Why I'm Glad I Joined Twitter

Photo credit: Coletivo Membembe on Flickr
Roughly a year ago (on April 10, 2011, to be exact), I did something I never imagined I would do: I created a Twitter account. Had you told me just a few weeks before that fated day that a year from then I’d be an active Twitter user, I would've thought it a joke. Me? An active Twitter user? Funny.

Well. After reading post after post about how it takes about three years to build a solid platform, I took a leap, figuring I might as well try it out for a couple of weeks before I decide it’s not for me. I made a pact with myself that if I reached 150 followers, I’d finally start that blog I’d been putting off for so long.

I didn’t really expect to meet my goal, especially not in a couple of weeks. But I did. And something weird happened: I realized I actually liked Twitter. A lot.

Because for every “my cat just threw up a magical hairball on the carpet” tweet, there were three of these:


Because I was suddenly able to connect to a whole community of wonderful writers I never knew existed.

Because I was discovering incredible new books and blogs daily.

Because people like @taherehmafi post tweets like this:


Because hashtag groups like #wordmongering motivated me to keep writing.

Because Twitter is more than just a site where people post about their ferrets and one-eyed gerbils; it’s a place of connections, of relationships, of sharing things that make us laugh and cry and smile and think and feel.

A year later I am convinced more than ever that Twitter is a fantastic resource for writers, and I couldn't be happier with my decision to join the party.

Do you have a Twitter account? If so, are you glad you joined? If not, why not?

28 comments:

Raiscara Avalon said...

I love twitter! Couldn't imagine not being on it because of all the wonderful people I have met. They keep me inspired and kick me in the ass if I need it. Which I often do. ;)

Ava Jae said...

Inspiration and ass-kicking are two very important functions of Twitter, especially from writer to writer. :)

Daphne Gray-Grant said...

I like Twitter but one of the main reasons it works for me is that I'm VERY disciplined about how much time I'll allow myself to spend on it. I allot 15 minutes and only at the very end of every working day. It's addictive but I also need to get my writing done!!

Ava Jae said...

Any time of social media (Twitter most certainly included) can be a huge time-suck if you aren't careful with it. Allotting a certain amount of time a day is a great way to make sure you get your other things done first. Good strategy!

Tonya Cannariato said...

I joined 4/30/08 and have loved how the community has grown around me as my interests and responsibilities have shifted. Now that I'm on the verge of releasing my first book, it's a little strange to know people who've followed me digitally from that long ago have also followed my growth and progress as a writer. I'm still crossing my fingers that it'll be enough to help me launch a writing career.
;)

Ava Jae said...

That's wonderful, Tonya! I've seen more than a couple of writers go from unpublished to published over the course of the last twelve months, and it's always been very exciting and interesting to see how the dynamics of their follower interaction changes (or doesn't). Congratulations on your soon-to-be book release! 

Christelle Hobby said...

I love twitter, but only got hyper active as of this year.  Now... full blown addict.  The really awesome thing is that you can develop a community and a following before you even have a product.  I also love the ease with which I can find people to connect with.  In my opinion, it is by far the simplest to initiate contact with complete strangers.  Thanks for the post!

Yesenia said...

This must be a sign! I've been thinking about getting on Twitter! Now I definitely will! Will you recommend some people/blogs for me to follow?

Ava Jae said...

I agree that the ability to develop a community before you have a product is fantastic. It's great to be able to have a writer support group while you go through your journey. :)

Ava Jae said...

Sure! I recommend @NathanBransford, @AdvicetoWriters and 
@elizabethscraig for useful writer-advice tweets, @_Snape_ for humor and @TaherehMafi, @TymothyLongoria, @eatthepen, @HP4Writers, @iainbroome, @saraleggz, @araTHEwriter and @notveryalice to connect with other awesome writers. :) 

Yesenia said...

 thanks! cant wait! (must do hw first!)

Ava Jae said...

Sure thing! ^_^

Joe Bunting said...

Good question, Avalon. For the first month or two after I decided I was going to "conquer" Twitter, I was overwhelmed by it. There was so much there! How was I ever to keep up with everything and everyone. Then, for the next seven months, I had an uneasy truce. I didn't pay that much attention to it and it didn't pay that much attention to me. In the last month or so though, I've gotten a lot more engaged, and unsurprisingly it's paying more attention to me.

Ava Jae said...

I think it takes a little while to work out a balance--I know at first I spent a lot of time on Twitter, then after a while I worked out a nice balance between engaging and still getting other things done. 

Wendy said...

I used to have Twitter, but quit it a while ago because I got distracted using it. Your post is making me think of going back...if I can control muself. XD

Matthew Rowe said...

I joined Twitter about 2 years ago. I used it to follow famous funny people and update my Facebook status. I didn't want to do any more because following a conversation in Twitter was a nightmare, I didn't understand hashtags or groups or anything, and I wasn't so focussed on using it for writing. Then, only about 3 months ago, I bit the bullet and started tracking down writers and following them. A whole new world opened up to me. I've connected with a lot of people, I share information and I see a lot of cool books and material I never otherwise would have found. 

I still struggle to understand it all. I've gone from 50 odd followers to just over 1,000 in my 3 months of activity, but all that means to me is that I have more tweets flying by than I can read and I'll be damned if I can find and keep track of people I actually want to talk to.

In short, I hate using Twitter and I really don't have the time for it, but it is responsible for the tiny piece of success I have had so far, and it has helped me develop a little bit further. 

Ava Jae said...

Sounds like a love-hate relationship. :) 

You actually bring up a good point--time. Twitter (like any social media) can be a huge time suck if you don't balance it properly. As useful as it is for making those connections, the most important thing for a writer, first and foremost, is the writing. If any social media starts to bite into writing time, you know it's time to disconnect from the internet for a bit to get back into the writing zone. 

Tony McFadden said...

Hello. My name is Tony and I'm a twitterholic.

I joined a few years ago, immediately started following every celebrity I could find.

A few months ago I finally bit the bullet and culled almost every one of them. (I've kept Stephen Fry because, well, it's Stephen Fry, dammit.)

The connections are wonderful. Writing, humour, like-minded people and few (very VERY few) people I actually know IRL.

Rainy Kaye said...

Hi Matt, 

You don't have to follow back everyone, though it's certainly a nice gesture. Also, you can build lists to keep track of the ones you really want to pay close attention to among the chaos. Lists are super easy to use.

Good luck,

R

Rainy Kaye said...

I'm also a convert. I once disliked Twitter, then I realized I was doing it all wrong. I re-joined, spent some time on it. . .and now I'm addicted. =)

Matthew Rowe said...

Definitely. It's always there so I worry I'm on at the wrong time, when I use it. If I went on later maybe more people would read my tweets.

I also do have lists but they themselves are so big I lose people in them, and any new people I follow get immediately lost because I often use my ipad and in the ipad app there is no easy way to add people to lists. I find only the website is good for this - any solutions?

Ava Jae said...

I personally don't have an iPad, so I'm not entirely sure how to fix the adding people to a list part on the app, but if your lists are so big that you lose people in them, maybe you should consider created many smaller lists rather than a couple large lists. I know there are a couple of websites that are good at helping people create lists on Twitter (unfortunately I've forgotten the names at the moment...if I remember I'll let you know, but in the mean time if anyone else remembers, feel free to remind me ^_^).

Ava Jae said...

Hello Tony. Welcome to Twitterholics Anonymous. :)

The ease of creating connections on Twitter is a really fantastic feature, and one that makes the time spent on it worth it. Not to mention the great resources Twitter can lead you to...

Ava Jae said...

Sounds like you should join the Twitterholics Anonymous group Tony McFadden and I just created. :D

cve4me said...

Terrific article.  I joined Twitter because I was told so many negative things that I had become to believe them. Then someone showed me a glimpse and I became fascinated. But did not know how to Operate it.  Seemed pointless.  Now that I have been retraining myself what wonderful opportunities there are at just a touch of the keyboard and an enter button.

And then I find articles linked into a twitter message.  Make my day and expand my knowledge to share.

Thank you.

cve4me said...

Good idea. the address is?

Ava Jae said...

Heh, it was a reference to a joke made in the comments about being a "twitterholic." There isn't a literal group (as far as I know, anyway...)

Ava Jae said...

I want to say about 80-90% of the blogs I follow now I discovered off of a link shared through Twitter. The ability to quickly and easily share various media with your followers is one of the great advantages of Twitter. 

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