Bernie Anderson
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Current musings, whatever they may be. 

Inspiring People 2018: The Creative Journey With Joanna Penn

Strengthsfinder 2.0 is one of the most helpful self-assessment tools I’ve used in recent years. My profile reveals my superpower to be strategic thinking and planning. It also reveals I can struggle with execution.

Lot’s of people have the notion to write a book. Polls say 80% of Americans aspire to be an author. The journey ends with aspiration for most.

I’m a planner and a strategizer. I wasn’t going to be one of those who just thought about writing a book. I’m going to plan this sucker out, put together a word count spread sheet and a writing calendar. My scrivener template is meticulously arranged and I’ve mindmapped a strategic marketing plan.

But planning and strategy are only as good as the execution.

And while, I’ve not yet finished my first draft of the first book, I am well on my way. I’m executing.

And I have Joanna Penn to thank for this.

Car travel means podcast time for me.  Even a quick trip to the store gives me a few minutes to listen to the play list. There’s an order to my playlist - and number one is always “The Creative Penn Podcast” by Joanna Penn.

This podcast is not for everyone. This show is targeted to people who want to write and publish in some way, shape, or form. But I think it’s helpful for anyone who wants to serve with creative work of any sort.

Any given week, if I listen no other podcasts, I prioritize Joanna’s happy British accent every week. No matter where I am in the world. (This year I’ve listened to the Creative Penn in Thailand, Cambodia, Myanmar, and Vietnam - as well as all over the Southeastern US.)

Beyond the podcast, Joanna has  a series of books for writers, one of which was released this year on writing non-fiction. This is was a helpful tool in getting my own work-in-progress off the ground.

But the inspiration Joanna gives goes way beyond her excellent and prolific work. Her personal story of creating a life for herself based on the things she loves is one anyone in a creative space should listen to.

Here are the primary lessons I’ve gleaned from Joanna in 2018 (the truth is, these are the main things Joanna talks about over and over again, until they’re hard-wired into her listener’s brains and she’s raised up an army of cyborg writers who get this stuff).

“Being a writer is not just about typing. It’s also about surviving the rollercoaster of the creative journey.”

― Joanna Penn, The Successful Author Mindset: A Handbook for Surviving the Writer's Journey

1.  Becoming a successful author is not a sprint. Nor is it even a marathon. It’s a long journey that requires a backpack, a tent, and a camp stove.

There are lot’s of paid ads on social media and television right now targeting people who have aspirations to write. This makes sense if 80% of Americans have this aspiration. The problem with most of the companies behind these ads is they are from the long line of “get rich quick” infomercials that over promise and under deliver on everything. Joanna talks about this industry with a level-headed optimism. Under promising and over delivering the potential. Those who listen to her well will be both grounded and encouraged.

2.  You don’t begin the journey until you begin the journey.

The best time to start becoming an independent author was about 15-20 years ago.  The second best time is right now. Execution is everything at this stage. This means writing every day until the draft is finished. Edit. Edit again. Then edit again. Publish. Start over again. There are no shortcuts or life hacks here. Joanna talks about this a lot, channeling her inner Steven Pressfield - Go pro. Do the work. Do it now.

3.  When you think you’re at the end, you’re only at the beginning.

You crest what you believe to be the final peak, and realize there’s an entire mountain range on the other side. For some, this is disheartening. For others (like Joanna Penn and her audience), the adventure continues. Being a writer is nuanced, like any other business. It’s production. It’s hiring the right vendors. It’s marketing and sales. It’s serving your customers with more production.

The perspective Joanna Penn brings to anyone who wants to design a life around their creative work is invaluable. The podcast is free, her books are not expensive, and her Patreon benefits cost “less than a cup of coffee per month.”

The value she brings to the global creative community is priceless.

Joanna serves writers, but she also writes fantastic thrillers under the name JF Penn. I’m a fan of her new Mapwalker series, of which the second book is due sometime in 2019.