Wednesday, 16 February 2011

The Writer in the Brave New World

At our February meeting our Guest Speaker was David Taylor of 2010Media, a company that specialises in helping people, companies and organisations improve their communications in the age of social media. It was a fascinating talk, and very informative.

Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, Youtube and all the others have completely changed the world. Most of us already knew that. But many of us have yet to realise how that change affects US. For years, we've plodded on, ignoring the inane comments on Facebook ("Had rice Krispies for dinner, lol") and the indecipherable text speak sentences on Twitter: ("R u coming 2 c me L8er 2nite?") We ignored Linked In, or My Space, and hadn't a clue about Youtube. It was for kids who'd left the age of the mobile phone behind, right?


In the 21st century, if we are going to achieve our dreams as writers, we have to do all we can to raise our profiles. Gone are the days of writing a book/script/article and shyly handing it to the publisher/director/editor before scuttling away to anonymity to write some more. Behind us are the times when the publisher's promotion team does all the PR work and leaves us to our art. A writer today has to be prepared to market their work, create interest in it, pitch it.

There is but one simple truth: the more your name appears in public, the more people will have heard of you, and if the name is familiar, they're more likely to give you time and space to make that pitch. They're more likely to take you seriously.

David showed us how it is up to us to use social media sites more effectively. We need to increase the amount of traffic we generate, and to make that traffic interesting, entertaining and informative so that readers will enjoy it and come back for more. To this end, it is imperative that the writing is of good quality - even within the 140 characters of Twitter. No point telling everyone you're a writer and then leaving a badly written sentence where the world and his wife can trip over it. That'd be like telling everyone you were a chef and then serving up burnt shepherd's pie.

My personal experience backs up everything David was saying. I've made many new friends and contacts through social media. Some of them are people who enjoy my posts, which is gratifying and boosts my confidence. Some of them share my passion for writing, which eases the loneliness of the work. And some of them have been in positions to help me, giving me tips to improve my chances of success, helping make the work better, advising me of markets and competitions that will do me good, introducing me to people who may be interested in working with me.

None of them are people I would have met in the street of my town. Most would never have opened a letter from me, or even an email. Yet, social media has made them accessible.

The world is shrinking. Opportunities are growing. All we have to do is keep up with the traffic.

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