Thursday, May 26, 2011

Bryan Cohen - Interview & Giveaway

Please tell us about yourself?

I think one of the best ways to describe me is “a creative guy.” I’ve been involved in a ton of creative projects over the years which currently has me pegged as an independent author involved in the pursuit of self-publishing. I have also been a theatre and film director, an actor, a voice-over artist, a poet, and all sorts of other stuff. I run the website Build Creative Writing Ideas which is my attempt to inspire writers who are stuck due to writer’s block or some tough life circumstances. Several of my books like 1,000 Creative Writing Prompts: Ideas for Blogs, Scripts, Stories and More are meant to help people get out of the muck and become published and happy authors.

Tell us your latest news?

I’m doing this fantastic giveaway of 100 personalized writing prompts that you can win by posting a comment with your e-mail address on this blog. The giveaway runs till June 2nd and the info can be found below.
When and why did you begin writing?

I started writing during middle and high school because I had a tough time expressing myself verbally. By the time I became a sort of loud mouth class clown, I’d thankfully already developed some skills in the areas of writing. In the last few years, my writing pursuits have mostly been connected to helping others with their writing issues. This has given me a great deal of inner happiness and as a result I began this blog tour to spread the word of my books and teachings.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?

During my junior year of college, I wrote a play about my dorm room called Mangum 310 which I later called Chekhov Kegstand. I had this great reading with all of the people I used as inspiration reading for the parts. People enjoyed it a lot and I felt very much like a writer at the end of it all. I later produced the play twice, once in North Carolina and once in Illinois.
How can we find you? Website, Facebook, Twitter, blog, etc. - please share your public links.

Here is a link to my website Build Creative Writing Ideas which has had over 100,000 visitors since it was founded in December 2008.

Here is a link to my Twitter page at @buildcwideas.

My books are all for sale on Amazon and elsewhere and here are some links to those: 1,000 Creative Writing Prompts: Ideas for Blogs, Scripts, Stories and More, 500 Writing Prompts for Kids: First Grade through Fifth Grade, Sharpening the Pencil: Essays on Writing, Motivation, and Enjoying your Life, Writer on the Side: How to Write Your Book Around Your 9 to 5 Job), Chekhov Kegstand: A Dorm Room Dramedy in Two Acts) and the head the un-produced Web series (Covenant Coffee.)

Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time?

For the first time in my life I can actually say that I’m a full-time writer, though not all the writing I do is for myself. I work for a few websites in addition to working on my own materials.

Writing time is tough to come by, even for a full-time freelancer, though I tend to work most effectively in the morning. I get up early and either head over to my local Caribou Coffee or retreat into the kitchen while my girlfriend is still asleep. Sometimes I will change locations in mid-morning as a change of pace to keep the energy moving. I tend to crash a bit in mid-afternoon, so I usually set that as my stopping point.

I try to do all the creative projects for myself first so that I’m the most fresh and interesting when I’m writing that. Once I become boring, I start writing for the other websites :). I will occasionally listen to classical musical or motivational audio books to keep motivated and from time to time I will meditate to give my mind a break from the laptop. If I have completed my creative work for the day and my required freelance work and I am totally spent, I will change gears to house work. If not, I will try my hardest to move forward on other projects like publicity, etc. Publicity is of course, one of the most important parts of writing and I try to get a little bit of work in on that every day.

What do you hope readers will take from your writing?

From my more entertainment-based works like Chekhov Kegstand and Covenant Coffee (and my upcoming novella Ted Saves the World) I hope that people laugh and cry and feel that they’re getting their money’s worth. With my writing books, I really aspire to change people’s lives. I want everybody who reads them to find a way around writer’s block for good. I try to identify the many different kinds of writer’s block and how there is no “one size fits all solution.” With this multi-faceted approach to solving the problem, I hope that readers react by writing for the rest of their lives.

What is the toughest part about being a writer and how do you get past it?

When you are a full-time freelancer like myself, it’s easy to get sucked into time-wasters. If you let these things take over, you’re literally sunk and there is no boss to scold you to get you back onto task. The way I get past it is by creating some compelling goals for myself. One month I tried writing 2,000 words per day in connection to my creative writing and publishing. This allowed me to finish one book and write two new ones from scratch. By giving myself a challenge, it kept me from wasting my afternoons catching up on television or movies. The most effective method of goal setting is to create a big goal for yourself in every area of your life. I’m currently training for a 10 mile race, which is keeping me physically fit and it makes me want to achieve things in the other areas of my life as well.

Is there anything in your story based upon a real life event? If so, tell me about it.

In my book of essays, Sharpening the Pencil I talk about my real-life turning point when it came to writing. I had been struggling for several years after college because I was afraid of both failure and success. I was afraid that if I put myself out there 100% and failed it would prove that I was worthless. I was also afraid that if I made some big success it would add a huge amount of pressure to my life. In an online exchange with bestselling author Alexandra Robbins, who just wrote a book called The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth, Robbins told me that I needed to go toward my fears. The things that were freaking me out were challenges I needed to accomplish. The fear was like a beacon pointing me in the right direction. While my first project with this advice was more failure than success, I continued pushing forward, since I learned so much from this epic failure. By going toward fear instead of away from it and by using what I’d learned, I was able to write my website and later my books.

What is your marketing plan?

Marketing plans are a lot of fun and I actually started in marketing before I became an author. I used to publicize the drama students’ plays during college and once I even went to New York City to do publicity for a show in the NYC Fringe Festival. If you don’t have a lot of money, the best tool you can have for publicity is persistence. I have spent many days e-mailing bloggers to either let me do a guest post or to review my books. This has led to countless sales and opportunities that I never would have dreamed of. Heck, an e-mail I randomly sent off the other day to the big comedy school Second City Chicago may even score me a gig on a panel about “What’s Next?” in comedy to discuss self-publishing. My marketing plan is to keep using persistence until it seems I’ve reached a peak with a book and then moving onto the next one.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

I have a ton of mentors due to my obsession with listening to audio books for motivation. Tony Robbins, Marci Shimoff, Earl Nightingale and Tom Butler-Bowdon have been invading my MP3 player for years. It never ceases to amaze me how easily they can bring me out of a funk or a case of writer’s block.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Here is my advice for writers. Go all the way. It’s great to write your first book, but if nobody ever sees it it’s like it doesn’t exist. Find a publisher or get it self-published. Once it’s published, tell everybody about it like it’s your first-born child. If you are having trouble selling it, tweak things like your cover or book description and keep telling more people about it. Any book can have an audience. You just need to push past your fear and make it happen.

Any special appearances or events coming up that you want to mention?

Here is the info for my giveaway:

Bryan Cohen is giving away 100 personalized writing prompts to one giveaway entrant chosen at random during the blog tour. Personalized prompts are story starters that cater specifically to a writer’s subject matter, strengths/weaknesses, etc. Cohen will create the prompts to cater exclusively to the winner.

He is giving away free digital copies of his book The Writing Sampler to everybody who enters, which includes excerpts from each of his four books on writing. The book contains essays, writing prompts and tips and tricks to enhance your writing skills. In addition, for each of Cohen’s books that reach the Top 500 on Amazon during his blog tour, he will add a $50 Amazon gift card to the drawing (up to six $50 cards in total)!

To enter, simply post a comment to this blog post with your e-mail address. Entries will be counted through June 2nd, 2011.


Post a Comment