True Confessions: Bad Habits and Book Epiphanies

Thursday, July 31, 2008
Do you have something you've been putting off for a long time? Something you want to change about your life--perhaps, a bad habit--but you keep ignoring that little nagging voice inside your head? Maybe it's time to listen to that voice and take action.

Two weeks ago I quit smoking for good. I'd been smoking a pack a day for at least six years. I started smoking when I was twelve-years-old and actually quit a couple of times for a few years, but somehow I ended up picking it back up again. I know, I's horrible!

I also quit drinking, since the two go hand-in-hand for me. I don't plan on giving up drinking for good, but until I can have a social drink without wanting a cigarette as soon as the buzz sets in, I know that I can't have that lovely glass of wine. That makes Italian food worth avoiding as well. There's nothing more I love than a glass of Cab or Merlot with my pasta.

I was inspired to kick my bad habit after reading Jennette Fulda's book, Half-Assed: A Weight Loss Memoir. Her book is incredible. It's not the weight loss that inspired me; it was her journey and self-discovery. Well, okay, losing 200 pounds did inspire me in the sense that, if she could do that, I could surely quit smoking. Addictions come in many forms--from food to checking email, even--but if you don't acknowledge them, they'll never go away. You also have to want to fix them for good. Don't think of it as a temporary fix, like dieting to lose weight, think of it as a lifestyle change.

So, I changed my life because I read a book that was unrelated to my problem, but it inspired me. And that's not the only book. I've been having a lot of "book epiphanies" lately. For our August issue I interviewed Jill Butler, author of Create the Space You Deserve. Jill's book inspired me to give my messy office an overhaul. You’ll have to wait to read the story. ;)

The point is...the written word on the page continues to amaze me. I really don't think TV could have the same affect. I can't imagine changing my whole lifestyle because of something Chef Ramsay or the Bachelorette said, LOL. Maybe it's because we process the information differently. While TV bombards your senses and shows you what it wants you to know, books invite your brain to participate and make our own reasoning, constructions, and epiphanies.

One thing I do know...kicking a bad habit, such as smoking, is sure making my writing ramble! But that's okay because I know it will pass.

Now I want to know, have you ever read a book that inspired you to make a lifestyle change? What was it, and how did it help you?


Annette said...


Neat and smoke free! My two favorite things. ;-)

I think along with the email addiction, there should also be social networking on the list.

But here's my question, is it because, as writers, we are so isolated--in our own little world--that we desperately seek some way to connect? Or is it a convenient distraction and procrastination tool?

I know that if I didn't talk to you on the phone almost daily, the only other people I'd come into contact with are my hubby and son.

Maybe I should adopt some cats...

Marcia Peterson said...

First of all, I'm proud of you for trying again. Quitting can take several attempts, so just keep at it. Particularly because the no Italian food/no wine thing is making me sad! :)

So many books have helped me and changed me, and it would be hard to list them. In Twyla Tharp's book she says, "I read for growth, firmly believing that what you are today and what you will be in five years depends on two things: the people you meet and the books you read."

Ann Zawacki said...

I have been reading a book called Bird By Bird by Anne Lamott, and it has energized me! It has encouraged me to start writing again--I even created my own blog ( It has started me on a great adventure! Thanks, Anne.

Joanne said...

I can't say that I've actually made a lifestyle change due to a book. As a writer though, reading a well-written book, the kind where you have to go back and reread passages that are sublime, this inspires me to make my own words shine.

Annie said...

I know this may sound strange, but books by Jane Porter always inspire me and not only as a writer. Because she has such a keen sense of who women are and what we want, she captures our thoughts and challenges us to be more. More than a mom, a wife, a friend, to be strong and understand that we can accomplish anything. I haven't read everything she's written, but Odd Mom Out and Mrs. Perfect are terrific books, fun reads.

Qugrainne said...

Stephen King's "On Writing" was an inspirational read. He went through a lot on the road to becoming famous. If he could write anywhere in any situation, so can I!

Angela Mackintosh said...

Thanks ladies for your support and for your input! And Marcia, the thought of going without pasta and wine *is* sad! But I'm serious about giving it up for good. A friend of mine told me that it took him 6 months before he didn't crave a cigarette every day.

And Annette, I think the social networking thing is a distraction/procrastination tool if we do it all the time. There's no doubting that those things are addictive. Even though we'd like to think they don't take that much of our time... they actually do. I was addicted to the Giant Robot discussion boards so I know! From that experience I learned to tone down my social networking. It's like the PG boards. Some people write every single day, but I only read and write if I have nothing important to do--and it's my group! You'd think I'd be more active on it, LOL. Anyway, yes, writers can get addicted to social networks. Some of them are truly helpful for networking, but seriously, the most helpful thing to promote yourself is your own blog. This brings "real" readers--people who are interested in you. We all have heard the success stories and the power of the blog platform. The professionals seem to doubt the effectiveness of social networking to drive traffic/interest (Folio mag). So, as with anything, examine your behavior. Write down exactly how much time you spend a day doing that sort of thing and add up the minutes. Maybe that time could be spent taking a walk or going to lunch with a real person. ;)

Geez, I told you! I'm rambly without smokes!

Thanks Anne, Joanne, Annie, and Qu Grainne for sharing your fave inspirational books! I agree, those are in my list as well. Annie, I'll have to check out Jane Porter. If you have any recommendations, let me know. :)



Anonymous said...

I don't have any recommendations to add. I dropped by to say congratulations, Angela! Dropping the smoking alone is a huge change for the better, for you. I hope that change stays with you! Hugs from a afar, followed by a cyber high five. ;)

Jennette Fulda said...

Oh wow, I inspired someone to stop smoking. Awesome! Congrats on kicking the habit. I have a friend who is trying to quit, but she still drinks socially, and like you said it always drives her to smoke too.

Unknown said...

A great inspirational book and now a website, I will have to say is "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff" by: Kristine and Rick Carlson. So many times we all start really stressing over the little things. Which I can fully admit I am guilty of. Especially here lately, I've let everything get to me. My stress level has been so out of whack, it's not even funny.

I believe you can find the book on your library shelves as well, if you are a library buff like Me!!!

They have a thought for the day, challenges, and much more.

Happy Writing!

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