My three years with Twitter

This week marks my 3 year anniversary of being on Twitter. To be honest, I was pretty sceptical about it all at first. It annoyed me when I was trying to talk to colleagues at post-work drinks in the pub and they were too busy tweeting to pay attention. I swore to myself that I would never become one of those people.

But once I started following people and they followed back (and more importantly I got a smartphone with a Twitter app) I’ll admit I’ve got hooked. I love checking in on a morning after my writing work is done, to find out what my fellow writers are up to.

My newsfeed is an interesting mix of writers, agents, editors, book shops, health and fitness magazines, and runners, showing very well what my interests are. I follow 432 people and have about 320 followers. I’m about to hit my 4,000th tweet (probably the one that announces this blog post!) so I’m not exactly a prolific tweeter but I prefer to use it in my own way.

I don’t want social media to take over my life, so I have some simple rules:

  1. I give myself regular breaks – often on a weekend, especially if I’m out and about, I just won’t check it. Spending time with family and friends in the moment is just as important – if not more so – as anything I could do on Twitter.
  2. Writing comes first – this is the absolutely 100% non-negotiable rule. I won’t open Twitter until my morning words are done.
  3. Use Twitter as a means of creating networks, make new friends and share information but don’t allow it to take over real life – when I’m out with friends, I don’t check my phone. Unless we’re waiting to hear from a friend who is stuck in traffic or on a train, I don’t even look at it.

People have a tendency to get wrapped up in social media and I think it’s generally starting to affect concentration span and the ability to focus. Next time you’re out and about, look around you and see how many people are obsessively fiddling with their mobiles; texting, tweeting or playing games. Test yourself and see how long you can go when you’re alone and doing nothing without checking to see what’s happening on Twitter.

But social media isn’t all doom and gloom and Twitter definitely has its upside. That, for me, is the number of fab people I’ve met on there. There is a fantastic community of writers who support each other, challenge each other and celebrate when there’s a success to report. I also love the fact I can tweet authors when I’ve enjoyed their work and get a reply!

There seems to be a hashtag doing the rounds today – as it’s a weekend I’ve not really been paying attention – called #inspiringwomen; well, here are some of the inspiring people I’ve met on Twitter:

@thecreativepenn – Joanna Penn is one of the first people I followed on Twitter and I’ve never looked back. Her blog is amazing and her enthusiasm and encouragement knows no bounds!

@writermels – Mel Sherratt writes the most amazing books and is one of my heroines. Her back story is fantastic and it’s a great demonstration of what you can do if you really put your mind to it and work hard.

@mredwards and @louisevoss1 – Mark Edwards and Louise Voss are another tale of how persistence can pay off, how to do it yourself and be incredibly successful (and it helps if your books are amazing)

@mariwriter – Mari Hannah has shown me how to write a strong female character without making her too perfect!

As well as these guys there are tons of others, @keithbwalters, @SJIHolliday, @sharonsant and @rebeccajbradley, who have become part of my writers’ network. I could go on for hours about the people I’ve met, so sorry if you’re not on my list!

So social media has its place, but I have to remember to make sure my writing happens and nothing gets in the way of that. After all, writing is what a writer does best.

What are your experiences with social media? Do you have a favourite site? How do you make sure your social media use doesn’t impinge on your life?

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