Friday, November 4, 2011

Chatting on Twitter to Build Your Writing Toolkit

I love Twitter. I love it with a passion. You may be thinking, "Since you love it so much, maybe you should marry it." And I say to you, "Yes! I would love to marry it, because I really do love it that much."


There really is a Chatty Cathy!
Here's one reason Twitter makes my heart leap for joy. It's such a great way to connect with other writers and to grow in the craft of writing. I'm a firm believer in treating writing like a business. If you build it, they will come and look at it. If you build it and it's awesome, they will come and buy it. If you build it and it's the best product they've ever seen, they will come, buy it, and tell all their friends about it.


They, of course, are readers. We want them to hang around us for all the right reasons. So we need something worthy of putting in their hands. So, it's important to learn all we can about writing and make ourselves better day by day. All with the goal of building a better product for our readers.


A great way to do this in a casual, friendly, but lively setting is to hop on the hashtag chats that occur on Twitter all the time. If you haven't done this yet, give it a try sometime. Here's why: You never know what will come up during the chat, but many times it'll be something you never thought of. And sometimes it'll be someone you never thought you'd get to chat with, and that's always a blast!


This week, I popped onto two scheduled chats, by which I mean that the time to do the chat was scheduled in advance. If you're a planner, you can easily add scheduled chats to your calendar. The first chat took place on #LitChat, which hosts one-hour chats with writers and readers three times a week. (See LitChat.net for their schedule.) I hopped into a conversation about triangles in fiction, and whether they are always romantic, or whether you can find triangles driven by needs other than love and lust. That was great, because it forced me to think in a new way about how to structure conflict into a story.


Then I had the privilege of chatting with Brent Weeks and some of his fans on #sffwrtcht, moderated by Bryan Thomas Schmidt (here's the website link). I'm a Weeks addict. The guy is a very strong writer, with the ability to create character twists and plot twists that surprise and please the reader. And he does it in such a believable way. It's very impressive. I was able to ask him some questions about how he writes, and see how he answered the questions of others too. 


Being on a chat with a writer is a lot like being at a convention, only without the expense or the crowds. In this sense, Twitter is a great equalizer. You can make contacts there that you might not get the chance to make anywhere else. Brent was great to chat with, and a lot of other writers are equally as open during chats like this, because there's something about Twitter than helps create the feel of hanging around the pub with friends.


If you want more information on hashtag chats, you can often find them by studying the hashtags of the other writers you follow. You can ask your Twitter friends for chats they like to participate in. And you can search Google. Here's a beginning place to start: Twitter Hashtag Chats for Writers by Diana Ligaya. She lists several sff genre chats, and since I'm a sff nerd, I'll give her a shout-out here. But if you prefer romance or another genre, try Googling chats for that genre. They are out there.


It's easy to hop on a chat too. Just search for the hashtag and see what people are talking about and join in. This works for both scheduled chats and unscheduled ones. By unscheduled, I simply mean that the conversation is always ongoing, and you take your chances on what the conversation is at the moment. But unlike scheduled chats, people are alert for the unscheduled chats all the time, and whoever is online at the moment is likely to respond to you, which is a great way to meet new people. Some unscheduled/ongoing chats include #MyWANA, #amwriting, and #pubwrite, all of which have some great members.


I also find personally that chatting on Twitter makes me feel more relaxed about the idea of socializing. I'm an introvert, like a lot of writers are. But the positive feedback I've received from Twitter has made me feel confident that I can do this kind of chatting face-to-face at conferences too, and that's important for future success, networking, and connecting with fans. So all in all, hashtags chats actually have great potential to help you build your platform and develop the skills you need to write well and connect with readers.


Let me know what chats you participate in, especially if I haven't mentioned that chat here. I love learning about new things. Share, share, share!


Copyright (c) 2011 by Michele Chiappetta. All rights reserved.

2 comments:

  1. Thanks for the links to those live chats. I have not yet "attended" those, but I do enjoy participating in a few ongoing chats. #wewrite is a supportive column and "link-free" zone.

    Twitter IS a great resource for us introverts. I must say that nothing compares to meeting authors, editors, and publishers in person. An easy way to do that is to attend local author panels at your public library. It's a non-threatening environment and much more casual than conferences.

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  2. Oh, great ideas, M.E.! I'll check out #wewrite. (It's nice to find hashtags that are not all about self-marketing your book.) I haven't made it to a local author panel yet, but I think I'll do it next time I get a chance. Sounds like fun!

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