Overcoming Fear Of Judgment To Write The Books That Matter With Joanna Penn And Rachael Herron

How can you overcome fear of judgment and write the books that matter to you — and might help other people?

How do you learn to share more of your personal story? Rachael Herron interviews Joanna Penn on the How Do You Write Podcast for the launch of Writing the Shadow: Turn Your Inner Darkness Into Words.

You can watch the video discussion below, or you can listen here or wherever you usually get your podcasts.

In the interview, we cover:

  • Why books of the heart can take longer to write
  • What is the Shadow and how can we identify aspects of it?
  • Integrating aspects of the Shadow to help our lives, and those of other people
  • How what you watch and read can point you in the direction of your Shadow
  • Mining your own writing for elements of Shadow
  • Dealing with fear of judgment — and reflected judgment
  • Incorporating the Shadow into our writing and pushing our comfort zones — slowly!
  • Growing and changing in public over years — and how confidence as a writer emerges over time

You can find Writing the Shadow: Turn Your Inner Darkness Into Words here, on Kickstarter until 25 October 2023, and then on other stores in 2024.

You can find Rachael’s books, courses, podcast, and more resources for writers at rachaelherron.com

Rachael has been on The Creative Penn Podcast several times — listen to her interviews on Your Publishing Options, and Fast Draft Your Memoir.

Here’s a picture of when Rachael and I met in Las Vegas back in 2019.

Transcript of the interview

Rachael Herron: Welcome to How Do You Write? I’m your host, Rachael Herron.

On this podcast, I talk to authors about how they write, what their process is, and how their lives fit together. I’ll keep each episode short so you can get back to writing. Well, hello, writers. Welcome to episode number 3 88 of How Do You Write.

I’m Rachael Herron. I am ecstatic that you are here with me today as I’m talking to Joanna Penn. Many of you know Joanna from her podcast, The Creative Penn, and she was on this show way back on, I think it was episode 27 back in 2016. So it had been a good seven years since she came on the show, and we have a really delightful, far-ranging, very open talk about her newest book that is coming out for writers, and I want to encourage you to get it.

I read it, I loved it, and it is amazing. It’s out right now on Kickstarter. If you are a writer, I think you should go back this Kickstarter. I really do. You’re going to love this book. It’s so helpful for going deeply into your writing.

Joanna Penn writes nonfiction for authors and is an award-nominated New York Times and USA Today bestselling thriller author as J.F. Penn.

She’s also an award-winning podcaster, creative entrepreneur, and international professional speaker.

Writing the Shadow is her next nonfiction book for authors, and you can find it at TheCreativePenn.com/shadowbook.

Joanna Penn with Writing the Shadow

Well, I am so damn pleased to welcome you to the show. Would you please share your name with us and your pronouns?

Joanna Penn: Yes, I am Joanna (J. F.) Penn — she, her — and thanks so much for having me on the show, Rachael. I’m so excited to talk to you.

Rachael Herron: We are going to be talking about your new book, and specifically we’re going to be talking about the Kickstarter that you are running. Can you tell us a little bit about this book? What is the title and when is it hitting Kickstarter? Yes.

Joanna Penn: The book is Writing the Shadow: Turn Your Inner Darkness into Words.

I’ve kind of been writing this on and off for 30 years since I first learned about Carl Jung’s concept of the Shadow.

The Kickstarter runs until 25 October, 2023, but then it will be later on my store and everywhere in 2024.

I’m doing a special launch for this book of my heart and this very personal work, and I’m excited to get it into the world.

But as we’re going to talk about, and you know very well, and your listeners do, these personal books are terrifying. And so it’s funny because I feel like, Oh, the countdown to people actually reading this is on, but you have read it.

Rachael Herron: So I have read it and it was so good. And I also felt very sneakily pleased with myself that I got the advanced reader’s copy and got to see that you absolutely nail it. You stick the landing on this book that I’ve heard you talk about for a long time and I’m really proud of you.

Joanna Penn: Thank you. And I’m so glad you said that.

For people listening, I guess part of this is to share the process. And like Pilgrimage, which also was a personal book with aspects of memoir, the edits were huge.

And I know you were so good at editing. And it’s like, I really wanted to nail it. It’s such a complicated topic.

There were some chapters that were absolutely huge, and I cut them down dramatically because sometimes saying less is more important rather than being so prescriptive. So yeah, I’m so glad you felt that.

I think maybe these books of our heart take longer.

And again, you have Fast Draft Your Memoir, and we both agree that writing fast is also fantastic. But sometimes these books, you’re not ready to write them, or you’re not ready to put them out in the world.

Like you said, I have been talking about this for years and I had drafts and I tried and I backed away and I moved forward and back and over and over again.

And then something just happened this year after Pilgrimage that I was like, Oh my goodness, I’m ready to write this.

Maybe it’s a midlife thing. Maybe there’s all these things that come together. So just encouragement for people listening.

If there’s a really important book in your life. then you don’t have to force it out early. Listen to that story intuition and that creative intuition that says you’re not ready yet and that’s okay.

And I know you have some projects that are also a bit about that. So maybe you could talk about how it feels because you’re an expert on memoir and there is this one you haven’t put into the world yet.

Rachael Herron: Yeah, I have the recovery memoir. We were talking about it a little bit before we hit record and it is.

Probably the most important book I feel that I’ve ever written and it’s about hard stuff and it’s so easy when we are fiction writers to hide behind fiction and it’s valid, I could say, I wrote that thriller and there are no slashers in my life. I’m not that person. I’m just the author.

When we’re writing memoir and we’re writing the difficult stuff, the parts of our souls that a lot of the time we don’t even know about for a long time, and then to actually write about them. It is terrifying.

And I was just thinking about this today, that resistance is so strong. And you know how Steven Pressfield talks about how Resistance points you toward the thing you must move toward.

I also imagine Resistance saying, ‘Oh, I’m going to crop up even more strongly here because it is so important.’ So I feel like that about the recovery memoir, and I know you felt like this about the Shadow book.

Let’s back up just a little bit for people who are like, what the hell is a Shadow?

What do you mean when you’re talking about Shadow?

Joanna Penn: The language is difficult, right?

Because some people think, oh, that it is the dark stuff, but it is unconscious. Like you said there, we don’t even know about it and that’s what makes it hard.

But it’s almost like from when we’re young and I talk about the creative wound, particularly for writers.

There are all kinds of things where people say you shouldn’t be like that, you shouldn’t write that. You shouldn’t dress like that. You shouldn’t love who you want to love.

We protect ourselves by becoming what society wants us to be, what teachers want us to be, what agents and publishers want us to be, and friends and family and all these things that we become.

And then we start to realize, and in fact, Robert Bly, the psychologist has this great metaphor of this ‘invisible bag’ that we drag around behind us, and over the years we stuff all these things into it.

I mean, in the writing community, people have a go at romance authors all the time and shame them for what they write. And in the same way, writing darker things in horror does fit into this too sometimes, or like your recovery memoir, there’s just so many things that we have and we stuff them into this bag.

And then at some point, we start pulling them out again or they erupt into our life.

And I think this is the problem — if we keep it all down, like balloons, if we try and push them underwater, at some point they erupt.

And I mean, I did also have a drinking problem definitely, and I talk about that in the book and that’s kind of the way to let loose sometimes when the Shadow side just goes, ‘I really just want to do this stuff.’

And then it comes out in extreme ways. And I guess the whole point of the book and the whole point of Carl Jung’s idea of the Shadow is we’re not trying to get rid of those things.

We’re not trying to destroy the Shadow side. We’re trying to recognize it, integrate it, and where it’s hurting us, or if it’s hurting other people, then we can deal with those issues over time.

So I have in the book how I was told not to write these certain things. I talk about my shame with money situations, which I know you also recognize.

And then by bringing aspects of this out of the Shadow into the light. So we’re recognizing it and we’re not ashamed anymore or, we still have residual feelings about this stuff, but the things we’re scared of, the things we’re afraid of, the things we’re embarrassed about — I think embarrassment can point to the Shadow as well — and then if we can deal with those, we can become more of a whole person.

So, the idea with the book is to help you with your creativity and your writing to bring this authenticity into your writing and like we said, it’s hard, but I guess that’s kind of the concept.

Rachael Herron: It’s such a huge concept that you tackle so well and so head on and I know that, like, wasn’t it almost twice as long at one point. Did I hear you say that on the podcast?

Joanna Penn: Yeah. I mean, it’s crazy. Again, the editing was huge. I mean, for example, the Collective Shadow, we can all see this in the world.

The Collective Shadow is the things in society, in our country, the things that are much, much bigger, these big movements that come from country Shadows.

And I wrote tons in that chapter. I’m in the UK, which has a Collective Shadow around Empire and the U. S. — obviously we have a lot of these things around race and female bodily rights and religion — and there’s just these huge things and that chapter was massive and in the end I was like, do you know what? This is going to trigger every single person in the whole world.

So I just reduced it to a series of questions for people to think about. And I think that’s the thing, because the shadow is individual to all of us. And just coming back to this word trigger, which again in itself is triggering these days, because it’s a political word.

But what I mean is, what do you react to?

What do you feel a reaction to that other people don’t think is even an issue or what do you judge or criticize in others?

Where do those feelings come up for you in a more extreme way? And obviously, we can’t deal with societal stuff. We can only look at ourselves and try and deal with it ourselves, but I guess that’s part of it.

But yes, the edits were huge, but I feel like that’s also a critical part of being an author.

Rachael Herron: You had to write it to know what needed to be there, but more than that, I want to point out that you did such a good job of showing the reader how to look for it in themselves.

And I’m going back to the recovery idea because I had always been fascinated by any kind of show about addiction, any kind of show. Like I couldn’t stop watching addiction shows. I love to read addiction memoirs.

But I didn’t have a problem. I knew that I drank a lot, but I didn’t have a problem. And then there’s this part in my memoir where I’m talking about when it finally hits me that no one worries about being an alcoholic all the time who doesn’t have a problem, like a normie who doesn’t worry about, they’re not worried about it.

They’re not spending their time journaling about this every day. And I finally could say out loud that I was an alcoholic. As a memoirist, I had spent years looking for anything to mine. And it felt like, and I really resonate with the Bly bag.

For me, it was as if I were sitting cross-legged and I have a 180-degree view of my life and I can see everything.

What I didn’t know until that moment was there was this wall behind me and I had never turned around to ask what was behind the wall.

And on the other side of the wall was that Shadow, was the addiction. And then once I could start talking about it.

Can you give us a little bit more of the tips that you recommend for people to look for their Shadow?

Joanna Penn: Yes, because as you say, it is out of sight.

And I feel like glimpsing it out the corner of your eye is sometimes the only way, and also this is the work of a lifetime.

I also recognize that this book is not like a one-and-done thing, right? Oh, check. I found my Shadow. Then I never have to worry about it again.

And I mean, even these things come up over and over again, I have a chapter on midlife that people listening who are not in midlife haven’t faced that one yet and then dying and death. We’re not going to face that one for a while.

In terms of some ideas, so obviously we mentioned there, what triggers you? When do feelings of embarrassment, shame, fear, regrets, some of these emotions that we might say are ‘negative,’ emotions can point us to things.

What do you consume? Looking at what interests you in other people’s art can point to your Shadow.

So I talk about how I’m pretty obsessed with family dramas with multiple siblings. And I’m the eldest of five, my dad, uh, out of two marriages, child of divorce. And some of these things come up for me over and over again, like I’m obsessed with Succession.

I’ve watched the series multiple times. It’s brilliant. It’s Shakespearean in the relationships between the father and the siblings and the love and the hate and the damage of families.

There’s another one I talk about — The Split, which is about divorce. And so again, why do we like this type of thing so much? I think that’s really interesting.

Mining your own writing can be a way to access Shadow.

Memoir might be more obvious, but to write a memoir, you’ve already bought things out of the Shadow.

I examined some of my early, early fiction, and it was only the first time I realized that I had elements of second-chance romance.

I literally would have said I didn’t have any elements of that before — and of course, second chance romance for me is personal. I did find love in a second marriage and all of this kind of thing.

You have to really look at those, I guess the early books, when you’re still, as some people say, clearing your throat, and a lot more of our early writing is more naive in a good way, when we haven’t edited ourselves into submission.

Rachael Herron: And they can be quite autobiographical, don’t you think?

Joanna Penn: Yes, in a weird way.

Rachael Herron: I mean, we would never admit that, but we can see it later.

Joanna Penn: Yes, we can see it later. So I think when I re-edited and rewrote my first three novels, like over a decade later, and then I had another look, I was like, wow, this is really interesting.

Rewriting my first novel

Some of the stuff and my obsession with religion, I write about that and some of these things that come up for us in our writing.

What is your character afraid of? What are your character wounds? What are your character flaws? And what are some of the thematic elements that come up over and over and over again in your writing?

So obviously you need quite a bit of writing to assess that, but even it might be your private writing. And of course, we don’t have to publish everything obviously.

Another way is identifying the shadow personas. And I think writers actually understand this because the Inner Critic is one that we talk about all the time.

And the inner critic is like, your writing is bad. Your ideas are terrible. You’re unoriginal. No one will want to read your book.

I think about that quite a lot because a lot of this stuff holds us back. These fears of judgment, fear of failure, where do those come from?

I discovered my fear of judgment came from a teacher when I was about 11 years old, when I wrote a nightmare about my family.

And she said — you know, I still remember her face, I still have that flush of shame because I’m a good girl. I want the teacher to give me a gold star. And she said — that’s not appropriate. You can’t write that kind of thing. That’s not for this class. And this was an English class.

Rachael Herron: And that was not only like she was calling it bad writing, but she was also calling you bad.

Joanna Penn: Yes, like there’s something wrong with you, and this was in the 80s when they weren’t so understanding about screwed-up kids, right?

Rachael Herron: You just messed this girl up for a long time.

Joanna Penn: Yeah, but I think what’s so crazy is, so people might say, Oh, but that’s just a comment that a teacher made. How did that have such a big impact on your life?

But that’s what I want people to think is, okay, did somebody you respect say something to hurt you? Somebody you loved. I didn’t love that teacher, but I respected her and her opinion mattered.

When we care about things and our writing, we’re all writers, we care about writing. We care about books, and so we have these things on a pedestal.

When people criticize us or hurt us in some way, that can stop us for years and it stopped me. I thought I wasn’t creative for 20 years.

Rachael Herron: It breaks my heart when you say that because even when you started writing books, you said you would never write fiction because you weren’t creative.

Joanna Penn: It is crazy when you think about how these things stop us, so that’s what I want people to think is, we’re all grown adults now, but when you’re thinking about this, you’re actually thinking of that little creative child who was wounded or attacked or criticized, or someone was mean to that little creative child.

And that might be the thing that’s holding you back in your writing. And then of course, I guess another thing we should say is, yes, there can be trauma and terrible things that happen, but it doesn’t have to be that. For me, it was just some words.

We can also be hurt or held back by reflected judgment.

Rachael Herron: What you made me think of too, is that it can be reflected judgment.

What you talked about looking into ourselves for our own judgment, because I know that some of my stuff had I had some of my Shadow parts that I want to keep hidden or have wanted to keep it in the past come from not necessarily somebody saying something to me because I never would have dared to show that I was that kind of person, but I saw other people reacting to people

Before I ever came out to my family. I remember my dad, I was probably 18 and I was madly in love with my best friend, but I was dating her brother and my dad said, Rachael, are you gay? And I said, no, no.

It took me another five years to come out to them, even though in my heart, I knew how I felt, my parents had never said anything but beautiful things about gay people around us and their gay friends.

But I had the reflected judgment that made that into part of my Shadow or fear, in a way, that had to be dealt with.

Joanna Penn: This is such a great example because again, the word Shadow is difficult because people think it’s something wrong or evil, but this is a great example because obviously being gay, you felt you needed to hide it because of what society has said about things.

And therefore you needed to be able to face that fear of judgment. It really is fear of judgment, fear of being ostracized, fear of being attacked. And I mean, it’s awful. It’s terrible what people have faced and continue to face in this way. And that will be different for everyone.

But this is a great example of again, most of this stuff is not evil or immoral or wrong or illegal. And I guess we mentioned before drinking and alcoholism. Again. I like a drink, I’m not sober like you, I integrated it in a different way.

I’m not ashamed of things that I did while drunk, but I recognized that they were not healthy for my life.

The way I dealt with that eventually was to change my job, change my situation. as opposed to stopping drinking entirely, you came about it at a different way.

But I think that’s what we’re saying to people is, you’re right, reflected judgment is something really, really powerful.

Again, this is, this is weird, right? Tattoos. I love tattoos. If I wasn’t 48, if I was 38, I would probably be covered with tattoos. But tattoos, when I was younger, people our age, it was very much a judgment. People who were tattooed were somehow wrong.

Rachael Herron: What’s interesting is we’re the same, I’m just a little bit older than you. I didn’t start getting tattoos until I came out because it was a way of saying f off to the establishment. Yes. Yes. And that was part of it.

Joanna Penn: It’s so funny because I still feel, and I don’t know one of these days I’m going to just do it, but it’s so funny because I remember this internalized sensation of judgment.

No one ever judged me because I don’t have any tattoos, but the judgment that other people put onto others. My brother, all my siblings have tattoos.

My books, Desecration, Delirium, and Deviance, which I’m really proud of, they have a lot of shadow in.

There’s a character in there, O, who has a full body tattoo of an octopus and she represents so much of what is considered unacceptable by certain people.

And I guess coming back to as writers, we have writing stuff that is fascinating and we’re interested in self-growth and change and becoming a better person. And that’s why this is important.

Rachael Herron: I think it is difficult and important. And I also think that as writers, this is one of our superpowers is to have this conversation because sure, one could write shallow books for one’s whole life if one wanted to, but —

I’ve never met a writer who wants to write shallow books.

I’ve met lots of writers who want to make a lot of money and do other things, but they don’t want to write shallow books.

And when we do dive deeply into ourselves, we have to be uncovering these things. So now I would love to ask you as you’re really an expert on using the Shadow and thinking about Shadow as a writer. And so I’m so glad you’ve written this book.

How do you go about incorporating the Shadow into your own writing process as you move forward?

Joanna Penn: Well, for me personally, I think what a lot of this is about tapping into these fascinations and almost doubling down on them.

And I talk about doubling down on being human. But sometimes I think when we’ve written a few books — both of us have written quite a few books — is that we think, Oh, I’ve written a book with this type of character — or plot, or theme — before, so I can’t do that again.

But I think this has made me feel like, do you know, when I keep wanting to write about aspects, questions of faith, questions of religion, questions about the physical body, death culture, all of these types of things, I don’t have to resist that. I can actually say, do you know what? That’s what I am fascinated with and I’m still wrestling with some of these things, so that’s what I’m going to keep writing.

And the people who are attracted to our books are those people who resonate in some way. I have not read a load of addiction memoirs, although I will be reading yours when it comes out because I’m interested in your life and care about you.

We attract readers who resonate with things in our works.

It was really interesting, I think for the first time I was interviewed by a bishop for this book on a podcast called Everyday Spirituality.

And I was so thrilled because I’m not religious, but I am kind of religious because of my fascination and I know so much. I could quote the Bible at you all day, but I’m not actually a Christian.

And so I always feel I felt. almost rejected by that community because I’m not a Christian. Obviously, we all have our communities. But I feel like in terms of our own writing, what we have to do is, just don’t resist the fascinations that we have. Keep writing that and keep going more into it. I think that would be one thing.

The other thing is — and it’s difficult to say it, but to accept who we are, it’s difficult to say, accept who you are. I mean, you know that and you face it and you mentioned the gay community, the gay community faces this more than a lot of people.

But I think it’s about saying —

You’re a mess, I’m a mess, we’re all a mess and we don’t have to pretend we’re perfect.

In fact, I was just reading your Fast Draft Your Memoir again, and you said nobody wants to hear about your perfect life.

Rachael Herron: They do not!

Joanna Penn: And it’s funny because I was thinking when you’re watching a TV show and the first few minutes, everything’s perfect. And you just know that it’s going to go bad quickly.

Rachael Herron: And spiraled out of control and you can’t wait for it. That’s why you stay tuned. You would not stay tuned otherwise. Yeah. and what I love about that answer is that —

Our Shadow and our fascinations about that part of our humanity is what forms our core story and our core story is what brings our readers back to us.

I will one click Leanne Moriarty all day long, just 100 percent of the time because she writes about chosen family, huge, big families and complicated families and she could write a book about complicated family, a book a year for the rest of her life, and I will buy all of them because I will go back for that. And that’s why our readers come to us.

Joanna Penn: Exactly.

And in fact, I just asked my readers what they want from me in terms of my series. And I guess it was great, but also difficult that they want all more books in all my series.

But it’s funny because I was thinking about how that works and how readers pick different things. And in fact, I have three main series and they kind of have elements of similar things, but they all also have different protagonists, although they’re all independent women who struggle with relationships and trust and all those types of things.

So I think the idea also of the book is turning your Shadow into gold — which is Carl Jung’s idea — but in terms of what is gold for you and what I love about this process.

I feel with this book and also with my Pilgrimage book, I already feel like I have the gold. The gold isn’t necessarily money, although it can be, you can make good money by putting your stuff out there, but equally, the creative aspect of writing these books that mean so much to us is really important.

I wanted to encourage people once more. I feel like the writing community, both indie and traditional, we can get focused on writing to the market or writing because an agent said write this or because the Amazon categories say write this, and both of those things are fine if that’s where you are in your writing life.

There are these books of our heart that we have to write because life is short. You never know what’s going to happen.

All kinds of things happen.

Rachael Herron: We never saw the pandemic coming. We never saw any of this.

What I love about that is there’s also this self-confidence that writers get when they’re standing in their truth and I love hearing this self-confidence in you talking about the Shadow in particular because I have been listening to you a long time, maybe 10 years, a couple years before I quit my job and you used to say things on your show that were like, ‘Oh, yeah, but I don’t share personal things.’

And here we are, Jo, on this show! Tell me how you think about that and the way that you have really thought deeply about Shadow work with your books. Do you think that is connected?

Joanna Penn: Yes. And again, I hope this encourages people.

Both of us have grown in public and continue to grow in public.

So this December is 15 years since I started TheCreativePenn.com, since I published my first book and I feel the end of one stage of my creative life and I’m beginning another stage of my creative life.

And part of that is because of this is because I think I do feel that confidence and I really hope for many people it doesn’t take 15 years, but I do feel like it’s almost, you have to push your boundary, your comfort zone, so that circle around you.

So originally on my podcast, I didn’t share anything personal on my podcast for like four years. I thought people came for the interview, but they come for you, the host. People are here because they love you, Rachael Herron.

And they’re like, Oh, I’m interested in this conversation because of what Rachel’s talking about.

Rachael Herron: And then they get hooked on the guest.

Joanna Penn: Some of the guests, some of the guests people will go on and follow, but people come back again and again to a podcast because of the host. So I think that’s something I didn’t realize for years.

And I think part of this is all about, as you say, self-confidence, but also that we think we’re nothing — and in many ways we are nothing. That’s important too.

I was just in Paris and I was walking in Montparnasse Cemetery, and there are a few famous people in there. Simone de Beauvoir is in there. But 99. 9 percent of that cemetery, no one remembers who the hell they are.

We are nothing. Life is short. That can also be quite freeing — because we think everyone’s looking at us. We think everyone is going to judge us and a few people will and we’ll get the emails and the hate, whatever. But actually we have to look at our own creative journey and what we want to put into the world and we help more people.

By doing this we can help ourselves, we can help other people and we can change our own lives.

If you are listening and you are like, there is no bloomin’ way I’m sharing any of this stuff, then that’s totally fine. Don’t worry. You don’t have to go on TikTok like Rachael and just like put it out there.

Rachael Herron: I’ve given up TikTok for a while. I just got over it, I was spending too much time on it, so I just deleted it from my phone. I’ll put it back on someday, but I do not have the time or the bandwidth.

I want to ask people who are like leaning in and going, Oh, I would like to do more of this. And they are going to join your Kickstarter and get the book and read about this.

What are some of the challenges that authors may face while trying to integrate their Shadow into their work?

Joanna Penn: Oh, well. you’re probably feeling right now, like we just said, if you’re going, there’s no way I’m sharing that. That’s completely fine. It’s baby steps.

It’s always tapping into this curiosity impulse or this impulse of how am I feeling about this? And is this something I could potentially write a story about?

So I feel the need now to write a story that’s been bubbling around for a while. When my parents divorced, my dad, at the time, we would only see him not that often and he would come and pick me and my brother up and take us to a zoo. And we’d always go to this zoo.

So this zoo is associated with me in so many ways with my dad and all kinds of complicated stuff. And what’s happened with the zoo, they are going to tear it down and build houses on it.

And it’s so funny, I’m getting emotional already talking about this because I want to write a story where the architect of this new development has these feelings about the zoo and is going to go down under the zoo and what she’s going to find under the zoo in when they’re digging up the foundations is going to be really interesting.

Rachael Herron: Goosebumps!

Joanna Penn: I’ve been thinking about this for a long time, but again, in terms of I feel the need now to write that, I don’t know what she’s going to find there actually at the moment, but digging down under — and I guess it’s also a metaphor — digging down under the zoo for who you really are.

So I guess coming back to practical tips, you need to do some writing, which is tough and you don’t have to publish it. But, the book is full of questions, so there are questions at the end of each chapter.

Rachael Herron: They’re such good questions. I love your questions.

Joanna Penn: The questions are possibly the most important part.

And some questions won’t mean anything, but sometimes there’ll be a question that you’re like, oh, okay — you mentioned resistance — why do I resist this so much? Is there something I should maybe write about there? Or it might spark a memory, as I’ve been talking to people on various podcasts, it sparked memories for people or feelings for people, and maybe that’s the thing to tap into.

Not all of the chapters will be relevant to everyone. But there are certainly chapters on the writing side and publishing that I think probably are relevant to everyone listening. But it would depend on people’s situations. But it is essentially about writing this stuff and then seeing where it takes you.

But again, remember that it’s baby steps. And I mean, your recovery memoir, it’s finished. Right.

Rachael Herron: Oh, it’s been finished. Yeah. It was about 2018. It was about the year of 2018 and I probably finished it in 2021, got it edited and it’s just been sitting around.

Joanna Penn: Right. So that to me feels like something that when you’re ready, you’re going to put out there and I wonder also with this book now, it’s not out yet because it’s on the Kickstarter, but people are going to have it very soon.

So it does feel like it’s very close and I have kind of sweaty palms thinking about that because of the judgment but I think I’ve also learned and you know from your memoir writing that the people who resonate with these deeper books, it does make a difference and I think that’s what we want as writers isn’t it?

Rachael Herron:

To help change someone’s life for the better. That’s why we’re all doing this.

I’m absolutely convinced. This is absolutely gorgeous. So will you please tell us where they can find you and the Kickstarter?

Joanna Penn: If you go to TheCreativePenn.com/shadowbook, that will go to the Kickstarter, October 9th to 25th, and then it will redirect to wherever the book is after that.

It will be everywhere in 2024 if you’re not interested in the Kickstarter, but then there is a special gold foil edition with a black ribbon.

Part of my next 15 years is I want to make more beautiful books, more beautiful physical products, and that’s something that I feel that I really want to do. And which is odd because I really focused on digital for a long, long time and now I want to do both.

So the Kickstarter, TheCreativePenn.com/shadowbook and my podcast is The Creative Penn Podcast. Those are probably the best places to find me.

Rachael Herron: It is a joy to talk to you. Thank you so much for being on the show and thank you for writing this. I’m so glad that you did.

Thanks so much for joining me on this episode of How Do You Write. You can reach me at my website, rachaelherron.com. You can also support me on Patreon and get essays on living your creative life for as little as a buck an essay at patreon.com/rachael and do sign up for my free weekly newsletter of encouragement to writers at RachaelHerron.com/write. Now go to your desk and create your own process. Get to writing my friends.

The post Overcoming Fear Of Judgment To Write The Books That Matter With Joanna Penn And Rachael Herron first appeared on The Creative Penn.

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Author: Joanna Penn

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  • October 17, 2023