Sunday, March 27, 2011

Blog Request: The Difference Between Facebook & Twitter for the Writer's Life


Facebook & Twitter: The Warning Label--

After one a PoetParty, a reader of this blog asked me if I could explain the differences of Twitter & Facebook for her and the benefit of both in the writer's life.

First, let me tell you what the benefit isn't-- Helping getting your writing done.

If there were two websites I would advise you to stay away from (and would even add the cliche' "like the plague!" to that statement just to emphasize how much I mean this) it would be both of these website.

So before we begin, let me get that out of way--

When you plan on writing, stay OFF of Facebook & Twitter.  COMPLETELY!

While I do think these websites both have huge benefits to writers, they are also two huge time-sucks in the world that you can avoid by choice.

And here's the toughlove version on that-- If you go onto Twitter & Facebook and are complaining that you get/have enough time to write, then I need to be honest with you:  it's *your* fault.

Facebook & Twitter are both a choice.  They are not something you *have* to do because your family & friends expect to see you there.  They are not something you *have* to read in the morning or check into in the morning or even have to open in the morning.  These are all your choices you are making with your time.

I know, I sound mean, strict & tough, but darling, it's for your own good.

If you want to have time for writing, you need to say NO to the things that take away your writing.  I know from personal experience that both of these things do this.

So that was the opening warning, before I tell you how Facebook & Twitter are good and can be used for good in your writing life.

~

First, Brief definitions of each of these:

Twitter:  140 characters where you can tell the world something.  Or read other 140 character thoughts.   One continuous stream of what's on people's minds & what they are interested in at that moment.

Facebook: A non-stop cocktail party of friends, family, and vacation photos.  It's the place where you think you know where everything is and then they remodel it again.  And it can be awkward, your writing life, professional career life, family members, friends from high school and new friends all in the same room (to keep them out of the same room, there's a handy feature called "privacy settings").


Some good things about Twitter--

1) If you like Status Reports on Facebook, you'll love Twitter.  It's one status report after another.

2) Many Tweets share info that is very interesting and useful to writers.

3) You choose who you will follow based on what you are interested in.

4) You can have discussions such as the PoetParty that Deb Ager & Collin Kelley host on Sunday nights at 6 pm PST (9 EST)

****One note about Twitter:  It can be confusing.  When I started there, I didn't get it. I didn't get how to respond to someone (um, press "Reply") and who would see it (um, everyone.)

I didn't understand what "Retweeting" was (it's when you send someone else's interesting "Tweet" to all of your Followers (people who choose to follow your Tweets).

I didn't get Hashtags (that is this mark # and if you put it in front of a word, such as #poetparty, you can follow all the Tweets on that topic - this is what we do on Sunday nights).

But honestly, it took me about 4 months to get comfortable and to truly understand Twitter.  Some people freak out when Twitter goes down, to be honest again, I sometimes forget it's there and to check it.  But I do think it fits some personality better than Facebook, especially because of its immediacy.




Some good things about Facebook:

1)  If you have good news, you have your friends to share it with!

2)  You can learn about and "Like" different poetry journals (such as Crab Creek Review - hint, hint).

3)  Meet interesting people, poets, and writers.  And because there are photos (and if you are someone like me who is very bad with names without a photo), you connect better to these folks.

4)  If you like looking at photos of poet's families & lives, you can be the voyeur (if their privacy settings are off).


So, how can these two network social sites, as they are called, help a writer.

1.  They can connect you with others who have the same interests & see what others are doing in the world.

****This has been probably my favorite thing about Facebook (even more than Twitter).  It's connected me to so many writers across the US and international that I would have never met otherwise.  I've learned of new literary journals, new projects, all of it.


2.  They both can help you find your readers.

****If you're a writer with something published, both of these sites are a great place for sharing your work.  If you get published in an online journal, link it up to either of these sites and share your work.  Or announce your new book.


3.  They can both help you find others to read.

****This is similar to #1, but more specifically, I have discovered new poets through Facebook and Twitter, especially during the Sunday night (6 PST) #poetparty on Twitter.


4.  On Facebook, you can have your own "Page" for your book or as an Author Page.

****I recently did this for myself  You can find it here.  (and yes, please feel free to "Like" it.)  .

And I'll admit, I was pretty much apologizing it to my friends for doing it, because honestly, it felt *so* weird to do.  It was the "Who am I to have an author page?"

But I did for two reasons (and I'll be honest, now that it's done & up, I'm glad I did it), but reason one was:

1)  Someone started me a "fan page" -which I thought was very sweet - but my concerns were that I couldn't control the info on that page and people were starting to "like" that page.  So I thought if I started my own, I could control the content, plus add my events to the page & make sure it was updated.

2)  I am getting too many friend requests and I can't keep up.  While I love meeting new people on Facebook, adding friends is time-consuming.  I currently have 50 unaccepted friend requests in my inbox and it's not because these are scary creepy people, I just hate going through and friending people because it's time-consuming.

Mostly because I have privacy settings if I don't know someone well enough, so they can't get into my personal family photos, which are still on my Facebook page from when I first began it thinking it would just be for close friends and family.

But yes, creating a page felt like a big deal for me because an actual "Page" feel big and weird and a little wrong.  It's the modest ego in me saying, "Who do you think you are?" Or maybe that's the critics voice, the voice of the adult saying, "Really?  You?"

But now that's it's up on Facebook, I'm actually relieved because I feel it helps me separate my writing life a little more.  I like to compartmentalize.  I like writing to be over here.  And family photos to be over there.

And it's also nice to see who "liked" me.  These are the people who I will help first, who I will support because they put their name under mine and supported to me when I was nervous about doing this.  Or just "liked" me because they liked me.  And that means a lot, so know, you're on my good list, Likers.  And thank you.

~~~

So there we are. Two Social Networking Sites and their pros & cons to the writer.  They are not essential, but useful.  And the both can be a lot of fun.

But only if you're getting your real work done!  Just don't forget, writing and art come first.

All best,
Kells

3 comments:

Michael said...

Very good post with sound honest advise!

A few of my own observaions. It is not only easy to waste too much time on face book it is just as easy to convince yourself there are good reasons to do so.

There are a couple of games on Facebook that I gravitate to. Lexulous (a scrabble like game) I can convince myself I'm broadening my vocabulary. HA! Sure I enjoy it. But I love Black Walnut Icecream too but while I could eat it morning noon and night 7 days a week, I don't.

Twitter is an interesting cultural developement. It has tremendous power associated with it. We have seen in recent weeks it can mobalize people in almost a flash for change. While that has perhaps lead to some positive things, it could be used distructively just as easily.

I have used it to stay abreast with news. Baseball games. Catch up socially with people I know and as a sort of filter for interesting information. I in turn have all my blog posts announced on twitter.

I've attempted the PoetParty several times and it always seems like it is interesting but my own personal thought is that it is a regression in technology when used this way. Why? because is is so cumbersome and time consuming to communicate quickly on, meeting in an old fashioned chat room just seems so much more functional. I know there can be stigma associated wit chat rooms and I can apprecate that - and they can I suppose seem a little cliquish. I just think it is better suited for such conversation.

If I had a published book I would promote the hell out of it via bother of these mediums. They are excellent for marketing... but I'm not sure they are goingto make any of us better writers.

Thanks for the post Kelli!

randallweiss said...

Good points about both networks. I generally prefer the flow of Twitter, but both have their uses.

btw, I 'liked' the pages you told me to. ;-)

Bernadette Geyer said...

A very necessary post! I will be linking to this from my blog. You've provided a good description of the pros and cons. I often get frustrated with friends who complain about not having time to write, but then I see them posting away on FB...

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