Interview with Brittany Barbera
Q.Who are your greatest support – who believes in you?
That’s a hard question because I’m fortunate to have the support of many people, albeit in various ways. My friends and family are in my corner, thankfully. But, if I had to choose one person who has been the greatest support to me through the daily ups and downs of writing my book, that honor goes to my friend and fellow author, Erin Pearson. When I told her I was going to write my book, she decided to write a book as well. It’s been great to share this experience with her. She continually offered a listening ear and when I was struggling and encouraged me—she could understand everything I was going through, because she was going through the exact same process. As an added bonus, it was great to have a built-in “writing date” for accountability purposes and because it made the process more fun.
Q Where do you write from? e.g. Kitchen table? Study? Bedroom? Garden shed?
It varies. I fidget a lot so I like to change things up every once in a while. Generally, I write at my kitchen table or at a coffee shop near my house. However, I’ve also written from bizarre locations, such as a lounge chair at the public pool! I never want to feel like writing is a punishment and I was starting to feel that way over the summer, because I was inside so much. I love the sunshine and especially love the pool, so I decided I’d bring my work along. It probably wouldn’t work for everyone, but it made me feel happy and relaxed and then I enjoyed the process much more.
Q Do you write at set times e.g. morning, afternoon, evening, very early morning?
Not really. I probably should be more consistent about setting a writing time, but my schedule is often unpredictable and I usually just fit it in wherever I can. That said, I wrote most of the rough draft in the morning. Then, I did most of the editing work very late at night and often into the early hours of the next day.
Q What motivates you to write?
Reading or listening to something interesting, often sparks my curiosity and eventually I’ll start writing. I like to understand myself and others better and often ideas come from conversations with friends or experiences I’ve gone through. However, sometimes I am not motivated to write and it is simply the commitment I made to write each day or to complete a particular project that actually forces me to sit down and start writing. As a writer, some days are inspired and other days it’s just plain work. So, you can’t really let how you feel about writing matter all that much, or you’d likely find other distractions and never get around to writing at all.
Q What are the biggest distractions to your writing time?
Anything and everything. I should have a master’s degree in procrastination because I have perfected the process. If I have to identify one central issue, it is that I am an extrovert and writing is a very introverted behavior. While I also enjoy silence and having time to myself to think and work, I need social interaction too. I tend to get distracted easily if I have been spending too much time writing and not enough time with others. Then I will find a way to talk to someone instead of writing, which can be a huge distraction.
Q What part of the world do you live in?
I live in Nashville, Tennessee (USA).
Q Are you from there originally?
No, I am originally from the Northeastern United States (Bethlehem, Pennsylvania). I am a singer/songwriter and moved to Nashville about 4 years ago for professional reasons. I never intended to be a professional writer, but it’s been a pleasant surprise and complements my other professional endeavors.
Q Have you ever suffered from writers’ block?
Of course. I think most everyone does at some point.
Q How do you overcome it?
It depends. There are times when I force myself to sit there and push through it. I may write out a bunch of ideas or talk a friend and see if it helps. I’m also a believer in getting away from your work and doing something completely different. Relax. Read a book. Take a walk. Sing a song. If you feel like you have writer’s block, you may just need to play a little—go have some fun and do something that energizes you. Often, after you’ve taken care of yourself, you can come back to your writing with more focus and creativity.
Q .Have you taken any writers’ courses and have they been worthwhile?
Yes and yes! I joined Self-Publishing School and had a great experience. While the program isn’t necessarily about learning the craft of writing (although it’s something that we talk about almost daily in the community group), it breaks everything down into daily, manageable steps. They guide you through the process of book writing, publishing, and marketing. I followed their advice as I wrote my book and was pleased with the results. (It became an Amazon best-seller the day I launched it and quickly made it to the Hot New Release List as well!)
Q.Have you ever belonged to a writers’ group? And what value did you gain from it?
Yes, I’ve been a part of several writers’ groups but none have been as engaged or helpful as the community of writers I found through Self-Publishing School. Everyone in that community was writing a book and following the same syllabus, so it was easier to connect with each other and offer advice because of the shared curriculum.
Q.Is self-publishing satisfying enough for you or would you prefer to be traditionally published?
I’ve enjoyed self-publishing and currently have no interest in working with traditional publishers.
Q.Have you ever tried to find an agent?
No, I have not.
Q.What would you expect an agent could do for you that you can’t do for yourself?
I’m not sure. It’s not been of interest to me, so I haven’t even explored that option. It could potentially be beneficial if they could help connect me to other organizations for speaking opportunities, but I have no pressing need to seek out an agent.
Q.Do you think you can make a full-time career being an Indie writer?
Yes, of course. I think it takes persistence, and from what I understand it often requires having additional back end products or courses to offer, in order for it to be a profitable career. Book sales are not always enough to make a living, but offer an opportunity to expand your platform and establish yourself as an expert in your field. I am both a musician and an author, so I don’t personally have plans to concentrate solely on writing as a career (although it certainly is plays an important role).
Q.How long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing for most of my life and was first published (poetry) at age 8. I’ve since written magazine articles, scripts, a thesis (for my college degree), songs—and eventually my book. I never concentrated on making writing the end goal, but it was always a skill I was developing.
Basically, I view it the way I view athletic training. I never set out to be a runner, but I loved to play basketball growing up. Part of being a good basketball player is being able to run quickly and have endurance throughout the game. By default, I got better at running and became more fit because our basketball team was required to run and practice drills every day.
As a writer, I had a similar experience. Though my focus was often on something else (a performance of a play or a song / a presentation at an academic conference etc.), I had to continually practice writing and improve those skills in order to complete my projects and successfully accomplish my goals. Thankfully, by the time I decided to write a book, I had already devoted a lot of time to developing the craft.
Q.What drew you to want to write a book?
Jeff Goins is an insightful writer and podcaster that I follow and he shared about an online summit where he (and about 40 other authors) were being interviewed and sharing their expertise. I watched the interviews and felt compelled to write a book of my own. So, I jumped right in and made a commitment to write by book that week.
Q.From where did you get the idea for this current story?
I write non-fiction, so my ideas often stem from personal experience or things I’ve learned through watching others. I’ve done a lot of informal counseling in my personal life and knew I could contribute to that space, and hopefully help a lot of people who are struggling. I’m also a musician and I was working on a song idea that resonated deeply with me. I thought it would also connect with others and wondered if I could expand the song into a book. Once I dissected the song,I eventually used the lyrics as a guide and they became the chapter titles of the book. After Iwrote a rough outline and realized that I actually did have a substantial amount of information to share and could craft into a book, it cemented the idea in my mind and I started writing.
Q.How did you go about developing it?
I started to brainstorm for each chapter and simply list everything I could think of that was related to that particular idea. Then, I’d go back and look for patterns and refine my thoughts further. Eventually, I took those notes and created a rough outline for the book which helped me focus immensely. The clearer I could be about what I wanted to communicate in each chapter, the easier it was to write. Then, it was simply a matter of putting in the time and making it a priority to write each day until it was complete.
Q What is your next project?
I’m currently in the process of recording the music single “Let Me Be Weak,” the song that sparked the idea for writing the book. I’m also writing songs for my next album and plan to raise financial support and record it in the near future. Additionally, I’m promoting my book through podcasts, blogs, and online summits and hope to schedule some speaking engagements where I can further share my message.
About the Author
› Visit Amazon’s Brittany Barbera Page
Brittany Barbera is musician, author, and artist from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, who has found a second home in Nashville, Tennessee, where she currently resides. This dynamic singer/songwriter and author has big things to say and the lyrics and lungs to back it up. Through her music and her writing, Barbera articulates the things so many people struggle to explain, even to themselves. Her wisdom, empathy, and humor spill over into her art, and find their way into the hearts of her loving fans.
Inspired by artists who have an affinity for exploring the texture of their voices, the rich nuance in Barbera’s vocals leave listeners holding onto her notes a little longer each time. In 2013, she released her debut album, titled “The Sparrow,” featuring songs such as “When the Well Runs Dry,” and “Greater than my Faith.” The album is available for purchase on iTunes.
Barbera is an award winning writer, whose work has been published in the devotional book, Keeping the Faith: Christ Over All; the poetry anthology, America at the Millennium: The Best Poems and Poets of the 20th Century; as well as well as various magazines and blogs. Her new book, Let Me Be Weak: What People in Pain Wish They Could Tell You, sheds light on the complex nature of grief and offers practical insights for those wanting to aid in the healing process.
<p.She is anxiously awaiting the release of her new single, “Let Me Be Weak,” a companion to the book, and plans to record her next album in early 2016. When she is not singing or writing, you will likely find her making a mess in the pottery studio, taking a walk, or trying to talk someone into becoming her personal chef.