Come, take my hand. We’re going on a stumbling journey through the world of social media, but firstly, a confession: I am not a behemoth of social media or networking. This isn’t so much a lecture on what you should do, as me thinking out loud about what I should do, to maximise my effectiveness when it comes to engaging and making the most of the vast network of writers’ resources online.
First off, you’re reading this. Well done. This means that, to an extent, you’re engaging with the writing community of the online world. This is a good start, because there’s plenty of great advice on the internet that’s well worth reading. I know that to an extent I’m preaching to the converted, but if you’re not preaching in your own time, then you’re not making the most of things. That was a clumsily extended metaphor about ENGAGING WITH THE COMMUNITY, rather than a suggestion to stand on a street corner and violently expound your religious beliefs.
What I’m trying to say is, whilst observing all these things is great, you could do better. You know how they say that you learn more through teaching than learning? It’s true. Engaging with writers and articulating your ideas will help you to hone and solidify your skills, and better analyse your work and the work of others. ALSO, you’ll get noticed. Writers, producers and film-makers will read your tweets. Your name will float around the writing universe. You will no longer be that person walking around the house in a dressing gown and bed socks in the middle of August. You’ll be a WRITER.
2. Establish yourself.
You know those competitions you enter? If people like what you’ve done, then they’ll Google you. If nothing comes up then they’ll think one of a few things: you’re just starting out; you think you’re ‘above’ engaging on the internet; you’re a psychopath; you’re a ghost. None of these things are good. Make a website, have a blog, a Twitter and a Facebook and USE them. Let the people who Google you see that you’re an active writer, who’s approachable and human.
3. Help others.
If someone on one of these sites is asking for someone to read their work, why not help out? As long as you follow my rules of good feedback, and they follow my rules of receiving feedback well, all will be fine and dandy. You will establish a contact, develop your own critical faculties and keep your finger on the pulse of the industry. You might even find someone you want to collaborate with…
4. Allow others to help you.
Let other people read your work and feedback on it. Ask for help on blogs, Twitter and Facebook – whether the questions concern writing technique, advice on your script, or just research – you’d be surprised how many people will happily help you. Shake the notion that everyone wants to steal your work. They don’t. Make the most of the people willing to help you.
I’m currently collaborating with a writer who’s 500 miles away, and get my work read around the world for critiquing and feedback purposes. The internet has made collaboration infinitely easier. Even if you’re the kind of writing team that needs to work side by side, Skype chats make that a virtual reality. Once you’ve followed my earlier steps, and have come across like minded individuals whose opinions you respect and whose work you like, you can use the internet to make something together, without even having to meet. There is much more to the internet than stalking people on Facebook, amusing videos of cats and links you wish you’d never clicked. Grab it with both hands!
6. Now let it go!
Now you’ve amassed more followers than a medium sized cult. You have fingers in every pie imaginable. You’re an internet octopus with fingers on your tentacles and all of those fingers are in pies. You read people’s work, establish contacts and make friends. Good for you. Now, when are you writing? Do not let establishing yourself as the CHAMPION OF NETWORKING get in the way of the reason you started doing it in the first place. Writers write. Make a name for yourself. Be present. Work with others. Don’t let it get become a form of procrastination. Don’t let it get in the way of your real goal.
NEXT: Some of the best platforms and why they’re good for writers …
ON THIS BLOG BEFORE ABOUT SOCIAL MEDIA:
BIO: Sam Caine is a scriptwriting student at Bournemouth University about to embark on his final year. He enjoys reading, writing and moaning. He doesn’t enjoy mushrooms, spiders or talking about himself in the third person. You can follow him on his slightly bizarre Twitter, on his blog of writing-related miscellanea, or subscribe to him on Facebook, if you’re into that kind of stuff. He tries to refrain from judgement.