Tag Archives: support for writers

Social Media: it’s not all bad!

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Social media gets a lot of bad press (often, paradoxically, in posts on social media!). Rather like television or violent computer games, it seems to now be held responsible for many of our social ills. Too much time on Facebook, we are warned, leads to our making negative comparisons with our compatriots, lowered self-esteem and a rising sense of isolation. Irresponsible sharing of unsubstantiated posts engenders the perpetuation of lies, negative bias or discriminatory and inflammatory social trends. Spending too much time embedded in the virtual world of your phone means you might miss out on valuable real life experiences. You’d be forgiven for thinking that everything in the social media world is poisonous.

But this sinister view is not the whole truth. For writers in particular, the online world provides a wealth of timely information, news and social comment which not only assists you in keeping up with industry trends, but also keeps you in touch with the zeitgeist. You simply could not replicate this through TV, books, or magazines/newspapers alone.

Social media also provides a platform for finding your “tribe”, for linking up with other like-minded people (unconstrained by geographical location), sharing ideas and supporting one another. For writers, who are usually (by necessity) lonesome creatures, it’s particularly invaluable – as I’ve found this week.

You’ll probably notice I’ve not posted here for a while. And you might deduce (quite correctly) that there is a positive correlation between the number of posts on this blog and my writing output in general. So yes, for a number of reasons I’ve shied away from all things writing-related for a few months. And, as you’ll probably know, the longer you’ve not written, the harder it is to get back into it.

What has made matters worse is that I started off at the beginning of the year in a burst of creativity and wrote thousands of words in the first couple of months. I had a schedule and I stuck to it. I was disciplined. Then I decided to take a break to recharge my batteries – thinking I would go back to it later with a fresh eye.

Hmm…

Roll on seven months and there’s me finding myself unable to pick up a pen (or open the laptop) – frankly even to consider myself as a writer at all. My attendance on Twitter’s #WritingChat (8pm every Wednesday evening) had dwindled as I felt too shame-faced to take part. This week’s topic was the quarterly reviewing of goals.

Oh, goals. Those things crafted in a burst of New Year optimism which I’ve not dared look at for months? So I sent a brief apologetic tweet – feeling unable to take part. But the “tribe” weren’t having that. A host of positive responses began pinging into my feed – I should draw a line under the last few months, accept them for what they were, re-frame my goals and move on. If I was too scared to go back to the big project, I should start small. Just a line or two.

Later I had a sneaky peek at my original goals list. Yes, it was bad. But actually it wasn’t as bad as I’d thought. I’d made positive steps towards a few of the items on the list. Perhaps some things were salvageable.

And the following evening I was ‘direct messaged’ by a fellow writer – just gently checking up on me to see if I’d written anything that day. It was just the nudge I needed. Granted, I didn’t write anything new that evening, but I did start typing up and editing a story I’d drafted longhand a while back.

So I’d like to say a huge thank you to the #WritingChat community, and to the writer who contacted me directly (you know who you are!) – it was hugely appreciated. Because social media is not just there for all the bad things in life – it can also bring people together in a positive, supportive way.

While I can’t guarantee a sudden burst of creativity, I don’t now feel quite so intimidated by the thought of sitting at my desk. Just looking back through my file of unfinished drafts has reminded me of embryonic stories I’d forgotten all about. I’m still a writer, even if a little lapsed right now!

And hey, at least I’ve written this post! 😉

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Support Networks for Writers

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For those of us in the Midlands, it’s been a week of proper winter weather – snow and freezing temperatures has made those everyday journeys suddenly ridiculously difficult. One evening in particular, we had a sudden heavy snowfall and, in the space of a few minutes, the roads went from perfectly passable to treacherous.

We happened to be out in the weather at the time, driving back home through the neighbouring village. Our old Volvo (with almost a quarter of a million miles on the clock!) is four wheel drive and did us proud, but we came across several stranded cars and others wheel-spinning on the ice. We ended up pulling over and helping push several vehicles to get them on their way. There was a real feeling of camaraderie as we, and other passers-by, joined in. It seemed particularly appropriate given the time of year – it being almost the season of goodwill!

It also made me think about support networks and goodwill in general. Us writers can be a little insular at times, but that’s not to say we don’t need (and value) the network of people around us who help us do what we do. Our families, who accept that often we will be busy scribbling alone, and who take an interest in what we do without perhaps really understanding why we bother doing it! Our friends, who take the time to read those dodgy first drafts and make useful comments, or who are quick to provide a hug when things are not going so well. And the wider writing community who are so ready to offer support and encouragement.

Put a post on Facebook about a problem you’re having with your writing and in no time there’ll be a string of comments from other writers telling you they’ve experienced something similar, or offering advice. If you post about a rejection, you’ll get commiserations. If you post about a writing success (however modest) you’ll soon be inundated with generous and humbling congratulatory messages.

So if you find yourself wheel-spinning on your writing journey, don’t worry – just shout, and someone will soon be along to give you a push. And if your writing road is looking pretty clear, don’t forget to pay it forward – in lots of little ways:

  1. tell someone if you like their novel/story/blog (it might be just the lift they need)
  2. tell lots of other people too!
  3. remember to leave a review (for all those people you can’t tell personally)
  4. retweet their tweets
  5. comment on or share their posts
  6. follow their blog or their author page

And most importantly, say thank you to all those who’ve done the same for you:

So, thank you, folks! I appreciate every little push! 🙂

The Writer’s Support Network

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A recent comment from Wendy (of http://wendyswritingnow.blogspot.co.uk/ fame) has made me think about the valuable support network a writer needs.  Of course, established writers probably think of their understanding and encouraging editors and agents, and certainly their loyal fan base.  But for all of us, I reckon the most valuable support is from family and friends.  They’re there to give you a hug and cheer you up when that rejection letter arrives in the post.  They’re there to celebrate with you when you win that story competition.  They put up with your grumpy moods when the writing is going badly, when every word is a struggle.  They keep out of your way when you need some space to get on with it.  They’re there to welcome you back to reality when you emerge from the fictional world you’ve been inhabiting for so long.

They also provide practical assistance – little things, such as getting dinner ready, or appearing with a cup of coffee/glass of wine at just the right time, and bigger things, such as not completely freaking out when you announce you’re ditching your career and financial stability in order to….what?….write stories??

I’m indebted to my husband and his amazing attitude (“Yeah, we can manage – just want you to be happy”) and for my family for putting up with me “disappearing to my room” on a regular basis, and generally being uncommunicative!  I’m also indebted to my writing friends for empathizing when it’s going badly and sharing the joy when it’s flying.

Thanks everyone 😉