Productive Flourishing
Productive Flourishing
Esmé Wang: Keeping Momentum While Living with Disability (Episode 244)

Esmé Wang: Keeping Momentum While Living with Disability (Episode 244)

Topics We Explored:

  • New York Times bestselling author and essayist

    joined the show.

  • Growing up with immigrant parents, and how that shaped Esmé’s ideas of accomplishments and what it meant to succeed as a creative.

  • How Esmé attended an ivy league, became a scientist, then veered onto the path of writing.

  • How her illness taught her to just “be” instead of always trying to be productive.

  • We shine a light on the lessons learned from Esmé having her book rejected 41 times before being selected as a once-in-a-decade award winner.

Links and Resources Mentioned in This Episode:

About Esmé Wang:

is an American writer, speaker, and founder of The Unexpected Shape Writing Academy. She is the author of The Border of Paradise and The Collected Schizophrenias, as well as recipient of a Whiting Award and in 2017, Granta Magazine named her to its decennial list of the Best of Young American Novelists. She believes that “living with limitations is something that can exist alongside an ambitious life.”

She helps ambitious writers living with limitations to master the skills they need to become more confident, skilled memoir writers—to write work that adds to the literary canon with freedom and joy.

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Episode Timestamps

[2:51] When you’re a creator and dealing with disabilities and chronic illness, one of the things you have to accept is that your plans don’t always work out the way you want them to, because life happens.

[3:19] Esmé talks about growing up as a professional writer with immigrant parents from Taiwan who put a very high emphasis on attending an Ivy League school and productivity.

[12:02] One of the problems of living a creative life and unconventional path is that the normal markers people would use for success may not be there.

[13:05] Esmé’s first book was rejected 41 times before it was picked up by a publisher. She talks about how luck plays a role in success.

[17:53] We all have the same hours in a day as Beyonce, but definitely not the same level of support!

[21:01] Esmé discusses her own dealing with illness as a person that put high importance on output and productivity.

[25:07] How can people with chronic illness and disability reframe the way they look at productivity and time management in a way that doesn’t lead to frustration and disappointment?

[28:01] Culture and our capitalistic society are obsessed with productivity.

[35:08] Able-bodied people often don’t realize how much it takes for someone with a disability or chronic illness to do the things they view as “normal” or easy.

[38:41] How the Momentum App can help.

[42:22] How we can better communicate with the people in our lives when we need a break or are running out of energy.

[53:24] Challenge: write down EVERYTHING you do in a day. Everything. You are doing way more than you think you are.

Productive Flourishing
Productive Flourishing
Productive Flourishing (formerly the Creative Giant Show) explores how to do the work that matters to become your best self in the world. Host Charlie Gilkey and occasional co-host Angela Wheeler take listeners on a deep dive into the lives of leaders, changemakers, creatives, and entrepreneurs who are thriving in life and business by doing work that matters. Listen in to see how they cultivate meaning, success, and happiness as well as their approach to productivity, business, health, and the challenges (yes, even the deep, dark ones) that show up in their lives.