March 6, 2012

Tips for Twitter Writing


Being a Writer on Twitter: Tips, Tricks, and Finding What Works For You
Hello, followers-of-Catherine! I’m Diana Paz from OceanUnder Stars. The talented and lovely Catherine invited me to chit-chat here about Twitter, a place I can spend far too much time in!

When I first signed up for Twitter, I must admit, the idea didn’t appeal to me. It seemed like a lot of people talking at once, and I couldn’t figure out how to make my voice stand out. I wondered what I had to offer, and if anyone would even follow me or notice anything I said.

Now that I’ve been tweeting for a while, I’ve found a place where I feel at home with my fellow writers. I have friends to celebrate triumphs with and to commiserate writerly woes with. Twitter is also a place to blow off steam and talk about… well, anything. News, random thoughts, food (I tweet about food a lot), and of course, writing. Writers as a whole are a silly, clever bunch. We’re prone to passions and whims, and it’s fun to find people to connect with.

So, how do you make Twitter the amazing place it’s capable of being? The simplicity of it is almost staggering: you engage.

Does that mean jumping into every conversation? Retweeting everything you see? Not necessarily. It simply means tweeting things that have the potential to make others respond, like anything you might say if you were hanging out with a crowd of interesting, savvy people you enjoyed the company of.

Will everything you tweet start a conversation? No. But even the ones that don’t might make someone out there reading your tweets smile, or think, or have some kind of small reaction that will help them remember you are. And they might come out and say hi next time.

The Oh Well factor.
When I first started tweeting, I felt incredibly self-conscious. What if people thought my tweets were stupid? What if everyone figured out what a big dork I am! Nobody’s gonna like me, WEEP!

So, I lurked. I watched conversations and sometimes longed to join in, but more often than not I said nothing, and without interaction I was invisible. I may as well have not been there at all.

So, I learned to say, Oh well. Like this:
Tweeting that random thought I’m having about a live penguin totem pole would be completely pointless and silly. Oh well!
No one is going to care about my desire to have a Pokemon hoodie with actual ears and a tail. Oh well!
After four tweets about cackling into the soup I’m making, it seems abrupt to tweet describing the bright red sunset spilling over the hills like gold-tinted fire. Oh well!
Yet ANOTHER tweet about my kids awesomeness/crankiness? Oh well!

Learning to say Oh well helped me loosen up. And the truth is, all of those things are who I am. It’s better to be who I am than to be no one at all. Maybe some of those tweets lost me followers, or gained me followers, but obsessing over it doesn’t help anything. And that brings me to my next point:

Unfollows: OH WELL
Unfollows happen. My thoughts? Avoid checking follower numbers. This advice isn’t for everyone, but I found that looking at my follower numbers just made me second-guess everything I tweeted. I know others thrive on gaining followers and check their number often. If doing so doesn’t affect the way you tweet, then go for it! But if you’re like me and start to feel the insecurity monster creep up on you every time someone unfollows, it might be best to shrug and say Oh well to the numbers, too.

How do you avoid looking at the numbers when they’re RIGHT THERE?
I downloaded Tweetdeck, and I love it for keeping my Direct Messages, @ replies, and new followers all in their own neat columns. And also, for not showing me my follower count. I’m sure there are other applications that work similarly, but Tweetdeck is the one I like best.

Kindness Goes a Long Way
You know that Oh Well factor I just mentioned? For new tweeters, and for MOST tweeters, this doesn’t apply to anything that could be thought of as mean-spirited. I know there are many tweeters who have a great following off of their snarky humor, but even then, there’s a fine line they’ve mastered walking along. In my experience, it’s better to careful with any online interactions that could be taken the wrong way. 

More On Kindness
Twitter is instant, and it’s easy to make others feel happy. Just as you enjoy a Retweet or an @ reply, most people out in Twitterland do as well. Be generous with thanks; offer praise if you like something; offer encouragement; retweet things that interest you or that you find amusing, beautiful, or inspiring; @ people often, and always-always-always reply to @ mentions.** 

**When I say always, I mean… well… sometimes I wander away from Twitter and don’t notice an @ mention until the next day. It happens. I still tend to reply, but sometimes the moment has passed and it’s okay to let it go. So, ALWAYS reply! Except for the exceptions.

The Terrible White Noise
If you’re on Twitter, you’ve likely seen it. Those tweeters who you forget you’re even following. Their tweets don’t even register anymore. Usually these are people who tweet mainly links to reviews, links to their friends’ books and their own, links to their latest blog post, and that’s basically all they do. There’s nothing wrong with a little promo. But all promo all the time is bad news bears.

You’re More than a Writer, I Promise!
If all you tweet about is writing, only and forever, you might just accidentally become white noise. That goes for anything, even in non-twitter life. Twitter is a place to have conversations, and if every single conversation you ever have is about writing, people might wonder what else is up in your world. I do love seeing my friends’ word count numbers, and cheering them on; I love being cheered on too, but having a tweet or two from my friend’s actual thoughts, his or her feelings about something, or really, any little piece of chatter that lets me know there’s a beating heart behind the word count and writer talk.

Let’s say there really is nothing else going on in life besides writing. At all. No bird chirping outside your window. No humorous anecdote while you were at the market. No inspiring quote you came across. No random thought you pondered the other day. In that case, try tweeting about topics relevant to your story, rather than hammering out word count numbers and #amwriting constantly, and becoming part of the Terrible White Noise without even knowing it. Is your book about space? Tweet a fact about the moon. Is your story set in World War II? Tweet some bit of research you looked up. Basically, it’s fine to tweet about your writing, but spice it up a little every now and then.

The Tweeting Itself
Everything you tweet won’t start a conversation. It may seem like your tweets go unnoticed, but you never know who might be on at a given moment and is just enjoying watching twitter without engaging.

We all have our own voice, and with enough tweeting it shines through. With only 140 characters, it’s okay to be less formal, a little silly, or to show actions that complement our emotions. ~grins mischievously~ So, are you on Twitter? How do you find your tweeting rhythm? What have you done that works for you?
~ ~ ~
Diana Paz is a web content writer and aspiring author. She was born in Costa Rica, grew up on Miami Beach, moved to Los Angeles in high school, and went to college in San Diego. Basically, she's a beach bum, but she did graduate from California State University, San Marcos with a Bachelor's Degree in Liberal Arts. She loves old movies, epic fantasy, all kinds of music, and heading to the beach with a good book. Preferably sipping a caramel frappuccino. Find her at her blog: dianapazwrites.blogspot.com or on Twitter @dianapazwrites

7 comments :

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. Thanks for the Tweet advice. I'll rate it 5-Chirps :)

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  3. That's a nice take on twitter. I'm not a writer, but I still can see how that would apply. I've moved away from it in the past few months, but only because it can take up so much of my time once I engage! Oh well, I guess. ;)

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  4. Thanks for sharing. I feel less invisible now and will continue plugging away on Twitter.

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  5. I have a hard time with twitter just because I'm so wrapped up in facebook and other social media that I don't go over there enough to utilize its full potential.

    I agree it's great when you do, though. Thanks for the tips.

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  6. Thank you for these great tips on Twitter! I had an account once but didn't feel at home with it. Maybe I'll give it another shot. :)

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