The stereotype is that writers are a super-introverted, angst-ridden, egotistic lot who have no time for social engagement. That may be true for some, but there are just as many good writers who are, by nature, friendly, extroverted, and eager for social contact. Most of us fall somewhere in the middle…depending on our mood, our deadline, and our peek-a-boo muse.
Today’s writers daily dodge a world that invades their book-laden sanctuaries twenty-four hours a day as they focus on blank screens and bang keys in the name of story. But computers have their own tales to tell. Social media delivers the story of the digital age and we all know how much writers love a good story.
The allure of social media is strong. The ease and user-friendliness of this new technology is unparalleled. A few years ago all writers had to contend with was the interruption of email. Now Facebook and Twitter compete for their attention in real-time. A few technology-drenched writers have even attempted to write novels within the context of a series of short-burst Tweets.
The days are long gone when writers had to make an effort to contact the world. In the past writers would haunt libraries and bookstores; they’d travel to find people and stories. Now stories and people come to them digitally-delivered. Sounds good, right?
Not so much. The digital world is as densely populated as the real one. The number of information delivery systems expands daily. Writers faced with multiplying questions on how best to adapt to this ever-changing world are overwhelmed. Every morning they are faced with an instant decision: Write? Or engage?
If you are technologically challenged, forget about all the multiplying venues. Stick with the big three: Facebook, Twitter, and maybe LinkedIn.
The ease that Facebook provides to allow a person to connect is a great tool and one writers should mine. The writing world thrives on connections, always has. Networking is not a new concept. Although not as dynamic a tool as the others, LinkedIn helps writers manage their resumes, bylines, and availability online and readily available. Twitter spills research, inspiration, and ideas onto desktops around the world. The trick is in their management. Many tools already exist that can help writers stay on track and away from overload.
So what’s the problem? The danger is that writers will allow themselves to be swept into the torrential stream of social media. Restraint is important. Understanding each tool and how it works is the best defense. Discipline is key. Those who can make social media work for them and not fall prey to its distraction will gain a distinct advantage in the ever-shifting landscape that makes up today’s publishing.