Believe it or not, my writing has benefited from my use of social media. And this isn’t just some weird coincidence; there are a variety of upsides to getting involved in the author side of social media that I haven’t seen discussed, which is pity, because social media doesn’t have to be a complete time suck (though it’s still like that at least 50 percent of the time I’m on it).
I’ve found these benefits when I recently restarted my Twitter account and my website. I decided to not restart my Instagram because, well, as a writer, I’m not a fan of pictures (just kidding).
Still, I used to have an Instagram, along with a YouTube channel, a Goodreads profile, and many other accounts on an array of smaller platforms. Originally, when I started building my writing platform, I was much younger, actually wore color instead of all black (an unnecessary yet necessary detail) and was a bit too eager to jump onto every platform instead of finding one to specialize in. Of course, how to deal with social media as an author is a whole other can of worms that I’ll write about…someday.
Anyway, at that time, social media was more of a hindrance than a helping tool, because I forced my writing schedule to revolve around my social media platforms instead of the other way around. That was one of the main reasons I quit, due to that along with over committing to a lot of other things in my life and dealing with several untreated mental health conditions. Basically it was a storm of bad things which caused me to regroup and, eventually re-emerge onto the scene, weary of committing again but willing to put myself out there (this sounds like a weird metaphor for dating, but I promise, it really was how I felt).
To start, I focused on rediscovering the appropriate hashtags for my tweets, and decided to start with the classic #amwriting and #writingcommunity ones I would use to discuss my WIP. Each day, typically in the morning, I would give updates on my novel, ranging from how things were going with my first draft to fun facts about my world or characters.
This setup was ideal for my personal accountability, encouraging me to consistently write, even if I only put down a few words at a time. Other hashtags, such as #vss365 and #haikuchallenge, directly expanded my writing skills by allowing me to tweet stories based around a selected prompt, typically a single word such as “disease” or even “velociraptor” that I’d have to incorporate into my work. The #haikuchallenge hashtag in particular has expanded my skills as a poet, forcing me to write minimalist haikus where each word has to be essential to the message I’m conveying.
Of course, these hashtags would be meaningless if there weren’t other authors participating in them. While I have not yet spent enough time on Twitter to truly cultivate a set community or friend group of fellow writers, I have been here long enough to experience the joy of commenting on other people’s posts and having them interact with me in turn, leaving thoughtful messages that boost my confidence. It’s true that writing can be an incredibly lonely venture, especially since I know no one else in real life who shares my same passion. We need each other if we’re going to make it through the bumpy ride of rejections and demotivation, as well as to celebrate the highs of publication and fervent creativity.
Actually, Twitter (wow, I sound like I’m writing an ad for Twitter; honestly, this can apply to an array of social media platforms and, to an extent, an array of occupations) can not only energize your process but can directly aid it through getting you in contact with agents, publishing houses, and, in my case, writing magazines. I’ve been fortunate enough to be accepted into Ghost Orchid Press’s upcoming anthology, “Home”, and Querencia’s latest issue. I don’t say this to brag, but to encourage you to look up these organizations and publish your own work in them! There’s plenty of small time magazines waiting for wonderful writing such as your own to be featured within their pages. Others I’ve submitted to include Tealight Press and Perhappened!
While I wouldn’t consider my blog to be its own, seperate social media platform, I thought I would include a few of its writerly benefits at the end of this article. Alongside connecting me to an even larger pantheon of authors, my blog has, above all else, allowed me to reflect on my writing process. For instance, in my most recent blog post (well, besides this one of course), I discuss how I’ve become more of a planner over a pantser. In it, I mentioned how I still didn’t plan out my blog posts, despite planning out my novels and short stories. After uploading that article, I realized how ridiculous it was that I didn’t have an outline for each of my blog posts. Since then, I have started making bulleted lists of what I’ll include in each article, starting with this very post!
And, if I am to follow that outline properly, it would be about time to wrap this whole thing up. I’ll end it with a question; do you think that social media has improved or worsened your writing process, and if so, why? Please leave your response in the comments!