"It's like taking a nap on that little rug when you were in kindergarten."

Social Media – Twitter and Writing

Remember the scene in Star Wars where Han Solo is trying to escape the bad guys in his Millennium Falcon by putting the ship into hyper-space (I think that’s the right word)? Individual stars are quite visible around them, and then all-of-a-sudden he punches the accelerator-thingy and off they go – stars surrounding the ship, blurring all tunnel-like. Well, that’s what happened to me.

For the last few days, I’ve been immersed – like drinking from a fire hose – in the Twitter universe trying to learn how to use it as a social media tool. I was trapped in that black-hole and have just punched out into hyper-space. Now, out of Twitter-land for a while, here are some important things I’ve learned:

1) Twitter is not at all what I expected. Expectations of another Facebook – the negative side, on steroids – was entirely not true. That was a relief.

2) Twitter is a GREAT place to learn. My intention was to connect with writers and bloggers on Twitter and this was tremendously rewarding. In fact, I felt like the guy who goes to the strange planet in those sci-fi movies, who found the planet so fascinating that he decided to stay on the new-found orb. Woops – the only problem was that I had to come back to reality to well … spend time with MLB, pay bills, feed the dog, eat, etc.

3) People are much friendlier than I had imagined. I have “virtually” met some extraordinarily gracious writers who are so willing to help and encourage other writers, especially noobs like me! I’m sure they don’t get the recognition they deserve for impacting rookie writers/bloggers. So in a small way of honoring them, do check out these links, or Twitter handles, to some terrific writer-mentors:

Christine Nolfi Christine Nolfi    @christinenolfi on Twitter

Kait Nolan Kait Nolan

Kristen Lamb’s Blog Kristen Lamb

Writer Unboxed Therese Walsh & Kathleen Bolton
Therese Walsh Writer unboxed blogger   Kathleen Bolton Writer Unboxed blogger

Wordbitches The dynamic trio of Leanne Shirtliffe, Elena Aitken, and Trish Loye Elliott
Leanne Shirtliffe ironicmom writer blogger   Elena Aitken Writer Blogger Wordbitches   Trish Loye Elliott Writer Blogger Wordbitches

Melissa Foster Melissa Foster   @Melissa_Foster on Twitter

GIRLS WITH PENS March Kennedy & Lisa Hall-Wilson
Girls With Pens Marcy Kennedy   Girls With Pens Lisa Hall-Wilson

Writing on the Wall Lynette Labelle

Call Me Bookish Kelley Lane  @Call_Me_Bookish on Twitter

Wordplay KM Weiland   @KMWeiland on Twitter

Write Up My Life Julie Hedlund

In an upcoming post, I’m going to go into what I learned about hashtags – those “#” symbols that you see on Twitter all the time. For now, I must get back to my new-found orb – Twitter whispers softly in my ear, “Come back, my friend. Come back.” hehehe

Have you made the leap to Twitter yet? If so, has it totally sucked you in like it has me?


  1. I’m afraid I am not one to be caught up in the cyber world, connecting with so much of the social networking traffic. The world of media is a complicated place, eating up more and more of our time and creativeness. I haven’t found Facebook much of a draw for me. Instead of keeping in touch with people finding quality conversation, I find a lot of ridiculous talk and banter that consumes a lot of time. Recently I signed on to Pinterest, where I found an even bigger “time gobbler”. I’m highly organized, and after a day of looking at and researching ideas and finding very little of it would be worth spending the hours perusing, I deleted the account. I have to look deeply at my life and ask myself, “Is this social networking really helping me to be creative and helping me live a quality and enjoyable life? As an introverted personality type, I draw my energy from within. Social interaction absolutely drains me and eats up my spirit. However, I respect those people who can handle it all… and it IS a lot to handle.

    • Lori, I like how you always keep it real! I really understand what you’re saying. I’m a “learner” so far me, I spend time informing myself, or somehow enriching my brain (for the most part). I don’t do a lot on FB as I found that was more about the trivial things – although, not always. It has been good to use that to stay in touch with old classmates from NE. Pinterest I just don’t have time for right now.

      I totally see, from your perspective as an introvert, why social media is exhausting. I think I’m introverted – though friends and family might disagree – and I find social media a good way to expand my horizons, that I wouldn’t otherwise get to.

      Your comments are always so thoughtful and welcome, fellow Bugeater!

  2. I’ve been on Twitter for a few years now and I still haven’t figured out what it’s good for.

    • I’m finding it useful as a learning tool. You might find some great photog sources on it. Have you used the hashtags? They are very effective in narrowing down specific topics or people. It’s almost like indexing. It took me a while to get it, as well.

    • Jim, i’m bamboozled by why you’ve persevered with it for so long if you haven’t worked out what it’s good for. You’ve certainly given it a red hot go. Maybe it’s just not for you?

  3. Three great points about Twitter. I was slow to get on board but I’m figuring things out. Though I’m guilty of forgetting to hashtag things. Ugh. Looking forward to hearing more about your twitter adventures. :)

    • Thanks Kourtney. I was very slow to figure it out, unfortunately. I feel a whole lot better now. I too, have forgotten the hashtags after sending a tweet – such a bummer when that happens. BTW, I love your website.

      • Triberr is causing me some confusion. Or maybe I’m not getting it. But I keep going over and trying to figure things out. On Twitter, the hashtags are my nemesis especially on my cellphone. Aw thanks so much! My friend did all the techy stuff. But it was a joint labor of love.

  4. Thanks for the shout, M. I too love Twitter. Facebook has a Junior High feel, whereas Twitter has a college/adult vibe. I’ve been on it over two years now, so I feel like a Twitter grandma. It is amazing that you can actually develop relationships with people over 140 character limits.

    Glad you made the jump!

    • Quite welcome, my friend.

      That is the perfect way to describe it, Leanne! It is more of an adult feel. I’m disappointed that I didn’t get it before now, but glad that it’s finally taken hold in my little brain. :)

      I like the fact that it’s limited to 140 characters to keep the chatter succinct.

    • That’s a great analogy Leanne. I was really resistant to Twitter for ages because I thought it was just a place for people to blab about the minutiae of their lives. Now I have discovered it is so much more than that and I am completely obsessed. Just tonight i signed up with Buffer & Social Bro to help me get more out of it. Time trap, aaaaaaaaaaaaaah!

  5. Not yet. But I really haven’t given it much time yet. I still don’t understand hashtags. I am a total newbie (and also, tech-challenged) so that is part of the problem.

    • If I can do it, so can D-Woww! I am low-tech, for sure. I’ve really gotten a lot out of it. In the near future I’ll post more about the hashtags, and hopefully that will make it more understandable. It is confusing at first.

  6. Interesting post. I’m teetering on the edge of Twitter – kind of terrified to take the plunge. I’ll be interested to hear more of your adventures.

  7. Author Kristen Lamb says:

    Thanks for the shout-out. I believe people who don’t like Twitter just haven’t been shown how to use it properly. It really opens up a world of amazing people….like all those you listed :D.

    • You’re most welcome. That’s 100% right that it has to do with knowing how to use it properly. I really learned by observing how people like those I listed (among many others) utilized Twitter.

  8. What a great analogy! It is exactly like that another universe. Thanks for posting what we all think


  9. I’ve ventured into the Twitter universe once, but came back in a time-warp minute because I didn’t know what I was doing. I’ll look to you for guidance, as you go where not all men have gone before. May the Twitter force be with you.

    • I appreciate your faith in me. I think I can convey it so it’s more understandable having gone through it now. This was honestly my third attempt, but I had more time and was laser-focused, for the most part, on writing.

    • The first time i looked at it i freaked out too – it seemed like an alien universe. But i googled around and got some great articles to help me get started. And i figured it didn’t really matter what my first tweets were like anyway, seeing as i only had 2 followers at that stage! Just have a play amiable. It’s like Green Eggs & Ham. Hey, that sounds like a tweet: “twitter for newbies? #greeneggsandham”

      • I’m with you on that. It seemed Greek to me at first, but I knew I had to learn it for my own good. And like you say, I had so few followers at the time, it didn’t matter.

  10. I’m not a fan of Twitter, I think because the 140 character limit is so, well, limiting. But what I do like it for is seeing real-time news from a few celebs that I follow. Just little details of people’s lives that you would never read about otherwise. I thought about seeing up an account to go with my blog, but actually, I don’t think it would help the blog any. Just don’t let it take over your blogging time too much or we will miss you! :)

    • It can be limiting, or liberating, depending on how you look at it. I like the limit – it tends to make the conversation or thread more concise. But, I can see where you’re coming from. You would be surprised how much it would help with your blog. Twitter can be like a funnel to your blog if it’s set up properly and your tweets are helpful and not just focused on “you.” That’s where a lot of people go about it incorrectly. Those who help others are most successful. Good karma, if you will. And, boy are you right about it taking time away from blogging. That I have to get back in check! I miss all the blog-reading even more!

  11. If it’s anything like facebook not for me. Was supposed to be loop for college guys and gals from 1965-74 It became moment by moment report of daily events from ladies ; the beauty shop was closed, Tabitha had 8 kittens, Timothy lost his first tooth, we got a new car, got this new shade of lipstick and on and on. Elevendy million things in inbox. Then suddenly I had enough friends I should have entered the Florida primary for president ! Not for me sonny boy, not for me.

    • I love your take on facebook, Carl. FB can definitely be that way. Twitter typically is more business-like although it can be a bit newsy like that sometimes. But that’s more as an aside usually. Now, I can understand why you would have enough friends to make a go at president – you are a popular figure afterall!

  12. I’ve just started the twitter thing, and am useless at figuring things out. I’ll be eagerly awaiting your next post… :)

  13. mj…..I was a twitter sceptic until I figured out it’s power is in who you follow and who they follow which can lead you to some awesome places you wouldn’t normally have found out about.

    I’ve actually gotten work from the most convuluted 7 degrees of separation twitter grapevine magic.

    Blows me away how some people can have followers that number in the millions – imagine the pressure!

    • Yes Ian, that’s exactly what I’m talking about. You can multiply the reach so exponentially if used in the right way. How they deal with that many followers is mind-numbing.

      Glad you’ve gotten work through that web.

  14. Wow, I’m so honored to have made your list and glad you’ve found my tweets helpful. I think Twitter is an invaluable resource if you use it well. I learned more about publishing in the first year after joining Twitter than I could have in five years on my own.

    • Glad to have you on the blog. Always want to tout good sources that can help others out. Sounds like Twitter has worked similarly for you as it has for a lot of self-learners. Thanks again.

  15. libraryscenes says:

    It sounds like you’ve already discovered the great things about Twitter. I’ve an added bonus of fun since I manage two non-personal twitter accounts, a library one and a yoga one. The yoga one has an inherited list of followers who all seem to know each other…it is most fascinating to follow this thread. (if you don’t use tweetdeck or hootsuite, you should consider) helps you run multiple columns for various feeds…if you’ve established lists, i.e. publishers/thinkers/writers. Enjoy…it IS another universe of useful info ~

    • Wow, three accounts, total! You’ve got your hands full. Sounds fascinating, though. Very cool that one is a library one. I’ve always been amazed and enthralled by libraries from the time I was a wee one. Hmm … will Hootsuite help with one account? One of the interesting things I’ve found is that people follow you, you follow them back, and then they “unfollow” you – very uncool, in my opinion, and strange, really. Thanks for the tips.

  16. That’s what I like about coming here MJ. I’m always learning something new. Carry on, I’ll just be following ya around and absorbing your teachings :)

  17. For some reason I’m totally terrified of twitter. There seems to be so much potential for me to say something really dumb there then totally regret it. And I don’t really see how 1-2 liners about discrete events in a friend’s life, without the context, could be interesting to me. But then that’s from someone who has never used twitter before. I could potentially get sucked in, like you, once I start. I just haven’t had enough incentive to overcome the inertia just yet.

    • I was stymied by Twitter for about three years, I think. And this is my third try. I’ve focused more this time on the niche of writing and found it to be quite rewarding. I think unless you have an area or areas you want to learn more about (such as cooking, writing, humor, sports, entertainment, etc.) it can be more just life stuff similar to facebook. I do have to watch it, because I LOVE to learn.

  18. Mj, I am sure you are enjoying twitter more than WordPress now. I hope you still remember all of us? :)
    Jokes a part, I never really understand what the use of twitter. Specially, that hash tag concept? I know it’s sounding very funny as I am a computer engineer and I do not know much about twitter. But really I do not. :) I hope you will explain how to use it in detail, some day.

    • Actually, I was diverted by Twitter and trying to learn about how to move my blog to WordPress.org. I think I’m to the point where I can finally get back to reading blogs, which I love more than Twitter.

      Hopefully I can provide an easy understanding of the hashtag concept for you. It’s really pretty cool. Great to see your name again, my friend.

  19. Understand you totally Michael. I utilize only Twitter & am completely hooked.
    Tweet on my friend ! 😛

  20. Hi MJ. I feel like I am only just getting the hang of Facebook, and I often feel that the time would have been much better spent on my writing. I don’t even know how to begin with Twitter and, if I did, I would be afraid that it would turn out to be another huge time-suck. I will attend a workshop on social media at a writers’ conference later this year. Maybe it will provide the kick in the pants I need to get started. Great post.

    • I know what you’re saying. For you, because you write a lot, Twitter would prove to be valuable. You do have to watch the time, though, as it can get away from you. I’m sure it will be highly-touted at the conference. Thanks for the comment, my friend.

  21. Twitter can be a huge time suck, but if you learn to use it properly (i.e. interact with it in person a few times a day, and schedule tweets for the rest of the time so you don’t have to be on it), then it can be pretty beneficial :)

  22. I’m just making that noise that Chewbacca makes (in appreciation) !

  23. I’m learning a lot from you buddy. I feel like i’ve done pretty well for myself, in terms of building a modest following for my blog, by using approximately 7% of what these social media networks have to offer. Perhaps with your help, I can expand a bit further…say 10-15%?!

    • Tanx Jim! If you get to 10%, you’ll need to be training me! There’s so much out there to learn. I’ve been devoting quite a bit of time and still only scratched yonder surface!

  24. Thanks for the encouragement to try Twitter – which I have to this time avoided – for fear of exposing my gross technological incompetency. I was comfortable with phones when they were black and had dials! So – here goes.

  25. I’m eagerly awaiting the day you join Pinterest. Because then, wise Jedi Master, you can teach me what the HELL a “pin” is … and why I’d want it. Just sounds pokey…

    Today I got a message that “someone mentioned me on a new pin that was added to ‘Sweet stuff.': What the hell does that even mean? I mean, I dig the picture of the “Diet Coke cake pop” — but what do I do with it?

    Judge me by my Pinterest ineptitude, do you?

    • If you’re saying, so you can pin the tale on the, um, “donkey,” (me) then I know what you mean.

      I shall not judge you. Ever. And if there’s Diet Coke involved, cake pop or not, I’m dooowwwnn! :)

  26. Oh, wow! So honored to be on such a special list. Makes my day to hear I was able to help out in some small way.

  27. Thanks for the mention, Michael. Many people view Twitter as simply another sales tool–I can’t. I receive tweets from young authors who are trying to learn Publishing 101. Desperate dreamers who sleep on a couch in Mom’s apartment while struggling to write. And older professionals who are finally setting aside time to pen a rich, debut novel.

    I worked in PR for several decades, had my novels shopped around NYC twice by very dedicated lit agents, and finally entered Indie Publishing last year with a wealth of knowledge about publishing in general, and the Writing Life in particular. Sharing tips, offering encouragement and lending a helping hand isn’t merely habit–it’s done with gratitude. Many successful authors have helped me over the years and I want to “give back.”

    I have a prayer for Twitter and it’s this: I want the site to remain an open forum where artists nurture each other. I want it to remain a safe haven for the sharing of ideas, opinions and the occasional complaint. Bottom line, I want Twitter to remain human, a place where real connections happen every day.

    • Christine, your experience lends itself so well to being such a great resource to new and veteran writers, alike. And your willingness to do so makes it possible. A gift that is not given, is not a gift! Sharing with the community only helps make all of us better – whether new bloggers, or multi-novel writers.

      Thank you for connecting through Twitter and making it a powerful tool for learning and growing,

  28. Yes, I’m still pretty new to Twitter myself. It was something I never had an interest in trying and now I’m trying to learn all the ropes at once. It has been a fun experience, but I often notice I can get caught up in reading tweets and chatting rather than writing. It is still nice to have a place where others understand you when you talk about writing.

    • That’s the only problem I’m having with it, as well, Bridget. I can’t seem to stop when the time gets away from me. I love the tweets that teach me something: how to’s, the 7 lessons of, etc.

  29. Twitter is the Mother of all Chinese whispers, like the other day when it was reported that Kim Jong-Un was assassinated in Beijing… it was also reported on the very same day that the Jonas Brothers are the best band, like ever….

  30. Are you kidding? I only just managed to get on Facebook properly. I’m still mentally in the place where you take those really huge floppy disks and jam them in the processor…when confronted with a member of the twitterverse, I’ve been known to mutter, “Hashtag this, sucker!” Only I don’t say “sucker”…

    • You are funny, my friend! It can be your friend, but don’t try to put the floppy thing in the Twitter – it won’t work.

      “Hashtag this, @###^&!” That’s classic.

  31. Andra Watkins says:

    Twitter has always been my preferred social media tool, my recent activity notwithstanding. It is the best place to engage the people I want to meet.

    Love the new look of the blog.

    • Oh prolific-writer-one, I know you are up on all the Social Media. Organized, time-managed, etc. If only for me. Someday, when I grow up, I will have it all together as you do. :)

      Thanks for the compliment on the blog. Not bad for a very low-tech guy.

  32. I’m looking forward to you next post. I have an account, but stand staring at the water, trying to figure out how to dive in.

  33. I like to use twitter to gather information and news and rumors. I can walk away from it for days though. People say Twitter and Pinterest are major time sucks, but there are appropriate times for catching up, like waiting anywhere for anything. haha! Nice to meet you, I found you via Laine, she’s all kinds of awesome and says you are too! :)

  34. I have an account, but I don’t know what I’m doing. I’m ignorant to using it and how to use it the right way. Hopefully I’ll learn one say. You are quickly becoming by social media guru.

    • Oh, you are a smart one, my friend- you won’t have any trouble picking it up once you put your mind to it. So many great writers to learn from and so little time. I’ll try to break it down some more in the next Twitter post I do.

  35. Excellent post! I thought Twitter would be really overwhelming too, but it’s not. I just keep it open in a tab along with everything else and make a run through a few times a day.

    • Thanks Laine! I know you are a tech-genius, so you would have no problem with any new technology. I have a tab open as well, but have to close it or I’ll try to check it too frequently and get nothing else done. :)

  36. You are so cute! I love Twitter and FB. Like you, I was nervous about Twitter at first, but now I love to hop on, catch up with everyone, RT some blogs and hop off. It’s fast and dynamic in ways that FB isn’t, which is good and bad. I like how on FB you can have an entire conversation with more than a few people and it’s all in one place. On Twitter the conversation jumps around in the tweets. Still, those two social media tools are my virtual BFFs.

    • That’s a very good way to sum up the differences between FB and Twitter, Tameri. I hadn’t even thought of it like that, but you’re so right. The ADD side of me (no, I haven’t been diagnosed) likes Twitter because it can take you on all kinds of “bunny trails” as MLB likes to say.

  37. Sounds like a good use of Twitter. It has many uses, that being one of many. I use it primarily for learning.

  38. Another great post. I can never resist a blogpost that begins with “Remember the scene in Star Wars…” I don’t know how you found my blog Michael but i really appreciate that you tweeted me because otherwise i might not have found yours – and there’s so much good stuff on here. Definitely going to check out some of your Twitter mentors. Just have to remember to make time for the actual writing, otherwise i might have a squillion followers but no books to tell them about…

    • Thank you, Annabel, for the kind words. I don’t remember how I found you, but I’m so glad I did.

      BTW, if you figure out how to still do social media AND write, please teach me! I get so totally swept away by all the great stuff to learn that I don’t always get back to the task at hand.

  39. Wow. Look at your responses! Thumps up, buddy! Please don’t feel the need to respond but I felt compelled to say, “kewl beans article!”
    I’m sure you’ll be able to chronicle your learning experiences and comment-culled notes for, at least a Kindle, how-to-tweet for writers who need to know more about the Twitter.
    I’ve become a “social media” specialist who is also a writer. I have done everything correctly, as far as social media, business and marketing, to make sure my ebook novels were great sellers; EXCEPT: reach out to other writers and readers via Social Media. I was way too busy living in the social media and “real world” where I actually co-mingled and “took the relationship offline” as I was taught to do in my “Social Media 101″ teaching. But I found it hard to actually meet other authors, read enough books to review them, and I have found that authors are so “spammy.” With the exception of a few authors who tweet and have other interests and content that I want to click onto, I find the “buy my book—buy my book” messages tedious.
    On the flip side, I am sure that I sell much less of my prose than those authors.
    As we all read and learn, conversing with other writers and publishers and reader is key in moving our indie eBooks, and I’m doing much of that. I’m just missing the part where I actually meet them like I do with the real world.


  1. […] a recent post, we looked at Twitter as a social media tool for writers: Social Media – Twitter & Writing. Since we looked at some of the basics already, let’s dig a little deeper and talk about […]

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