I started writing my first novel at the age of 53. It was difficult – a lot more difficult than I imagined. Like most writers, I procrastinated and was easily distracted by the vast world of social media. In the three years since, I have developed a love-hate relationship with it all. At times it’s a fantastic resource. At other times it is overwhelming.
Why the love? Why the hate? Because I love reading lists, here it is for you in list form:
Four reasons I love social media:
- I found a lot of encouragement on Twitter and Facebook. On Twitter, I found and started following Writer’s Relief which offers a plethora of information about all aspects of writing. On Facebook, I found Writing About Writing, which offers whimsical and often horrible puns about writing in general and has routine posts that tell me “You should be writing!”
- I love lists. I love anything that starts with “5 ways to …” or “10 hacks for…”. It hooks me in every time. And not just about writing. About anything! It’s quick, it’s organized, and I have a short attention span. And there are tonnes of these lists about writing, especially on YouTube. One of my favourites is Ellen Brock’s channel. Once I got over the fact that she’s young enough to be my daughter, I found her lists concise, helpful, and entertaining.
- Information is bountiful. You can anything about writing through blogs that pop up on social media. Once you’re following one person or organization, others are suggested. It’s one of the beautiful things about social media. I found myself being inundated with new possible blogs and sites to review. It made me feel like I could learn about all aspects of writing from the comfort of my computer chair.
- There are writing communities everywhere. Once I started following writers and writing blogs, I was followed too. By actual writers! Imagine! It made me feel like a real writer with something to contribute. And I learned about groups in Ottawa that I could join and seminars that I could attend. I’ve attended several over the last few months and found myself inspired even more.
But of course there is a downside…
Four reasons I hate social media:
- The amount of information can be overwhelming. As I am writing, I sometimes find myself thinking of everything I’ve read online about writing. Am I committing those mistakes now? Am I telling instead of showing? Am I using the right tense? Are people going to like my “voice”? Am I making the 25 Mistakes that Peg You as an Amateur Writer? It can be paralyzing trying to internalize all you’ve learned while you are attempting to actually write.
- It can be soul-crushing. I submitted my first novel to many agents, including Angie Agent* who requested my entire manuscript. I was so encouraged that I started following her on Twitter. Then she passed on my work. And then I would see, on a weekly basis, the new writers she was signing up. I ended up un-following her to save my sanity.
- It can be a real time-suck. Even before I stated writing seriously, I had a serious procrastination problem. Frankly, it’s amazing that I kept a job. Add a new project with new information to learn and follow and comment on, and it was taking up a lot of time. Time when I should have been writing.
- Sponsored links. I hate them. I know it’s the price we pay for “free” social media, but there is a lot of crap that shows up in my newsfeed, vaguely disguised as advice on self-publishing or how I can earn great money by writing for a living. (I actually know that’s unlikely.) I’ve become adept at separating good and bad social media content, but there is still a lot of litter out there.
The fact is, social media is here to stay. Overall, the good outweighs the bad and like all things in life, should be taken in moderation. Excuse me, but I should be writing.
(*Angie Agent is a pseudonym.)
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