Do Writers Really Need Twitter?

The short answer: No.

When you first become immersed with the online writer/author community, one of the first tidbits of advice doled out is, to invoke the ancient wisdom of the meme gods and a cringey dead meme, join ALL the social media. Make a Facebook page, and share links to your writer’s website specifically designed to look like every other early ’20 minimalist Squarespace clone in sight. Share aesthetic shots of your favourite, specially crafted book collection on Instagram. Try to appear hip with the Zoomer and Alpha kids on TikTok. Shill your book on Reddit but act like you’re not advertising and accidentally just stumbled upon this awesome book no-one else has ever heard of until now. But the one you’re told you have to join, to see what all the other writers and authors and BookTubers and book bloggers and creative minds are saying…is Twitter. And, while there are some positives to joining Twitter, the net result appears only to be worthless.

There are positives to Twitter. Authors and writers can meet with like-minded individuals; if they’re willing to sift through the authors who’ve relegated their social media presence to Tweetdeck or Hootsuite, it’s relatively simple to find folks for networking and compassion of the creative struggle. It’s easy to keep abreast of publishing trends in one convenient space, if you’re not savvy enough to have an RSS feed or too broke to subscribe to publishing magazines or too busy/overwhelmed to keep track of seventy different websites for specific different publishers and agents and other industry types. It’s nice to hear what your favourite author and friends in the biz are saying.

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So…You Want To Be A Writer, Do You?


When I was eight years old, I decided I wanted to be an author.

It was Grade 3, and I’d written a short story for class; the incredibly original The Adventure, a fantasy adventure about two siblings: shy narrator Daniel and his confident, leaderly sister Jezebel. The Adventure detailed their adventure (geddit) to the snow, where they saved a fairy from evil, children-eating dragons. Throughout the rest of primary (elementary for you North Americans) school, I kept writing, both for class and for fun. I wrote about crazy clowns and mad scientesses. I wrote about Barbie and her friends going on wacky adventures. I wrote about the preteen Jake and his Golden Retriever Ralph. I typed stories up on our Windows 98 computer (no internet) and printed out my words with our ancient, screeching printer. I drew pictures to go with the stories. I stapled them together. Some of them I sent to my encouraging penpals. I wanted others to enjoy my stories.

Not long after, I proudly declared to my parents that I wanted to be a writer when I grew up.

I was quickly shut down and told that writing would never amount to a career. To my father, it was just a hobby. Just for fun. You can’t make a living out of that. Why don’t you think realistically? You should think about a real job.

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5 Ways to Start Writing Instead of Sitting Around Twiddling Your Thumbs


Above: Writing. Below: Your word processor right now.

Sometimes, writing sucks. No, I don’t mean the end result, because that’s glorious—O so glorious blah blah—and it feels like you’re on top of a mountain. I don’t mean the act of writing itself when you’re in the zone, letting out your inner Stephen King, pounding text to the pavement a million miles a second like a jumbled cliche. I don’t mean the hustle and bustle of creativity that runs through your mind, plotting characters, creating universes, sending said characters out on dire missions and destroying their carefully-crafted lives. Those are all awesome.

I mean writing slumps. Not to be confused with writer’s block, which is just a brief old moment of exhaustion and a lack of putting words to the page for only a few hours, or a few days. A writing slump is different. It’s more like a writing dead end. A no-go zone. Where, sure, you can put pen to the paper, or text to the .docx, but the enjoyment, the love that got you into this thing…well, it’s gone. I mean, sometimes it makes brief appearances, spurts of excitement that make you realise why you do this, and then…poof!

So, how do you get this, for lack of a better word, mojo back? How do you find your passion again? Do you just uninstall all your word-processing documents—Word and Scrivener and the Apple equivalents? Deleting word-processing programs is an incredibly stupid idea—no, don’t delete them. If you own Writing the Next Bestseller Abuse Erotica/16 Year Old Teen Girl Dystopian/Vampire Teen Romance/Suspicious [Ex] Partner Crime Novel a la ‘Gone Girl’ or ‘Girl on the Train’ or ‘The Widow’ or ‘The Missing Wife’ or Whatever, just throw that bullcrap away anyway. It’s not doing you any good. You can’t just “learn” to write. You can improve a little, like what Stephen King says in On Writing, but those books aren’t doing you any good, other than wasting space for better books in your bookshelf/bookshelves. So, what do you do? Well, like me, you Google your problem and see what other people have to say to help solve your crippling writer’s blank.

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‘On Writing’ About Writing


Look, another picture of a stack of books!

Yet another month comes to a close, and it’s time for yet another blog post. It’s amazing that it’s already almost April, and that means April Fools…and not really much else. With the falling of the autumn leaves making its way around the joint (or spring sneezes, for you North Hemisphereans), it’s the perfect time of year for a quick read—well, any time of year is perfect for reading, but there are some times more perfect than others.

Last year, I set myself the goal of reading a book a month, and it worked all fine and dandy up until I set myself Nabokov’s Lolita. This year, I’m not sure how well I’m succeeding, but I’ve borrowed a bunch of limited-loan books from the library, so, you never know. However, what I’m trying to say (am I forever saying that!), the book I read for January/February (yeah, yeah, procrastination…), taught me how I really do need to buckle up and write more. And that book? On Writing, by the master of genre fiction Stephen King. It’s rather ironic that I delayed reading a book which has the main message of “Read more to write better,” but sticking with it until the end has really improved the way I go about writing, and sticking to regular schedules.

On Writing, available here, is the 2000 non-fiction by household name Stephen King, and it has an interesting back story to its publication, told in Part 3 of the book. As King says, he was in a collision with a van while on his usual walk down a particular stretch of highway in Maine. Narrowly avoiding being killed, King was motivated back into finishing the incomplete draft for On Writing at the insistence of wife Tabitha and the calling of his deep, innately wired writer brain.
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30 Days of Facebook to Make You Sick of Social Media Forever

social media

Ah, Facebook: the writer’s biggest procrastination tool. Or, I suppose, anyone on the internet’s biggest procrastination tool. We spend many an hour when faced with writers block, burnout, or simply  a case of CBF. It comes second only to Twitter, but since there’s a lot more to do on Facebook (i.e. waste away the hours with), more time can be wasted. Time that can be spent creating, sleeping, eating, cleaning the house and generally catching up on that 200-strong to-read list (cough, cough).

For anyone new to the internet—or fresh from an internet detox—Facebook is a social networking service created by Mark Zuckerberg and a few classmates in 2004 to perv on his attractive classmates at Harvard. Now, it’s the domain of middle-aged women playing Farmville, Candy Crush Saga and other monotonous freemium games I long ago blocked in my settings; 20 somethings posting about their boring lives to make them seem more exciting; 30 somethings posting the most cringeworthy pictures of their kids; and, of course, the many, many random fads everyone talks about obsessively, and then forgets about forever.

You don’t know what I’m talking about? The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is probably the most popular, taking over everyone except Fred from down the street who hasn’t had Facebook since 2008. What originally started as awareness for Motor Neurone Disease (MND), it quickly spiralled into an attention seeking pit of: “Watch me throw ice all over myself…for LIKES”. You may have obsessively played those freemium games like the Housewives of Facebook: Candy Crush Saga, 4 Pics 1 Word, Petville, blah, blah, blah.

Since most people see the events of Facebook as a blip on their constantly whirring monitor, these fads on Facebook fade out of our consciousness as quickly as they attention seeked their way on. In order to make the most of our utterly useless Facebook addictions (I suppose you could also do this on Twitter or, God forbid, Google+, but most of these fads were originally on the Zucker-zone) and to slowly release ourselves from the grip of social media and its constant sucking of time, hours, and resources, I propose the Internet Explorer Facebook Challenge.

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Why You Should Be Blogging About Blogging


Such a simple word.

Every month, usually on the last day, I open up WordPress on my internet browser, and click on the ‘Add New Post’ button, but not before I open up my WordPress feed, Twitter, Facebook, maybe watch an episode (or five) of the current DVD box set I’m interested in, eBay, the crappy fanfiction on Wattpad and a few select websites I regularly peruse that have nothing to do with writing. I stare at the unfinished manuscripts and the novella I’m currently submitting to publishers—waiting for that funny little thing called inspiration to strike.

I have no problem once I’ve started writing—like I am right now—but it’s when the page is blank, and I’m just twiddling my thumbs, that is the worst part of writing. No, I’m not just talking about writer’s block. Every writer who has started a blog has written about writer’s block at some point. It’s been so overdone, even I’ve written a post about it (back in September 2013), and there are over 540 Google search results on it. No, this week I’m talking about blogging.

no more writer's block!

Don’t believe me?

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Yet Another Blog Post on Writer’s Block

Document 1

You open up a new Word document, stare at the ‘Document 1 – Microsoft Word’ at the top, and perhaps grumble that the font is set to Calibri, when no sane person would accept your document in Calibri.

Perhaps you’re on WordPress, like me, and you’re thinking of writing a blog post, and you focus in on the ‘Add New Post,’ when suddenly the font increases in size, larger and larger, until you start having a panic attack and believe you’re hallucinating, before finally giving up and checking Facebook.

“Maybe tomorrow,” you say to yourself. “I’ll finally be in the mood to write.”

No, this isn’t procrastinating, not by a long shot. Well, maybe by a short shot…

There are about a million and one pages on the internet talking about writer’s block, and every single person who has ever had to write a novel, a short story, an essay, a business report, a 60,000 word thesis; they’ve all been here at one point or another.

So, let me cut straight to the chase, stop using clichés to illustrate a point, and start talking.

I could give you a list of ways to beat writer’s block, but no doubt you’ve read countless web pages, books and more on the topic.

  • Listen to inspiring music
  • Take a 15 minute break
  • Contact Stephen King for a list of ways to beat writer’s block
  • Write whatever crap comes out anyway, even if it’s just writing I can’t write damn it in Comic Sans down the page
  • Deal with it and keep persisting

You have to ask yourself: why can’t I write?

Maybe you just don’t feel like it. You’ve worked a ten hour day and, even though you enjoy writing, you’re completely exhausted. Don’t give yourself the excuse of, “But it’s NaNoWriMo and I have to write 2,000 words a day!” Of course you’re going to have writer’s block if you’re busy. Your mind’s elsewhere.

Maybe you’ve got 23 tabs open on your browser, so of course your mind is definitely elsewhere. If you’ve got your Twitter account open and ready to stay connected with other writers, plus the latest Cracked article, several TV Tropes pages, and a Facebook conversation with your friend from Tokyo, then you’re not going to write. Close all the tabs.


Chronic insomnia coupled with an internet addiction does not bode well for writing

These probably sound obvious, but when you have writer’s block, you probably don’t notice. We’re always connected to the internet, so we probably don’t take notice of the fact we’re always multitasking. Unless you don’t care about your work, you really shouldn’t be multitasking like a hyperactive two year old who’s just found your spare supply of red cordial. Ignore me if you’re going for a very fast paced, hyperactive-two-year-old action thriller.

On the other hand, there are some people (maybe you), that go, “Pfft, writer’s block, that’s an excuse for the weak willed. I’ve made myself write 2,000 words a day for six years now.”

If that’s you, good job! Though I’m not sure why you’re reading this post, unless you’re here to have a chuckle. Maybe you’re making a tally of how many “How to beat writer’s block” posts there are on the internet.

However, there are a few simple – well, maybe not that simple – ways to force yourself to write at will. I’ve known people who have forced themselves to write a thousand or so words a day in order to complete a novel. There’s also NaNoWriMo if you need the motivation – I’ve never done this before, but lots of other writers have, and they’ve succeeded.

First and foremost, if I give you a list of tips to beat writer’s block – which I’ve done earlier in this post – you probably won’t follow it. If finishing your goals was as simple as reading a dot point list on them, then I wouldn’t be writing this.

If you want to beat writer’s block: finish reading this blog post and close the tab, and shut down everything else except the Word document, WordPress page or whatever it is you’re using to write.

Turn on some music if you’d like, as long as it’s not something as catchy as Footloose or Gangnam Style, because as catchy as they are, catchy is distracting. Get some nice, non-distracting music or relative silence if you’d prefer.

Stare at that white page. Stare at the ‘Document 13 – Microsoft Word,’ change the font out of Calibri, and beat that evil white page. Persist. Write a few lines of meaningless gibberish. Turn it into something meaningful. Think of something you heard someone say on your train trip this morning, or what your kid said to you at the dinner table. Be inspired.

Maybe you could even write something on the multitude of ‘beating writer’s block’ blog posts there are on the internet.

But, now, go forth and write!