Ten Gifts of Twitter

twitter-logoI consider myself a relative newbie to the Twitterverse, so it amuses me that friends and fellow writers ask me for Twitter advice. The #1 question I get is whether Twitter is worth the time investment—that is, what the heck do I get out of it?

So I figured I’d share my answer with you all, lovely readers and Tweeters. Feel free to chime in with thoughts on what Twitter gives to you!

  1. Connection. Twitter connects me with other writers, providing me with a virtual water cooler where we chat, encourage each other, and make friends.
  2. Networking. I guess this is a subset of #1, but it feels like its own perk because I would participate in Twitter even if it weren’t theoretically good for marketing and networking. It’s just a bonus that it *is* good for marketing and networking.
  3. Getting out of a funk. This is another subset of #1, but merits its own mention. Ever have one of those days when the kids are grumbling, the cat throws up, the dog gets into the garbage, you got a nasty email, and your mood is NOT conducive to writing? Interacting with friends and fellow writers on Twitter is the best way I know to get re-grounded, maybe because interacting with others drags me out of my head and back into the world at large. Whatever the reason, it works and has saved me many a nonproductive morning!
  4. Craft information. Twitter is now my #1 source for blog recommendations. Writers such as @elizabethcraig, @4KidLit and @inkyelbows regularly pass on links to blot posts that help me grow as a writer.
  5. Market information. Threads such as #pubtip and #writetip (and probably others I don’t yet know about—did I mention I’m a relative newbie?) are filled with market news and updates.
  6. Accountability. When I post my day’s writing goal to the #writegoal or #amwriting threads, you better believe I’m motivated to meet it! People will be checking up on me :-)!
  7. Entertainment. Okay, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that sometimes Twitter is just plain fun. After all, it was a Twitter friend who introduced me to Damn You, Autocorrect! (Warning: these are milk-out-your-nose funny, but some of these are rude.)
  8. Exposure. I’ve been blogging for years, but Twitter lets me put my blog out where people will notice it. It’s exciting and motivating to have more readers stopping by and engaging in conversation here!
  9. Getting help. Twitter is filled with generous folks willing to answer questions and make suggestions. It’s like having access to the hive mind :).
  10. Helping others. Twitter is a two-way street, and I find it just as rewarding to offer my snippets of craft advice, writing quotes, market info, and encouragement as it is to be on the receiving end.

Does Twitter make your life better? How?

2011-03-06 16.11.34 (2)PS: In case you’re a Twitter newbie or wanna-be, too, I’ll post a roundup of Twitter resources this weekend. There are some great articles on how to use Twitter by writers much more learned than I Smile

*Me and my writing friend Wendee Holtcamp, in Surfside TX.

Thursday’s Thing to Love about Being a Writer…

…Traveling amazing places! Learning new stuff! Interviewing cool people!

Early early early tomorrow morning, I leave for Texas to spend a long weekend with a writer friend, exploring the Columbia Bottomlands, meeting with some wildlife biologists, sea kayaking, bird watching…

roseate spoonbills

I wish I could say I was cool enough to have set all this up, but I’m just riding along on her coat tails as she collects material for a freelance writing assignment. But don’t worry, I will be collecting material right alongside her.

Yeah. I love being a writer. Happy writing today!

:-) Cheryl

What do you love about your writing life this week?

Creating Emotional Impact

What sorts of scenes create the greatest emotional impact for your reader?

A few weeks ago, a friend invited me to the International Film Festival to see The First Grader, the story of Marugi, an 84-year-old Kenyan man who goes to first grade when the government offers free education to all. Sounds light and fun, right?


The First Grader was a phenomenal film, but light and fun—not so much. The main character’s past unfolds via flashbacks of murder and torture. The violence in Miagi’s past helps the viewer understand his character better and lends weight to the story.

And yet—these intense scenes of violence were not the scenes to draw the greatest emotional reaction from the audience. They contained elements you’d expect to trigger emotion: vivid imagery, graphic display of emotion, a sympathetic main character in gut-wrenching situations. It made me wonder why not.

**Spoiler Alert***

What scenes sparked the greatest audience reactions? I teared up…

  • When Marugi wins over the kids, makes friends with them, dances with them
  • kamauWhen the school children lock the superintendent out of the school grounds and bombard the “enemy” adults with missiles of shoes and plastic measuring cups
  • When Marugi gives his goat to the taxi driver as fare so he can go to the city and speak for the teacher who was penalized for teaching him
  • When the teacher returns at the movie’s end

At first glance, these are smaller victories than when he survived torture, imprisonment, and the loss of his family. But they’re the events that touched the audience.

The lesson for me, as a writer, is that making people care doesn’t have to do as much with violence or the magnitude of the threat, but by letting them see smaller acts of heroism unfolding in the present moment. In fact, I think sometimes violence distances the reader—if it’s too great, it can be difficult to process.

Do you find your emotional response to a scene correlates with the magnitude of the threat faced by the main character?