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Pharmacy Leaders Podcast: Inspiring Pharmacy Leadership Interviews

Apr 16, 2018

Part II with Joanna Penn, award-nominated author of The Healthy Writer: Reduce your Pain, Improve your Health and Build a Writing Career for the Long Term. 

Full Transcript:

Okay well tell me  a little bit about a lot of times people  are like okay I'm gonna be and writer so  they go back to their especially people  with more money than time like  pharmacists physicians will tend to  gravitate towards MFA's Master of Fine  Arts in writing and they're these you  know low residency MFA s you go to some  exotic place for ten days you write you  hear all these things and then you get  feedback in between you and Chandler  Bolt are my mobile MFA in terms of your  your podcast can you tell me a little  bit about what you would recommend  someone start reading from yours before  they go and spend 20 or 30 thousand  dollars on an MFA and and I'm not  necessarily anti MFA I'm anti just go to  the MFA first I'm like well there's a  lot out there maybe you should start  with something free first or something  that's $15 on audible rather than just  drop 20 or $30,000 oh and it's so  interesting because I've been talking to  my husband about this my husband has  three degrees and we were talking about  how and I have to have five  what do you because I think we people  like us like learning so we love to  learn and we also value a stamp of some  kind a stamp that says well I have a  degree in this so that must mean  something  but the MFA is a really interesting  thing so what you what I want people to  start thinking about is completely  reframe the idea of what a writer is in  that way so most working writers I would  probably say 99% of working writers  don't have an MFA and when I say working  writers I mean people who are paid for  their writing the people who run MFA's  will often have one book or a couple of  books but they won't make the bulk of  their income from their writing they'll  make it from their teaching and there's  nothing wrong with that but what you  have to do if you want to write is  figure out where do you want to get to  so if you want to teach writing then for  sure look at an MFA because that's where  it will take you people with MFA's  become MFA teachers but if you want to  write thrillers then don't go anywhere  near an MFA because one they won't  necessarily want you to write what you  have to do is you know if you look at  someone like me I make you know X  percent I make like a six-figure income  from book sales and then I have income  streams from other things but those  books are zamora fiction say thrillers I  have some sweet romance under another  name and my non-fiction books Chandler  is a teacher but he is a based around  nonfiction so we're quite quite  different in that way but I think we  have similar energy you know quite up  energy but the so the question of the  MFA is are you leaning towards an MFA  not you I mean anyone listening are you  leaning towards an MFA because you are  the type of person who loves to learn  but in reality you are going to get much  more writing done if you do not do  another degree just right  and right and this this is the thing  that changed my life  two things changed my life over with  writing the first one was timed writing  so set a 20 minute timer literally 20  minutes and instead of googling MFA's  sit down and write for 20 minutes and  then stop and look at what you've  written and maybe you've written a  couple of hundred words and that's how  you write and then the second thing is  realizing that the first draft is just  the first draft and editing is what  makes a finished product so if you're  right if the writing you just did in 20  minutes is a pile of crap that's fine  because you will then you can turn lots  of those into a book when you go through  the editing process so understanding the  first draft won't go anywhere you know  won't be seen it is good so I really  think that you have to decide where you  want to get to and also be really honest  about what you love because the other  thing you know as I said I'm I'm very  educated so are you so are the listeners  but when I was when I read I read for  pleasure and fun and escapism and I read  action adventure thriller and I liked  movies like Connor and I just watched  Thor Ragnarok because I think when you  have a very brain job and you're tired  you just want something that's fun and  escapist and that's the thing if you  want to write apocalyptic zombie books  or romance or sci-fi whatever do that  and don't worry about getting a degree  in it because that won't make any  difference okay  well that gives us a great transition  into what's next when I was doing my  research for this podcast episode I go  right to audible and I got the healthy  writer but then I also any time in my  audible there's only to open at a time  it's always one fiction and one  non-fiction but it's very rare that I  get to have the same author as the  fiction and nonfiction so can you first  talk about how the arcane series how you  do two different brands because people  are working hard enough to have one  single brand how do you have two  completely different brands which is a  nonfiction one Joanna pen and  the fiction one which is jf pen you talk  about branding a little bit yeah sure so  you the main thing was that it branding  really is about your promise to the  reader so you're primarily interviewing  johanna pen and we're talking about  things that joanna pen writes about but  I've been on podcasts about dreaming or  religion or writing about death you know  as jfn because my books are my thrillers  are about that other side of me maybe  partly a shadow side but also a sort of  different part of my brain that is  fascinated with religion and  architecture and travel and conspiracies  and all of these yes it's a complete  it's it's very necessary for me  creatively as a happy human to have both  sides I think people are very lucky if  they can focus on one thing but I can't  I feel like I love doing nonfiction  because I love helping other people and  I think helping people is a very natural  human thing but I also need my fiction  to kind of feed my darker creative side  so managing the two brands is mostly  about separation of my audience so jfn  calm you know I have Instagram  separately I have Pinterest separately  you know I have I have different emails  I have I don't have a podcast I do have  blog articles and things like that  but mainly people who know jf Penn know  me through my books they will read those  thrillers and so it partly for me it's a  creative need and partly for the  audience it helps them understand who  they're getting yeah you know and that's  really important also just in a world of  big data  you know we're as we talk and there's a  lot of talk about big data but the  algorithms on Amazon are very important  and they I'm sure everyone knows you  know you'll get an email that said hey  you like this you might also like that  or things pop up in your when you log on  that kind of  endings so the recommendations very much  work with the type of author the genre  so I also wanted my also bots on Amazon  to come up in the right way so my if  people do feel like this like for  example if somebody listening is  published in a medical journal under a  and your you're working as a as a  pharmacist and that's your official name  then maybe use a different name if you  want to write some erotica or some  horror or something that someone might  judge you with but perhaps if like um  Michael Crichton you know Michael  Crichton was a medical doctor before he  started writing thrillers but his first  thrillers were medical thrillers so the  Andromeda Strain was I think his first  one and so yeah he really tapped into  his if you're writing things that your  existing people who know you are not  going to be freaked out about  yeah maybe use another name okay well so  I I'm gonna guess that stone of fire is  probably available free if it's an  e-book and it was your first in the  series but I bought it because it's an  audiobook and I don't I don't know what  free is because it's audiobooks but tell  me a little bit about how so I've heard  that fiction to make great fiction the  nonfiction part of it has to be spot-on  that is that your readers will break if  they find that you're talking about a  place and when they went there that's  not how it is so tell me a little bit  about how your visits to these places  how your oxford studies leaned into you  can do stone a fire or maybe maybe a  different book that's more recent for  you but how do you make sure that the  nonfiction is spot on so that we don't  lose our suspension of disbelief yeah so  for me party when I looked at designing  my future life when I you know back in  back sort of ten years ago I one of the  things I wrote down was I want to travel  and I want to write and I want to read  so those were the things I wanted to do  with my time  so my  action very much my travels feed into it  so for example I have a book called one  day in Budapest which is based on a trip  that my husband and I did to Budapest  and I've actually sort of had people  who've gone to Budapest and read my book  and gone to the places so I know that  that book works in terms of of a  physical place and also the political  situation so it's a very right-wing  political situation so most of my  thrillers have places and architecture  and religious either truth or myth  depending on how you see it and then I  just twist things into the fiction so  you should be able to read it and be  like yep this is plausible and they're  modern-day thrillers all of them yeah I  have a couple of fantasy novels so of  course they are made up but they also  are based in real life so a map of  Shadows which is my most recent novel  which is knowing audiobooks yet so that  one opens in bath which is where I live  now and is based on a shop that is just  around the corner a map shop so it's  based on maps obviously so for me it's  partly because I love travel and then I  love turning my travel into stories and  either I'm writing about places I have  been so a lot of my books have Israel  and I've traveled to Israel a lot so  end-of-days was the one before machetes  and and that was written again after a  trip to Israel and then places I haven't  been so you stayin afire does include a  scene in Iran and I have not been to  Iran although I really would love to go  and yes some other places for example  and get gates of Hell have scenes  underneath the water in the the Dead Sea  no diving in the Dead Sea which is very  dangerous and you can die say luckily  you can google these things but for me  it's it's fun it's I want to enjoy the  process of creating a story and then  hopefully the reader will also enjoy the  story so stayin afire is a free ebook so  people can download that it is as you  know the first in a nine  book series and I've written also a  crime series which starts with  desecration so if people like darker  books then that might be the place to  start  okay well let's finish up with something  that you you've talked about about map  of shadows in your recent entry into  screenwriting things got a little you  said maybe things got a little tired in  in certain ways with the writing and you  wanted something a little bit fresher  with the screenwriting but you mentioned  that somebody said that's a hundred  million dollar movie and I think they  said it in the pejorative like you'll  never make that nobody will ever make  that who are you to write a hundred  million dollar movie script maybe you  should be writing a little script where  you can put in fifty thousand dollars  and make a movie I think a lot of things  a lot of people that try to write stop  writing because they reject themselves  can you tell me how you got the  confidence to continue writing and you  know the way that I would spin that  wouldn't say that well hey you know what  you can get this book for five dollars  on Amazon that's a hundred million  dollar movie and you can get it down so  you want to talk about a great discount  this is a great discount but tell me a  little bit about the not the trolls and  the haters aren't that many of them but  but they do affect you and and then your  own internal monologue saying oh who are  you to be a writer who are you to put  this out there so maybe a little bit  about gaining that confidence yeah sure  I mean this is the the truth of it  the self-doubt the fear of failure the  fear of judgement all of that never goes  away  it's part of the creative process I know  people in that you know writers in their  70s very successful writers who still  feel this so the you have to accept that  that is part of the creative process and  my book the successful author mindset  really goes into that and I've been  talking about that on my youtube channel  because it's amazing how many people  don't realize that this is completely  normal to feel this way and again coming  back to the sort of degree thing often  we think by getting a degree that might  make it go away  I mean I have impostor syndrome and I've  got like 28 books and you know whatever  I make a good living with my writing and  still I feel you know I went into the  screenwriting course feeling like a  novice so yeah don't worry about that  that will always be there but I think  what what again it's coming back to you  and I think my awareness of death and I  hope that pharmacists and medical  specialists listening feel this - we  will die you know this is not a surprise  if you think about your life like what  do you want to do with your life I was  unhappy with what I was doing with my  life and every day that I write  something I'm happier with my life so it  has to be a daily practice or if you  can't do it daily then what are you  creating over a year for example you  know can you write that book over a year  or two years or however you can fit it  in so that you feel that you're  progressing in your life and then the  definition of success  i it is as you say it is very unlikely  that map of Shadows will ever become a  movie but in writing that screenplay I  had a lot of fun it was so much fun and  I learned a lot about story structure I  loved learning as we discussed and it  was a 6 day course  which is a lot cheaper than an MFA I  think and also you know I've written a  lot of different types of books now I  just needed a bit of a refreshment and  so now I'm thinking I'm thinking more  now that this is an episodic life but as  a writer you you have this you focus on  a book everything goes into this book  and then you finish the book and then  what are you doing next you you know I  like writing a nonfiction book next or  am I going to write a screenplay or so  it's for your own creative success and  success defined as you are producing  work you're happy with even if it never  sells at all that's really the point and  I guess but I just want to remind people  that sort of 10 years ago I had none of  this I had no website  I had no Twitter I had no fiction and I  haven't even written a novel ten years  ago  you know my life was completely  different but by making a choice every  day towards the life I wanted incredibly  I made it their life I wanted which was  to be a full-time author and now my  definition of success is well what do I  want to create next so my next book that  I was working on this morning is how to  write nonfiction which is completely  different to map of Shadows screenplay  but it keeps but it certainly keeps  things fresh and as a writer you  certainly probably do get some fatigue  from from one or the other yeah exactly  it's it's refreshing and I'm really  enthusiastic about it and also it will  help people because every day you people  ask me it's a bit like successful  self-publishing I didn't write that for  me I did not need that book the same  questions every single day so it's like  oh well here you go here's the book with  everything in it and I keep it updated  so with how to write nonfiction it's  kind of the same way I'm like okay I've  written nine non-fiction books now I can  write a book about this and you know so  but after that I'll get back to writing  that American arcane novels so this is  the thing it's it's exciting to be  creatively prolific and to me the  independent mindset means I can publish  anything I want and even if it doesn't  sell much it doesn't really matter  because I'm creatively fulfilled  obviously I prefer if it's okay well  I've asked you a lot of questions is  there anything you wanted to say in  closing that I haven't asked you well I  guess I really just want to encourage  people if people are still listening if  they haven't turned this off they  probably are interested in maybe writing  a book maybe writing a novel I get a lot  of you know doctors lawyers pharmacists  very educated people who want to write  books because of course we read books  you know a lot of our life is based on  books and learning but what I would say  is you know try stepping away from that  sort of you know must get a degree  approach and think  about being a bit freer with your  creativity and that will really help and  also double down on what you love like I  said if you love thor ragnarok then  write something like that you know you  don't have to write a book a  prize-winning novel or a Pulitzer  prize-winning non-fiction book you know  these are really get to know what you  love and then maybe do it for some fun  that's the other thing we all take  ourselves so seriously but this can be  really fun and it can make you a living  so I hope that helps and I have a  podcast the creative pen podcast pen  with the double n and obviously  everything else is at my website the  creative pen com okay Joanna thanks so  much for being in the pharmacy leaders  podcast thanks for having me Tony  support for this episode comes from the  audio book memorizing pharmacology a  relaxed approach with over 9,000 sales  in the United States United Kingdom and  Australia it's the go-to resource to  ease the pharmacology challenge  available on audible iTunes and in print ebook and audiobook  thank you for listening to the pharmacy  leaders podcast with your host Tony  Garrett be sure to share the show with  the hash tag hash pharmacy leaders