How the Twitter #AmWriting Community Changed My Life
If you’ve already read my long-winded “About Me” post, then you know I started writing at the tender age of, ah, first grade. Whatever the heck age that is. I’m a writer, not a mathematician. There’s no way I’m gonna spend the time necessary to figure that out. Use your best guess and let’s press forward, shall we?
Anywho, I’ve been in love with writing since I was just a young’un. I wrote an entire chapter book when I was in the third grade that I sadly lost in a flood—not sad because it was fantastic and should’ve been published (‘cause NO) but sad because, hey, I was in the third grade and wrote a book! Props to my big, bad third-grade self.
Over the years, my writing has gone through stages. Sometimes life just got in the way, and I had to go on a forced hiatus. Other times, I joined the ranks of the hermit and forgot what sunlight looked like because I never left my computer. But it wasn’t until about, oh, 18 months ago when I joined Twitter that everything truly changed. And for the absolute better.
If you aren’t a writer, then you don’t understand that sense of disconnect and overall “not belonging” that goes with our special brand of crazy. I’d always felt like an outcast and had mostly hidden the fact I was a writer from everyone in my life, including my husband. I stole secret moments, late at night, under cover of darkness and little white lies, to hammer out snippets of stories that never went anywhere. It satisfied the itch, but in no way made me feel whole.
On a lark, after reading a blog post about ways to turn your dream of writing into a reality, I made up a pen name and joined Twitter. (Maybe someday I’ll tell you the story of my pen name because, seriously, it’s insanely uncreative, but at that moment, it was the least offensive of the bizarre ideas that popped into my naïve little brain.) I had no clue what I’d be walking into with Twitter, as I’d never been much into social media. But within about a week, I had a small handful of followers and discovered the #amwriting crowd.
For the first time, I fit in somewhere. The quirky little posts I made about the insane stuff going through my writerly brain made sense to people. I wasn’t this freak of nature with an unrealistic dream. I was part of a community who harbored the same dream, and who supported one another in their pursuit of said dream. It was life-changing.
Not only did I finally feel like I belonged, but I also met some amazing people who taught me some seriously incredible stuff. Hiding away in your own little world as an author is just about the least productive thing you can do, and yet that’s where many of us find ourselves. After all, writers tend to be introverts. But sharing your words and gobbling up others’ in the form of beta reading and critique partnering… that’s where the true growth lies. That, and just flat out chatting with other writers who’ve run the gauntlet and can share their writerly wisdom with you. There’s truly nothing more enlightening.
For example, until I met my #amwriting peeps, I had absolutely no clue how to query. I didn't even know querying was a thing. I hadn't gotten far enough to have a finished manuscript worth putting out in the world, so I hadn't done an ounce of research on what it actually took to get your book baby in front of agents and/or publishers. Now, I'm a query/synopsis master. (Okay, not even close, but I have a handful of flippin' kickbutt #amwriting friends who help me take my steaming pile o' dumpster garbage and mold it into a worthy package I'm not embarrassed to send into the query-land abyss.)
Also, we all improve. With every sentence we write, we get a little better. (Hence why they say to write every day. It's a for real necessity, folks.) But I've gone from "Yeah, okay, I can string words together" to actually being proud of the work I do. And why is that? Because the #amwriting crowd has taught me things I never would've learned on my own. Like, oh, not to head hop. *shudder* Or how to make my writing more active. How to show, not tell. How to distinguish voice, increase tension, and make each scene count. Basically, how to do the things that distinguish good writing from, well, "what the heck were you thinking?"
When I look back at the stuff I wrote pre-Twitter, I hover on that edge of embarrassed and impressed. Because, no way in heck would I make another soul suffer to read it, but also... I can recognize it for the craptastic pile o' steaming yikes that it is. Because I've improved. By leaps and frickin' bounds, man.
So, if you’re a writer—and, no, there are no “aspiring” writers out there… if you write, you’re a writer; end of story—then I highly recommend you make your presence known on Twitter. I’m sure there are other social media sites that are writer-friendly (I’m guilty of not being overly present anywhere but Twitter, as I mentioned. I’m totally working on that flaw), but Twitter is by far the best place to go if you’re hunting for that true sense of community. It might not be the best place to advertise or market, but if you’re looking to strengthen your writing and find a support group that will not only teach you new and amazing things but also be there to help pull you up by the bootstraps when those inevitable rejections cross your plate, then Twitter is the place to go!
Come find me if you do… I love taking new writerly folks under my wing! I’m also incredibly snarky, quirky, and weird, so you’ll feel super, stupid comfortable in my ridiculous presence. Evie’s world is a no-judgment zone. Period.
Oh, and I’m also really, really good at saying the dumbest things that’ll make you feel ten-feet tall and smarter than heck. It’s a skill. And you’re welcome, in advance.
Until next time,