How to Stop Procrastinating (& a Free Brené Brown Art Print!)

Brene Brown quote on writing

One of the toughest things for writers (and really anyone working on anything) is learning how to outsmart procrastination. Our minds are so resistant to being used, and they’re just as wily at coming up with ways to distract us. A quick look at Twitter? Well, sure! Just a peek at Facebook to make sure I didn’t miss out on something super important? Definitely necessary. Another break to search blogs for inspiration? Why not?

We all know the end result of this: we put off the project, and the longer we put it off, the harder and more intimidating it seems. Whether we’re writing a blog post, a book chapter, or a business plan,  it will probably require using more than 5% of our brain. But social media and other passive activities requires so much less energy from our brains–biologically, we’re hardwired to prefer these “easy” activities, like watching TV, because they use less of our energy than “difficult” activities, like writing and brainstorming.

But isn’t there a secret way to trick our brains into preferring these difficult activities?

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Read, Eat, Drink — Weekend Roundup

A weekly round-up of books, news, thoughts, recipes, and miscellany for the weekend. 

Colbert Salutes Amazon: Well, interesting times call for interesting commentary, and my favorite bit of punditry to result from the Amazon/Hachette dispute is Stephen Colbert’s lovely little skit, which you can find here. (And here’s the simple, step-by-step breakdown of the dispute by the LA Times.) The Colbert clip is all over everywhere right now (because who doesn’t need some levity in the middle of a potentially industry-changing standoff?), but the exciting part about it, to me, is that it’s boosted sales of Edan Lepucki’s debut, California, through the roof. It’s nice to see two already famous and successful authors like Stephen Colbert and Sherman Alexie use their influence to help new authors, especially when either of them could have easily used the opportunity to plug one of their own books.

And I think it’s a little ray of sunshine in the storm cloud that’s hanging over the industry these days. It’s a reminder that books are still sold most effectively by people–by one person recommending a great read to another–not by impenetrable algorithms and data mining.

Oh, and it also made me laugh that Salon has already dubbed Colbert the next Oprah.

Daring Greatly:

Daring Greatly

I’m a little late to the game on this one, but I finally finished reading Brené Brown’s Daring Greatly. And I think it’s a life changing book. Books like this are the reason why I work in publishing and why I believe that books will always matter.

It’s been on the New York Times bestseller list for 42 weeks, and I think that’s because it hits a nerve in our changing culture. Brené Brown spent decades researching what holds people back from living what she calls “wholehearted” lives–that is, lives driven by authenticity, worthiness, and meaning–and she found, again and again, from thousands of research participants across all demographics, that daring to be vulnerable was the gateway to wholehearted living. It’s a beautiful book, and I couldn’t possibly do it justice in a few paragraphs, but it’s a book that at times made me cry, at times made me smile, and often made me pause to re-read and linger over sentences. Brown included a quote by Martin Buber in the book that, to me, encapsulated many of the themes of the book, as well as the evolving zeitgeist in our culture:

“When two people relate to each other authentically and humanly, God is the electricity that surges between them.” –Martin Buber 

It’s a book that really captures the essence of what makes us all tick as humans and what holds us back from living our best lives. I think that, in some ways, Daring Greatly explores the personal side of many of the business ideas in Daniel Pink’s To Sell is Human (another great read). Pink analyzes how accessibility and authenticity are beginning to have more value in our culture, while exclusivity and obfuscation are losing power in a world where everyone often has equal access to information.

But that is a whole other rabbit hole of theory that I could rant about for days. I also want to read Brené Brown’s The Gifts of Imperfection, which is supposed to be just as incredible.

Next up on the reading list is The Upside of Down by Megan McArdle, a columnist for Bloomberg View. Jarrett and I started our own book club (membership: 2) for the summer, and we’re reading one chapter a week and (ideally) discussing over Friday dinner. He got to pick this first one since I’ve spent the last few years bullying him into reading a whole slew of my recommendations (including Lean In!). It should be interesting (and hopefully inspiring) to follow along as McArdle tries to prove her thesis that failure is the most important part of success.

Morel Risotto:

Morel Risotto
Photo by Holly A. Heyser via Hank Shaw.

Oh my. This recipe is fantastic. Jarrett went morel hunting on his farm in Michigan and found us a huge bounty of these little delights. I’d go so far as to say that we’re morellionaires this year (ba-bum-ching).


The one and only place I turn to when we get something special and wild is Hank Shaw’s blog, Hunter Angler Gardener Cook. His blog won a James Beard award in 2013, and I think it’s just the best online resource out there today for wild, foraged, straight-from-the-earth cooking. His new-ish book Duck, Duck, Goose is a must if you can regularly get your hands on wild waterfowl.

Jarrett dehydrated the morels to get them from Michigan out to the East Coast, but I think it’s always worth dehydrating morels. That way you can enjoy them over several months, rather than a few days, and the morel stock that results when they’re rehydrated is just yum! We used the morel stock for the risotto, and I think it adds such a wonderful, deep flavor that you couldn’t get from just chicken or veggie stock.

Next morel recipe to try? These almost-too-beautiful-to-eat tortellini:

Morel TortelliniPhoto by Holly A. Heyser via Hank Shaw.

Tequila Mockingbird: Tequila MockingbirdI’m also late to this one, but I came home from a business trip to find that some of our friends had sent us a package with Tequila Mockingbird: Cocktails with a Literary Twist by Tim Federle. I mean, this just HAS to be the perfect gift for the literary nerd, the downtrodden aspiring writer, the overworked editor, and the harried literary agent. I want to make every single bookish cocktail, but I’ve narrowed the options down to three for a dinner we’re hosting on Saturday for an editor friend:

1. The Last of the Mojitos
2. Love in the Time of Kahlua
3. Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margarita.

So I should probably make all of them, right?

Happy reading, eating, and drinking this weekend!