A bit more than a year ago (at the same time that I was starting this blog, in fact), I joined Twitter. It took me a few months to finally commit to the decision and I definitely went into it with hesitation. After all, Twitter was dumb. That was the place you went to whine about your oh-so-difficult first world problems and stalk celebrities who don’t care that you exist. How was that supposed to help my writing career? Or any other aspect of my already busy life?
But it turns out that social media, like most things in life, is what you make it. Shockingly, when I joined Twitter (or Facebook or Pinterest or any other social media outlet), my IQ didn’t drop twenty points and I didn’t magically become a trolling, whining, cat-picture-posting maniac. I pretty much stayed me. But with improved access to other humans.
My use of social media is very intentional. Each medium has a specific purpose. I use Facebook to (occasionally) distribute pictures of my kids to my family just often enough that they don’t lynch me. I use Pinterest to get new recipes and crafting ideas. And I use Twitter to connect to other writers and members of the writing industry. As long as I bear those purposes in mind, I seem to do alright in keeping my time on those websites productive.
Productivity doesn’t necessarily mean that every interaction I have on Twitter results in a new story idea or a tip on a new agent or a connection to a magazine that might be interested in one of my short stories. It doesn’t necessarily mean I’ve learned a new industry secret or a new self-publishing platform or a super-secret duper-awesome writing competition that will change my life forever. Sometimes I just goof around with my internet friends. Sometimes we yak about what we think about a new trend that we love/hate/don’t understand. And, yes, sometimes we giggle about so-and-so’s boss showing up in her cubicle right in the middle of a ninja wordsprint. (I’m looking at you, Madison.) Sometimes it has nothing at all to do with writing. But it always results in encouragement.
I live in the hills outside of Fairbanks Alaska, where I keep chickens and turkeys from being eaten by things besides me, do my darnedest to homemake anything and everything possible, and raise a pathetic garden and fantastic kids. I rarely leave the property. If not for Twitter, I would be more or less alone in the writing world, a forgotten outpost on the fringes of the wilderness. I could decide one day to never write again and absolutely no one would notice. No one would stop me. It would be over without a whisper of protest.
Those silly conversations, the pointless ones, the non-furthering-of-my-career ones, connect me to other writers and to a world at large. They introduce me to new writers with new stories in new styles. I get to meet other people who are serious about writing, but without being too serious. I make new friends, despite never seeing more than a thumbnail photo of them. So then on the weeks when I’m feeling graceless or uncreative or just plain lazy, I have a feed full of cheerleaders to talk me through my plot holes and goad me back to work. And on weeks like these last few, that can be absolutely vital. It’s not quite the hoards of literary agents clamoring to be my friend that I first envisioned when I joined Twitter, but those internet buds so often make the difference between writing and not writing.
Which makes the difference between me being a writer… or not.