Posts Tagged ‘Twitter’

Professionalism with personality

Posted: January 16, 2014 in General
Tags: , ,

twitter-featured1Social media is a scary place for a lot of people. Or it can be a comforting place — maybe too comforting.

On the one hand, what you say will be seen by hundreds, thousands, or maybe even millions of people. And it’s out there forever. You might be able to delete it, but that doesn’t mean it’s gone. A good rule of thumb is that everything you put out on the internet will exist there for all of eternity, whether you realize it or not.

But on the other hand, it is a place to gather with friends, co-workers, and people who you may not know but share a common passion with. It’s a community represented by avatars, where everyone can be exactly who they are, and damn the consequences. You have opinions, after all, and they need to be heard.

There are pros and cons to both approaches. Do you be professional or do you be personable? Do you spend all day promoting yourself, or do you sit around and tweet about how flipping adorable your cat is?

The answer is both. As with anything else, you need balance. You need to be professional because, yes, everything on the internet stays on the internet. But you also don’t want to assault your family, friends, and fans with links about your next book every day, all day.

You need to have spunk because people fall in love with the person, not the product. They want to get to know YOU, not become familiar with your Amazon links. They want those pictures of your cat, but maybe not every day, all day.

See the pattern yet?

I represent a lot of facets of myself. On the one hand, I’m a blogger. On the other, I’m a huge nerd. I’m a writer, but I’m also a reader. I’m a journalist and an editor, but I’m also just a person. So I need balance to show off each one of those aspects of myself without overwhelming people with one or the other.

I’m not saying I do it right all the time (God knows I talk about Teen Wolf more than any single person should), but I do have some general guidelines:

1. Don’t say anything you’d be embarrassed to say to your parents (or your grandparents or your children, etc.). One day they’ll find it, and that’ll be awkward. This is just a general rule of thumb for life anyway. Don’t be rude and obnoxious. You wouldn’t act that way in front of your grandmother, so don’t act that way when she’s not around.

2. Keep the links to a minimum. Sharing is caring, but don’t spam. People will eventually learn to ignore you, and that’s counterproductive.

3. Talk about your day. People actually want to know, believe it or not. They’re on social media to — get this — be sociable. If you talk about how you spent three hours chasing a chipmunk out of your house and back into the wild, someone will come along and share a similar story. Or at the very least laugh at your misery.

4. Interact with your peeps. Ask questions and you’ll get answers. Ask for tips and you’ll get suggestions. People are friendly (for the most part) and, like I said in the previous point, they’re there to talk to those who have interests similar to their own.

5. Have a filter. Sometimes I really want to rail on something I’m mad about. But is Twitter really the place for that? Is Facebook? Sometimes it is. Sometimes you just need it off of your chest. But other times no one cares. They don’t want to be dragged down by your daily reminders of how depressing your life is. (Harsh, but true.) Social media is a tool to use to your advantage. Whether you’re a writer or you’re just on there for fun, save the private conversations for private. You’ll thank me later.

6. Have fun. Be professional, but have a personality. Don’t think of social media like a chore and it won’t become one. But don’t let it run your life either. It’s addictive, and it will take over if you allow it. Set yourself limits if you have to, but remember that people want to get to know the real you. So loosen up and enjoy.

Why Twitter is awesome for writers

Posted: April 15, 2013 in Writing
Tags: ,

Twitter

Sure, you can go for the obvious in that it’s a great way to connect with other writers, as well as your audience. And, yeah. That’s totally true. But I love Twitter for another reason.

Simplicity.

Some of you may argue that fact, but I’m not talking about simplicity of use. I’m talking about the fact that it causes us to simplify our sentences, to get to the bare minimum truth of what we’re trying to say. We must condense our words. Minimize. Purify.

This is something that I’ve always struggled with. If you’ve been reading my blog for awhile, you’ll know this to be true. I don’t always go for the direct approach. I tend to ramble. This isn’t a terrible thing, but ambiguity isn’t exactly the mark of a great writer.

Twitter makes me pause and look over what I’m trying to say. 140 characters isn’t a whole lot to work with. I tend to throw in words I don’t need. Instead of thinking about which verb would paint a stronger picture, I tend to write out a phrase that isn’t as full of imagery.

As a writer, that’s not a habit you want to hold onto.

Sure, rewriting my tweets can be time consuming. I could just send out two tweets instead of one. It’ll get my point across. People will read them and probably not think anything more about them than what I’m trying to say. My followers probably don’t even take stock of how I’m saying something. They just notice what I’m saying.

But that’s no excuse.

Twitter presents the opportunity to challenge ourselves. It gives us a set limit – absolutely no more than 140 characters. It’s a fair amount. You can say quite a bit in that amount of space. But it’s still an amount that makes you thinking about your punctuation, your word choice, your sentence structure.

Being a writer, I bet you’re like me and don’t want to break any grammatical rules. This is yet another dimension added to the game. How to be grammatically correct and get your point across.

It’s definitely not easy.

But I’ve learned a lot about my style of writing. Particularly that I do tend to throw in unimportant words. I’ve noticed that, recently, it’s been easier to part with some words. Or, at the very least, replace them with something better. And I’m not just talking about in my tweets.

In blog posts, in my WIPs, in my articles on Hypable, I’ve noticed a more streamlined approach to what I’m trying to say. It’s getting much easier to avoid fluff words (the word ‘that’ is, apparently, a personal favorite). It’s also getting easier to choose a single verb compared to a string of words that don’t paint as vivid of a picture.

Dare I say I’m learning?

Looks like it. And even though a big part of this comes from editing other people’s works, I definitely know  Twitter has also helped me out quite a bit.

What about you? Has Twitter taught you anything about writing? Has it made you better at choosing your words with more care?

I swear this is not an advertisement! I’m just an advocate. ;)

When I finally got an iPhone last year, I did it because 1) I needed a new phone, and 2) I knew it would help me stay on top of things like my e-mail and various social media notifications. Plus, I’d be able to surf the internet. Because, you know, I don’t do that enough as it is already.

What I didn’t realize was that it completely revolutionized – and I use that term very specifically – the way that I manage everything I do. It really was like a revolution. Suddenly I had a one man army at my fingertips, allowing me to keep tabs on everything I do. And I do a lot. I became more efficient and was able to interact on social media a lot easier. This was important to me because it’s not just fun, but also good when you want to build a readership and make connections with other writers.

There are cons, of course. Anyone with a Smartphone will tell you that they can become addictive. I check mine constantly, though I try not to do it when I’m around other people. The internet can suck a lot of our time and energy without us even realizing it. And it can cause tension on relationships. I try not to let that happen.

As with everything, there needs to be balance. And one of the best things about the iPhone is that it actually gives me more time to do other things – namely writing, but also spending time with my family and friends. Instead of having 50 e-mails waiting for me at the end of the day, I can keep an eye on them as they come in and read or delete them sooner. I can respond to tweets instantly, or check Facebook when something comes up with Hypable.

It’s hard to pick just five, but I’ve narrowed down my favorite apps and why I like them so much. These are the ones I use most often, and the best part about them is they’re FREE! We all like free.

ONE. Notes

The notes app is just a simple little application designed to look like a yellow legal pad. You just open it up and start typing. You can use it for reminders, to keep your grocery list, or to write down ideas as they come to you.

I tend to use this for the last option. I have background information on my characters written out, lists of blog ideas, outlines for stories, and so much more. The best part is that it’s so portable. You don’t need to drag a laptop around with you just in case an idea strikes. And those ideas never strike at opportune moments, do they? Who doesn’t carry their phone on them at all times these days, especially given the fact that most bloggers/writers are so dependent to the internet.

TWO. WordPress

The WordPress app is one of my favorites (don’t tell the others). Instead of sitting down each night and replying to a dozen comments on a blog post, I can just respond to each person as they come in. And it’s so easy to keep track of it, as they end up in a queue in the comments section of the app.

For the longest time, I was only half using this application. I never used the reader portion – which is where new posts from the blogs you follow end up. Until recently, I would just go to my email and open up each one to read them, sometimes having to click through to the actual site. It wasn’t a pain in the slightest, until I realized there was a much, much simpler way to go about it.

When my inbox backed up to about 150 e-mails – most of them being blog posts – and I was drowning trying to keep up, I finally had the brilliant idea to check out the reader in the app. I flew through those blog posts like you wouldn’t believe. I could now do it anywhere – not just when I had my laptop on me. Of course, I could have done it from my e-mail on my phone before, but I’d have to log in each time to leave a comment and that was just such a pain.

Keeping up with blog posts now is a breeze. I hardly have any lying in wait in my e-mail because I can get to them whenever I have a few minutes. And the best part is that the app always has you logged in. You don’t need to constantly input your information, which can be frustrating on such a small screen when your fingers never quite hit the keys you intended.

The only problem I find with this part of the app is that I have to click into the blog post from the reader, then click into the person’s site, and click into post again in order to leave a comment and be able to mark it to notify me of any further replies. (I do this as an easier way to see when an author replies to me, but there’s also some hidden gems when other people leave comments. Plus, I’m a sucker for notifications/e-mails. Sue me.) But it’s a problem I’m willing to work with if it means I won’t be staring at an inbox of 150 blog posts any time soon. Hallelujah.

THREE. Twitter/Facebook/E-mail

Okay, I know I’m cheating here by giving more than one app, but these sort of go hand in hand for me. They’re ways I keep in touch with people – Twitter for writers (mostly), Facebook to keep an eye on our Hypable group, and e-mail for, well, e-mails. As with the WordPress app, these other apps keep you constantly signed in, which is one of the perks for me. (And I realize this makes me sound like someone who is too impatient to even sign in each time I want to go on these things. You may or may not be right…)

Twitter makes for great distraction. I keep to my lists, which I’ve broken down into categories for why I’ve followed certain people. I’ve followed a lot of people on Twitter, and so it can be a little overwhelming at times. Having it broken down like this is much easier to handle (though sometimes I still avoid certain lists because – WOW – so many things to read). Twitter is, unfortunately, inundated by an incredible amount of people all sharing links. I see this a lot with many of the writers I follow. Twitter is a great place to share information like this, but it’s hard to get through a list when there’s hardly any “real people talk” and it’s mostly just links. But it is what it is, and I still enjoy it. It’s a place where I can share my thoughts and be more of myself than I can be on Facebook (sad isn’t it?). The only thing I wish would change is the ability to add people to lists directly from the application, rather than having to jump on my computer to do it.

The facebook app is a great tool, and I mostly use it to keep an eye on the Hypable group (where we share ideas and make sure all the news is being covered) and my writer page. I hardly do any “real” Facebook-ing, but I don’t mind. I generally keep my thoughts to Twitter. ;) The one problem I’ve noticed with this app is that I don’t always get notified when there’s new activity. But so far it hasn’t been much of a problem, and I just make it a point to check in on everything once in a while.

FOUR. Goodreads

The Goodreads app has so much potential, I’m sure, but I don’t really use it to its fullest extent. I’m not super active on Goodreads anyway, so I’m not bothered. It makes it much easier for me to update which page I’m on in my book – something that has no real use (because I don’t my friends on there really care I just read 15 pages), but makes me happy anyway. I also use it to quickly add books to my TBR pile or to add to my already-read list. It’s nice for when I’m suddenly struck with a memory of having read a certain book, or see a book in a store that I’d like to eventually read. I can just whip my phone out and input the title. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy!

FIVE. Pocket Frogs

Yep, this is a tried and true app, and one that I am so glad I found. If you’re unfamiliar with the game, it’s pretty simple. You have a bunch of frogs that you breed and can either keep or sell. The game is super simple, but incredibly addicting. It’s fun to see what combinations you can come up with and to try to obtain all of the awards.

Smartphones can be distracting, and this is one instance where I can get sucked into a game like this (or Fruit Ninja, which I recently discovered and have a fondness for). When your main goal is to write and not be distracted while typing away on your computer (which sometimes feels like an impossible feat), having games on your phone isn’t always the smartest decision. But, I’ve also found it to be a nice break. A game like Fruit Ninja doesn’t take long (if you’re not too great at it like I am, that is), and it’s a good way to reward yourself once you’ve accomplished something on your to-do list. For someone who tends to reward herself with food (bad, bad habit), this is a much healthier alternative.

Do you have a Smartphone? Do you use any of the apps above? Which are your favorites? Got any good ones that aren’t on my list?

A lot of things have been going down either in the circles I occupy in my tiny slice of the internet or the things I like to keep an eye on. Some of the things directly impact me and others don’t (other than the fact that I’m aware of them and it makes me sad).

And when I say “things have been going down,” I mean, “People can be really, really cruel.”

I have a philosophy: Be kind. Period.

Sure, some people deserve vindictiveness. Some people could use a nice, healthy dose of their own medicine. But that doesn’t mean we need to be the ones to dole it out. But this also goes beyond that. It’s not just about not returning hate when someone is being awful to you, it’s about not starting it to begin with.

There are a lot of reasons why I wanted to write this post, but I first decided it needed to be written when I came across a couple of awful articles about one of my favorite artists: Karmin (the singing duo, Amy and Nick).

The first one was in response to Karmin winning the Rolling Stone “Women Who Rock” flip-cover. The author said that they thought Karmin was terrible and that they shouldn’t be on the cover because half of the band was male. (By the way, this was voted on by fans – not a room full of stuffy corporate employees. So obviously the people wanted Karmin on the cover.)

The other article was about their video “Hello,” and how it was the worst song and video they’ve ever heard/seen. (I mean, really? The worst?) They literally broke it down in ten second increments, bashing Karmin on everything from the lyrics and the music, to their clothes and personalities.


 
Look, I understand not everyone likes them. That’s cool. Diversity is a wonderful thing. But when I don’t like something, I just make sure I don’t involve myself in whatever it is. I don’t spend my precious time tearing down other people because I don’t like what they’re doing. It’s a waste of energy.

(By the way, I’m not linking to the articles. I refuse to give more traffic to hate-filled posts. But if you really want to see them, they’re fairly easy to find via Google.)

Cut to a month or two later (yes, I’ve been sitting on this topic for a while), and we have a series of tweets from Jeff Davis, the showrunner of Teen Wolf. He’s pretty active with his followers on Twitter and was kind enough to give us a little behind-the-scenes information about a show he used to run called Criminal Minds.

Right away, he started getting slammed. “Do you even know what bisexual means?” “He could still like her and like guys too!” “Blah, blah, blah, we hate you. *mean words* *mean words* *mean words*”

Jeff started responding to some of the haters, telling them that he did, indeed, know what being bisexual meant. He also said everyone took his tweet out of context. What had actually happened was that the network didn’t want Reid to be bisexual, and that’s why he made Reid fancy JJ. It wasn’t that he liked this girl and suddenly wasn’t bisexual, it was that he liked this girl BECAUSE he couldn’t be bisexual.

Eventually, Jeff just gave up and tweeted this:

Of course, he was joking. But still. The fact of the matter is that we are all human beings with feelings. This seems to especially be forgotten when it comes to celebrities. They DO actually come across the things that we say about them. And although journalists need to be critical and need to question things (because that’s, like, their job) there’s no need to be vindictive about it.


 
Yes, the video is meant to be funny, and it is, but think about it for a minute. What if your friend got a tweet or an e-mail or a Facebook message like one of the ones from above. It would be devastating and not funny at all. Celebrities are people and people should never be treated that way, regardless of whether or not they’ve chosen to be in the spotlight.

It’s one thing to have an opinion about someone. It’s an entirely different thing to attack that person with your opinions.

And this isn’t just about how “normal” people treat celebrities. It’s how Average Joe treats Average Jack. Look at the presidential election and how heated things got. I can’t even begin to tell you what my Facebook wall looked like. Family members and friends alike were bashing people who voted for the other guy. They lumped those people all together, calling them “idiots” because they didn’t agree with their opinions.

These are people I’ve known my whole life and suddenly they think, because I voted for someone they didn’t like, that I’m an idiot. Even if they didn’t call me out specifically or even know that’s who I voted for, they lumped me into that group. Ten seconds of impulse and suddenly they’ve indirectly insulted me for something that, let’s face it, isn’t worth getting into an argument over.

This really did happen, and I chose not to say anything back to this person because what good would it have done? More than likely it would’ve just served to hurt our feelings and make both of us angry. It’s just not worth the effort.

This is what I think, and it’s just how I operate. I understand that not everyone is the same way. I don’t judge people for voicing their opinions, and God knows that I’ve done it before too. Nobody’s perfect. I just try to take everything into consideration before I say something I might regret.

Be nice. Don’t assume anything about another person, whether you think you know them or not. Consider what type of day they could’ve been having. Consider what type of life they’ve lived. Consider the possibility that everything was just a misunderstanding. Know that one day, perhaps, that celebrity you tweeted might come across what you said about them. Realize that it might hurt their feelings. Realize that you have the ability to either spew forth hate into the world or kindness.

I know which one I’d choose.

The internet can be a terrible place. We all know this, given the surge in online bullying that we’ve seen recently. The computer screen makes you anonymous. You can be whoever you want to be. And you can say things you wouldn’t dream of saying to someone’s face. But that doesn’t mean you should say those things.

The world would be a much better place if we all just took the time to be decent human beings. There’s no reason to attack one another based on opinions or views or the fact that they hate your favorite movie. It takes a little bit more time, and a little bit more forethought, but being nice is ultimately the best thing you can do for someone else. Not to mention it’s probably the best thing you can do for yourself too.

“If you don’t have something nice to say, then don’t say anything at all” is cliché and overused, but appropriate. I try to live by this, in all honesty, because being mean saps your energy far quicker than being nice does.

I feel like I haven’t done this subject justice, but I’ll end my rant there anyway. It all boils down to something pretty basic in the end: there are very few people in the world that deserve the amount of animosity that people get on a regular basis. We should all strive to treat each other with decency, like any good human being deserves.

I’ll leave you with one of my all-time favorite quotes:

“It’s better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.”

What do YOU think? If you’re on social media, do you think people have the right to voice their opinions (whether it’s about/to you or about/to celebrities)? Do you find it hard to not say something brash, or are you like me and just enjoy spreading the love?

I read a great post the other day, from one of my all-time favorite bloggers: Belle DiMonté. It was titled “On Maintaining a Fantasy Writer’s Image,” and in it Belle discussed her role as a fantasy writer – and whether she lived up to the picture most of us unconsciously project when we hear that someone writes in this genre. Velvet dresses, candles, and braids. That sort of thing.

It came at a perfect time for me because I’ve been seriously struggling with my own image and the reputation that I have on the internet. Except I have a different problem, and sometimes I feel like I have dissociative identity disorder.

On the one hand, I’m (mainly) a fantasy author. Although I don’t wear velvet dresses, only light candles when the power goes out, and rarely put my hair in braids, there is a certain way that “we” act. A certain way we speak (or type/write, in this case). A certain way we behave. I’ve been told, much like Belle, that I have a way of writing and speaking that isn’t exactly modern, but lends itself fabulously to my career choice. I think this applies to all genres of writing, not just fantasy. Most writers live in other worlds half our lives, so we tend to bring those same tendencies back across the void and into reality. There’s nothing wrong with that.

Then, on the other hand, I have Hypable. I love this site to death. I donate hours at a time each night to doing various things for it. I will forever champion it as one of the best websites on the Internet to get all your fandom news and interesting articles about things that you love. And along with that comes a different way of speaking, a different way of acting. You have the various memes that go around the internet. Shorthand, like saying “obvs” for “obviously” or “ofc” for “of course.” It certainly doesn’t lend itself to a fiction writer’s mind, but at the same time this is the slang that is used all across the internet. If you know what it means, then you’re in, you’re cool.

So, what happens when these two sides decide to butt heads? Well, I’m still trying to figure that out. I feel most self-conscious about it on Twitter. Most of my followers are writers, though I interact with only a handful of them. I have a good selection of Hypable followers as well, who are much more active and attentive to my tweets. Because of this, I sometimes struggle with what I should say and how I say it. I have a perfect pair of tweets (from a long time ago, when it actually wasn’t as much of an issue) that displays this war that’s raging inside of me. The first is Hypable-acceptable, while the other is my writer personality rearing its head.

(And just some warning, this was after watching Rumble in the Bronx, which is a terrible movie, but is still a Jackie Chan classic.)

Part of me is unapologetic for the first tweet, and any similar tweets to it. Pop culture is something that I’m practically bathing in now. With Hypable, I’m forced to read about all the current news. I know about projects, like movies and TV shows, ahead of most other people. I get to read reviews for advanced screenings. I’ve memorized the names of actors I didn’t even know existed six months ago.

Yet, the other half cringes. Did I really just say that? I couldn’t have taken the time to write out the word “obviously”? I already think the English language is dying – why am I adding to it by continuing this trend?

But, in the end, this is me. I’m a complex and often contradictory person. Yes, I like people who use proper grammar, but at the same time, lolcats makes me laugh like you wouldn’t believe. No, I can’t stand certain memes or catchphrases (ie. YOLO), no matter how popular they are. Sometimes I prioritize watching Supernatural over writing.

So, perhaps that’s a little explanation for my Twitter behavior. I often think to myself, “some people will think this is funny or will care, but others won’t.” I might even risk losing followers if I tweet too much about Doctor Who or if I retweet too many links to other blogs. But is that really an issue? Is that really why we tweet or write blog posts? Just like I know not all of you enjoy my Wednesday posts about art, I know that not all of you will enjoy every tweet. But, hey, that’s okay. We’re all different. In the end, I’ll write/tweet/blog what I want, because I think it is funny or because I care about it. I encourage everyone to do the same.

What about you? Do you have warring personalities? Do you ever think twice about what you tweet or blog, afraid that someone might not be on the same page as you?