If you’re trying to work at a writing career, you may think that the last thing you want to do is “waste time” on Twitter when you could be honing your craft, producing great work, and trying to market and publish what you’ve written. But you’d be surprised at the resources you can find in those little 140-character tweets. Resources that might, in fact, help both your writing and your future career. You just need to know how to find them. And that can sometimes be tough without some help.
Enter Debbie Ridpath Ohi, or as she is known on Twitter, @inkyelbows. She has compiled a page on her website called The Writer’s Guide to Twitter, and it’s full of helpful references.
For example, if you look down the left margin on that page, you’ll see a list of specific writing-related chats that occur at regular times and days each week. If you’re into Young Adult books, you’d want #yachat on Wednesdays. For information and interaction about Thrillers, you’d choose #ThrillerChat on Mondays. #ScreenwritingSaturday takes place, well…guess.
One of the great secret powers of Twitter is the hashtags. These are specific keywords preceded by a # symbol. If several people want to chat about, say, writing memoirs, they could type #memoirchat on any tweet they make on that subject. And on the main Twitter everyone they could do a search on that term, and every tweet with that hashtag in it would come up.
On other platforms that give people different means of keeping track of different kinds of tweets, sometimes you can set up a whole separate column where only your chosen tweets with a specific hashtag will show up, while your stream of regular, undifferentiated tweets from all your contacts shows up in another column. That’s how you can do things, for example, on a platform like TweetDeck.
By this means, people can get together at a prearranged time and have a very focused chat on a specific topic. And you could find yourself metaphorically rubbing shoulders with published writers, agents, publishers, and other aspiring writers like you.
Other hashtags, like the ones Debbie puts into the right margin on her page, indicate ongoing conversations that aren’t necessarily held at specific times, but which you can comment on, or read about, at any time. The topic #writegoal, for example, helps you keep track of goals you’re setting for yourself, and helps you encourage others to meet their own goals.
And yes, there are hashtags that can give you insight into things like finding an agent, what agents want, and how they operate. For example, if you’re getting close to trying to find an agent, you might want to check out #AgentPeeves, to find out how not to submit a query or approach an agent.
Meanwhile, in the center of her page, Debbie has put frequently asked questions about how to use the hashtags and the chats, how to find chats, and other things that might help you get started.
Do explore Debbie’s page and do some Twitter searches on the hashtags you’re most interested in. Her Writer’s Guide to Twitter is one of the best places to start getting acquainted with the secret power of hashtags in connection with the writing life. And watch for hashtags in your own contacts’ tweets, because they might lead you to other useful chats or sources of information. Once you get involved in these chats, you’ll get invaluable information from everyone who participates.
Twitter could turn out to be the best tool you have, for getting your work polished and published.