Create out loud

with Jennifer Louden

32 | Infusing Our Life Experience (The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly) Into Our Work w/ Ruth Ozeki

Show Notes

This week’s episode is a mind and heart-opening interview with one of my all-time favorite novelists, Ruth Ozeki. We discuss how her body of work expands my sense of what’s possible. Her latest novel, The Book of Form and Emptiness, left me a teary wreck (in all the best ways) as I finished it just hours before this conversation, and you won’t want to miss what she shares about her fresh creative approach to writing it.

Also a filmmaker, Zen Buddhist priest, and creative writing professor, Ruth’s work has received international acclaim and multiple awards over the years, beginning with her filmmaking career and debut novel, My Year of Meats (1998).

0:45 – Why Ruth’s latest novel, The Book of Form and Emptiness, left me a a teary wreck

1:20 – What books do to us

1:55 – The powerful way she takes on big questions in her work

3:10 – Why we need more questions, not answers

4:00 – How embracing not knowing opens creative doors

6:27 – The importance of knowing there’s no right way to do creative work

7:05 – Approaching your creative practice with curiosity

7:20 – Building self trust amidst the fantasies of who we think we should be

8:40 – Why creative practice matters

10:25 – How practicing Buddhism informs her work

13:10 – How “the book” informs the book as a co-creative process with readers

15:40 – The scariness of living in a time when our stories are falling apart

16:00 – Broadcast versus fragmented media messaging

17:00 – How stories are constantly changing and evolving our beliefs and who we are

18:05 – We are constantly making ourselves up

19:10 – How she works differently over a variety of creative mediums

19:55 – Knocking herself out of creative ruts

22:00 – The fresh creative process she used in writing The Book of Form and Emptiness and how objects in her life wound up in the book

24:57 – The story of writing her first novel, why she didn’t feel entitled to the genre, and how she started working in film and television

31:00 – How her work in film helped her write and fund her first novel

32:02 – Bringing suffering and insights from past jobs to your creative work

33:50 – When you’re a creative, nothing is wasted and everything is a gift

34:27 – Her approach to process journaling

37:15 – Why it’s important to never sit down to your creative work without questions

39:00 – How she stays motivated while writing

39:45 – Examples of questions she puts in her process journal

Get a copy of Ruth Ozeki’s books here:

The Book of Form and Emptiness

My Year of Meats (1998)

Visit to get instant access to a collection of audios that will

  • help you with some of the most common struggles we creatives have to manage including fear of choosing,
  • falling into compare and despair, managing the inner critic (s),
  • and feeling too exposed and vulnerable when you put yourself or your work into the world.

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