The Isolation Journals with Suleika Jaouad
The Reckoning
A Creative Heart-to-Heart with My Better Half Jon Batiste

A Creative Heart-to-Heart with My Better Half Jon Batiste

Joy and sadness as creative practice

I originally shared this with paid subscribers, but due to popular demand, I’m re-releasing this conversation so that everyone can listen.

Hi friend,

Recently, I sat down with Jon Batiste, my beloved husband—and the Oscar- and Grammy-winning artist—to make something very special for you. Crosslegged on the floor of his studio, equipped with a couple of microphones and some powerful questions from this community, we dove in. As we talked, we did what we aspire to do when journaling—we showed up as our most unedited, unvarnished selves.

Something I’ve appreciated about Jon since the very first summer we met, back at band camp when we were teenagers, is how he integrates every part of the human experience, even the ones most of us feel we need to polish or hide. Jon’s not afraid to attempt something new and fail; he’s not afraid to do things others might find strange, things that break unspoken rules or social norms. He revels in the failures, in the flops, in the awkward moments. It’s what makes him so extraordinary and brilliant—he’s so creatively free.

So here it is: a raw, unfiltered conversation about life and the creative process. You can also expect a lot of laughter, and for it to go a little off the rails at least once, as any conversation between Jon and me usually does.

I’ve learned more from Jon about the creative process than anyone else, and I’m so excited for him to share some of that wisdom with you.

Let us know what you think in the comments section!

Sending love,

Suleika + Jon


Show Notes

For a transcript of the conversation click here.

3:30 Creative practice is a form of editing.

7:08 On trying to find the wave, figuring out what your creative triggers are, and adding things to your creative tool kit.

9:40 No routines: “Creativity is mysterious. It has something to do with craft but also has something to do with life.”

11:33 Elizabeth Gilbert’s TED Talk: Your Elusive Creative Genius.

13:22 On joy as a practice.  

15:20 On integration: “We think of joy and sorrow as opposites. The creative process is where we get to marry those things and experience them alongside one another.”

18:33 New coinage alert: Frumpy dump. (Shout out to Cheryl!)

21:20 On the fine line between allowing ourselves the space to feel hard things and staying stuck in them.

23:14 On survival as an act of creativity.

Rapid Fire Round—

26:39 Are we planning music together? (Hint: Check out the audiobook of Between Two Kingdoms.)

27:25 Thoughts for a newbie on getting started.

28:00 Touchpoints that help us on the hardest days.

28:53 Your creative assignment—but first, a wild ride!

Music courtesy of Jon Batiste—

If you’re new here—hi, I’m Suleika!

I’m the author of the memoir Between Two Kingdoms, a New York Times bestseller, as well as the Emmy Award-winning column “Life, Interrupted,” which I wrote from my hospital bed when I was undergoing cancer treatment in my early 20s. I’m also a lifelong journaler, a practice that got me through my first bout with leukemia and is helping me navigate a second.

I founded the Isolation Journals in April of 2020, and it’s grown into a vibrant community of over 120,000 people from all over the world—all looking to transform life’s interruptions into creative grist. My dear friends Carmen Radley and Holly Huitt help steward this little corner of the internet, which is big-hearted and smart and just plain wonderful.

If you have questions, you can check out our FAQ—or write to us at

The Isolation Journals with Suleika Jaouad
The Reckoning
Raw, unfiltered Interviews with extraordinary humans about life and the creative process.
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