10 Life Lessons from Writers & Chefs (and a Giveaway)

Paper and Salt 2nd Birthday

“I made no resolutions for the New Year. The habit of making plans, of criticizing, sanctioning and molding my life, is too much of a daily event for me.” —Anaïs Nin

I never was much for resolutions; the self-analysis and self-critique we go through every day seemed like enough to keep me busy for a lifetime. Two years ago, though, I made my first serious attempt at a larger, grander goal: starting this blog. It’s been a joy to write and research ever since, and has introduced me to people around the world who love reading and eating too (often at the same time; maybe even while reading this post).

Needless to say, I’ve become a fan of resolutions, and who better to borrow from than famous writers and chefs themselves? So here are 10 pearls of wisdom from my literary and culinary idols that I’m trying to adopt in 2014. See if you can guess who originally wrote them—the answers are below.

  1. Get up every morning no later than eight. (Can break this rule once a week.)
  2. Plan ahead. Plan carefully and shop in advance for what you need. Planning saves money, as well as time and steps.
  3. When people talk listen completely. Don’t be thinking what you’re going to say. Most people never listen. Nor do they observe.
  4. Try never get drunk outside yr own house [sic]
  5. Don’t worry about losing. If it is right, it happens—The main thing is not to hurry. Nothing good gets away.
  6. Never take a mean advantage of anyone in any transaction, and never be hard upon people who are in your power.
  7. Try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless, and above all have fun!
  8. Discard the Program when you feel like it—but go back to it next day. Concentrate. Narrow down. Exclude.
  9. Beware of looking for goals: look for a way of life. Decide how you want to live and then see what you can do to make a living WITHIN that way of life.
  10. If time, so fleeting, must like humans die, let it be filled with good food and good talk, and then embalmed in the perfumes of conviviality.

Did you guess who said it?: 1) Susan Sontag, 2) James Beard, 3) Ernest Hemingway, 4) Jack Kerouac, 5) John Steinbeck, 6) Charles Dickens, 7) Julia Child, 8) Henry Miller, 9) Hunter S. Thompson, 10) M.F.K. Fisher


To jump-start that conviviality, I’m celebrating Paper & Salt’s birthday with our annual giveaway: Cuisinart Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven (5 quart, in white). 

Trust me, you will want it. For one thing, it’s the perfect vessel for this (which, given the cold, would be a good dinner right about now, no?).

There are ways to enter the giveaway (and yes, you can enter twice):

1) Comment on this post
2) Sign up for the Paper & Salt newsletter (everyone already on the list will be automatically entered to win!)

Giveaway closes on Monday, January 20. The winner will be announced in the next post and in the January newsletter. Apologies to those abroad, but only U.S. residents are eligible to win.

Good luck! Stay tuned for our regularly scheduled programming next week; or, in the immortal words of Mark Twain, “Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual.”


77 thoughts on “10 Life Lessons from Writers & Chefs (and a Giveaway)

  1. What Hemingway said in #3 holds true still today, maybe even moreso. I never make resolutions, but I appreciate that one the best of all ten, and I aspire to it daily anyway.
    This was a nice post. Thanks for offering the giveaway.

  2. Lisa-Marie

    First og all, thank you for a wonderful blog! I love reading it and all the recipes!
    I would love to win the pot! The Julia Child quote was really good!

  3. Cindy G.

    Even as one who tries to avoid resolutions, I can appreciate many of those listed above. This year, my goal is to eat healthier (bundled in with that is to eat less take-out… but try to make healthier choices when I do) and to use more of what I have. This means more menu planning & more crafting from the stash (and trying to squeeze in a little creativity every single day).

  4. Your blog is my absolute favorite! Every time I see a new post in my blog reader, I impatiently wait until I have a moment to read it as it should be read – with a hot cup of tea and a delicious snack. Here’s to another great year!

  5. Amber L

    I have followed your blog since the beginning. As a high school English teacher who loves to cook I find it fascinating. Happy birthday!

  6. Claudia

    I think I am signed up for the newsletter…at least I hope it “took”.
    I would love to win cooking help!
    I like the A Nin quote because I feel like I am criticizing and reaching for a remake of myself every day…now reaching improvement, now that is a different story!

  7. I love this blog. Where so
    Many others sometime seem like so much fluff, this one always leaves me hungry for more! Thank you. Also-Dutch ovens are the best and that one is so beautiful!

  8. Ellen Apple

    If there need be resolutions, these would be good resolutions. I really enjoy your blog, I get each new post to my email account, and I read them posthaste.

  9. Anne

    I’ve really been enjoying your newsletters so far! My only resolution this year was to keep moving, be it my body or my goals. It’s always fun to read one of your posts and find out that an author I love was also a clever cook.

  10. I find your blog super interesting to read, and inspiring for my own writing aspirations. There’s only a little part of me that wishes I thought of the concept 😉 Keep up the great work!

  11. Ellen M.

    Must keep John Steinbeck’s quotation in mind. Thanks for a lovely gift to us – I’d love to fill that Dutch oven with soup right now!

  12. tat2gurlzrock

    Hahahahaa I like #4!!That is an amazing dutch oven.I subscibe,liked pinned and tweeted @tatzgrrly Thanks for the chance!

  13. William Cleek

    When Julia Child says to “be fearless,” she meant it. I adhere to this advice daily, even over my wife telling me it can’t be done and then exclaiming how good the dish is when it is presented to her (like this morning). Thank you.

  14. Kristen

    I think I might try that getting up no later than 8 advice – you miss so much when you’re asleep! And thanks for the awesome blog and the chance to win a wonderful prize!

  15. Melody Sage

    I love the Julia Child quote. A resolution without the requisite resolve. Lovely.

    I have been reading and enjoying your blog for a long while, although I seldom comment on anything online, because I am that much of an introvert,

  16. @SensiblySara

    I want a dutch oven so badly! (I told my husband that last week – and he asked if he could gift me one for my birthday in a few weeks.)

    Thanks for the chance!

  17. Hannah M.

    I’m already fine with #1 🙂 I particularly appreciate Hemingway’s advice, and Fisher’s. The whole list strikes me as having good things to strive for in the New Year

  18. Number nine definitely chimes with me. Finding a way to incorporate my twin passions for philosophy and for horses has been the greatest inspiration and finally in 2014, I’m taking the first steps on the journey of the rest of my life. Thank you for your wonderfully delicious blog, and best wishes for the coming year.

  19. Zoe

    I’m trying to adopt “bring your own lunch” as a new year’s resolution. It has me cooking more than ever – from this blog! and others.

    Fingers crossed for that beautiful Le Creuset!

  20. I knew the Julia Child one. I LOVE the Hunter S Thompson one. I definitely needed to read that right about now 🙂 I just moved back from Paris after a few months there and after graduating college, and my main aim for the year is to figure out how to be the writer I want to be and have a grown-up life as well. It’s a tough task, but I think I’ll manage somehow. Especially with all these inspiring people/recipes on this blog! So glad I found this 🙂 Thanks for all the work you put into it!

  21. Cindy Aiton

    “Try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless, and above all have fun!”

    I love that! Thank you so much for offering such a wonderful giveaway. *fingers crossed*

  22. Hey great website! Does running a blog like this take a lot
    of work? I’ve absolutely no understanding of
    programming however I was hoping to start my own blog in the near future.
    Anyway, should you have any ideas or techniques for new blog owners please share.
    I know this is off topic nevertheless I simply
    had to ask. Thanks!

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