A Month of Not Blogging

So.

It’s, uh, been a while. Lots of stuff’s been going on, between writing short stories and a new job and hopefully heading back to school this fall.

Life’s in motion. More so than I’m used to, but I like it. Well. Except for the part where I’m not blogging as much. It really hasn’t felt like almost a month since I posted anything in this space, but it has been.

There are a couple posts that I’ve got chilling in the green room, basically ready to step onstage. And I’ve got a handful of post ideas that I’m raring to get writing.

Since it’s about 9:30 on a Saturday night when I’m writing this and I’m already starting to fall asleep, I’m going to wrap this post up. It’s short. It’s sweet. It’s to the point. I will end by saying that another great place to keep up with me is Twitter where I’m @SEStone519. I livetweet the Travel Channel’s Ghost Adventures and retweet pictures of cute puppies. And I’m always looking to chat with new people over there.

 

Social Media for Writers: Twitter

An online presence is vital for writers, especially when the long term goal is to connect with readers. So I knew that getting on the web was something that I had to do when I decided to call myself a writer. And the toughest social media I’ve encountered so far is Twitter.

I’m speaking specifically about what to do with Twitter. The signup process is easy and completely painless. It took me less than ten minutes to be a registered user. The interface itself is also pretty self-explanatory.

But I have a hard time figuring out what to tweet.

What am I–as a writer–supposed to be tweeting? The first option is to talk about my writing. Maybe post word counts for my current project or post short writing prompts. The problem with that is that I don’t have enough of a following or the right followers for that to work. Besides, it felt too self-serving to put those on my Twitter page. Like I was bragging when I hadn’t yet published a book.

So I followed a couple dozen writers whose work I admire to see what they tweet. The majority of them–unfortunately–aren’t very active. I might see one or two tweets from them every few weeks. In some cases, I’ve never seen a single tweet on my feed.

A few tweet multiple times a day, interacting with their fans. Occasionally, they talk about how their writing goes. More often they include tidbits about their lives. It makes them three-dimensional people rather than just the person pictured in the back of the book.

All of their tweets have given me some good ideas about what to post on my feed. Sure I don’t have to go completely Twitter-crazy yet because I don’t have much of an audience. That’ll change eventually. But for now, I post pictures of my dogs, Christmas decorations, and neat shots I take on my phone. I also tweet about the goings-on in my life. Mainly puppy escapades. But that’s just because they’re nuts.

Do you have social media accounts you use as a writer? What do you post on it?

Have a Twitter account? Check me out @SEStone519.

The Benefit of a Prompt

A reoccurring assignment in every writing class that I’ve ever taken has been writing prompts. The instructor gives the class a set amount of time–anywhere from ten to twenty minutes–to write about a given topic. Then there is usually a call for volunteers to read their work aloud afterward. Only a handful of people do before we’re allowed to move on to the next topic.

While finding a writing prompt I like has made me a bit standoffish about doing them, I can’t argue with the results. Embarking on a topic that you don’t usually cover as a writer provides a password to an otherwise locked part of your mind. It opens up doors that were hidden behind that old, moth-eaten tapestry next to the memory of parents taking you to sit on Santa’s lap for the first time. You never would have known you had that story in you.

I’ve discovered a couple of story threads from writing exercises. And while I’m no longer part of a writing class or writing group with any regularity, I do keep any eye out for prompts that spark my imagination.

There are millions of places to find writing exercises, many of which are on the internet. Good old fashioned books of them are available too. Amazon, or even your local bookstore, will have a selection. A number of websites and magazines post prompts as parts of competitions for publication or prizes.

Here area a couple of the websites I’ve come across that have really good prompts.

Writing Competitions
Writer’s Digest: Your Story
Thema

Writing Prompts
Writer’s Digest
Creative Writing Prompts
About.com

I’ve also created my own collection of writing prompts. Check me out on Twitter @SEStone519 for a new prompt every few days.

Do you have any go-to writing exercises? Let me know in the comments below.