10 People to Follow on Twitter

twitter-bird(A quick aside to those of you not on twitter- the same general principles can be applied to whichever social media you prefer- whether that’s Facebook or Reddit or whatever. If you’re not involved in any social media… well, why not? Assuming you’re a writer, you’re missing some cool opportunities to interact with new faces and places. So give it a shot already!  *climbs back off soapbox*)

When I first signed up for Twitter way back when, I was pretty irritated with all their inane suggestions for who I should be following. (Seriously, I’m not here to stalk Lady Gaga, please stop asking if I want to.) But it didn’t take me long to figure out who I really should be following. A lot of goofiness and guesswork later, I’ve come up with a good starter list that I really wish I could just quietly slip to Past Jill and save her a lot of silliness and trouble. Behold!

News Outlets More than one. I also think it’s important to have them vary in their sizes and/or scope. This way you get the great big global stuff that affects us all, as well as the teeny little slice o’ life stories. And don’t limit yourself to news that only applies to you! On a more temporary basis, I also like to sign on for local news in other places when I’m trying to get into the setting of a new book, or just to broaden my horizons. But for purposes of this list, I’ll keep it to my permanent news outlets. For my global news network, I use @BBCBreaking. For the local stuff, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner’s very own @newsminer.

Industry Pundits There are all manner of industry pundits you can be following. You can stalk the literary agents and editors you’re thinking about querying. You can listen in on industry news or find tips. You can follow publishing houses, literary agencies, writing coaches, freelance editors, whoever- they’re all here. When putting together this list, I again decided to limit myself to two. So I chose two literary agencies that also do advice and answer direct questions. Plus, they’re just super nice people! I give you New Leaf Literary & Media Inc, @NewLeafLiterary, and Fuse Literary, @FuseLiterary, formerly Foreward Literary.

Sprint Runners I’m often on twitter because I have a hard time forcing myself to be doing the things I know I should be doing, and so I like to lurk around and see if I can find anyone willing to run writing sprints with me. (Or giggle over dancing cat gifs. There’s that, too.) So it’s important that I also follow some good sprint runners, accounts that I know can get me motivated to write. My favorite is @NanoWordSprints, the official sprint account of NaNoWriMo; they only running during Nano months, but during those months, they are present an impressive percentage of the day. I also have a special place in my heart for Friday Night Writes, @FriNightWrites, although they don’t do sprints as much as they used to, so it’s hard for me to catch them anymore. (If you’re looking for them, though, hang about on the first Friday of each month.) But I also seem to run into @TheSprintShack pretty often, so between those three, I get a fair amount of sprints in.

(A little different, but related, I recently found the following article at the Sprint Shack useful- Twitter for Writers: 3 Ways to Make Meaningful Connections. I came across it while researching (aka playing around in twitter) for this blog post and thought, ‘How timely!’. Among other things, it taught me about the much feared hashtag.)

Real Humans I Adore So to fill in the gaps between sprint runners, I also have a big batch of personal accounts that I follow.  This actually makes up the vast bulk of the people I follow.  Even if we don’t get around to sprinting, I enjoy being surrounded by like-minded writers who are always willing to kick me in the rear if I ask them to. Also, it’s nice to have people that will actually interact with you when you reach out to them- who are personal persons rather than some organization’s faceless primate who happens to be at the keyboard that day. This list of my well beloved internet buds could go pretty long, so I’m limiting myself to three. I narrowed it down to non-US folk, limit one per country, who are always full of writing encouragement, and who I run into frequently online. And here they are! @melindrea, @SchofieldCM, and @TanteWillemijn. These folks are all fantastic and have kept me going on days when I would have been otherwise lame!  Go check out their coolness!

Other useful accounts to follow would be anything that inspires you. Want pictures of cool abandoned structures? There’s an account for that. Ever wondered what Darth Vader would have to say if given a Twitter handle? There’s an account for that. Want nonstop fluffy cuteness oozing out your feed? There’s an account for that. Whatever gets your creative juices flowing, that’s what you should be seeking out in your social media.

Social media is super cool in that it is all about the connections we make, connections that probably wouldn’t have been possible fifty years ago. Having a healthy social media life (Healthy– don’t sit around doing this all day every day. Not healthy!) is an easy way to connect with other writers, potential readers, maybe future collaborators, publishers, agents, etc. Writing and publishing are tricky, and often lonely, but social media can help it be just a bit easier.

How about you guys? Who do you think I should be following? Let me know in the comments! Pleeeeease! And until next week, happy writing!

Purposeful Pointlessness

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.