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Why I Love Twitter as a Writer

o-TWITTER-facebookI know several people who don’t get Twitter. They don’t see the point. Personally Twitter is my favorite social media. It wasn’t always like that, when I started out I thought it was pointless, just a way for people to stalk celebrities. But I changed my mind.

So what’s so great about Twitter? Well, it’s all about breaking down wall. And for that reason it’s utterly amazing! For the first time fans have easy access to their favorite writer, musician, or artist.  They can interact with each other creating a richer experience for both parties. Twitter lets us to connect with people from all over the world, allowing us to form communities of diverse likeminded people.

As a writer I love being able to follow my favorite authors and interact with them, but I also love being able to get to know Indie writers, and people starting out. I’ve made friends from all over the world and found wonderful sources of information.

But you have to know how to use Twitter to get a good experience out of it. When I started out I would follow anyone who had similar interests and automatically follow back anyone who followed me. The problem was I started clogging up my feed with mega accounts who posted hundreds of advertisements for their books or whatever else they were trying to push. It was annoying.

Over time I became more selective about who I followed and I started unfollowing anyone who only posted ads. For me as a writer, one of my main goals is to build a future readership. So when I publish my first book I’ll have a group of people, already following me, who will be interested. But I also want to make friends, have connections, gain contacts, and just interact with real people around the world.

As a rule of thumb I usually follow people who have anywhere from a few hundred to ten thousands followers, anymore than that and it’s less likely we’ll ever interact on Twitter. That said I will follow Tweeters with lots of followers if they have good content or I’m a fan of their work in someway.

When people follow me I try to tweet them back thanking them for following, but not one of those default tweets that sounds like I’m a soulless robot. I try to look at their profile and find something that I can comment on to make it more personal. To show that I’m not a computer, or a person who only cares about the numbers and not the people.

My goal isn’t to have a bazillion followers, it’s to build community and connect with my followers.

But even if you are somewhat selective you do want to follow people so they’ll hopefully follow you back and their friends will then follow you and you’ll become super popular and your first book will sell a million copies (ideally). The point is, if your a writer or any kind of artist is to have an audience. As such even with quality people on your feed it’s going to get crowded and confusing. That’s where lists come in. Lists are a life saver. I have lists for writers I follow, musicians, artists, as well as lists for people I’ve gotten know, who I don’t want to get lost in the sea of random followers. I’m not going to say a lot about lists because I just started utilizing them myself, but they’re very helpful–USE THEM!

Speaking of utilizing, don’t be afraid to ask questions on Twitter, sometimes it really pays off. Recently I was working on creating a setting for the novel I’m writing, and I asked if anyone had any good ideas for making certain the setting was geographically believable. I got some good responses. Don’t be afraid to throw things out there, sometimes it passes soundlessly into the void, but sometimes the void speaks back (not being overly dramatic at all.)

So that’s my advise for Twitter, basically instead of shouting at people like a Newsie on the sidewalk, hoping someone will stop, try having conversations with people. They’re far more receptive toward you and your art if you’re not flinging it at them.

If you have anything to add feel free to leave a comment, I’d love to hear about other people’s thoughts and strategies.

~~Lady of the Pen~~

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Adventures

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Beit Shean and the amazing Roman city of Scythopolis.

Good day loyal readers. I apologize for not writing regularly for the last few months, I’ve been distracted by adventure. I spent a couple of weeks overseas in Israel at the end of February. This was my first trip over the Pond and it turns out that large scale adventures take up a lot of time before you ever take to the air and once you’ve had them it takes time to recover and acclimate to ones normal life once more. So put simply I’ve been distracted and am attempting to return to a regular writing routine.

I’ve discovered that there are things in life that we know in our heads, but don’t truly become real for us until we see them for ourselves. For me it’s easy for faraway places to seem obscure and nearly fictional. Israel was a place I’ve read about, seen pictures of, and seen in movies, but to actually go there was a little like finding myself in Narnia (minus the magic and talking animals.) It was strange to exploring this country which I had ever only known second hand.

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View of the Old City from The Mount of Olives

The landscape was very green this time of year and beautiful. I had more fun exploring ancient ruins than anyone has a right to have. I love old things and in Israel it’s hard to throw a rock without hitting something ancient. It’s amazing to see the remains of civilizations thousands of years old and get a small glimpse into how they must have lived. It made the past come a little more alive for me.

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Streets of Jerusalem.

I learned new things, saw new places, and gained a broader perspective of the world and I know some of that will seep into my writing.

I feel incredibly fortunate to have had the opportunity to travel to Israel and I hope to travel more. For now I’ll continue to focus on my writing and see what the future brings.

~~Lady of the Pen~~

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Three Hobbies

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I found this quote awhile ago. “Find three hobbies you love: one to make you money, one to keep you in shape, and one to be creative.” That quote has stuck with me ever since. I can see the importance of having variety in my passions. My hobby to be creative (hopefully one day my career) is writing. But if I only focus on writing than I’ll be sitting in front of a computer screen all day and that’s not healthy. That’s where my hobby for keeping me in shape comes in. I’ve been practicing martial arts since I was 13. I took a 2 year break and have recently gotten back into it, but it’s made a huge difference in my life. I’d decided that I’d just focus on my writing and sure I might miss martial arts, but I don’t really have time or money for it. Well some doors recently opened up, by the grace of God, and I’m back into it and I’m a lot happier for it. It’s important to exercise both the body and the mind. As for a hobby for money…well I’m still working on that one. I hope that writing will one day be my hobby of creativity and money, but I’ve also played with the idea of photography or making jewelry as a side gig to bring in a little extra cash.

Whatever your hobbies may be, it’s important to have duality and balance in our lives, it makes us healthier more rounded people.

~~Lady of the Pen~~

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Distractions

study_distractionsWriting regularly is a challenge. People who are serious about writing have to treat it like a job, a fun, amazing job which lets you create worlds and people, but a job nonetheless. When you have a job, even if it’s one you love, there will always be days when you don’t want to go in, days you’d rather watch Tv or hang out with friends. With most jobs you shrug off these feelings, because you have a boss and it’s not acceptable to just not show up because you didn’t feel like it.

In writing, or many of the arts, we don’t have the luxury of someone standing over us cracking the whip. At least not when we’re first starting out. Later on we might have agents and publishers breathing down our necks to meet a deadline. But starting out all we have is our self discipline and our dreams to keep us going. So many days, even though we want to create, it’s easier to get caught up in the immediate. But the problem is that if you’re a writer and want to get published you have to put the time in and that’s not easy. Somedays it’s the last thing you want to do. But the question becomes do you want to look back in ten, twenty years and say you watched a lot of tv and wasted time? Or do you want to look back and see a trail of books–or art–that you created through the years?

I, for one, have so many ideas running through my head that I know I’m going to have to writing more and faster if I’m ever going to keep up with them. I have ups and downs with my writing, as do we all, but rarely am I writing as much as I know I should. I know that I need to start treating my writing as a priority if I’m ever going to capture all those delightful–sometimes dark, sometimes beautiful, perhaps a little twisted–ideas running rampant in my head.

I hope that all of us, in the coming year, can say no more often to the distractions and yes to The Work.

~~Lady of the Pen~~

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The Gift of Boredom

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In today’s fast pace society we rarely have time to be bored. There’s always something going on, something to do, something to watch or listen to. We avoid boredom and silence like the plague. But we forget that boredom can be a gift, it forces us to get creative. Forces us to think outside the box. When I was a child boredom fueled my imagination. There are few things as horrible as being bored when you’re a kid, so you make things up, you build things, and you imagine new worlds, anything to keep boredom at bay.
I’ve found that a little boredom is good for my creative life. It can be hard to take time to sit down and thinking about my writing, but a few hours of repetitive cleaning at work can really stir up my creative juices. A long walk gives my brain the silence it needs to work problems out, and come up with new ideas, long drives usually send my mind wandering in interesting directions too.
We need to allow ourselves the chance to slow down, to be bored and let our brain do its thing without a lot of over stimulation.

~Lady of the Pen~

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Nothing is Sacred

This November I’m planning on re-writing last year’s NaNoWriMo novel. I am amazed and terrified to see how many things have changed for this story over the course of a year. I know this is a good thing, because first drafts usually are full of cliches and bad ideas, with a few hidden gems. But it’s hard not to second guess the decision to make these changes.

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I used to write a first draft and consider the story almost done. I cringe to remember how proud I was of some of those first drafts. But they were important stepping stones and there were some great ideas, but I now see that all those stories would need serious reworking before they saw the light of day. I’ve learned that editing is more than proofreading and re-writing a scene here and there. You have to be willing to rework characters, plot arcs, and concepts which seemed essential in the first draft. The truth is that nothing is sacred in a first draft. Everything is subject to change.

Hopefully these changes will strengthen my novel and move me closer to publishing.

I wish all the NaNoWriMo participants the best of luck. I’ll see you at the finish line!

Now it’s time to stop procrastinating and get back to planning for November.

~~Lady of the Pen~~

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NaNoWriMo Is Coming!

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Well it’s October, AKA Panic-And-Outline-Your-Novel-Month. November is just around the corner and while the rest of the world may associate November with Thanksgiving and pumpkins and the early start of the Christmas season, we writers associate it with NaNoWrioMo (The National Novel Writing Month) where we lock ourselves away, ignore the world, and stress over our respective novel projects for a month.

I’m not too panicked this year, I’m planning on re-writing the novel I wrote last year. So I at least know what I’m going to write. Still it will be a challenge trying to figure out how to fix the numerous problems in this novel. I am excited to get back to the novel, though. I really want to get it polished.

So who else is doing NaNo this year and what are you planning to write? If anyone would like to add me as a NaNoWriMo buddy my username is Lady_Of_The _Pen it’s always fun to meet new people and encourage each other during NaNo.

Best of luck to all!

~~Lady of the Pen~~

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