Today I’m talking to fellow nonfiction author Beth Barany. Beth is an award-winning novelist, master neuro-linguistic programming practitioner, and certified creativity coach for writers. She specializes in helping writers experience clarity, so they can write, revise, and proudly publish their novels.
She runs an online school for fiction writers and a 12-month group coaching program to help them get published. When she’s not helping writers, Beth writes romance, mystery, and adventure.
Tell us something about your books.
In addition to being a novelist of fantasy, romance, and science fiction, I’m also a writing teacher and as such have written 4 books for writers to date, and curated one anthology for writers.
As a teacher, I think books are a great way to create portable instruction that encourage writers to get into action. My first book was called Overcome Writers Block and is a short and sweet ebook with 10 tips to help writers get writing. I offer tools both for step-by-step thinkers and writers who want lots of playful choices, so that writers can approach their work from different angles.
My next book for writers was The Writer’s Adventure Guide. This is a self coaching guide to the writing process based on the hero’s journey. It’s full of exercises and lots of white space, so you can actually use this book as a workbook.
My third book for writers was Twitter for Authors: Social Media Book Marketing Strategies for Shy Writers, a book designed to help writers get comfortable with marketing.Like the previous two books, it comes with action steps that authors can apply to building their social media presence.
My latest book for writers is called Plan Your Novel Like A Pro: And Have Fun Doing It!. This book is based on the popular course we offer in our school, Barany School of Fiction. I co-wrote this course with my husband Ezra Barany and of course the book is co-written with him also. Every chapter comes with an explanation, examples, and of course action steps that writers can take to immediately start planning their novels in a step-by-step and fun way.
I have some other nonfiction books for writers in the hopper, but I’ll stop here for now!
What inspires you to write? Who are your favorite writers?
I’m inspired to write books for writers because I want to help them get writing, and books are an affordable way to access knowledge from teachers.
Some of my favorite writing teachers are Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird, Writing Down The Bones by Natalie Goldberg and a classic, If You Want to Write: A Book about Art, Independence and Spirit by Brenda Ueland.
How do you start writing? Do you have a process or do you fly by the seat of your pants?
My books for writers either started out as blog posts or as courses or sometimes both. I like to present my material in short bits and bites to students and the general public and then get feedback and questions.
By the time I’m ready to write a book, the material has gone through many drafts and much field testing. Sometimes the material starts out just on a whim and I have no idea that a book will come out of it. The Overcome Writers Block book started that way and so did Twitter for Authors. The Writers Adventure Guide and Plan Your Novel Like A Pro both developed from courses and workshops I gave.
How has your writing process changed since you started writing?
I still develop material on a whim and I still develop material with a class in mind. The only thing that has changed is that I’m more familiar with the process of creating a nonfiction book for writers. And it’s just as creative and fun as ever. I never really know what the endform will be until I’m deep in the editing process.
How long does it normally take you to write, and what proportion of the time is spent doing what?
Since I write articles and develop curriculum in between everything else I do including writing fiction, it’s really hard to say how long these things take.
But I would say that from the meandering and creating process to the process of having a book to give to readers can take years. I don’t really track it per se because I’m always creating content that might one day become a book.
In the meantime, the material serves as a marketing tool, lecture, workshop, or piece of curriculum and right now it’s helping writers.
What is your favorite part of the writing process?
When I write for writers as a teaching tool, I love thinking about the person who might be at the beginning stages of the creative process or might be stuck in some knotty problem. I like talking to them and thinking about them as if we are together in a classroom or meeting over coffee.
Since I’m first and foremost a teacher, I really love imagining that interaction and helping the writer. I speak from experience because I still vividly remember what it’s like to be a beginning writer and I still encounter many challenging problems in my work as a novelist.
Do you involve other people in your writing, as collaborators or editors? How do you make this work?
In my books for creative writers, I involve many people.
Usually my husband is one of my first editors and sometimes a collaborator. All my students function like collaborators. Their questions and wonderings help me make these books better.
I also involve lots of people for feedback on the cover, back cover blurb, and other aspects of marketing the books.
Do you have any writing tips you’d like to share with readers?
If you’d like to write nonfiction for writers or for different audiences, I do recommend that you start small. Maybe start out by writing blog posts or teaching a short class. There’s nothing like putting your information in front of your intended audience that will help you improve, see if your work is really helping your audience, and encourage and inspire you to keep going.
Thanks to Beth for talking to me about her writing process and sharing her advice.
You can find resources on publishing, marketing, and novel writing on her blog, Writer’s Fun Zone (for which I’ll be writing a guest post very soon).