Being a writer can be a lonely occupation, especially if you work from home and your muse decides to take a nap whilst abandoning you in a remote part of New Zealand, all alone. It can become impossible to meet like-minded people, especially fellow writers in such a setting.
If you find yourself cut-off from your peers and want to make a connection once in a while, then Twitter chats might be your ideal solution.
“What is a Twitter chat,” you ask.
It’s a conversation with like-minded individuals held over Twitter (surprise!). Participants use a hashtag created by the chat hosts (read on to hear more). They can be intimidating and confusing at first, but with the right tools and a little practice they became great fun and a fantastic way to meet other writers, share ideas, network and feel part of a wider, vibrant community; without ever leaving your computer screen. It’s perfect for introverts and the otherwise socially awkward because nobody can see you squirm or flounder.
Some chats are one-off, and you have to be in-the-know to hook in at the right time, but there are several regular chats that I’ll recommend in a little while. These chats are hosted by a regular team and will take place at a set day and time every week/month so participants can plan ahead. I now have several reminders in my calendar of the ones I regularly attend so that I don’t forget amidst the hula-bulu of #life.
How to participate
I recommend tooling up for the job. Some participants recommend TweetDeck, but I prefer Hootsuite (as I’m already using it for other tasks). Both tools have a learning curve, and you will need to spend some time playing around with them. Connect your chosen tool to your Twitter account and spend some time exploring. One of the first things I did was to set up a few streams based on hashtags you want to follow on a general basis like #amwriting, #writechat, #nanowrimo, etc. You can use the tools to monitor those conversations, respond to people’s posts or make your own; these are open conversations that can often feel like #ScreamingIntoTheVoid, but they can still be interesting to see what other people are saying on topics that interest you.
Once you feel comfortable with creating streams, enter in the hashtags (below) for the chats, you would like to follow. When the live chat session begins you will see everyone’s tweets appear in the order, they were posted, and you can just read your way up the list as new ones appear. It’s totally okay to spend a few sessions just lurking, following the conversation and getting a feel for how it all works.
Once you are familiar with your tools and are ready to add your two-cents, just join in. Many chats are written in a question/answer format where the host will ask everyone a question like:
Q1. Who’s your fav author #twitterchathashtag
Participants will respond in kind by either quoting the original post or just tweeting their answer:
A1. Robin Hobb #twitterchathashtag
Just make sure if you want others to see your post in the conversation you must use the chat hashtag in your post, otherwise, your response will appear on your feed but not as part of the overall conversation.
If you want everyone in the chat to see your response to an individual place a ‘.‘ in front of their name like .@wovendream instead of simply @wovendream it will ensure everything you say stays part of the conversation, which is the point.
5 Twitter Chats for Writers
When: Wednesdays 6 pm PST/8 pm CST/9 pm EST/ Tuesday 1 pm NZT (New Zealand Time)
Focus: Networking, building an author platform, branding, promotion and general business side of being a writer
When: Mondays 6 pm PST/8 pm CST/9 pm EST/ Sunday 1pm NZT
Focus: Not specifically for writers, this chat brands itself as “Helping creatives build purpose-filled, strategy-powered blogs and businesses.” This is a great chat for learning how others are doing things online, learning about new tools and helping newbies to find their way around blogging for business.
When: Tuesdays at 6 p.m. PST/8 p.m CST/9 p.m. EST/ Monday 1pm NZT
Hosted by: @ashleybeaudin
This is a fantastic space to be enlivened, encouraged and energised by other writers. Shed self-doubt and self-flagellation exercises by hanging out with these lovely folks for an hour.
When: Tuesdays at 1 p.m. PST/3 p.m. CST/ 4 p.m. EST/ Monday 8am NZT (great for sitting down at the start of the week with that first cup of coffee/tea)
This is one for the self-publishing crowd. If you are keen on learning more about self-publishing or already dedicated to the cause then this is the group to visit for all things promotional and publishing related. They will get you in the know about creating a team, navigating social media and more. I’ve only lurked on the fringes on this one myself, slowly loading my holster with bullets of knowledge for the future.
When: Wednesdays 5 pm PST/ 7 pm CST/8 pm EST/ Tuesday 12 pm NZT
Hosted by: @kayla_hollatz
This group can get pretty big and pretty confusing so I don’t suggest you start here. Get your feet wet in a smaller chat first or you may feel like you’re drowning in this big pool. Once you know how to navigate the waters though this is a great place for building “on topic” friendships.
Please let me know of any other chats you find worthwhile and add your voice to the recommendations above, which one’s your fav?
You can follow me on twitter @wovendream