Sep 24, 2021 • 46M

Episode 282: 40 Years of Procrastination with Joy Imboden Overstreet

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Entertaining, actionable advice on craft, productivity and creativity for writers and journalists in all genres, with hosts Jessica Lahey, KJ Dell'Antonia and Sarina Bowen.

The author I’m interviewing today, Joy Imboden Overstreet, holds the distinction of having procrastinated on writing her first book longer than any previous #AmWriting guest—about 40 years. She is also the writer whose essay on her son’s unusual business venture enabled me, in my role as an editor at the NYT, to publish the paper’s first illustration of a personalized vibrator, and I will forever be grateful to her for that.

But wait, I hear you saying. Forty years? Forty? How did Joy manage to make it happen? Don’t worry—that’s exactly what we talk about in the episode. The backstory:

Back in 1975, Joy created a workshop program in the San Francisco Bay area on the her book’s topic: finding freedom from obsessing about food, weight and body size. When she sold the business to her partner to go to graduate school in public health in 1980, she fully intended to write a book based on her work, but—spoiler—things happened, and then more things happened (including a pretty thriving freelance career) until she woke up and realized her 80th birthday was only two years away and the book still only existed in her head. So she sat right down and typed it out and it was super easy. The end.

This is where I pause for Joy to laugh really hard.

So, Joy pulled it off, and in this episode she walks us through what it took to finally get her butt in the chair, and how—and with whom—she kept her head in the game.

A word about what we DON’T talk about—this isn’t a podcast about body perception or our beliefs around it, so while we necessarily touch on Joy’s personal journey, there’s nothing shaming or promoting of diet culture in the episode (or in Joy’s book). We’re focused on Joy’s accomplishment: going from “someday I will write a book” to “the end.”

Links from the pod:

Joy’s book: The Cherry Pie Paradox: The Surprising Path to Diet Freedom and Lasting Weight Loss

Author Accelerator’s book coach matching service

Joy’s essay in the New York Times: When Sex is a Family Business



The Extended Mind by Annie Murphy Paul

How Emotions Are Made: The Secret Life of the Brain by Lisa Feldman Barrett

The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel Van Der Kolk

Improve Wisdom—Don’t Prepare, Just Show Up by Patricia Ryan Madson


The Husbands by Chandler Baker

The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner

Lots of love for our sponsor, Author Accelerator, in this episode! Joy and KJ both talk about our coaching experiences and how even when we work solo, the time we spent getting that intense support really helps. If you’d like to be matched with a book coach, visit Author Accelerator—or if book coaching sounds like the right career or sidegig for you, head to to learn about Author Accelerator’s Book Coach Certification Program.