Ask any professional, full-time author what the biggest drains on their writing time are (or would be if they let it) and social media will inevitably come in the top 5, if not sit at #1. Many professional writers and authors I’ve met force themselves to get off social media or even off the internet completely during their writing time in order to actually get something done. Now I’m not a full-time author, but I can tell you social media is pretty high on my list of time vacuums and I really don’t GET a lot of time to write!
But my relationship with social media and in particular Twitter is one coloured with romance – a romance specifically to do with getting my novel finished. You see there was a time when Twitter saved my novel from never being written and me from never writing again…
Some two years ago, I had a novel languishing, untouched for many months, at the bottom of a very deep pit of zeroes and ones (I have not done “paper” since around 1997). I had gone through long stints of serious writing and I had what I felt were probably enough words to craft maybe a single book, but none of it felt finished. It was like a never-ending saga without climax or closure, just a series of what I felt were pretty awesome scenes.
It was around this time that my friend Grizzlee & I were dipping our respective toes into Twitter to try and engage with football (that’s Australian Rules
football & specifically the AFL to us) fans for our new Podcast One Troll Short (now defunct)…(oh well). We started following people we found interesting who were inevitably football fans & personalities, AFL clubs or porn stars (because of course).
As it turned out, one particular cam girl Grizzlee followed (now I’m dropping him in it) posted a great deal about her general life and her friends and tweeps which I found far more engaging than many of the other adult industry folk who only posted advertising & pictures of their anatomy, so I followed her too. While I can’t even remember the name of this person (sorry), I followed her and found she had a number of conversations with an author friend of hers. This interested me immediately because I considered myself a writer (if not an actual author) and I started following the author friend (who I again can’t remember the name of).
Over time I gathered the courage to engage in a few of the threads between this author and her other author tweeps. Two particular author tweeps of this person were PROLIFIC on Twitter and they started to actually respond to me (unlike unknown original author person). Both of these folks posted hilarious tweets, links, and videos and are two of the friendliest, loveliest people I’ve met on social media. Their names are Leigh Ann Kopans & Megan Whitmer. They’re published authors now and don’t spend NEARLY as much time on Twitter as they used to (I MISS YOU!!), but back then, they were finishing manuscripts and doing an AMAZING job of building an author platform.
Megan was so engaged that she started a movement of writers sprint-writing their manuscripts of a Friday night (which ended up being a Saturday morning here in Australia). She called it #WriteClub (@FriNightWrites) and it was incredible. I joined Write Club for a few Saturday mornings until finally some more magnificent tweeps (Renee Wynne, Rochelle Sharpe & Emily Mead) started running the Write Club sprints on a Friday Night in Australia. I spent many a Friday night sprinting, tweeting & enjoying the writery company and, though I never got involved in organising it (because I had commitments most Friday nights and Saturday mornings), Write Club is truly what got me writing again.
As the months went by and my tribe of author tweeps grew and changed (essentially taking over my Twitter account), I also began to learn things about writing, about being an author, about the publishing industry and about how to do this damn thing FOR REAL.
One of the most important things I learned early on was that a full, completed first draft of a novel should be between 70,000 and 80,000 words. When I learned this, I went back and checked how many words I’d written on my own novel: oh only around 350,000 words.
FUCK – I have 3 novels here!!
That’s right. 3 whole novels already drafted, just not cut & edited. So of course, I picked a point at which I wanted to slice the story and deliver a single finished novel and started editing. And, of course, writing to an ending (something else I learned).
So now, here I am days from finishing my 2nd draft (yes, it’s taken me this long, shut up) and I just wanted to give up a thank you to all of the magnificent author tweeps I’ve met along the way, interacted with, learned from and hopefully taught a few things to (I have some skills, just not necessarily in publishing) and while I still find myself drawn away from my manuscript by Twitter and other social media, I always feel a sense of warmth toward it because social media is very much what saved me from losing writing altogether.
Every day, I interact with other writers and authors from all sorts of places and this is what I feel is the magic of Twitter and social media. The ability to connect with not just a few, but HUNDREDS of like-minded people around the world and draw inspiration, wisdom, courage and benefit from their experience to enhance your work, your life or your passion and to share your own experiences to potentially help others do the same.
So I’d just like to say thank you to my writery tweeps (those are both totally words) for their time and for their inspiration.
SO THANK YOU SO MUCH (in alphabetical order because of course):
Ann Bisky (wherever you are)
If I missed anyone or if I’ve spelled your name incorrectly I’m sorry – I want to thank every publishing industry person I’ve interacted with, but alas there are too many (and I was a bit lax with the proofreading). Just know that you are appreciated.