Johnson County Library interviewed our founder, Jessica Conoley.
Jessica loves presenting at this local writers’ conference every year, and she had a blast sharing her Most Important Choice of Your Creative Career: Mindset class.
Jessica Conoley has been on the faculty of our Writers Conference for years for a reason: attendees love her. They relate to her, respect her, and consistently tell us that her sessions are full of information, interesting, and engaging.
And that’s no surprise to anyone who’s spent any time with Jessica. She’s not only an accomplished writer and creative careers coach; she’s curious about others and genuinely interested in seeing people live their dream.
Jessica writes both fiction and non-fiction. Her fiction falls into the fantasy genre, where she creates dark and Ghibli-esque worlds with nods to her beloved 80s action films. Her non-fiction focuses on personal essays and career advice with a focus on mental wellbeing. Jessica also founded and leads The Creative’s Apprentice, where she provides step-by-step, easily implementable mindset and educational guidance so creatives can stop worrying about all of the “business stuff they’re supposed to do” and focus on the creative work they love to do.
Jessica was kind enough to participate in a little bit of Q&A so you can get to know her better before meeting her at the conference:
Why do you write? I write fiction to process the emotional/subconscious things I’m not ready to process in reality. For example, the book I signed with my agent for is a fantasy prison escape novel. A few years after I finished it I realized I was processing how I felt working in corporate America and my need to break free of a career path that was unhealthy for me. I think writing the book helped me find the bravery to leave that traditional 9-5 & start my own creative career. I write nonfiction to help other people. I have a knack for simplifying & de-scarying business and then teaching mentally healthy business practices to people. I find it very rewarding when my non-fiction writing empowers writers and other creatives.
Who do you read? Whose work sustains/inspires/challenges/soothes you? I read a lot of SFF (science fiction/fantasy), Nnedi Okorafor, Naomi Novik, Katherine Addison, Becky Chambers. I also read a ton of business/behavioral science/marketing/energy type stuff. My go to books in the hardest year of my life were Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist & Caroline Myss’s “Anatomy of the Spirit”.
How does being a business owner inform your own creative work? I see business as a creative medium in and of itself. My goal is to run a company where we find energy giving or energy neutral ways to grow our individual creative careers and help others. Anytime there’s an energy draining task that we hate to do, (marketing is the white whale of course) my job is to explore and find a different way to do it that doesn’t feel like a drag.
What excites you about what you’re teaching at the Writers Conference? I love helping writers meet their writing career goals, but what surprised me was how many people were living their dream & still tormented with anxiety and stress. It became my mission to help writers reach their career milestones AND enjoy living their dream in the process. Historically, the mental health of writers hasn’t been at the forefront of conference programming, but this year we had multiple organizations came to us super excited about the topic. It gives me hope that we as an industry are ready to embrace a healthier mental way of going about our writing dreams.
What do you really want attendees to know about you? You can live your creative dreams and do it in a mentally healthy, sustainable way that can bring in money. It will take work, time, and investment in yourself. But you are worth it and you deserve to be happy and bring your writing to the world simultaneously.
You can keep up with Jessica by visiting her website (linked above) or on Instagram and Twitter at @thecreativesapp
—written by Lisa Allen, adult services specialist
This post first appeared on www.jocolibrary.org/