Joanna Penn writes non-fiction 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.

The Successful Author Mindset by Joanna Penn

The Successful Author Mindset. A Handbook for Surviving the Writer's Journey

Being a writer is not just about typing. It's also about surviving the roller-coaster of the creative journey.

Self-doubt, fear of failure, the need for validation, perfectionism, writer's block, comparisonitis, overwhelm, and much more. When you're going through these things, it can feel like you're alone. But actually, they are part of the creative process, and every author goes through them too.

This book collects the mindset issues that writers experience, that I have been through myself over the last nine years, and that perhaps you will experience at different times on the creative journey.

Each small chapter tackles a possible issue and then offers an antidote, so that you can dip in and out over time. It includes excerpts from my own personal journals as well as quotes from well-known writers. I hope it helps you on the road to becoming a successful author.


Joanna Penn somehow manages to maintain a dynamic fiction writing career while running the one of the most influential writing podcasts in the entire world. Did I mention she puts up a new podcast every week? She does. And she has the vision to see how the podcast, the nonfiction, and the fiction combine into a career. She's enthusiastic and positive, both traits you'll find in this book. If you're new to Joanna's work, this book will show you why the fiction-writing world finds her so inspirational. – Kristine Kathryn Rusch



  • "…many passages of this book felt like [Joanna] was speaking directly to my soul – to that place inside every writer that is vulnerable and sensitive … This book reaches out to that part, gives it a hug and tells it to not be afraid."

    – Nataliya
  • "If you've ever suffered from writer's block, imposter syndrome, perfectionism or comparisonitis, you'll find reassurance, acceptance and practical ways through. If you're underpowered and lacking mojo, you'll find inspiration and tactful butt-kicks."

    – Jules
  • "This book will be one I keep with me over my journey going back to it again and again for perspective, encouragement, and guidance."

    – Linda
  • "I needed this book like oxygen last year. Please, Joanna Penn, go back in time and write it in 2014. If you're starting out, read it now and save yourself blood, tears, pain, more tears, frustration, anger, and self-hate."

    – Emma
  • "A fresh, honest approach on conquering the thought-processes that come at nearly every step of the indie-author journey."

    – Daniel



Why this book?

The act of writing and creating words on the page is an inherently lonely thing. Sure, there are writers' groups and communities online and off, but when actually writing, you're alone with your own mind, and that can be the most difficult thing.

Even if there's no one criticizing you externally, you still have that voice inside that tells you how terrible your words are, how you will never make anything of yourself creatively, how pitiful your attempts are at creation. You battle negative thoughts and the ebbs and flows of writing energy.

And it seems like you're alone.

But in fact, all of us who write are bobbing around in this ocean of creativity, going through the same issues. I feel the same way you do, and as I started to talk about my own thoughts and feelings around writing, I found many others going through the same things, even experienced authors who had been writing for over forty years. I discovered that I wasn't alone.

So this book collects the mindset issues that writers go through, that I have been through myself over the last nine years, and that perhaps you will experience yourself at different times on the author's journey. These words are an attempt to help you understand that what you're going through is normal and to be expected as part of the creative process.

Each small chapter tackles a possible issue and then offers an antidote, so that you can dip in and out over time. It's not a craft book on how to write, and there's no information on publishing, book marketing or making money as a writer. I cover those topics in other books. This is purely about the emotional rollercoaster of being a writer and how to deal with those issues along the way. I've included excerpts from my personal journals over the years and quotes from well-known writers so you can see how universal these aspects are to the creative process, even if not all of the book is relevant to you right now.

The book is broken down into sections:

Part 1 goes through the potential issues you may face during the creative process of writing.

Part 2 tackles what happens after you publish and as you move through the author journey into successive books.

Part 3 offers some tips for successfully managing your author mindset in order to foster a long-term creative career.

This has not been an easy book to write, because I bare my creative soul in these pages, but I hope that it helps you understand that you're not alone.