Storytelling takes many forms, and while my focus, for the most part, supports individuals telling their story verbally, writing your story is another avenue for generating impact based on your ideas, lessons learned, and life experiences. In fact, a number of my clients have turned their attention to the spoken version of their story after having published a book.
As with speaking, learning the art and craft of written storytelling takes time, and is based in large part on seeking the wisdom of others who have made the same journey. If writing is your current profession, or simply a future goal, then The Creative Penn Podcast should be in your toolbox.
Joanna Penn is the host, and after 11 years she released her 500th episode. A milestone that few podcasters reach!
You’ll need to hear the entire podcast to discover the many pearls of wisdom that she offers from past episodes, but I wanted to share a few of them here.
Write What You Love
Are you writing what others think you should write, or what you feel the market wants? Maybe you feel that your talents are limited to only one genre, or either fiction or non-fiction. Joanna was stuck in that box until she tried her hand at writing fiction books and now has 18 novels to her credit. Don’t let the challenge of exploring new styles of storytelling hold you back.
It’s Okay If Your First Draft Sucks
Taking this idea further, it is extremely rare (like one in a million) that a first draft is the best you can do. This applies to writing books, articles, or your personal story. When Joanna interviewed Mur Lafferty, the point was made that if we can recognize this fact, and stop worrying about it, great writing is possible.
And I think, when people allow themselves to just write the story and not worry about what’s going to happen to the story afterward, that’s when they really let themselves actually improve. It’s like when they’re thinking about it too much, they hold themselves back or they put some sort of handicap on themselves. But when they just write and not worry about sucking or worrying about how good it is or where it’s gonna be published, then better things happen. ~Mur Lafferty
Realizing that you could write something terrible and then fix it up later with editing freed me from so much. My first drafts are a lot better now, but we all have to go through those first few books where we don’t know what we’re doing! ~Joanna Penn
Leverage Your Intellectual Property
Too often writers will publish their book, either through a traditional publishing house or independently, then they’ll move on to the next project. But there are international rights, audio book rights, movies, even gaming rights to consider.
It’s a subject writers need to spend time exploring, and hire a professional when there are contract related questions. Bottom line, don’t sign anything unless you fully understand what you’re signing up for.
I think authors, indies, have not given enough thought to rights. Taking a publishing rights perspective on your work is the missing link for the indie author and it’s really important to trade publishing. ~Orna Ross
I know the worth of my intellectual property assets, they are the basis of my business — as well as my art. If you understand this, you are an empowered writer! ~Joanna Penn
Develop Your Personal Brand
The concept of having a personal brand was once reserved for those who “made it” in the publishing world, who made the best seller lists and were interviewed on all the talk shows. But in the digital world, with podcasting, Instagram, email marketing and video channels, anyone can get their brand in front of thousands – and on a daily basis if so desired. How do people see you? What’s your brand?
Some folks are happy being a part time writer and publishing once in a while, making some spending money on the side. But if your goal is to make a living by telling stories – and this applies equally to a writing career or a speaking career – then you should go all in and understand what it means, what it takes to go pro.
When I was trying to learn to be a writer and was falling on my face over and over and over, the reason I decided finally was that I was an amateur. I had amateur habits and I thought like an amateur and what turned the corner for me was just a simple sort of turning a switch where I just decided, I’m going to turn pro. I’m going to think like a pro.
Courage plays a lot. It takes a lot of guts to do this. Patience is also very important, to be patient with ourselves, allow ourselves to fall off the wagon sometimes. Taking the long view is another aspect of it. ~Steven Pressfield
Publishing is like a roller coaster, it’s up and down and up and down. It’s similar to the music industry. If you have one hit, don’t assume that your next one’s going to be a hit. So when you do have money, you need to save well, invest it, prepare for times when it’s going to be a crash, and just don’t think that it’s going to keep going. ~Kevin J Anderson
There’s so much more content in this 500th episode of The Creative Penn, so do give it a listen, and if you’re a writer (professional or aspiring), subscribe to the podcast. You can thank me later. Every episode is a deep dive into the world of writing, publishing, and most importantly, storytelling.
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