Dr Joanna North is a doctor of psychotherapy, a chartered psychologist and a chartered scientist with 30 years of experience working with children, adults, and families. In 2017, she earned the CPS Distinguished Contribution to Psychology in Practice Award for her work with adopted children. Her latest book, Mind Kind, is a simple yet effective guide to the mental health, emotions and behaviour of children and young people. In this book, she provides non-judgemental advice, coping strategies, and explanations that are practical and kind. Her previously published books are How to Think About Caring for a Child with Difficult Behaviour (2010) and Mindful Therapeutic Care for Children (2014). In this interview, she gives an insight into what she has learned from publishing multiple books and how her process has changed over time.
What was the inspiration behind Mind Kind?
I really wanted to reach out to parents. I had worked in child mental health for years and the same questions kept coming up time and time again and I thought ‘people should know this stuff and it should be more easily available.’ I want parents to be confident and feel they are doing well and I hoped the book would support them.
You have published multiple books about caring for children’s minds. How did the writing and publishing process differ with each book?
I think I learned to let writing be more of a process that perfects itself if you are willing to stay in the ring long enough. Writing is not just your first draft – it is the sum total of all your reading and re-reading. You are not just writing when you are writing but you are writing in your sleep and when you are watching the news – your brain will formulate and perfect your manuscript if you give it enough chances. I learned that if you want something put out there – you write it – and let people know about it – don't be afraid to share your writing.
What do you wish you knew before becoming a published author?
Some people will love your writing and some people will not find it very interesting, some people will criticise and some people will question. I learned to have faith in myself and that life is a learning experience that is always changing. Your first book may not be great but the one to follow may be a best-seller. You just have to believe in it and keep writing. Just set aside a little time each day and write – even if it's only half an hour it will be enough.
Was there anything that surprised you about becoming a published author?
I guess we all dream of being a published author and then when it happens it's all very ordinary and you realise that really it was all about very hard work.
Lastly, what advice would you give to aspiring non-fiction authors who are pitching their books to publishers?
Don't give up and keep trying. It does not matter how long it takes or how many manuscripts you send off. But do make sure it's the best version it can be before you send it off. Get someone to read it over at the end and give you feedback and don't be afraid to act on it.