Several months ago, I posted an article discussing how social networking, and Twitter in particular, has changed the solitary life of a writer. And as skeptical as I was of Twitter to begin with, I found it to be useful and a good thing. Today I feel even more strongly about it. As a social network grows, so do its applications, and I am delighted with the direction. I thought it was time share why I think Twitter is such a great thing for writers in particular.
One of the most dynamic and best utilizations of the Twitter network I have seen is the use of hashtags within the message. By clicking on a hashtag you see in a message it does a search for anything marked with the hash. Instantaneously, you are in the midst of a dynamic, live, ongoing chat with anyone who would like to participate. Some of the hashes are more formalized and there are specific days and times for people to get together and most times there is a moderator and a topic for the discussion. It can still get a little wild. Anyone who knows me well knows that the informal application would appeal to me more than the formalized. Although, on occasion I will participate in #kidlitchat or #yalitchat. But the most fun I have is with a group of writers who are dedicated, enthusiastic, and supportive and the chat, which is ongoing pretty much 24/7, and resembles a combination kegger and writer support group under the hash of #amwritingparty
Struggling with your manuscript and need some help or an understanding ear? No problem, just hop on the net and bring up the #amwritingparty and tweet about your issue. Someone is bound to respond with a suggestion, some words of wisdom, or a cyber hug, depending on what the issue is. They are there for your triumphs, ready to let virtual streamers sail and sparkly confetti fall. When you’re stuck for words, they dispense some magic sparkly wordy dust and the beverage of your choice. *virtual jello shot anyone?* There are also the times when you need a little upbraiding, and someone is there to read the riot act, and console you once its done. And, for whatever reasons, these measures do seem to work. Focus becomes possible, words start to flow and knotty plot problems get resolved. The #amwritingparty hash was started by a sparkly new writer, Sara McClung and she describes how the creation of the hash came about in a blog post on her site: The Babbling Flow of a Fledgling Scribbler.
When I started writing, I went to a writing class which had the format of critiquing everyone’s work each week. I can remember the excitement with which I anticipated each class and how I hated when the class ended for the evening, because that meant I started the waiting cyccle all over again. I thrived so much on being in the presence of other writers, hearing their work, listening to their critiques, learning and soaking up as much as I could during the brief time we spent together each week. That is what makes the online writing communities so wonderful. It is possible to replicate the fueling energy that comes from being around other writers, and it isn’t necessary to wait.