According to my Twitter profile, I joined the social networking platform in 2009, but it wasn’t until the last month or so that I really began to embrace Twitter. I got tired of the recycled content on my Facebook feed (I’m looking at you TIME Magazine. I can’t count the number of times I’ve logged in to see that article delineating the 14 reasons why I’m so tired all the time. Here’s reason #15: I’m tired all the time because I see duplicative content on my newsfeed.)
The other reason I started to engage more frequently with Twitter was the various recommendations I saw around the web that Twitter is THE PLATFORM for writers. Then, I came across this bit of wisdom (in a Pinterest newsletter, I think, which I regretfully can’t find at the moment. Feel free to link to this insight in the comments if you’ve read/seen it somewhere else) about social media. Facebook is about the past. Twitter is about the present. Pinterest is about the future. I’m all about being in the present so Twitter seems like the natural choice.
I started tweeting more frequently and quickly discovered the magic in Twitter: the hashtag. Not just any clever hashtag, the ones that other people are using. My first tweet where I really felt like I was starting to “get” how the whole Twitter-thing worked was when I found a hashtag that didn’t mean what I thought it meant, and then I tweeted about it:
I can’t tell you what kind of rockstar I felt like when I had one friend and four strangers favorite this tweet. On Facebook I rarely (okay, never) interacted with people I didn’t know. But on Twitter I was having light, micro-conversations with people the way you might strike up a conversation with someone on a plane or in a coffee shop.
Twitter also helped me remember that social media can be fun. I squee when someone who I think is moderately famous favorites one of my replies. I chortle when people live tweet #TheBachelor or dish out clever responses to #FiveWordsToRuinADate. I get a tiny boost of self confidence when I buy a new pair of glasses and the company I purchased them from throws a compliment my way.
The hashtag thing also helped connect me to my field, my people. I discovered #amwriting. There are many opinions about whether or not this is a helpful or distracting hashtag for writers but for me it makes me feel like I’m back in my low-res MFA connecting with writers all over the country (and maybe the world) around a common goal. It makes an arguably lonely profession feel less lonely.
#amwriting led to #PitMad where I found that I could pitch my novel to literary agents and that they might actually respond. Consider my mind blown. I’m still dazed from the magical high that is #PitMad so I’ll virtually introduce you to Brenda Drake, host of #PitMad and other wonderful things, and let you read up on what it is/how to participate in the future. Also, I want to link to Diana Urban who is an author that got her agent through #PitMad and has some great tips on how to write your tweets.
While participating in #PitMad was an amazing opportunity professionally, I liked it just as much because I got to “meet” so many writers. And seeing the goodwill of writers retweeting one another’s pitches and wishing each other luck just reminded me that the publishing industry is not as mean, or scary, or terrible as some people would like you to believe.
Participating in #PitMad also helped me to be a better writer. I’ve heard many a writing mentor say that if you can’t distill your novel down into one sentence then maybe the novel is not as tight as it should be. Having to generate 24 tweets about my novel forced me to use my skills as a writer to convey a large idea and hundreds of pages into one small, compelling sentence. Even if I’m not tweeting about my novel, the social pressure on Twitter to be funny, witty, or have something meaningful to say is like a writing exercise all on its own.
Of course, the most important writing I do is when I’m putting down words on the next novel or short story, but in an age where many writers are the advocates of their own work, it’s nice to know that I can spend time on social media in a productive and fruitful way.
Here are few of my favorite people/companies/parodies to follow. And obvi, if you want to join the fun, follow me!
- Hayes Brown: @HayesBrown. Foreign News Editor/Reporter, @BuzzFeed. Formerly at @thinkprogress. RTs = multiple Russias Today. Thoughts all mine. Tips, etc: hayes.brown AT buzzfeed dot com
- Neil Gaiman: @neilhimself. will eventually grow up and get a real job. Until then, will keep making things up and writing them down.
- Roxane Gay: @rgay. I write. I want a tiny baby elephant. I love Ina Garten. Now: An Untamed State (Grove Atlantic) and Bad Feminist (Harper). Next: Hunger (Harper, 2016)
- Linda Holmes:@nprmonkeysee. Writer at NPR’s pop culture blog, Monkey See; host of NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour. Formerly of Television Without Pity.
- Glen Weldon: @ghwelcon. Writes/podcasts for NPR and other places. Unauthor, SUPERMAN: THE UNAUTHORIZED BIOGRAPHY. Author of THE CAPED CRUSADE, coming 2016 from Simon & Schuster.
- Barry Allen Facts: @BanterWithBarry. Barry Allen parody account! Not associated with the The Flash.
- inbox tattoos: @getinkbox. A New Way to Tattoo. Natural ink-based tattoos that last 12-15 days. Check out our tats on our website below!
- Saved You A Click: @SavedYouAClick. Don’t click on that. I already did. (Tweets by @jakebeckman)
- Warby Parker: @WarbyParker. Welcome to Warby Parker! (Pleased to meet you.) Questions? Let @WarbyParkerHelp know.