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Tips for Writers: How To Use Social Media & More

Jane Friedman showed this as a slide at our panel on Social Media at AWP 2011 yesterday.

Yesterday, I talked about having something to say before you take the social media airwaves by storm. Today, I want to give you some tips for how to use social media after you have a strong sense of identity, purpose and a mission or call to action.

Be you. You’re enough. Your presence is welcomed at the “table.” There is no exclusive club. Join in. Speak up. Chime in.

See yourself as profitable and productive rather than starving and desperate. Even if you actually are starving and desperate, the first step to getting past it is not seeing yourself that way. Focus your energy. Spend some time on self-refection. And then move forward in a thoughtful, constructive manner.

Become magnetic. Connect with whomever is right there in front of you wherever you are either in person or online. Forget “the masses.” Instead of spraying your energy outwards willy-nilly, pull people in. Rather than splattering others with your agenda, engage in dynamic interactions that are mentally stimulating and inspiring for everyone involved. If you are interesting, you will be interesting to others. Be centered, not self-centered.

Embrace the business of your art. If you are writer or any other kind of artist and you don’t see yourself as a business person, you are never going to thrive creatively. No one is going to come along and launch your career, manage it, and send you checks to live on. So if you are waiting to be discovered, please stop. Discover yourself instead. Only then can you take the steps towards producing yourself.

View social media channels as communication tools for building your platform. There is an art to platform just like there is an art to writing, selling, and continuing to evolve as a creative business person. See your platform as a life-long creation that grows and evolves alongside your art. If you are not having fun with your platform and all of its moving parts, if it’s just another to-do list or litany of musts and shoulds, how do you expect us to feel about it?

Share your process. This may seem to contradict what I said yesterday about knowing what you want to say, but it doesn’t. Because once you know your identity, purpose, and mission/call to action, you can share the process of where that journey meets the world. And this is interesting to folks who are interested in your message. They will stay tuned to find out: what is going to happen next?

Eschew pressure. Should you be a brand? Should you be friends with everyone? Do you need to constantly available 24-7 to each and every person you know? What if you rock the “community” boat? If you are a person who commonly bends to peer pressure or who worries overly about what others will think, consider social media your new fresh hell. Learn how to acknowledge mistakes, say you are sorry, and move on without taking even one minute to beat yourself up, obsess, or freak out. Make mistakes daily, if possible, or you won’t grow.

Use good judgment. You don’t need to be a brand. You can’t be genuine friends with everyone. Nor can you be available 24-7. Not only should you rock the community boat, just for the sake of rocking it, if you are being truly authentic, it’s inevitable that you will at some point. This is also a great way to avoid the echo-chamber effect, that plagues blogging communities and collaborators. Jiminey Cricket said it best. I suggest you follow his advice.

Have boundaries. I hope you have good boundaries before you get on social networking, but if you don’t, you’ll be looking for them soon enough. Never let anyone’s rule book dictate what and how much you should share. You should share what you are comfortable sharing, period. Trust your internal compass with regards to where to set your filters for personal and business privacy. Your gut knows when to say when. Guard your privacy as though it were gold, because it is. You don’t want to have to lose it to figure that out.

And finally, be creative! You are a writer, so take your creative impulses and apply them to other pursuits.What would happen if you were as creative in selling, professional development, and platform building as you are in your writing? Magic! That’s what.

Here’s an assignment for you for your blog. Make a list of all of the creative strengths that you have acquired from life and writing. Let the list rest a bit, then come back and figure out which of these strengths you value most, which you are best at, and which have created truly wonderful results in your life. Then chart your short-term creative course in the direction of whatever ways make best use of your strengths, passions, and personal power. Come back later and let me know if that is helpful.

~ image thanks to b_d_solis

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  • Judyridgley February 4, 2011, 11:23 pm

    outstanding advice. Now…using it. ugh. That’s tis the challenge. thank you

  • Julie Hedlund February 5, 2011, 1:44 am

    Awesome post, and what looks like an amazing slide. Is there any way to make it bigger? It’s hard to read, but when I clicked on it, it took me to a page that made it smaller. Thanks for the great coverage!

  • Anonymous February 5, 2011, 2:03 am

    Hi Julie,
    I added the link. Thanks for letting me know.
    🙂 C

  • J. February 6, 2011, 12:48 am

    Sharp, clever. Makes me look at social networking in a much fresher way- instead of being burned out by info-overload/garbage – there is indeed, a better way of doing it and experiencing it.

  • Porter Anderson February 7, 2011, 7:25 pm

    Thanks for the link, Christina, great post and good to have the Conversation Wheel. Enjoyed the previous day’s post, as well. http://ow.ly/3RT7g I like the “Eschew Pressure” point a lot, so good to remember amid the hurly-burly of the data streams!

  • Heidi Smith Luedtke February 8, 2011, 4:08 pm

    Thanks for your reminder about making mistakes. I recently posted about this topic on my own blog. It is hard for most grown-ups to use what we are learning before we’re totally confident we’re going to get everything RIGHT. That’s really too bad. Learning is a process, just like creativity. It’s messy and that’s okay!

  • Andrea February 9, 2011, 8:37 pm

    Great tips – I especially like the “boundaries” paragraph. So true.

  • Jennifer Lyn King February 14, 2011, 10:15 am

    Christina, Thank you– this is a fantastic post filled with great advice for writers. Probably most of these things we should know, but as artists (with ever-changing sensibilities) it’s nice to be reminded of these things. Thank you! -Jennifer