Is twitter dangerous for writers?

I’m a fan of twitter. I only joined a few months ago, but am utterly addicted. It’s enabled me to ‘meet’ all kinds of fascinating people. I had never realised how many wonderful, intelligent, caring people there were. We don’t hear enough about them in the news, and it’s easy to forget.

I’ve met other wildlife nuts, and was able to tell my parents that I am by no means the only ‘bonkers’ person out there. Others, too, had kept caterpillars, feeding them every day with fresh stinging nettles until they pupated, then hatched.

I’m not sure they believed me.

As a writer, too, twitter has been great. It’s helpful to know other writers feel as you do about the process – to know you’re not the only one who procrastinates/feels guilty/and yet STILL procrastinates.

But twitter has downsides too. The most obvious one is that it’s a distraction, heaven sent for writers like me. So easy to click off your manuscript ‘just to see what’s happening on twitter’. Half an hour of precious writing time later, and you’ve checked twitter, tweeted a few times, checked your blog for views, checked the weather forecast, the news, more twitter.

This though isn’t the biggest danger. In my opinion (and it is only my opinion – all views etc etc) it is the plethora of ‘how to’ tweets, with links to articles, videos, whatever, all telling you how to write that bestseller, how to market it, how to get published – the rules. The ‘don’ts’. Don’t do this, don’t do that – NEVER do the other.

It reminds me of those magazines aimed at teenaged girls that tell them what make-up to use, what clothes to wear, how to catch a boyfriend, what to say on your first date, what boys like/don’t like (as if all boys are exactly the same, with identical taste in everything), what to do in bed, how to tell if he likes you etc etc.

Be yourself, I want to scream.

I always check the writing of the person telling me how to write. I ask myself, do I want to write like them? The answer is always, always no. I don’t want to write like anyone else, no matter how brilliant they may be.

I want to write like me.

You could take every piece of advice going, alter your manuscript over and over again to please people who, let’s face it, are unlikely to be your target readership. You could ‘revise’ it until it barely resembles the original, has lost any spark it may once have had. Until it’s had the life sucked out of it.

Yes, I would love to be published. I long to be published. It’s my dream. But not at any cost – not if I have to write something I don’t like, something that isn’t me.

Write what you love. Write what you want to read. If you get published, great, wonderful. If you don’t, at least you’ve written something you can be proud of, something you love.

Above all, in writing as in life – be yourself.


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