is a scarier trap than misery. You know? If you think about it in terms of relationships and love, like it's the one that relationship that's not working at all and you're miserable and he's cheating on you and or you want to be with someone else or there's even darker themes of course, where you just like, you want, you get out of that relationship. But the ones that are like, Oh, this is comfortable. This is good enough. They tend to be the ones that you might stay in because the idea of being alone is so terrifying. And I think the same is true with our work. A lot of people stay in jobs that are just okay, because it's just easy. So in a way, I think it was more, I don't deserve as much credit as the people who leave comfortable situations rather than, Oh, I cannot stand this job another minute kind of thing.
Goli: Well, I think you deserve all the credit. And I love that. We all, I feel we always do this. We always minimize. I like, Oh, mine wasn't as brave. And I agree with you a hundred percent. I think that while it's hard to see like obviously nobody wants to be miserable when you are miserable, it pushes you to act. Or when you kind of go to this kind of not rock bottom, but I'm just saying, when you go on you're in your place when you're unhappy, you're absolutely right where, you know, there are so many people that are just kind of living in this place that they've just accepted this a lot in life and they might not be happy, but Hey, like better the devil, you know, than the devil you don't. So you stick with it and you just stay.
And so I definitely think it can be a motivating factor when you truly are unhappy, but I still love the idea that, you know, a lot of people can be miserable and then look for the next safe thing. Right? We see this in law all the time. There's no wonder that a lot of people leave these big law firms because it's really just a very hostile work environment. And so people leave and they go in-house or they go work for the government or they go to a smaller firm, even though they don't like LA, but it's okay, that's the next safe thing. And so I'm wondering when you left, I mean, this partner said something that is frustrating, but like, I'm assuming like did people that were close to you that loved you? Your parents or family were they concerned? Because so many times we have, well, meaning people that we really do value their opinion and they're doing it out of honestly love and caring and they want you to be safe, but a lot of time that also affects people and staying cause people question like you're gonna leave this secure job. Maybe you, can you just go get another one? That's not as good.
Emily: Yeah. I think you're right about that. I was 29. And I think that that also worked to my advantage. I think, you know, when you're older and you have more responsibilities like I wasn't married, I didn't have children. I think it's even harder to do that because you're looking out for other people, but for me, you know, was just me. And so that was sort of easier. And also I've viewed it at the time, maybe naively, but as like, okay, I can go back to school. I remember saying to my father, he's definitely like more, you know, he was much more nervous about me leaving this job than say my mother who was retired librarian, a great love of books. Like, Oh, this is the dream. You've, you can do it. My dad was like, this just makes me really nervous. You know, what, if we come into a recession and I remember saying to him, like, you know, I have this degree, I have this experience.
I have these pretty good references. I wasn't the best associate, but I had some good references. You know, I can go back to this, you can reverse directions. And so for me, it was a one-year thing. I know I can write another novel in a year. I worked at odd jobs along the way too. And I had some money saved up and it was doable. But I remember saying to my dad, it's just like one year and a year from now, maybe I'll be back right in the same place, you know, same from, maybe I'll be at a different firm, you know, maybe I'll go back to Chicago where I was from, which would've, would've made my parents happy, you know, if that was what I wanted. So yeah, again, I appreciate what you're saying in general that we do tend to minimize.
I think, especially as a woman, we minimize what we do, what we're doing. Right. And we often focus on what we're doing wrong. And so I have tried to embrace the fact that it was pretty great, you know, it was, and 29 at first seems so young to me now, but at the time, you know, it was more of like, Oh, I'm about to be 30. What am I doing? Which is just comical at this point 48. Like not how I see things. So, yeah. And one of the things I've said to my kids, my, I have three children who are all teenagers now, but that rejection was a gift and a lot of ways that first manuscript rejection because it made me so much more appreciative when I finished something borrowed and submitted it and got a new agent and got the offer. You appreciate it more.
And it also gave me the perspective that I believe in so wholeheartedly that it's luck is a huge component of so much of our, and so much of our, you know, professional success and really personal satisfaction too. But professional success it's like, it was so much luck involved down to the timing of the kind of book that I was writing. And then what was happening sort of in the publishing industry, because, you know, devil wears Prada and Bridget Jones diary, they were kind of huge books and say they were looking for this chicklet genre. And even though my book was sort of about relate, like the darker side of relationships and sort of melancholic at best, you know, the protagonist is having an affair with her best friend's fiance. And it's sort of about a troubled friendship and the book was supposed to be called rolling the dice.
But when I finished and you know, it found its home with st. Martin's press and my editor said, Oh, let's just do a more chicklet title. And so I'm like, really, like, I don't, you know, that I trusted her because she's the marketing person. So I'm like, okay, let's have about something borrowed. And she was like, Oh, that's good. I like that. And then it gets you a Porsche. Got it, got the light pink cover and the ring on it. And I guess my point is if I had written a different kind of book that couldn't have been marketed that way, it might not have ever been published because of the luck part. But this is what I always tell my kids. The hard work creates the lucky breaks. If I hadn't worked hard again and taking that chance, then there would have been that doesn't matter, like luck can't come quickly.
Goli: And I'm not in any way doubting that certain things fall into place and doors open. But like you just said, I mean, it's not going to come knock on your door. Like you have to take the step out. And I think that it's incredible that the timing all worked out the way that it did for you, but had you not taken the risk of quitting your job and taking a year and writing this book, then none of this would've ever happened. And I think so many of us, because it is unknown and there is luck and maybe it doesn't work out the way that we wanted. And maybe it doesn't work out the first time or second, or whenever it's like, we stay stuck in that place where we know we're not happy or we know is not for us. And I think it's incredible that you had just the courage to go after it.
And so, so you take a year and you write something about it. And I think that yes, like the timing of it is amazing, but honestly, your career has been incredible. I think every one of your books is a New York Times bestselling book to come out book after book, after book and have this type of success is not, I assume is not very common. I mean, I don't know much about authors and writing that I know a little bit, and I feel like this is a very incredible career. So is a testament to not just luck, but your skill as a writer.
Emily: That's kind, I mean, but again, I'm not trying to minimize it. I'm just trying to offer a perspective that it was dependent upon that first book doing well and getting that first book published and things fell into place from there. Now I had to continue to work hard and, and write a book that, you know, I couldn't be complacent and had to, you know, definitely lots of struggles along the way, mean the way you described it sounds a lot more than perfect and story about what the kind of the journey has been. And the, just that there's, you know, of course you have professional disappointments along the way. And those are inevitable is particularly when you're, you know, barely ambitious. But yeah, I mean, definitely I've been lucky and I've continued to work hard. I'm very grateful that I'm doing what I love. But even that, like how often do we, we're in the relationship we want or we're in the profession we want, like we have all of our wishlist and dreams coming true.
And you still tend to focus on what you haven't accomplished or what you haven't done. I don't know. I'm fascinated by the human condition. I saw this documentary on it's called happiness or something. It has a smiley face on the cover. Have you seen that one? I haven't, I've heard of it, but I haven't watched it. I think that's the title just happiness, but it says that people return to their base. Like you have this baseline and you return to your baseline much faster after something wonderful happens than when something bad happens. So it's like you win the super bowl NFL player and you win the super bowl and you've worked towards this. You think that you're going to just be fork. And instead you kind of return to that baseline faster than if you had something devastating happen in your career ended and takes longer to get back to that. So, but I think in a way that's important, you don't rest on your know you keep pushing forward. Yeah.
Goli: Well, I actually love that you bring that up and I would love to kind of go down that road with you for a minute, because what I love about the human brain, there's the thing I think it's called, like the heat ionic treadmill, which means that we constantly go back to kind of our baseline. And it's interesting that you go back faster from a place of happiness than you do from a place of sadness. But it's still an amazing thing because it allows us when there is sadness or when there is failure, you know, not living that to kind of get back to where we are, but I think it's really important and I would love your take on it because so often we've created this idea that once we get there, it'll be so much better than it is here. Like once I get this job or this career or whatever, then all of my worries will be gone.
And obviously I think intellectually, we understand that that's not true and you have stress and fear and all this stuff all the time. And yet, we are constantly striving. And I think for me in that journey is really learning, you know, as cheesy as it sounds to like, you know, it's the journey, not the destination and kind of enjoying the process, but I wonder what it's been like for you. And I think a lot of times people then ask me, well, then what's the point of me striving for other goals or to like go do the thing I love if it's not better there than it is here. And I think it is better in certain ways. It just, isn't going to be, you know, this like euphoria all the time, where you have no stress and nothing else. So I wonder what your experience kind of has been when you have, you know, on paper, this career that most authors would, you know, die for, that would love, like that's what they're striving for. And yet, like, I'm sure that the reality of it is what's the stresses of everyday life. And then maybe the pressure of writing the next book and the next one has to be just as good and all this other stuff. So how you kind of deal with that.
Emily: Yeah, Part of it, you know, what do they say? They say that you need a purpose and a goal to be happy, like just to have reached your final goal and be finished like that those people aren't happy unless they're working towards something. So whether it's like writing the next book or working on a new project or trying to be better at your, you know, your sport or your, you know, what or whatever it is, you're doing your art, your sport. And so I think that part of that is a good thing to net, to always, you know, to constantly sort of redefine your current goal and what you're working on and push forward to achieve something new. I think the trick though is to balance that with, and again, this probably sounds cheesy too, but with this sense of like gratitude, so you have to sort of force yourself to stop and pause and take stock of things.
And by taking stock of things, I mean, what's working and what isn't, what do we want for our lives? What really matters to us? Are we focusing on the right things? Like, are we with the right person? Are we in the right job? Are we, you know, here's one example. I published my first book in 2004, that was something borrowed. And then in 2005, my second one came out in 2006. My third one came out in 2007. My fourth one came out. And in that same time period, my twin sons were born new year's Eve 2003. So they were six months when I went on my first tour. And then three years later I had my daughter. So now she was just born with my mom. My fourth book came out and of course, I have three and a half-year-olds at the same time.
So it was so frenetic and so much. And, you know, I would go on tour over the summer. And so the summer is sort of this idyllic childhood time. I mean, even though they were babies, it's like you picture sort of having these moments, at least being in town, right. At least like putting little sun hats on them and sun lotioning, you know, putting the sunscreen on and like going to the pool or all of those sorts of moments. Like they just weren't happening. It was just too crazy. And so that was a time when I sort of paused and said, this isn't working for me. And I changed at that point to publish every other year. And so since then, it's been eight, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, 20, like, so it's, I went from every once a year, which is what most commercial authors do to every other year.
And I still kind of work full time because I think I'm fairly slow as a writer for a commercial writer, but now it's like a 40 hour a week job and not like the 70 hour week because that was just like being a lawyer in terms of, in a lot of ways, like the same sort of pressure. And like, you just, I would wake up in a panic about my deadline and pay, be paralyzed with fear. So you have to sort of be able to pause and ask yourself these questions and couple that with, okay, what do I love about my life and what is working and what am I grateful for?
Goli: Absolutely. I love that it's a constant reevaluation and it doesn't mean like, even if you're doing what you love again, I think our culture sort of perpetuates this hustle of constantly going. And a lot of times, even when it is something you love, it's about kind of taking a step back and asking like, to what, and kind of where we are now. Don't you think?
Emily: Yeah, one hundred percent, I think right now a lot of people are forced in slowing down. And that could be a very big blessing to really get curious about noticing your reaction to that. Because so many people have such a hard time slowing down that, like, this is an interesting experiment to see like, why am I so resistant to not go, go, go and just stopping.
But then there are some people who were like, well, I really like working at all. You know, this is, I'm spending more time with my children or so forth. So it's just a time where you are evaluating those things. It's the crazy thing is the book that I just wrote that lies the bind is about the aftermath of nine 11. And then it, it, the book, cause, you know, I finished, I turned it in, I give it to my editor and it's published and now we're in this like COVID types. So there are so many parallels. I've always been just so interested in that, which is why I chose to set the book in that, legalize it by and in that like aftermath because I do think it's so interesting that like philosophical side of these historic moments and tragedies, and of course all the protests that are happening right now and the power of all these events to cause us to sort of pause and reflect and consider what we want.
Goli: Absolutely. Yeah. And what a perfect time for that to come out. And it just recently came out. So everybody, I will put the links to all of your books in the show notes, but everybody should go out. I mean, it's already a New York Times bestseller. So definitely go out and get that. But do you find yourself? Cause I know a lot of people in creative fields, I don't know if you want to call it writer's blog or have a pro you know, it seems that when you're on a schedule and it's like, I'm going to publish every year, every other year. Do you find yourself like maybe not coming up with the story or not having anything?
Emily: Right. Yes. For sure. I mean all of that, all of that and more I do call it writer's block. Cause it just seems like the easier way, the easiest way to describe it. Although sometimes it's more like sit down at your computer, blah. Right. You know, like you can't exactly start writing a book if you're like cleaning out a closet or watching Netflix or otherwise dodging the kind of the fear of sitting down and starting something new. So because I just did publish the lies that bind and I would be on a book tour, but I'm not now, but it's why I love having this conversation. It's sort of some semblance of a book tour. I'm talking to you and talking to other people along the way, even if it's from zoom, it's the fear of starting. It's always that fear that you go back from the very beginning of deciding to put the law firm job and start again.
I mean, when you're starting something new, you always sort of, there's a part of you. That's like, will I be able to do this again? My goal is sort of to always write a book that someone considers their new favorite. You know, it's like people are always going to like, you know, some people are going to enjoy one book better than another book, but like, I feel like I won't be doing my job and won't be, if there's not someone out there, I was like, this is my new favorite. And the idea of letting readers down because I have such a relationship with my readers. They matter to me so much and I kind of write for them now, which is different than when you write before you're published, you decided I just never want to let them down. So all of that can lead to, to answer your question can lead to that paralysis of, I can't do it again. Just, I can't do it again, but of course, you can.
Goli: Yeah. And he'd love that you bring that up again, like going back to this thing of, you know, it's just a different set of problems. And I think so often we think like, Oh, this is the hardest part. This is just the worst, you know, getting that first book is the hardest, but then it's just a new set of problems, you know? And it's a matter of being able to manage your own mind around that stuff. Being able to manage that fear and understanding like the, you know, whether it's imposter syndrome or whatever like it's. Yeah. And, and it doesn't just go away. It just sort of morphs into something different. Right. And now it's like, Oh, well now there's the pressure that you're a New York times bestselling author. The next one has to be good. It just becomes a different restaurant. I think once you can learn how to manage it, then you can manage it in different settings as opposed to thinking, like once I get to there, then I won't have it.
Emily: Right. Right. I think you're absolutely right. And I think again, it's that constantly checking yourself and saying, okay, well what is great about where I am right now? I mean, you know, I have 10 books out. So even though it's harder each time, like I have 10 stories in the world, you know, with different people relating to all 10 of those books in different ways. And so it's like, you really have to, and it's hard sometimes when you're in the moment you're stuck and you're disappointed or you're upset or something's not going well in your personal life. It's really hard to reset and focus on those things. But I think it's so important, no matter how old we are or what we're doing or whether we're at a job we love or a job we don't love, or I think it's just a really important exercise. And people said that forever. I remember Oprah Winfrey was doing the gratitude things you're grateful for and I kind of didn't get it. It was sort of like, yeah, yeah, yeah. Like, of course, you're grateful for some things, but once I really started to actively do that, write that down, just think about that. Like it does make a huge, huge difference.
Goli: I agree. And my gratitude practice definitely changed my life. It's just a matter of like what you're focusing on because every day a million things go, right. But we tend to just focus on the things that go wrong. And so when you start shifting that focus, then you start seeing it more often, you start seeing like you're training your brain to look at all of the positive. And I mean, who doesn't want to just feel better. So when you're looking at positive things, you tend to feel happier and I couldn't agree more. I think it's the most simple, like practice five minutes and it changes your whole life
Emily: For sure. Do you write it down or do you just think of it? I started writing it down.
Goli: I had originally for like a year, I did it every night before I went to bed and then it's become more automatic. Like what I focus on. And then now we've started doing it with my son. Who's six at dinner. So we'll just say like three things that we were grateful for a happy about that happened that day. And so I'm trying to get him into the same thing because he tends to like, to complain and look at the negative. And he's just in general, like not, I mean, most six-year-olds, I think like the whining, but he just, I think is constantly looking at what's not fair. And like, that didn't happen.
He's just, I think we're wired that way too. This might be a more anxious child, you know, that's funny. Cause we've been doing that at dinner time, coronavirus, the same thing and you know, my daughter's saying, well, we weren't ever really, it was always like someone needs to walk the dog, someone needs to go walk the dog like, Oh, everyone's too busy. And now we're like going on these long walks with the dogs with two or three people in the family, we'll go like, who wants to go, Oh, I'll go. I'll go. It just seems so insignificant. But when she said that, I'm like, Oh yeah, that that'll be incorporated into her childhood memories. And hopefully she'll think of like all the walks we went on with the dogs rather than like the time when she couldn't see her friends.
Emily: Yeah. I think right now, especially in times when it's difficult, I think often, like it doesn't mean that you're not acknowledging that it's hard or that there are moments and like having negative emotions is normal and that's fine to be sad or anxious or depressed or whatever about anything. But I think especially in difficult times, it's so vital to look at, you know, whether you want to call it the silver linings or just things that you're still grateful for things that so many of us, you know, now we think like, wow, I never really appreciated being able to just go have lunch with my friend or, you know, go out for a cup of coffee. And that makes you appreciate that so much more. And there's something really beautiful in that
Goli: For sure. Yeah. I think you're so right. I know actually a lot of people in my audience who I've spoken to have aspirations of being writers. And so do you have advice for somebody that wants to take a chance or try this? Like how do you know, is it the way that you did it? Where it's you write the book out and you try to find an agent or like, what is the process? Is there any guidance that you can give to young writers who want to give this a shot?
Emily: One thing I think with writing so many writers and I did the same thing, say like, you know, I'm an aspiring writer like I'm, and I think if you're writing, you're a writer. And so you sort of have to think of it in terms of like you're already a writer and you're not going to let agents - like the agent and a publisher who just like two people it's subjective individual tastes. And you know, you could write the most fabulous book and the editor that the agent submitted it to could have just bought a book very similar to that. Right. And so then you're going to get a rejection letter because she doesn't want to buy a second book like it, you know, and it's often not given to someone else in the publishing house. And so there's all these sorts of factors outside of your control that would make you call yourself like aspiring.
And instead, if you think of yourself as a writer, now you're doing what you love, you're writing. So I think that's an important kind of mindset adjustment. I don't know how much, I mean, I'm sure it applies to all professions, but you know, I've often thought about it in terms of how many people will say to me in a book signing, like, you know, I want to be a writer and I'm like, well, you know, if you're writing now you're a writer. So I think that's important. And then it's the same thing just to believe in yourself and be able to visualize what it looks like to reach your goal and to realize that if you don't reach your goal right away, I'm like, nobody really does. I mean, it's just kind of unheard of to just have it be easy. But if you don't like you have to also remind yourself about what we talked about earlier about the luck component, the chips didn't fall into place for you.
So you have to kind of keep going after it and really try to remember to, if you're writing it's because you love writing and continue to like make it a joyful practice and exercise because you're much more likely to be excited about returning to that computer screen or page in your notebook if you enjoy what you're doing. So if you view it too much as this goal that you're trying to reach, then instead of the joy of what you're doing, I think that can also stymie us and sort of change our outlook towards it and make it just less fun. I think professional athletes talk about that a lot about how they lost their love of the game. And they had to sort of get that back before they could reach their goal.
Goli: Yeah. I love that. I mean, you're speaking my language, I think on this podcast. I mean, as you can see in this conversation too, like the vast majority of what we focus on is mindset stuff. Because I think so often we think it's like the tactics, like I have to figure out like how to get an agent or I have to figure out and the reality of what stops you is all of these beliefs of I'm not good enough or like I'm an aspiring writer. I'm not actually a writer yet, or this is too hard. I didn't get there. So I should just stop.
Emily: And it's, if you can refocus the thoughts on, you know, if this is what I love and I'm going to be committed to doing this well, then I'm going to find a way to do it. And then we'll see what happens and I will figure it out. And I think understanding that frustration in anything is part of the process, but also telling yourself why wouldn't it be you? I mean, it's going to be someone like, why, why isn't it going to be you? And I think there's a mental block around, there's something about a book, like people who love books and read books, it's like, and you look at this book and it's like finished and it's like found and you know, it's type set and it's got this cover and author photo. And it just seems like so impossible to believe that your story could be that, but there's such a thin line between it being on your computer. And it being matte on the, you know, shipping from an independent bookstore or from Amazon or on, you know, right there in Barnes and Noble and you pick it up. And so I think that's important too. Like it's sometimes using the analogy of a marathon.
You think of your friends who have run marathons. And it's so interesting because there's always some really sporty ones in there that are, you know, run marathons all the time. And they're amazing. But often times, probably two-thirds of your friends who have completed a marathon are not who you would necessarily expect to finish it. They're not the most athletic of your friends, but they decided that they were going to do it. And they made a training program and they approached it like one week at a time. And you know, there's, I mean, I've never run a marathon, but you know, you have week one, all right, I'm going to do this. You're not thinking about running 26. Is it 26.2? Yes. 26 point. Yeah. You're not thinking about like you can't, if you're viewing it that way, it's like when, who would start it doing it that way, it's like 26.2 miles is like looking at the finished book and being like, Oh, this is never going to happen. Instead of just writing one chapter at a time, you know, one page at a time and approaching it that way. So I don't know if that's no, that's very helpful concrete advice, but...
Goli: Of course, yeah, absolutely. It's one step at a time. I love that. And I mean, look where it could get you. I mean, I love talking to the reason I do this podcast is honestly to show that like you had every reason, just like everybody else to be scared and stay at that job and understand that law was the safe path and it would have been a good paycheck and it would have been, you know, you could have made a, I'm not saying you could've made a happy life, but think of every experience and everything that you've been able to experience and go through, it was literally on the back of just taking that chance and knowing that you could, you know, figure it out as you go along. And it's an incredible thing to see. So thank you so much for sharing it with us.
Emily: Of course. And thank you for having me. It's incredible that your podcast is so wonderful for that reason, because I think people just need to hear these stories and be reminded of them and just ask yourself, like, why wouldn't it be? Why shouldn't it be you? It can be you. And I think what you're doing is like, it's just really inspirational.
Goli: Thank you so much. That's so kind of you to say, well thank you Emily, where can people come follow along? Like, where's the best place for them to find you?
Emily: I like Instagram the best it's at Emily Giffin author. That's kind of my favorite, cause I liked photography so much and it feels like a little bit of a happier spot to land. Then some Twitter can be pretty mean spirited and harsh. Totally. So I spend less time on Twitter for that reason. Eric, I got a lot of news from Twitter, but I don't do as much posting there. So yeah. Come see me. Tell me your stories. And I post a lot about like my children and my dogs and stuff like that too, because you know, being a writer is important as it is to me and sharing my stories with you with my readers is it's just one part, right. You know, it's one part of my life. That's something else. I try to remind myself, like it keeps things in perspective.
Like I love what I do, but I am not defined by where a book ends up on the New York times bestseller list or by the sales reports. Like we are kind of the sum of our relationships. And so no one can take that away. If your book doesn't get published or a book doesn't do well or people, you know, give you a bad review, you know, I'm still Edward George and Harriet's mother and right. My husband's wife and so forth. But so yeah, I like to share a lot of my life and I'd like to always try to keep it real too. There's like some messy things like when the kitchen floods I'll put that on it.
Goli: I think that's a great reminder though, too, especially in, you know, the moment right now that we're in and seeing on social media. And so many people are like worried about posting something because of their brand. It's so nice to see where it's like, we are full humans with, you know, interests in a myriad of things and it's not like all you do is write and that's it. And so to see, you know, your activism and involvement in your local community and the things that are important to you, I think it's very important. Not only to get to know you better but as an example, that like, you're not just a team.
Emily: Well, the, I try to do that. So I limit, thank you. Thank you for that.
Goli: I'll put that in the show notes as well as your website where you know, you guys can find all of her Thank you
Emily: Thank you so much, so much, so much fun talking to you. This was wonderful. I appreciate it.

Goli: I loved talking to Emily. These are my three takeaways. One. Yes, there is luck, but you can't ever get lucky. If you don't put yourself out there to gratitude is everything. There will always be a new set of problems. Being able to find the joy in that journey is the key to happiness in your life. And three, don't try to run the whole marathon on day one. You have to take it one step at a time, one mile at a time, and you will be surprised by how much you can accomplish. I hope you guys liked this episode. If you did reach out and let Emily know, and I will see you next week for another one. Thank you so much for listening. I can't tell you how much it means to me. If you liked the podcast, please rate and review us on iTunes. It'll help other people find the show. If you want to connect or reach out, follow along on Instagram and Facebook at lessons from a quitter and on Twitter at Twitter podcast, I would love to hear from you guys and I'll see you on the next episode.