The Worried Writer Episode #36: Joanna Penn ‘The Healthy Writer’

The Healthy Writer by Joanna PennMap Of Shadows by J.F.PennJoanna Penn is an award-nominated New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, writing thrillers, supernatural crime and fantasy under the name J.F. Penn.

I consider Joanna my unofficial mentor and I’m personally very grateful for the information and encouragement she puts out into the world. If you aren’t aware of Joanna’s wonderful website and podcast The Creative Penn or her non fiction books such as Business For Authors, do check them out.

Joanna has been on the show before but today we are talking about her new book, The Healthy Writer. It’s an important topic for everyone, whether you are writing full time or not, as writing is a sedentary (sometimes stressful!) job and there are plenty of ways it can mess up our physical and mental wellbeing.

I highly recommend the book. It’s full of sane, non-judgemental advice which is tailored for the particular health issues writers face such as back pain, RSI, eye strain and loneliness.

The Healthy Writer is available in print and ebook with audio coming soon!

Joanna’s site and podcast for writers: thecreativepenn.com

J.F.Penn author site: jfpenn.com

Joanna’s previous appearance on The Worried Writer – Episode #08 ‘I Measure My Life By What I Create’.

Twitter: @thecreativepenn Facebook: The Creative Penn

Writing update:

In the introduction, I talk about my new novel Beneath The Water, which lands in shops next week. Here’s a little bit about it and a pre-order link!

Beneath The Water is set in both Arisaig on the west coast of Scotland in the present day and amidst the medical community of Edinburgh in 1847. Stella Jackson is broken-hearted after her fiance leaves, and she runs away to Scotland to stay with her best friend, but she ends up working for the mysterious Jamie Munro. It’s a Gothic love story set in a stunning part of the world with a historical strand which explores the background to some of the medical breakthroughs we take for granted today such as obstetric anaesthesia.

If that sounds like your cup of tea or you just want to support my writing career(!) please do check it out. It’s published on Thursday 8th February in ebook, paperback and audiobook.

In other book news, the audio version of Stop Worrying; Start Writing is up for sale. It’s available on audible (free with a one-month free trial or one credit) or through Amazon. I narrated it myself so if you can’t get enough of my voice and think hearing my tips on self-doubt and procrastination might work for you, it’s available for your listening pleasure! Audible link : Amazon link

Also, I am keen to get some reviews on the audio book, so if you would be willing to leave an honest review after listening, do email me as I have a limited number of free review copies available.

In writing news, I’m waiting to hear whether my latest rewrite of my supernatural thriller is ready for submission to publishers and getting ready to dive back into my current shiny new project. It’s been on hold for the last week or so while I’ve been doing publicity stuff for BTW, but I’m determined to make February a high word-count month.

Also, a quick word on the audio quality of the this episode – my side of the interview doesn’t sound quite as clear as usual, I’m afraid.

Of all the people to have a tech failure with, my heroine for both creativity and professionalism would not have been my first choice. I was utterly mortified when an update to my recording software meant things weren’t working properly when I jumped onto Skype to chat to Joanna Penn. However, I tell you this as I like to share the warts and all experience with you and also to demonstrate that even when things go wrong, it’s not the end of the world. In this instance, Joanna couldn’t have been nicer about it and she even offered to record the interview on my behalf so that we could still go ahead.

As is so often the way with putting yourself out there, people are usually super-supportive and nice and forgiving. On which note, I hope you forgive the difference in audio!

In the interview:

Joanna on writing:

‘As writers, we need to lean into that muse.’

 

‘Being a writer can just be a cranking wheel of content creation instead of the dream job we want it to be.’

On the importance of focusing on health:

‘In 2016 I realised that I had to change my physical health… I had reached the point where I was in enough pain to change.’

 

‘I just considered my body as vehicle for my brain.’

 

‘I discover that the best brain hack possible is good nutrition, good sleep, exercise – these things will make you more productive, more creative, more happy and those are the best hacks we can do for our brain. I really had to learn the connection between my mind and body.’

 

On loneliness as a writer:

‘Social media is great but when we moved to Bath I started friend-dating.’

 

‘I started my podcast in 2009 so that I could talk to people.’

On co-writing with Dr Euan Lawson:

‘I’m a control freak so I had final say!’

 

‘If you want to co-write, one of the parties has to be the alpha.’

 

‘Co-writing is a trend because it’s so much easier now… You can work with something like Bundle Rabbit which will deal with the payments.’

On dictation:

‘Destroyer of Worlds was dictated and that is award-nominated so I can certainly say that dictating a first draft does not affect the quality of your final product which I think a lot of people worry about.’

 

‘It’s a bit like health – you will not get fit in one day and you won’t become a master dictator in one day.’

 

‘Don’t replicate what you would have done with typing… Just start by doing a bullet point kind of outline.’

 

‘You are dictating first draft writing, do not try and dictate anything that is final draft.’

Also, I pledge to try dictation and Joanna challenges me to report back! Tune in next month and I will let you know how I get on.

Recommended Resources:

Fool Proof Dictation by Christopher Downing

Dictate Your Book by Monica Leonelle

The Writer’s Guide To Training Your Dragon by Scott Baker

Healthy Writer Tips on The Creative Penn

 

Thanks for listening!

If you can spare a few minutes to leave the show a review on iTunes that would be really helpful. Ratings raise the visibility of the podcast in iTunes and makes it more likely to be discovered by new listeners and included in the charts.

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Also, if you have a question or a suggestion for the show – or just want to get in touch – I would love to hear from you! Email me or find me on Twitter or Facebook.

 

2 thoughts on “The Worried Writer Episode #36: Joanna Penn ‘The Healthy Writer’

  1. I have to say i’m really enjoying these podcasts. I could listen to your voice all day (not I hasten to add in any creepy way 🙂 ) As with Joanna’s podcast I’ve found that I can listen to you whilst I’m writing fiction. I’m not sure how much goes in but it acts as a soothing back ground track to the creative experience.

    When I’m writing non fiction I can’t listen to non fiction because i start writing down your wisdom instead of the stuff coming out of my head, so “write your first book without breaking the bank” (I need a shorter title) Is being written to a Springsteen soundtrack instead

    1. Thanks for saying that! Like most people, I hate the sound of my own voice, so I’m glad it’s not as bad as I think! Fabulous that you’re writing non-fiction as well as fiction – good luck with them both. And, for what it’s worth, I quite like that title… Long titles aren’t necessarily bad in non-fiction, and you also want to think about the kinds of things people will search for and include those keywords (which is why I have a long sub-title on mine). Hope that helps and thanks again!

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