If you’re anything like me, you’re a creative person who often finds yourself grasping for that perfect combination of free time and inspiration to create. Anymore it seems that most of the time I don’t have the time I want, and whenever I DO have a little time to myself, all I want to do is crash to let my batteries recharge. I know, I know. #firstworldproblems. It’s such a hard life, having the burden of gainful employment and people who care about me to invest my time in. Whine, whine, whine.
But cantankerous jests aside, the reality is there. So you want to be revved up and ready to create whenever the opportunity strikes, or whenever you are able to make an opportunity for yourself. You need inspiration. Lately for me that’s come in the form of a few really interesting podcasts on writing, self-publishing, and marketing. So I’ve decided to be a generous soul and share these invaluable wellsprings with you, in case you haven’t already found them yourself.
Today’s big share is a personal favorite, the first of its kind that I came across: Joanna Penn’s The Creative Penn podcast.
Penn is enjoying an abundant creative career. She began the podcast calling herself a “thriller author and professional speaker.” I think now she calls herself a “creative entrepreneur” or something more encompassing like that. And that basically sums up the trajectory of the over 300 episodes to date. What began as a chronicle of Penn’s own fiction publishing journey (with a dash of her non-fiction exploits), hand-in-hand with interviews typically with other indie authors, gradually developed into a large-view discourse on what it means to be a creative (in just about any capacity) in this unique moment (especially for “indies,” independent artists or artists who are able to bypass middlemen/gatekeepers and bring their wares and work directly to an audience, typically via the internet).
I’ve been listening to Penn for a couple of years now, off and on, as I’ve slowly been whittling away at my craft and preparing to launch my first novel. In times of doubt, creative fatigue, and all-around discouragement, her podcast has never failed to remind me what a flourishing creative career can look like, and to inspire me to put in the work to chase my own.
Why should you listen to Penn’s podcast? Oh, let me count the ways.
- She has a proven track record. Joanna Penn’s career reads like the perfect blend of talent and hard work, a great and inspiring narrative. She tells the story of how she and her husband downsized, selling off many of their possessions, even their car, when she began to pursue writing as a viable career. Her success has not been a quick overnight flash; it’s been a slow, steady burn, as she has built her fanbase (and, take note–her platform) of true believers who are eager to buy anything she puts out. Of course everyone in this business will have a slightly different story to tell, even about success, but in my opinion anything this creative has to say on her own journey is worth its weight in gold (or at least in Patreon subscription payments), because of the life she has led, the career she has shaped, and the creative body of work she is building.
- She is relevant. Penn isn’t just a creative; she’s edging in on guru space. She’s not shy about her interest in futurism, which has gradually grown into the show in concise but far-reaching insights on the self-publishing industry. Remember that she has studied psychology and religion, so it follows that her interests show a little more depth than just increasing the bottom line (though, fear not–there’s plenty of advice and buckets of inspiration for that, too). The show is smart and stays abreast of not only the latest trends but also of the underlying factors that bring trends about and the implications for authors and other creatives. After listening to Penn, one feels decidedly informed.
- She is delightful! One of the complaints I’m liable to raise regarding most clever self-publishing podcasts is that they suffer from a little too much doom-and-gloom. But somehow Penn manages, I think without sugar-coating or misrepresenting reality, to infuse her show with so much of her own infectious optimism and positive energy, that you leave it feeling energized and inspired for your own creative work. Slap me on the wrist and call me an Anglophile, which may explain some of my obvious bias. But the fact remains that the overall tone of the show is uplifting and forward-moving. The Creative Penn has momentum; it has music. If your primary need as a creative is to be moved–to be given permission to get off the couch and get to work–then I cannot highly enough recommend this voice for you.