Ok, what I am going to say will fly in the face of what is currently being taught to writers. I am going to deconstruct shameless self-promotion and say this, it’s not how many people you get to “follow” you in today’s current media, it is about choosing the right contacts, the relevant ones. Otherwise I feel no more validated than the American Idol top 10. Voted there based on the masses regardless of their talent.
The current mantra is, “get on Twitter, such and such became an overnight success because of it”, “Make sure you’re on Facebook”, “blog, blog, blog”. Well, I’m tired of people telling me what I should or shouldn’t do. Ask them, are they published because of just Twitter and nothing else? You’d be surprised how many people say no. They got published because of hard work. A dedication to the craft, to write the absolute best story they can write and then improving it.
Twitter? Ok, if that’s your bag. It’s not mine and I doubt will ever be.
Facebook? If you have the time, it’s a great promotion tool but don’t overdo it otherwise you’ll end up with more people hiding your constant remarks or worse case unfriending or un-liking you. Be very careful. It’s all about how you are perceived. Constantly harping may be a sign of weak writing.
Blogging? Now here is where I struggle the most. I agree that for an author having a public place where everyone can find you is a very important thing. On the flip side, the idea that I have to find as many like-minded blogs and follow them and comment on them is time consuming. Quite often the rewards don’t justify the labour. Follow who you like, and by all means write. A blog today is like an electronic journal, and journaling is never a bad thing.
I’ve always been of the mind that I will let my work speak for me. The best and most profitable companies are the ones that advertise by word of mouth not splashy Yellow Pages Ads. I want to apply that logic to my writing. Let’s face it, anybody, regardless of skill level, can advertize.
Writing, like singing and dancing and art and figure skating, is hostage to subjective judging. There is no yardstick like there is in sports. No clear cut winner or loser. Every person is different and what may appeal to one, may not appeal to others. Now when I said there is no yardstick to measure the craft, that’s not exactly true, there are basics. Writing is like baking, it all starts with the same basic ingredients. The genre comes when the spices and fruits and or sweeteners are added. The added spices make your work your own. The basics ensure that someone out there will like your work.
I find more and more of my time is being wasted with electronically pimping myself out. Time I could better spent on research, editing, and above all, writing. I guess it is like anything, moderation is the key. Take what you need from advice and apply it. Like using a carrot, some people will use the whole thing, greens and all, while others find more use from the peeled and pared carrot, discarding the excess. Not because it is worthless or bad, but simply because it doesn’t apply.
There are supposed experts everywhere. They will tell you, you have to do this, or you can’t do that. I say they are full of… well, lets just say let them apply it to their own work because mine is not the same.
Ultimately, we all have our own voice. There is no real right or wrong way to do something. If the end result works, then does it really matter how you got there? Just embrace it and try, like I do, to figure out what you did right.
Let intuition guide your pen. Let your imagination kick up all kinds of dust, not all of it will stick, but from that dust will arise, like a phoenix, an idea and just write. Let conventional thinking sit on the guidelines and watch. Worry about where it will fit later, write for the love of it, the exhilaration of romping in the skin of your characters, of painting new landscapes. Once you are done, only then start thinking about where it will fit and don’t try to force it into a form, make your own.
Twitter if you like, Facebook for a break, blog your process or just for fun, but write first and foremost. If the story is strong the rest will take care of itself.
But then I’m still finding my way and that’s just my two cents. Throw your pennies in, I’d like to know what you think. What works for you and what didn’t live up to expectations?