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Writers and the fear of social media

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When talking to writers I meet at workshops and readings, the question of what I do for a living sometimes gets asked. And no sooner do words like ‘internet’, ‘social media’, ‘communications’ etc start popping out than I get stories about how the kids spend all their time on Facebook or their mobile phones, or comments such as how boring it is to talk about what you had for breakfast and who wants to know all that stuff? 

Now I’m used to this. I don’t take offence. (And it’s not just writers, by the way.) I have a lot of sympathy for social media refuseniks, and I know they don’t really mean to rubbish everything I’ve been professionally involved with for the last 15 years. In fact I’ve come to realise, with some gentle questioning, that quite often these are people who would love to know more and hate that feeling of being left behind or mystified by stuff that bears no relation to anything they’ve grown up with. So I have a mission to help them!

I already do one-to-one mentoring with people in business or in jobs where they need to know about social media, but can’t or won’t admit it publicly. And I’ve wanted for a long time to do this for writers, because I do believe having a strong presence on the social web is of huge benefit to both the established and (especially) the aspiring writer.

So – I’m running a few pilot workshops with New Writing South in Brighton in April/May. The first is provisionally entitled ‘Social media – feel the fear and do it anyway’ and is aimed at writers who find the whole social media thang a pain and they wish it would go away. My mission is to convince them that a) it’s not going away, b) knowledge is power, so they need to get with the programme and c) they can do it, and in a way that they feel comfortable with, that works for them. There’s no mystery. And it’s got nothing to do with age.

The three follow-up sessions will be helping people establish and nurture their web presence, with lots of good examples, resources and hand holding. If you know anyone who fits the bill, please let them know! (I know it’s not for you, as you’re already here!)

By the way, if this subject interests you, I’ve always been a big fan of Dan Blank of We Grow Media, who is huge advocate of author platforms and provides not only courses but also a wonderful blog. It’s full of insight and valuable resources for writers looking to establish their online presence. Do take a look.

Image credit: Ad Broad

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  1. Excellent advice! I’ve spent years working on my poetry and am only now getting it together in terms of online presence, etc. you might find my web and blog interesting?! Let me know if you intend to do a workshop in London. Regards

  2. Hi Graham, thanks for commenting – and for drawing my attention to your blog which I am now following… have you found advantages to having a web presence? Any tips to pass on to others nervous of blogging?

    • Thanks for following the blog. It’s all good fun, this social networking malarkey! Like I said, I have spent a long time not exactly avoiding the issue of networking, but certainly not embracing it.
      I am finding advantages, one being this sort of conversation! It helps me to refine my rationale and has actually made me write more, as the kind of professional attitude one has to develop has made me a bit less anxious about this side of my writing career. Its as if a manager has been drafted in to take care of the running of things.
      One piece of advice I took from the link you put in your post was to set up email lists. I have done this from my website and would love it if you could enrol. It will mean I can send out poems and links to events I will be doing, etc. It is another essential in the life of a writer these days.
      Blogging is good fun. I would encourage everyone to have a go, but remembering that it is a skill like writing. There are no short cuts to developing good style.

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Robin Houghton 2021
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