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Bestselling Author Emily Giffin Talks About Staying Motivated Mentally and Physically

A good sweat session helps Giffin keep writer's block at bay. (Photo courtesy Micahel A. Schwarz)

Written by Lisa Turner, editorial intern

Emily Giffin has literally done it all. Though she started her adult life as a high-powered attorney in New York City, she made the tough decision to leave her hectic and unfulfilling job and headed to London to pursue her lifelong dream of becoming a full-time writer. As the bestselling author of five novels (you have her to thank for the Something Borrowed series) and a proud mother of three, there’s no doubt that Giffin has accomplished what she set out to do. So how does she find the time to keep her mind sharp, her body in shape and her family happy? Below she shares with us her tricks to writing, working out and balancing everything else on her plate.

Much like exercising, writing takes serious motivation. How do you stay mentally motivated to keep writing books?

Fear of deadlines usually works the best. But I also try to remind myself that I’m doing what I love—and that’s it’s wonderful that I can write for a living. I do the same with exercise. When I think of how horrible it would be to have a bad injury or otherwise unable to run, I’m suddenly in the mood to go for a quick 3-mile jog. And finally, my readers keep me motivated. It really helps when I log on Facebook and see all these girls saying how much they are looking forward to my next book. I truly appreciate that kind of encouragement.

How do you like to stay in shape? Does working out ever help you brainstorm new ideas for books you’re working on?

I aim for five workouts a week, but I usually only make four happen. I work out with a trainer once a week. Then I take a circuit class twice a week. The fourth workout is random, depending on what I’m in the mood for—either a run, a spin class or yoga.  And yes, I think exercise is critical to my writing. I think physical, mental and emotional wellness is so interconnected, and I really need that time away from the computer to recharge.

You’re a mom to three young kids. What are some of the biggest time-saving tips you’ve learned over the years to balance motherhood, fitness and work?

I think having a set routine is helpful, which is why I’ve come to rely on my trainer and classes. When the game plan is simply to get a workout in at some point during the day, I typically don’t do it at all. I try to do the same with family time, too—set aside hours that are sacred, put my phone and email away and really focus on being present. In that sense, I think it’s more about quality time than the quantity of hours you spend together.

Do you ever work out with your family?
We like to ride bikes, go for walks and play soccer. I played soccer growing up, and now I coach my daughter’s team. It’s a lot of fun to share my love of the game with her. We also spend a lot of time swimming in our backyard pool—although typically the kids are swimming, and I’m floating on a raft with a cold drink!

Check out a brief summary of Giffin's new book, Where We Belong, out July 24 in our July/August issue. Visit to see Giffin’s tour cities and dates for her book tour.