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.

The Worried Writer on iTunes

[Click here for step-by-step instructions on how to rate a podcast on your device]

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.

 

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The Worried Writer Episode #31: Phoebe Morgan ‘Getting A Deal Is Often About Timing’

My guest today is Phoebe Morgan. Phoebe Morgan is both an editor at HarperCollins and an author, so she understands both sides of the publishing equation. Her debut psychological thriller, The Doll House, is coming out on the 14th September, and it’s an excellent dark and creepy read. I love the way Phoebe has created a sense of foreboding in the book so I definitely recommend you check it out.

We talk about self-doubt and pre-publication nerves, but Phoebe also give insights as to what grabs her as commissioning editor when she is reading submissions and, conversely, the common mistakes she sees authors making.

Even if you aren’t looking to submit to an agent or publisher, I do think her advice is spot-on as you will always need to grab your reader.

For more on Phoebe head to phoebemorganauthor.com or find her on Twitter.

You can pre-order The Doll House for just 99p here.

In the introduction:

I give a small writing update and talk about my great excitement at being a guest on The Creative Penn podcast.

Here is the link to the episode on Joanna’s (wonderful!) website. It’s also available on YouTube and through your preferred podcast app.

Being invited on the show which started my podcast-obsession (and inspired me to start The Worried Writer) was a big moment for me and I talk about some lessons learned from the experience.

I also mention the time I interviewed Joanna on The Worried Writer. Head here for that episode.

  • Stop Worrying; Start Writing audiobook. I said last month that I would try to get it recorded during August, but I didn’t manage to fit it in – sorry! I am hoping to book the studio time during September and get it finished.
  • Thank you for all your replies re. possible funding for the show. Most folk have voted for Patreon and I’m considering ideas for ‘subscriber-only’ perks such as a private Facebook group for writerly support. Let me know what you think!

 

In the interview:

On working in publishing as an editor as well as being an author:

‘There isn’t a switch off button because everything I’m doing is in the same field. At the same time I do really love what I do.’

 

‘It can be quite tricky, sometimes. It’s a lot of characters in my head!’

 

‘It’s hard to have a full-time job and have the energy to do the thing on the side. I think it comes down to trying to enjoy it… You also need to be kind to yourself.

 

On writing process:

‘I do best during the day on a Saturday and Sunday.’

 

‘It’s about finding the time which works best for you.’

 

‘When I’m not actually physically writing, I’m always thinking about it… Stuff takes time to form.’

 

‘I’ve spent ages wishing I could be a planner and I’ve tried to be a planner… But it just doesn’t work. It kind of blocks something in my brain.’

 

On creative block:

‘I get quite paralysed by thinking about the industry… Because of my job I know how many submissions we get and how many get published and it’s not many.’

 

‘There will be times when I’m writing and I’ll think ‘this is never going to sell’ and that’s quite paralysing.’

 

On working as an editor for Harper Collins:

‘Everyone in publishing is so nice.’

 

‘Getting a deal is often about timing.’

 

‘We have a lot to get through so the opening of a book is really important…’

 

‘I find a lot of writers think they need to start a chapter quite softly and they’ll talk about the weather or do a recap on the previous chapter… Cut that out and go straight to the action.’

 

‘I always say to my authors that what I’m saying is a suggestion rather than an order. At the end of the day, an author is the one in charge of their book.’

 

On getting a book deal:

‘The key is to carry on.’

 

Recommended by Phoebe:

On Writing by Stephen King

Writing A Bestseller by Jacq Burns

How To Become A Writer (short story)by Lorrie Moore – New York Times 

Literary Rejections Blog 

 

 

 

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.

The Worried Writer on iTunes

[Click here for step-by-step instructions on how to rate a podcast on your device]

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.

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My 2017 Writing Goals

 

2017-goals

It might not make interesting reading (sorry!) but I found it so useful to set out my goals last year and the added terror of putting them in public was truly motivational, so I’m doing it again! Also, I love reading about other people’s plans and goals and find it inspiring and useful; it feels only fair that I join in…

LAST YEAR

Under ‘writing’ last year, I set the following goals:

This year I want to finish the supernatural book and get it ready for submission.

Finish my WIP (working title: Beneath The Water).

Write the first draft of a completely new novel.

In other words, by December 2016, I want two completed novels and one brand new first draft.

The supernatural book is finished and being read by my agent and BTW is finished/rewritten and under consideration by my editor at Lake Union. I didn’t, however, manage another new draft.

THIS YEAR

writing goalsWriting

Even though I didn’t manage three new books last year, I’m going to set it as my goal for 2017.

I am going to learn from my mistakes and work on managing my time. Mainly, I need to remember that I can’t work on more than one (fiction) project at any time, so I need to speed up on my rewrites/editing. First-draft writing always stops when I’m rewriting something else and I need to accept that this will happen and schedule my work more effectively. I spent a lot of time doing rewrites/final edits in 2016!

So, my goal is to write two new novels and to finish/edit/publish my non-fiction project – the Worried Writer book.

Publishing

I will edit (as required) BTW and my supernatural book and get them out into the world, one way or another… I’m hoping for favourable publishing contracts (and would love to work with Lake Union again as the experience has been AMAZING) but that it not in my direct control, sadly!

Get The Secrets of Ghosts made into an audiobook.

As above, publish the Worried Writer book and, possibly, record the audio version, too.

Learning

I really enjoyed the productivity course I did last year and the (many!) webinars, podcasts, blog posts and books I consumed (on both writing business and craft). I will continue that this year, although I am also going to be more careful about getting overwhelmed.

I attended a webinar last week with my heroine/mentor, Joanna Penn, and she offered a great tip for avoiding information overwhelm; take note of the things you come across in a digital file somewhere (with the links and so on) and then, once a quarter, go through the file and consider what you want to act upon. This way, you can measure the tools and tips against your goals/overall strategy and decide whether they are a priority, and you stop yourself from jumping from one ‘shiny new thing’ to another and never really following through on anything. Genius!

Creativity

This is another ‘roll-over’ goal from last year. I am going to continue to make time for reading and research and walking (which is good for both creativity and health) but also book in some ‘artist days’ into my diary. While staying focused and working hard, I need to make sure I’m also taking time to fill up the well, get away from the screen and live!

 

Community

I have been truly blessed in 2016 with the support and friendship of so many lovely people in the writing community. As I said in my recent podcast, the conversations and messages that I’ve had through The Worried Writer have been wonderful and I am truly grateful.

I had so many plans for The Worried Writer site last year which fell off the bottom of my to-do list, so I am putting them back on for 2017.

I would like to make this site more useful to you guys, and to build my audience/get more interaction with the podcast. I’m still cogitating exactly how this will look, but I will let you know as soon as I know!

I will also attend at least one ‘real life’ bookish event this year, as I loved the blogger/writer meet-up I attended in 2016.

One of my goals last year was to send regular newsletters and run giveaways, both of which I did (yay!).

I have been bowled over by the support from my lovely mailing list subscribers (thank you!) and I want to both improve my newsletters/perks for them and increase the size of my list.

I’m also intending to get to grips with Facebook. Twitter has always been my social media hang-out of choice, but I know that Facebook is beloved by many and, from a marketing perspective, I need to make more of an effort.

Okay – that’s it!

Your turn! What would you like to achieve in 2017? 

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The Worried Writer #21: Deadlines and Mild Concussion

ww_sarahpainter_headerimagetlos_audiobookcover_smallJust a short episode this month and there is no author interview – apologies!

I am buried under a deadline and some life stuff and, as alluded to in the title, I also managed to faint and bang my head a couple of weeks ago which knocked out a week of productivity/messed up my schedule.

In this episode I give an update on my writing and talk a little bit about how to cope when life (or, in this case, slight concussion) gets in the way.

I also chat about the process of making my debut novel The Language of Spells into an audiobook with ACX.

If you’re curious to see (and hear!) the result, the book is available from Audible, Amazon UK, Amazon US, or iTunes.

Plus, if you don’t already have an Audible subscription, you can sign up for a FREE one month trial and get The Language of Spells completely free!

I thank the wonderful Joanna Penn for alerting me to ACX in the first place – listen to my interview with Joanna here.

I also recommend a podcast which I am currently enjoying: The Self-Publishing Formula by bestselling thriller author (and FB advertising guru) Mark Dawson and novice author James Blatch.

I will be back next month with a full-length episode… Happy writing, everyone!

If you’ve got a question you’d like answered, please email me or find me on Twitter.

I’ll answer it on the show and credit you (unless, of course, you ask to remain anonymous).

Please spread the word and, if you can spare the time, leave a rating for the show on iTunes. I truly appreciate your support.

Thank you for listening!

 

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Episode #08 The Worried Writer: Joanna Penn ‘I measure my life by what I create’

ww_ep08_jpenn_image


This episode features Joanna Penn, a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author writing heart-pounding thrillers under the name J.F. Penn, as well as non-fiction books for authors.

Joanna is a superstar in the world of indie-publishing and I was so delighted to get to speak to her.

Even if you’re traditionally published (or aiming for it) and have no intention of self-publishing, I believe you’ll get lots out of this interview as Joanna has excellent advice on productivity, creativity, and conquering self-doubt. She’s an absolute inspiration (and part of the reason I started The Worried Writer) and I love her can-do attitude, positivity and work ethic.


Joanna’s most recent non-fiction book How To Make A Living With Your Writing is currently free in ebook form. Quick! Head to Amazon, Kobo or iBooks to get it before the promotion ends!

Once you’ve listened to the podcast(!), do check out Joanna’s site www.thecreativepenn.com as it is stuffed with valuable information and free resources.

Also, for more on Joanna’s excellent thrillers (the ARKANE adventure series and the London Psychic trilogy) head to JFPenn.com.

You can even pick up one of her thrillers, Day of the Vikings for free.

 

Recommended:

The Artist’s Way: A Course in Discovering and Recovering Your Creative Self

The Pursuit of Perfection: And How It Harms Writers: 3 (WMG Writer’s Guide)
Authorearnings .com

Things app for capturing ideas/thoughts

Joanna has so many good things to say about success and getting the work done.

‘I’d rather have Dan Brown’s success than win the Booker Prize!’

 

‘Putting constraints on things actually helps you achieve faster’

And this one, which hit me right in the gut:

‘I now measure my life by what I create’

I reveal the (new!) title of my next book – In The Light of What We See. Available for pre-order now!

Also, I answer a listener question from J Long @NovelWanderer on Twitter:

I hope to learn how to get 1 of my 3.75 novels into proper condition for submission to an agent

Thanks so much for the question and for your kind words about the podcast, J Long!

If you have a writing (or publishing) question that you’d like me to tackle in a future episode, please get in touch via email or Twitter.

I’ll answer it on the show and credit you (unless, of course, you ask to remain anonymous).

Please spread the word and, if you can spare the time, leave a rating for the show on iTunes. I truly appreciate your support.

Thank you for listening!

 

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