ore than a few writers are hesitant to try Twitter. Not a single writer I’ve met through my critique groups use this social media platform.
“It’s confusing and pointless,” they say. Or, “I don’t need anything else to distract me from writing.”
While it’s true that Twitter can suck away your precious free time if you’re not careful, don’t be fooled about its usefulness in the writing community.
I’ll be honest, at first I didn’t understand how it could benefit me either. I set up a profile online, downloaded the app, then pretty much ignored it. But on one particularly boring afternoon I started playing around, and eventually it all clicked. I made a few connections, found a group of writers like me, and I was hooked. These days I refuse to be a junkie and jump online every minute, but I do stop by daily to say hello to my digital friends and get help when I need it.
Here are five reasons why learning how to utilize this social media platform can benefit you in your writing endeavors:
(Note: Before you give Twitter a try, you need to know what a hashtag is: the little # symbol in front of words. Read more about what it is and what it does here.)
1. It Fosters Camaraderie
Twitter is the most popular digital place for writers to convene and share. Do a simple search for #amwriting and you will find thousands of other writers sharing their thoughts, fears, and triumphs. The #5amwritersclub is another popular group; every morning you can find other folks who wake up early and attempt to get some words down before they do anything else.
2. You Can Chat with your Favorite Authors
Just finish a book you adored? Check for them on Twitter! You may be surprised to find the author is an active tweeter. Stephen King (@StephenKing), for example, has tweeted over 2,000 times! Even better, many published writers actually respond to the tweets or messages you send them.
3. You Can Get Help
Writer’s block? No good ideas for the new short piece you want to start? Tweet your troubles, add the hashtag #WritersProblems or #WritersBlock and see if anyone volunteers to help. Note that you are more likely to get help when you have a few followers, which will happen after you start engaging with other writers.
4. You Can See What Kind of Books are in Demand
Agents, publishers, and editors are all over Twitter, and a lot of them are looking for new manuscripts. While it’s not advisable bombard anyone with unsolicited promotional tweets or messages, you can search Twitter with the hashtag #MSWL (manuscript wish list) to see what kind of books they wish they had their hands on. Some will even request pitches or manuscript chapters, so keep your eye out for them.
5. You Can Promote Yourself
*Be careful attempting this, and do so with a light touch. No one wants to follow a writer who’s only out to sell themselves or their book. But did you finally finish your manuscript? Did you sign with an agent? Is it your book’s publishing day? Brag about it! (Then move on.)