The best writing is rewriting. I once read a book called “Shitty First Drafts.” The author discussed getting out of your ‘editor’ mode and staying in the ‘creative’ mode to get your story written. He says your first draft is going to be horrible and that is okay; just get the words out. That has been something that has resonated with me for years. Even my Soror Author Victoria Christopher Murray calls it “vomiting on the page.” Don’t try to make that first draft perfect because it’s not supposed to be. Just get the story on the paper. It’s so much easier to polish it up later.
As part of my interview series on the five things you need to know before becoming an author, I had the pleasure of interviewing Briana Cole.
Briana Cole is known as The Literary Drama Queen because of her passion for writing and acting. She began writing short stories and poetry at a young age, then went on to use her poems to start a greeting card business in high school. After graduating Cum Laude from Georgia Southern University, she signed with Kensington/Dafina Books and published the critically-acclaimed Unconditional series.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you share a story about what brought you to this particular career path?
Writing has been a passion of mine since the age of six. I believe it all started with my love for reading. When I was younger, I devoured books quicker than my mom could purchase them and pretty soon, my shelves were stocked full of Nora Roberts, Kimberla Lawson Roby, Maya Angelou, and the like. The more I read, the more I would think to myself, ‘I can do that.” So, I allowed my mind to wander. Before I knew it, I was writing short stories and drawing pictures to accompany the stories (even though I couldn’t draw at all). Being able to express my creativity was extremely rewarding and I loved making up characters and putting them in strange situations. I knew then that writing was my purpose.
Can you share the most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your career?
The most interesting story was how I found my literary agent, N’Tyse. I was already familiar with her work though I never knew she was a literary agent. We were Facebook friends and I just so happened to see a post of hers regarding a client. I sent her a private message and we set up a time to talk. From the moment we jumped on the phone together, I knew this relationship was destined. N’Tyse and I have so much in common and she was just as passionate about my author career. She saw my vision. Within a month of signing with her, N’Tyse secured me a three-book deal with my current publisher Kensington/Dafina Books. She and I have gone on to collaborate on numerous projects in both the literary and film spaces. I suppose it’s interesting because our relationship all started with a simple DM (direct message) on social media and it elevated my career to the next level. I am eternally grateful for N’Tyse’s influence on my success.
What was the biggest challenge you faced in your journey to becoming an author? How did you overcome it? Can you share a story about that that other aspiring writers can learn from?
The biggest challenge I faced in my journey was finding time to write. Like many aspiring writers, I had a full-time job separate from my writing career. Plus, I was juggling home life with being a mother along with my other business ventures. There were only so many hours in a day and it was difficult trying to devote the time necessary to get my story written. I overcame this challenge in a few ways. First, I put myself on a schedule. I committed to writing daily, even if it wasn’t a lot. I also mobilized my drafts, writing on-the-go using tools on my phone and iPad. This helped me to fulfill my daily writing goals. Another technique I used to ensure I found time to write, was I removed all distractions. I deleted my social media applications. It was temporary but I felt confident that I would spend my valuable time getting my writing done if I wasn’t tempted to play on Facebook. Small adjustments like this freed up some of my time. And that twenty or thirty minutes a day began to add up which encouraged me to continue writing to ensure I got my story finished.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Well, I don’t know if it’s really funny. It certainly wasn’t funny at the time, though I can look back and chuckle. I am telling my age, but this was back when we were still using floppy disks. Once, I wrote an entire novel and saved it on a floppy disk. I made the mistake of saving some schoolwork on the same disk, replacing my story. I was so upset, I actually cried real tears. To this day, I was never able to recover the story, nor do I remember what it was about. I don’t even think it was any good, but I hate that story will never be shared. The lesson I learned was to never save your story in only one place. Thankfully, we don’t use floppy disks anymore but even still, I make sure to have multiple drafts on various devices. I even email myself after I finish a new chapter. Never again do I want to be in the situation of losing my work. It’s traumatic.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
My biggest project right now is that I am wrapping up a movie! It is called Pseudo and it is a psychological thriller loosely based on my novella of the same name to be released in September of this year. I am thrilled about this movie. Not only did I write the screenplay, I also executive produced it and I am acting in it as well.
Can you share the most interesting story that you shared in your book?
I believe my story in The Marriage Pass is interesting enough in and of itself. A couple celebrating their anniversary gives each other a marriage pass, an open invitation to indulge in one night free to do whatever they please, with whomever they please. For the husband Dorian, this appears to be like a man’s dream come true. But readers will see that this just opened the door to Pandora’s box, and the domino effect of consequences is far worse than he could have imagined.
What is the main empowering lesson you want your readers to take away after finishing your book?
In addition to being entertained, I want my readers to take away the lesson that “all that glitters isn’t gold.” Sometimes we may want certain things and it looks attractive. But some things can be deceptive.
Based on your experience, what are the “5 Things You Need to Know to Become a Great Author”? Please share a story or example for each.
- The best writing is rewriting. I once read a book called “Shitty First Drafts.” The author discussed getting out of your ‘editor’ mode and staying in the ‘creative’ mode to get your story written. He says your first draft is going to be horrible and that is okay; just get the words out. That has been something that has resonated with me for years. Even my Soror Author Victoria Christopher Murray calls it “vomiting on the page.” Don’t try to make that first draft perfect because it’s not supposed to be. Just get the story on the paper. It’s so much easier to polish it up later.
- Be disciplined. I used to write when I felt “inspired” and that led me to procrastinate. Pretty soon, years had gone by and I hadn’t written anything. It takes discipline to be a great author and that means writing even when you don’t necessarily want to. Make it a habit to write consistently. Set your triggers, if necessary, to put you in that creative space whether that is music, sitting at the lake, or reading.
- Make sure you write what you want. When I first started out, my previous publisher had me change my story from light romance to raw erotica. I complied, thinking that was what I needed to do to sell more books. It was a marketing strategy, but I was very unhappy with that erotica series because I never wanted to write in the erotica genre, nor be known as the “sex author.” Eventually, I switched publishers and genres so I could write what I wanted. Now I am proud of the work I release and more fulfilled in my author journey.
- Rejection is okay. I was rejected by several publishers and agents before I found my fit. The rejection letters I received were actually motivating. Plus, it allowed me to shop around and find the perfect agent and publisher for me. Everything happens for a reason and a ‘no’ can just mean ‘not with me’ or ‘not right now.’
- Mental relaxation is a must. Between writing, rewriting, edits, marketing, interviews, and everything that comes with being an author, it’s sometimes easy to forget to take care of yourself. Don’t ignore the importance of mental relaxation. It makes the process that much easier because you are refreshed, rejuvenated, and at peace.
What is the one habit you believe contributed the most to you becoming a great writer? (i.e. perseverance, discipline, play, craft study) Can you share a story or example?
I would definitely have to say my organization. I love to plan and set priorities and goals, and everything goes on my calendar, so I don’t forget. For example, I usually set weekly goals for what I need to accomplish (write five chapters, finish my website, take promo pictures, etc.). This ensures I stay on track for my long-term goals.
Which literature do you draw inspiration from? Why?
Anything new. I am such a greedy reader that I can plow my way through a new story in less than a day if I am engaged. Reading new stories and meeting new characters are my inspiration. Reading gets my creative juices flowing so there is no one particular piece of literature I gravitate to; more so literature in general.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I would start an initiative for the homeless population. This would include providing more housing, jobs, education and resources for the community to put them in better positions; almost like a campus with everything at their disposal. I would also hire them on as employees at the centers so they could work and become more self-sufficient.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
I am very active on social media. Readers can visit my website at brianacole.com, follow me on Twitter or Instagram at @bcoleauthor, and also like my Briana Cole page on Facebook. Feel free to also follow me on TikTok at @brianacole3.
Thank you so much for this. This was very inspiring!