Instagram for (Introverted) Writers

by | Feb 4, 2019 | Blog

“Use a picture. It’s worth a thousand words.” ~ David Terrar quoting newspaper editor Arthur Brisbane in Brisbane’s 1911 discussion of journalism and publicity

One of the challenges of being an introverted author is the need for a continuous social media presence. I’ve written before about loathing the feeling that I’m constantly shouting “Look at me!” to a room full of strangers. My latest challenge has been to make Instagram work for me. I love taking photos and Instagram allows me to post them directly from my phone. But what do readers want to see?

I thought about some of my favorite writers who have Instagram accounts. Anne LaMott, for example, posts photos of her dog and her loved ones and, in her typical honest fashion, her aging mind. She posts a few writing photos including a short video taken at a publisher’s office, but she primarily documents her life. With this in mind, I began to post on Instagram the kind of things I already (somewhat compulsively) document anyway.

My first posts were photos of me with famous runners: Amby Burfoot, Bart Yasso, and Meb Keflezighi.

When Scarlet, the #ninetyninepercentgooddog came into our lives, she became the subject. Well, that and the things she shreds.

As a joke, I documented a meal. Some folks criticize Instagram as a place where you go to see what everyone’s eating. But my followers enjoyed the food post so much that I transformed it into my beloved #whatwriterseat posts which, if I’d done my research, would have been #writingfuel. Nearly everything already has a hashtag. You just have to find it. In this series you’ll find food that Ed, (the #onehundredppercentgoodhusband) cooked, things I cooked (badly), lovely things restaurant chefs cooked, and things I ate during a really nasty upper respiratory infection aka the “hostage crisis” during which I didn’t leave our house for ten days.

Since both my life and my upcoming memoir, Depression Hates a Moving Target: How Running with My Dog Brought Me Back from the Brink, have a mental health theme, I post about depression and the tools I use to manage it. I include running photos of the trail or my group or Scarlet trying to eat my hat. I show brain training photos since neurofeedback (another name for brain training) sits in my mental health tool kit along with running, therapy, and medication. I haven’t yet taken a photo of me in either my therapist or psychiatrist’s office, but don’t put it past me.

I add the occasional writing photo mostly of my laptop in different locations to show my “office-of-the-day.” When the book was short-listed for the Faulkner Award, I documented our trip to New Orleans. But my personal favorite writing photo was the “final” (hahahaha – is it ever really done) draft of the book I submitted to my editor at Mango Publishing.

As it turns out, being a writer on Instagram is no different from being a writer in the rest of my life. As a reader, I want a glimpse inside the lives of the authors I love. With the tables turned, I’m offering my readers a view behind the scenes of mine.

Eventually, I’ll post a photo of the book cover. Maybe I’ll print the cover and post a second photo of me holding the cover. Then, one glorious day, I’ll post a photo of the book itself. After that, if I’m lucky, because I do have the best friends in the world, you’ll see photos of my friends reading the book. I do love to dream!

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