104 Transcript: How to Push Beyond Fear and Become the Creator You Were Born to Be (with Joanna Penn)

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JR: You're listening to the Vibrant Happy Women podcast, episode number 104.

Intro: Welcome to the Vibrant Happy Women podcast, stories of vibrant women living happy lives. And now, your host, Jen Riday.

JR: Well, hey, welcome back to Vibrant Happy Women. I'm Dr. Jen Riday host of the Vibrant Happy Women podcast and a mom of 6 who knows a little bit about burnouts and finding your way back into a place of alignment and feeling happy and like you're living your purpose. You know, so many moms feel like it's their job to give everything for their families and I'm here to tell you that actually, the greatest gift you can give your loved ones is your own happiness, because happiness is contagious and being your best self is inspiring. I don't know about you but I want my kids, especially my daughters, to grow up and feel like they can be happy and live their purpose and use their gifts and talents and still be good moms, if that's what they choose. So thank you so much for listening. I love all the reviews you have been leaving, we have over 250 now and every review helps. And today's review of the day is from Sparkle toes. Now, obviously, that's a codename, but I really love it; I want to be Sparkle toes. She said, “I have recently discovered Jens podcasts and loved listening to them. I listen while I walk my dog and in the car while running errands. The introverts episode, number 86, was so awesome. I now realize that my daughter is an introvert as I am. Thanks, Jen, for getting my day off to a great start.” Well, thank you Sparkle toes, I appreciate you review so much. And everyone else listening if you receive any value at all from this podcast, please leave us a review on iTunes. You can do it by going to jenriday.com/itunes or just going into the iTunes podcast app and searching for Vibrant Happy Women.

Last week I talked with Erica Mandy all about finding all the good things that happen on the other side of fear; a great episode if you want to do something but you're a little afraid and you want to be more confident. Today, we're talking about fear again. Joanna Penn is an author of so many books and she talks about how we can push beyond the fear and become the creator we were born to be. Each of us, every single one of you listening, has a gift or a talent you were born to share; a gift that, if you don't share, will be lost to the world forever, and a gift that, if you don't share, will leave you feeling a little bit empty and unhappy. Maybe that's being a great listener, maybe it's baking amazing bread, maybe it's writing a book; whatever it is, you each have something you were born to create. And when you do it, you will feel so much more vibrant from the inside out. So let's go ahead and dive in and learn how to push beyond that fear and actually do it.

My guest today is Joanna Penn, an award-nominated New York Times and USA Today best-selling author of ‘Thrillers’ under J.F.Penn. She also writes inspirational nonfiction for authors and is an award-winning creative entrepreneur and international professional speaker. Her site, thecreativepenn.com, is regularly voted one of the top 10 sites for writers and self-publishers. So I'm so excited to talk about chasing your dreams. Maybe people out there want to write a book, but even if they don't, there's certainly fears that get in the way from chasing our dreams. And I'm excited to talk about that with you today, Joanna. Welcome to the show.

JP: Oh, thanks so much for having me, Jen. I'm really thrilled to be here.

JR: Awesome! And I love British accents, so tell us where you're from?

JP: (Laughs). Sure. So I'm actually living in Bath in the southwest of the UK. So well, known for the Roman Baths, they're sort of 2000 years old, around here. Yeah, so that's where I live.

JR: So do you visit the… the spas and baths and stuff that are still there?

JP: Yes. I mean, you can visit the posh bar on top of the old stones. (Laughs)

JR: Ooh!

JP: But there's an… a thousand year-old avi here as well. So it's a very historical side of the country.

JR: Ah, that's fun; that's fun. Well, we always start off with the guest’s favorite quote. So I was thinking, “Gosh, someone who's so well-read and, you know…”

JP: (Laughs)

JR: You have your podcasts, The Creative Penn podcast, right? And so you talk about books all the time, how do you possibly pick a favorite quote?

JP: Well, it's funny. I was thinking about this and, I mean, in all my nonfiction books, I always include quotes all the time; so I literally have thousands of them. So I've decided to go with one of mine and I hope this will help other people, which is, “Measure your life by what you create.”

JR: Ooh.

JP: And I have that and I measure my life by what I create. And I have that on the wall in front of my desk here because it really helps me. I'm sure you know, you know, with running a business, doing a podcast, doing all, you know, family, you kind of get so busy and then the time just flies past. And you think, “What did I do this month?” or, “What did I do this year?” So, for me, focusing on measuring life by what I create… and, for me, it's like, “Here is a physical book that I just put into the world.”

JR: Yeah.

JP: And, you know, sort of piling those up, that makes such a difference. So… and of course you can create a body of work through a podcast, it doesn't have to be a book, you can… you know, with your children.

JR: Mm-hmm.

JP: You know, obviously that's a different form of creation. But I define ‘create’ as putting something new into the world. So instead of just consuming social media or watching Netflix, it's putting something new into the world.

JR: Yes. That's really great. And then you could start analyzing all the new things you are doing. Maybe it's just creating a friendship with someone by being a great listener. I mean, creativity can really be broader than we think. So that's a great quote.

JP: Oh yeah. And that's a really good point. I think it's more the energy, and I think of it in 2 ways; consumption and creation. And consumption is really important. So, for example, going… you know, traveling somewhere; I see you like Switzerland on your site.

JR: (Laughs). Yeah.

JP: You know, or going to a yoga class or, you know, going hiking or being out in nature, that is a way to consume the world and putting things in your brain. And then creating or producing is like, as you say, can be anything; can be podcast or some art or, you know, whatever you want, like you say, a friendship. It's that balancing consumption and production where so many people just spend their lives consuming, you know, whereas if you then put it out in different energy, that's going to help the world basically.

JR: Yeah. And, wow, this is a great way of looking at it; I've never thought of it that way. But when I was doing the stay-at-home mom for thing for a while, you get stuck in, I don't know what that energy is, but you're just helping everyone else and you don't feel very creative. And so do you find that there are people out there who, if they're not creating, it's almost like a piece of their soul is dying?

JP: (Laughs)

JR: Is there any truth to that thought? Because that's my experience. I felt so much more alive when I started to create; so much more alive. And it radiates over into my parenting and every aspect of my life. And if I hadn't allowed that creativity to wake up, I probably would be, I don't know what right now.


JP: Well, that's so funny because that's kind of my origin story, I guess, as a writer. I was sort of winding it back to 2006, you know, the global financial crisis, if people remember that. (Laughs)

JR: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.

JP: I was just really miserable in my job. I used to implement accounts payable into large corporates, which was definitely really well paid, but deathly boring and the 0 creativity. And all the writing I did was writing technical specifications, working with programmers, and yet I was, you know, supposedly living the dream in sort of the corporate world.

JR: Mm-hmm.

JP: And inside, I was dying. I had no spirituality; which I think creativity and spirituality are very related. I just didn't know what I was doing with my life. I was burnt out because I was working really hard and yet I was so miserable and empty. And at that point, I really looked at, “What can I do to change my life? I need to take responsibility for my choices.” And at that point, I started to say an affirmation, which is, “I am creative; I am an author,” and of course, you can swap the word ‘author’ out for whatever else you like. But basically, I started to say, “I am creative; I am an author,” and I could only say it in my head for about a year. Like, I couldn't even say it out loud, because if you don't feel that way, it's very hard. But after about a year, I started saying it out loud, I started writing, I started going to classes. And slowly, over the, you know, sort of a couple of years, I retrained my idea muscle to pay attention to the world and to start creating. So that would be a real tip for people. If you're listening and you don't feel like you have ideas, you don't feel creative, it is like a muscle, you have to start small. And like having kids is great because they're naturally like they understand creativity and they just do it.

JR: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.

JP: They don't go, “Oh, this is a terrible drawing,” until they're a little bit older, you know?

JR: Yeah.

JP: And we've got to get back to that, you know, that simple idea of creation.

JR: Ooh, I love that, and the identity, “I am creative; I am an author.” I'm thinking so many words you could put there, “I am healthy; I am a marathoner,” or…


JR: I mean, like wow, that's really powerful. And so you started thinking at first then you started saying it, and then how long did it feel true to you?

JP: Well, I then, by December 2008, I had a website called The Creative Penn.

JR: Oh!

JP: Which is the one I still have. So, I mean, I was able then to take that. And, I mean, I do believe, in quotation marks, in ‘the law of attraction’; in that, I believe if you have a positive energy, you will attract like-minded people and opportunities.

JR: Mm-hmm.

JP: But the important part is the action as well; you have to take action. So there was no point in me saying, you know, “I'm creative; I'm an author,” and then just saying it and not doing it. So I also started to schedule time to write. So I would get up at 5:00 AM before the day job, I would write for an hour. And even though it was a pile of crap, you know? (Laughs)

JR: Uh-huh.

JP: I would write anyway and I was learning; I was doing classes. And over… yeah, over about 2 years, I started, you know, I really began to feel like, “I could write a book!” or, “I could make a change in my life.” And I started that website in 2008 with the aim of getting out of my job, which, fast forward to 2011, I did. So it's definitely possible.

JR: Wow! So 5:00 AM, you're writing and you're like, “This is terrible.” How did you force yourself to keep writing…


JR: … when you didn't think it was that great, you know?

JP: Well, yeah. I mean, to recommend a book to people that helped me at that time, it's called ‘Bird By Bird’ by Anne Lamott. Do you know Anne Lamott?

JR: Oh yeah! Awesome book.

JP: Yeah. So that book, she talks about and this is a quote so hopefully it's okay for your audience but, “S**tty first drafts.”

JR: Uh-huh.

JP: And is basically… you cannot write perfection on the page; you just can't. So what you have to do is write some words and then go back later and go through an editing process. So that… that sort of realization that a book did not stream perfectly out of someone's head onto the page and onto the bookshelf perfectly formed, that there was an editing process, really changed my life because it's exactly the same. Like if you go to a pottery class, you know, you're not going to be like, “Oh, here's a marvelous Potter I can give my mother-in-law.” (Laughs)

JR: Uh-huh.

JP: You just… that’s not going to happen. You have to learn how to do this. So, yeah, sort of 5:00 AM, I would get up, I'd be like, “This is terrible, but if I keep doing this, the practice, I will get better.” And, you know, again I see you do yoga, I do yoga; it's a practice. Writing is also a practice; you have to keep doing it and eventually, you know, you'll be able to do your downward dog or you'll be able to sit cross-legged or you'll be able to write a chapter. (Laughs)

JR: Yeah, a muscle, okay. So do you still write an hour a day?

JP: Well, I'm full-time now so…

JR: Oh, so you can go even more; ooh.

JP: Yes. We tend to do you 2 and a half, 3 hours of first draft writing, but as you know, it takes a lot more to run a business. So in the afternoon, I’ll do marketing stuff, interviews, you know, accounting. (Laughs)

JR: Yes.

JP: All the sexy bits you have to do.

JR: All the sexy bits, right? (Laughs).


JR: Okay, so that's interesting. And so it makes me think of something I read about Steve Jobs when he was first learning about computers. And really they kind of detailed how he became a master after about 10,000 hours. And then the book I was reading or article, I can't remember, but we all master something after about 10,000 hours; so that's about 3 years, right? If we do an hour a day. (Laughs)

JP: Yeah, maybe full-time or something. But I think what's interesting with writing, there are definitely tasks, a bit like podcasting. So you and I podcasters, you learn how to make a podcast, you know, you learn how to do interviews. These are skills that can carry through and you can get better at. With writing fiction, so I write nonfiction and fiction, but fiction, I believe storytelling is something we do and learn about for the rest of our lives. So I might get better at the craft of writing a story of like organizing a story, but I'm going to keep learning and my metaphors will get better and the richness and the depth of my writing will relate to my life. So this is the other thing; back in my day job, I could never see that as a lifetime career. But where we are now in the world, you know, people don't have a lifetime career in a day job, you need to choose what you want to look at for the rest of your life. And, for me, I can imagine telling stories until I die. And that's exciting to me from a creative point of view, but also as a businesswoman, because with intellectual property rights, you can carry on making money from your books after you die. So it's like very exciting on in all levels.

JR: Hmm, I didn't know you can make money after you die; that's good to know.

JP: Yeah.

JR: Well, so if someone wants to start writing, we have the first draft which takes, you know, longer to right; you said 2 and a half to 3 hours is the amount of time you can spend on first draft writing. But then how many times should people plan to edit, for example?

JP: Well, again, the first book you write is always going to be the hardest. (Laughs)

JR: Okay.

JP: So that first one can take time. So my first novel took me about 14 months end to end. And, you know, you write… you do the first draft, it's obviously going to depend on what you're writing. So, for example, a romance novel would be shorter than say an epic fantasy novel or a nonfiction book, for example, can be as short as 30,000 words, which really isn't that much. So once you decide what you want to write and you schedule time to actually write it, then yes, you go through an editing process. And depending on what you're learning… so, for example, if you write blog posts, you might be quite used to you editing your own work already in a nonfiction sense; so you might just have to you get an editor to check it over. But if you're writing your first novel, there can be a lot of story structure and interesting things to learn along the way. So the time it takes will depend on the person and the type of book and all of that. But it really is… again, a bit like a podcast, it's a well-worn path to getting from 0 to done; the windingness of the paths and the individual product will depend on the person.

JR: Hmm, okay, that makes sense. Well, let's talk a little bit more about the law of attraction and mindset like you were mentioning before. Because I imagine many people listening have thought about writing a book or doing some other creative thing that's a little scary. So if you're standing there on the edge of that cliff thinking about taking the leap, how do you do it and how do you face that fear? What do you recommend?

JP: Well, one thing I would say is that fear won't go away. (Laughs)

JR: Mm-hmm.

JP: Sorry, people, but that fear… I just did a video and YouTube actually about self-doubt and, you know, if I sit with writers who've been writing for 40 years and they still are scared of putting a book in the world. So that fear or failure, of judgment, of, “My work is terrible, no one's going to like it,” all of that is normal. And the difference between people who go forwards is the people who just learn to live with that feeling. So it really is then, if you acknowledge that that fear and that self-doubt is part of the creative process, then the next step is really deciding, you know, “What is the reason that you're doing this? What is your ‘why’?” So, for example, you know, at the moment in the political situation, the ‘Me Too’ movement, there's a lot of women coming forward who feel like they must, must share their story. And I think it's a very powerful time and this feeling of, “I must share my story,” is often why people want to write a book; and that can really drive you through. And then, let's say it's another reason, and so, for me, it was, “I have to find a meaning in my life. I cannot do this job any longer,” you know, I was just weeping everyday.

JR: Mm-hmm.

JP: And weeping every day is a bad thing. You know, I was just like, “What am I doing with my life?” that feeling of emptiness, that desperation that I had to change something. And I think so many people who say, “Oh, I want to write a book. Oh, I want to do a podcast. Oh, I want to do this,” are not driven by this really strong feeling. And let's face it, all these things are difficult; they're going to take time, they're going to take dedication. So what is your ‘why’? What is the reason that will keep you going during that 5 AM session when you just really don't want to do it? (Laughs). You know, so that's what to come back to.

JR: So what is it for you? You said you had to find meaning in your life. So what would you say is your big ‘why’ now that helps you keep going?

JP: Oh, it's a great question. And it is… the truth is, of course, that your ‘why’ will keep moving. (Laughs)

JR: Ah, yes.

JP: You know, you move the goalposts, right? So originally it was, “I want to leave my job,” and I left my job in 2011. And then it was, “I want to make 6 figures,” you know, “I want to hire my husband out of his job,” and I did that in 2015. And so now, I have a very successful business. I have 27 books and, you know, now I'm like okay. So I'm actually going through that discussion with myself at the moment 10 years on, and it very much comes back to that creation, “What do I want to do every day?” and, “I want to put new things in the world.” I mean, sure, I'd love to win a literary award, you know, that type of thing, but my… for me, the driver is, on the one hand, I want to create… you know, I measure my life by what I create, and on the other hand, I also love to measure my life by helping other people create.

JR: Mm-hmm.

JP: So, you know, my prod, you know, I'm still doing it because I love to help other people, and the more books I can help put in the world, the better. I actually think everyone should write a book; I really do.

JR: Ooh! Yeah.

JP: You know, because it's such a powerful thing. And as Seth Godin (I'm sure, you know of Seth Godin, big marketer) has said, you know, “The book that you write will change your life.”

JR: Mm-hmm.

JP: And it's true. You know, the first book I wrote changed my life, and then I've gone on to help other people write their books and hopefully change their life. So this is the thing; we can have this positive effect.

JR: Mm-hmm.

JP: So, yes, for me, it's creativity and helping other people.

JR: Ooh, that's interesting, and it makes me analyze mine. I think for mine as well was, at first, income, but I've felt a shift lately. I just got back from a retreat with several Vibrant Happy Women listeners and there's something powerful to me about the connection so the money has fallen away. And that might sound cliché, but it doesn't drive me like this idea that, “Wow, I'm so much happier than I used to be. I've got to tell everyone about how to do this!” you know? So I imagine it's the same for you; the book you write will change your life.

JP: Yeah. And I think… and it's interesting because of course, the money is important at the beginning especially, you know, I was the prime wage earner and so it was very important that you make enough money to live and pay your bills. But then after that, you know, there are… there's lots of research that says, you know, more than a certain amount of money, you're not exponentially happier. So…

JR: Right.

JP: I think, as you say, there's this period of, “Okay, I want to do this for a living,” and then there's a period of, “Okay, so let's focus on different aspects of success.” And what I would say is, of course, most authors do not make a living from their writing.

JR: Hmm, okay.

JP: It's very much, you know, usually a multiple streams of income approach; you know, many writers teach, they do lots of different things. So just so people listening know, you don't have to make a living with your writing, you can just write a book for the pleasure of it or, you know, as extra for the rest of your life.

JR: And I feel like the new or the modern-day way of making money as an author is kind of forming your tribe, and a big movement is to have a membership site around your community and giving them, you know, maybe insider perspective and maybe special courses. Have you tried that kind of thing?

JP: Well, that is a model for nonfiction authors, certainly. I actually write more fiction than nonfiction, so I have 17 novels at this point. And for fiction, it very much is the number of books that you have.

JR: Ah.

JP: With nonfiction, I do have some courses and I do… you know, I have affiliate income, my podcast, I have corporate sponsors. So my podcast is an income stream; so I do have multiple streams of income. But it's interesting, the membership site idea totally freaks me out. (Laughs)

JR: Ah!

JP: Because… yeah, because part of my creative process and the reason I'm an independent author, in that I publish my own work and reach readers directly and not work with a, you know, a big traditional publisher is that independence is super important. And I feel like the membership site, you're tied in to producing content on a regular basis, whereas my creative process means I can be a bit sporadic, you know?

JR: Oh yeah, that makes sense.

JP: Like I’ll have a… you know what I mean?

JR: Yeah.

JP: So I think this is another really important point. If people listening, if you're planning your life, you have to decide what your ideal life looks like.

JR: Oh yeah.

JP: And mine involves a lot of travel and I was like, “You know what? I can't do a membership site because I can't commit to an audience, you know, producing the stuff on a regular basis. I need to produce when I'm in that kind of creative space.” So it is very interesting what you decide to choose to do.

JR: Yeah, yeah, that's true. And another question I had was, a lot of people struggle with the idea of, “Who am I to write a book?” or, “Who am I to share a message?” or maybe the funny one is, “Everyone else has already said this. How can I contribute anything more?” what do you say to questions like those?

JP: Oh yeah. I mean, it's totally true, right? But how many romances are there in the world?


JR: Isn’t that funny? That’s true. Oh my gosh, there are so many.

JP: I mean, your romance is different to anyone else’s romance.

JR: Yes.

JP: You know, your experience of being a mom is different to somebody else's, even though you're going through similar situation.

JR: Uh-huh.

JP: And the reason, like coming back to fiction again, the reason people read stories is almost to learn about other humans and a cathartic experience of being in that world. So I'm always like, you know, talking about children, I'm also amazed that books about children being kidnapped are so popular, but the reason is that people kind of cathartically want to deal with their fear through reading.

JR: Ah. Oh.

JP: Yeah. So… and it's so fascinating. I mean, I write… I mean, I'm a very nice person, and of course you can hear that I'm very nice British girl, but I write quite dark fiction with murders and death and, you know, terrorists and things like that, and it's a cathartic way to deal with the stress in our world. And, yeah, so if you are feeling like, “Oh, well, I can't write a book on being a parent because everyone's written a book on that,” well, your experience of being a parent is completely different to someone else's. And, I mean, you know, you're a specialist in human development and family things, aren't you?

JR: Right.

JP: And, I mean, you know like every human has a set way of growing up and a set type of family, but everyone's is also different.

JR: Yeah.

JP: And, so then it's your take on the process that is the interesting thing. So, yeah, think about that if you are worrying about being unique. Creativity is not being unique, it's taking other things that are in the world, combining them in a different way based on your perspective; and the more personal you can be, the more it will resonate.

JR: Yeah. And really, I… every time I meet a new person, I want to know their story. So I really do think it's true.


JR: Everyone has a unique story, you know, so that’s great.

JP: Hmm, I hope you’re going to write a book now, Jen. (Laughs)

JR: Oh, I am writing a book, yeah.

JP: Oh! (Laughs)

JR: I'm little discouraged that yours took 14 months, but fine, I'll be realistic and plan to release it in 2019.


JR: Oh, so funny. Well, let's have a quick break for our sponsor and then we'll come back and talk about your favorite book and some of your other favorite things.

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(Interview resumes) [24:59]

JR: Welcome back, Joanna, and let's talk about your favorite book, if you can narrow down. How about your top 3?

JP: Oh, my… I guess my… my top 3 you change all the time.

JR: Yeah, right.

JP: But I’ll… you know, the ones that I'm actually looking at right now, first of all, I keep going back to ‘Deep Work’ by Cal Newport; I don’t know if you've read that one.

JR: Yeah! I love that!

JP: Yeah, yeah, it's a fantastic book. And I think… and his main manifesto there is, “We are spending too much time jumping around doing different things, whereas we need space to go deep on our work.” And so this is why scheduling time to really focus on creating something new in the world is so important. So ‘Deep Work’ by Cal Newport; and I really recommend the audiobook. Like, if people struggle to find time to read, then audiobooks are amazing for learning and for experiencing these books, and you can do it while you're commuting or doing the washing off or whatever; so that would be one. The second one, I was thinking about this is that, I feel that, in the money space, women are generally… I mean, there's all the evidence is there that women are paid less, save less, invest less, and end up, you know, not as wealthy in their old age as men.

JR: Mm-hmm.

JP: So I'm very… I’m quite about this is that women need to sort out their money. And there's a really good book I read recently called ‘You Are a Badass at Making Money’… (Laughs)

JR: Oh yeah.

JP: … by… you know that one by Jen Sincero?

JR: Yeah.

JP: And, again, she reads the audio book and it's really good, she's got a great accent; she's American, but… yeah. So it's one of those books where you don't feel silly if you don't know anything, but if you do know things, then it will also give you something to think about. So…

JR: Oh, nice.

JP: Yeah, that was good. And then my final one would be ‘The Gift of Imperfection’ by Brené brown.

JR: Oh yeah, that's a great one.

JP: (Laughs). Because… because it's funny. I mean, you… like we talked about goals and, you know, what we're aiming at. And looking back, now I can see that I've come a long way and yet, I still don't feel good enough, and I know your audience would probably feel the same way; it does seem to be a woman thing. (Laughs)

JR: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.

JP: You know, “I cannot ever be good enough. How can I feel that I'm okay?” and Brené, obviously, she has a TED talks and talks about this a lot, but just this feeling of, “Okay, celebrate where we are; great,” you know, “Be ambitious about where you want to get to; great. But also, you need to come to a space where you feel like you are enough so that you can maybe have a rest now and then.” (Laughs)

JR: So what process helps you with that when you're doubting yourself to just shift back into, “I am enough,”?

JP: Yoga, to be honest.

JR: Uh-huh.

JP: I have developed a yoga practice. I have a wonderful teacher at a school. And I think that space and that mindfulness, and I'm also training for an ultramarathon at the moment.

JR: Ooh.

JP: So I do a lot of walking. Once I've walked for about 3, 4 hours, I'm at that point where just a hot drink will make me feel good. (Laughs)

JR: Really? Great!

JP: Yeah, you know, so that… and it's very… I think getting back into our physical body is so important, although sometimes we obviously don't feel our bodies are good enough. I mean… (Laughs)

JR: Right.

JP: Who ever feels their body is perfect? But, you know, that kind of being actually grounded in the world, get off social media, that's a big… I mean…

JR: Oh, truly.

JP: Yeah.

JR: Yes, I love that.

JP: Comparing yourself to somebody else. I mean, there will always be people who make more money, you know, write more books, have more perfect children, you know, whatever. So, yeah, circling back to what is the reason you're doing this, that's very important as well. So what is the thing that's driving you? You know, why are you doing this? So, for me, it's like, “Okay, I'm doing this because I want to create.” So if I'm just out of control with all the things that need doing, I will just take my journal and go and get a coffee and sit and write; because if I write, then I will feel better.

JR: Kind of like a brain dump.

JP: Yeah, exactly. And maybe, if you're a talker, maybe you want to talk to someone or…

JR: Ah.

JP: … you know, that or meditate or whatever. But I'm an introvert writer so writing is the way I deal with things.

JR: Yeah, that's funny, me too; I have to see it on paper, I agree. So what does your morning routine look like and how do you get yourself into the best state of mind for writing and the other things you're doing, like ultra marathon training?

JP: (Laughs). Well, I'm a morning person so I get up and I’m at the café, local café, 7:00 in the morning, which is when it opens, and I will write there for a couple of hours. I wear noise-cancelling headphones, which are just amazing. (Laughs)

JR: Ooh.

JP: I don’t know how I’d function without them.

JR: Okay; hot tip.

JP: Yeah, it means I can work in public spaces and not be bothered, so I'm just in that space without the noise. And I listen to you rain and thunderstorms on repeat.

JR: Oh!

JP: So that makes me into a sort of… yeah, just a sort of brain… you know, a noise that cancels out other noise but also sort of puts me in a meditative state.

JR: Yeah.

JP: And I go into a different place because… and this is very important if you want to write, for example, you will need to do it somewhere different than the desk where you pay your bills or that's covered in the children's stuff or… you know, getting somewhere different where you can change your brains state is actually very useful; so I go to a café. And after I've done, you know, a couple of hours, I'll go do some exercise. So it'll either be yoga class or I'll go for a walk and just get outdoors basically. And then when I come back from that, that's when I get into the businessy stuff and the marketing and all the other things you have to do. So very much, that morning slot, that creative slot, is quite controlled. And the main thing is I schedule that in my calendar so… and it's an appointment as much as meeting you here is an appointment, you know, we show up. And it's the same if you commit to creating anything, you make an appointment with yourself and you show up.

JR: Wow! So vacation, do you still make the appointment?

JP: (Laughs). So it's interesting. Being a writer, especially a fiction writer… so all my books are based on my travels. So when we go on vacation, so for example, we cycled across southern India, and then…

JR: Ooh, wow!

JP: Yeah, then I wrote a book on India. So there's benefits to being a writer because it is tax-deductible. (Laughs)

JR: Ah, yeah!

JP: But also, you know, everywhere I go I'm getting ideas. So our vacations… like I said to my husband, “Let's have a romantic weekend in Budapest,” and I took him to visit like mass graves and things like that. (Laughs)

JR: Uh-huh.

JP: So I could write a book on Budapest. So it is quite a different life in that, all my vacations are around book research, so my life is kind of integrated into my vacations right now.

JR: Ah, that sounds dreamy, truly! I love it.


JR: What is your favorite easy meal; bringing it back to home?

JP: Yeah, well, my husband has dietary requirements.

JR: Uh-huh.

JP: So basically, I just cook a lot of roast chicken. (Laughs)

JR: Ah, yeah, that’s easy.

JP: It’s so easy. I'll tell you what we do have which is really cool to go with the roast chicken is, we got one of those tiny sous-vide things. So sous-vide is like a water bath but you can just get a big saucepan and… with some water and then this keeps the water temperature at a particular rate. So you can do really nice parsnips in a sous-vide with this gadget on the side of a saucepan. (Laughs)

JR: Oh! I haven’t heard of that.

JP: And that just makes… yeah, and you just literally stick it in. So basically I'm not… I mean, I enjoy food, but I'm not a great cook. So, for me, sticking everything in the oven or the water bath is a really easy thing to do. (Laughs)

JR: Okay, if I can find a link for it, maybe you can send me one.

JP: I will. (Laughs)

JR: Yeah, okay, great. We will put a link so everyone knows what this is on the show notes page at jenriday.com/104. I am just as curious as all of you listening; it sounds great.

JP: Fantastic; I will do.

JR: (Laughs). Well, what is your favorite way to relax? And then we'll have a question about being a vibrant happy woman; my favorite. (Laughs)

JP: Okay. Well, relaxing, definitely walking. So like on Sundays, we do a really big walk, you know, you sort of 20, 25 kilometres; that really helps. And I do like a glass of Pinot Noir. (Laughs)

JR: Uh-huh.

JP: So I do like my wine. And I read a lot; I mean, I really… I read about between 3 and 5 books a week.

JR: Ooh!

JP: So I do spend a lot of time reading; I love reading.

JR: Oh, so fun. Wow, dreamy! (Laughs). So what does it mean for you to be a vibrant happy woman?

JP: Well, and it's interesting because, you know, talking about health and I love the word ‘vibrant’. I mean, I was already happy; like if you would just say ‘happy woman’, you know, I love creating and to get… you know, I used to say, if I died when I was doing that awful job, I would die really angry because I wasn't doing what I wanted.

JR: Yeah.

JP: But I'm happy doing this creative life. And vibrant, I've really discovered in the last 18 months or so as I focused on my physical health. So I do think that vibrancy has a lot to do with eating well and being outside and moving and, you know, that kind of energy work that so many of us with our own businesses or, you know, if you're really busy with your family and you haven't got into self-care, that vibrancy, I think, is what's lost before the work. So, for me, it really is balancing that creation in the world. And I love my work so I am a workaholic, but I also now really try and do my health; so my daily yoga, my walking. I'm standing up as I'm talking to you.

JR: Ooh, nice.

JP: So I do all my podcasting at a standing desk, and all these little practices that I've put into my life in order to be more vibrant. And, in fact, my latest non-fiction book is called ‘The Healthy Writer’, which I co-wrote with a medical doctor.

JR: Ooh!

JP: So really been focusing on that for the last year. So, yeah, I consider myself a… definitely a vibrant happy woman right now.

JR: Yeah, that's great; ‘The Healthy Writer’. There's a writer from England, ooh, I can't remember, but he would go out into a shed… and maybe this will… is it Roald Dahl?

JP: Roald Dahl, yeah.

JR: Yeah. Not a judgment, but he would just sit in a folding chair and smoke cigarettes the whole morning. And I remember thinking, “Gosh, that can't be very healthy.”


JP: He's dead now; that was a previous generation, they all smoked. (Laughs)

JR: Yeah, that's true. Well good, now we have healthy writers.

JP: yes.

JR: Well, let's have a challenge from you to our listeners and then tell everyone where they can find you and we'll say goodbye.

JP: Okay. Well, I think that the challenge has to come back to, you know, this week, schedule some time, whether that's 10 minutes or half an hour or maybe a bit longer, and actually create something. Like, just put something new into the world, whatever that is, and try and let go of judgment. (Laughs)

JR: Uh-huh.

JP: That might be the hardest part. Yeah, but definitely schedule the time and try and create something, whatever that word means to you.

JR: Okay, perfect. Thank you. And where can we find you if we want to learn more about all your amazing books and what you're doing in the world?

JP: Sure. So come along to thecreativepenn.com; that's ‘penn’ with a double ‘n’. And also my podcast the creative pen podcast on all the usual places, and I'm on twitter @The Creative Pen, if you want to ask me any questions.

JR: Ooh, great! Well, Joanna, this was awesome. I feel really inspired to be creative, so I guess you accomplished something. Not only are you creating and adding so much to the world that way, but you're inspiring so many others to create; so that's quite a legacy. Thanks for being on the show.

JP: Thanks for having me, Jen.

JR: Take care, Joanna. So fun, right? I hope you're going to go out and create something, I hope it inspired you. Because, when you create and when you use your gifts and talents, you feel more vibrant from the inside out, and it radiates out of you like sunshine. Also, remember that contest I'm having where we're giving away a several $100 gift cards to amazon.com because we celebrated 100 episodes a few weeks back? Well, that contest ends soon, so be sure to enter to win by going to jenriday.com/giveaway; and that will be on our show notes page at jenriday.com/104. Every single episode has a show notes page with all of the links; you just type in jenriday.com/episodenumber. And today is episode 104, you can find all the links from everything Joanna talked about, including her website and all the books she loved, plus we'll have the links to that giveaway there on jenriday.com/104. Now, next week, something so special; one of my favorite Vibrant Happy Women ever, Gina Brodtmann, is going to talk about how she let go of perfectionism and become more vulnerable so she could be more confident. Now, I met Gina on the Vibrant Happy Women retreat. She is a quote-unquote ‘regular mom’; not an entrepreneur, not an author yet, but she has an amazing story of a struggle she went with and how she decided to let go of trying to be perfect and just be real. And you're going to love Gina's story; it's so authentic and touched my heart a lot. So I will see you next week with that, I will also be back later this week with a happy bit. I love you guys, thank you so much for listening, and do me a quick favor, share the Vibrant Happy Women podcast with a friend today. Your shares help this movement to grow. Take care.

Outro: Thanks for listening to the Vibrant Happy Women podcast at www.jenriday.com.