5 Lessons Julie & Julia (2009) teach writers through the art of cooking

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Screenwriter/Director: Nora Ephron

“Julie & Julia,” is a delicious story about self-discovery and creative discipline. Two women get cornered out of their denial and self-sabotaging ways to finally master themselves and the art of cooking. They both journal their resistance to learn lessons most creative people struggle with for years. They have much to teach.

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I. We don’t live our own story so we can’t authentically write anyone else’s.

Julie, an aspiring writer, is in a creative rut as she reports daily to an unfulfilling job absent of any inspiration. However, after a birthday meltdown, Julie finally surrenders to her love of cooking. She soon experiences an upsurge in her writing productivity. A coincidence? Of course, not! After many shameful years of writers block, Julie’s creative spirit finally reaches liberation.

Julie’s hard lesson: Write what you’re passionate about (albeit filet mignon or vampires.)

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II. We get into ruts with our stories and then drop em’ like hot cakes

Julie’s writing career went into a coma after she failed at getting an (unfinished) novel picked up. She abandoned the craft and adventure of writing and thus, it abandoned her.

Julie’s hard lesson: A writer becomes a writer when you finish something. That’s the deal; finish it and you have credibility.

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III. We don’t always spot the raw beauty of our experiences

Julie had no idea her self-inflicted 365-day cooking challenge would give her much to write about. But it did. And even became a book.

Julie’s hard lesson: Writers are vessels; creating experiences from scratch doesn’t come naturally. Writers are guilty of overlooking their own experiences as the best resource for inspiration and fuel for their stories. But a compelling writer is the writer who has learned how to effectively pull from their own experiences.

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IV. We hate deadlines…

Julia abandoned her novel when publishers showed no interest in it. Equipped with a full cup of self-doubt, she never finished the book (or any other creative aspiration) in her 20s. It became another failed writing project. And, of course, no one even knew.

Julie’s hard lesson: Writers always need a deadline. And accountability partners, too. Without it, our work becomes something we never finish. “Secret writing” hurts our productivity and minimizes our efforts to become real writing professionals.

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V. We tend to experience childhood amnesia and forget that good things take time

On her first day of cooking class, Julia Childs couldn’t cut an onion. She moved as slow as a snail just to make a few dices. The class mocked her and embarrassed, she became flushed with red. Later that same day, Julia went out and bought what was questionably over three dozen onions. With tearful eyes and a smelly kitchen, she chopped up every onion until she arrived at mastery. She didn’t let a failed first try forever limit her potential to master the art of onion chopping.

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Julia Childs’ hard lesson: Stay committed, even when you arrive at new and difficult challenges. The results come. Until your chopping in your sleep, chop up every onion you see! Have the dedication.

*Bonus* Julia’s wisdom: Be authentic and try anyways, even if you’ve never cracked an egg before! Honor your creative desires and the joy shall follow! Bon appetite!

Have you ever felt guilty for giving up or experienced defeat in your writing endeavors? What’s been your hard lesson? Comment below!

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