In a previous post, I explained how agents and editors expect authors to have a social media presence before pitching a book. I did not mention how daunting I found this fact. It’s similar to how naked I felt when I first began pitching a book to agents and how it has continued to feel pitching the book to publishers and submitting to contests as well.
You see, I’m an “off-the-scale” introvert. It’s no surprise that every time I take the Myers-Briggs personality inventory whether it is a short version on the internet or the very very long version administered by a psychology professional, my “introversion” score is nearly as high as the scale goes. Putting myself out there is truly a stretch.
Add to that recurrent chronic depression and you have a roadblock many might not overcome. I can only do this social media stuff if I find a method that works with my natural talents.
My Facebook author page hadn’t seemed that much of a stretch from my personal Facebook page so I linked it to Twitter. When I posted to Facebook, it automatically tweeted the same thing.
But the books I read about Twitter explained that this wasn’t enough. I needed to interact. To my introverted self, this sounded as terrifying as walking into a cocktail party and shouting, “Look at me!” That was not going to happen.
On a four-mile run, I began to think about how I best communicate: one on one. I wondered what would happen if I just began talking to individuals the way I might in the rest of my world.
So I started responding any time someone tweeted something that resonated with me. For a few days, my tweets went unanswered. A few days later, one or two people replied.
Then, something remarkable happened. One of my running heroes, Hal Higdon, retweeted one of my replies to his tweet!
A few days later, it happened again!
My one-one-one approach not only allowed me to play along with the extroverts who love Twitter, but also effectively increased my social media exposure. I learned that even off-the-scale introverts can Tweet!
Platform. Platform. Platform.
It is not news that editors and agents want a writer to have a following. And it shouldn’t be news that they expect that writer to have those potential readers in place BEFORE the book is published. But I’m often late to the party.
Oh, I’ve had a platform for years. I’ve been publishing Write Now Newsletter, my monthly writing email, since 2003. I’ve been writing this blog for nearly that long. You can also find me on Twitter and Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and LinkedIn. But in the current market, publishers favor authors who have a platform ON STEROIDS!
When I received a reminder of this truth, I did what I always do. I went to the library. The stack of books in the photo is just the beginning of my research. And, honestly, I already know much of what they are suggesting.
I also asked my friends, especially the younger ones, for advice. Last night, I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how to post something on Instagram. A friend sent this helpful photo:
Literally, I just didn’t know what button to push!
But once I’ve figured out the mechanics of these sites, there are bigger challenges. Yes I had a presence on these platforms, but I wasn’t engaging on social media often enough and I wasn’t doing it the most effective way. I’m still reading and consulting friends, but as I make changes, my numbers are climbing.
Stay tuned. Give me a few more weeks and I’ll write about what I’ve learned.
On a Wednesday night group run shortly after I blogged about posting a writing prompt every day, a friend asked, “What are we supposed to do with them?”
Ideally, one would do “writing practice” the timed-writing, no holds barred approach championed by my long-time teacher Natalie Goldberg with whom I have studied for many years. For those not familiar, I recently blogged about teaching Nat’s “rules of writing practice.” Since many of my followers on Facebook and Twitter are writers, I thought of each #nitaprompt as a topic for writing.
But feel free to use them however you want.
One artist friend finds they inspire her drawing and painting. This makes my heart so happy.
Another friend who teaches at a university stopped me to say, “I like those #nitaprompts. They make me remember things I’d forgotten.” I do not know if he intends to write about them or not, but it was lovely to hear someone was paying attention!
The pupperina #Scarlet aka #ninetyninepercentgooddog brags to her doggy daycare friends about her creative mommy and her doggy friends bark about the topics.
Okay. Maybe that last one isn’t entirely true.
My point is that I have no claim to how these topics should be used.
Do you have a unique way you use “writing” topics? I’d love to hear about it.
According to a Facebook comment (clearly NOT fake news):
The common principal psychoactive ingredient in cacoa is anandamide, a proto-endocannabidiol similar in synaptic action as THC. The name is taken from the Sanskrit word ‘Ananda,’ which means “joy, bliss, delight” + ‘amide.’
“First thoughts have tremendous energy. The internal censor usually squelches them, so we live in the realm of second and third thoughts, thoughts on thought, twice and three times removed from the direct connection of the first fresh flash.” — Natalie Goldberg
Last week, I asked my Facebook followers what they wanted to see on my page. Some of the answers were things I already do. Writing tips. Writing events. Mental health information. Cute animal memes. Photos of #Scarlet the #ninetyninepercentgooddog.
But one request was so obvious I couldn’t believe I hadn’t thought of it. A person suggested writing prompts. Wow! And, yes!
I’ve begun to post a daily writing topic using the hashtags #nitaprompt and #writingpractice and #tenminutesgo. My friend Suzanne came up with #nitaprompt when I said these topics needed a hashtag. Since the real Nita is not always “prompt,” I had to go with that.
The hashtags #writingpractice and #tenminutesgo honor my long-time teacher, best-selling author Natalie Goldberg whose ground breaking book Writing Down the Bones revolutionized the way many people teach writing. Natalie introduced “writing practice” as a way to tap into what she called “wild mind” or the first flash of how we see something. The concept of “first thoughts” came from Natalie’s Zen practice. She offered writing practice as a way to help people free themselves from writer’s block.
In the workshops I attended with her in Taos, New Mexico, we sat on folding chairs in the classroom at Mabel Dodge Luhan House. When it was time to write, Nat called out a topic often as simple as “mashed potatoes” followed by the admonition, “Ten minutes. Go!” We were to each keep our hand moving, pen flowing ink across the page of a spiral notebook, as we jotted down the first images that came to mind from whatever topic she offered. These ten minute timed writing intervals created a pressure cooker effect helping us to drop down into our writing.
Writing prompts still serve as the basis for much of my writing. When the blank page proves too daunting, a topic gives me a jumping off place. I often veer off into some other topic more related to whatever project I’m currently writing, but it gives me a place to begin.
If you’re stuck or bored or need a new place to start, scroll to Facebook or Twitter and type in #nitaprompt. Do with the topics as you wish. Ten minutes. Twenty. An hour. I hope you find them helpful.
And if you have favorite topics, send them my way. I’ll happily offer those to the masses as well.