Are you on Twitter? If you’re a writer you should be. I know everyone tells you this all the time, but they’re right. Social media is not just a tool for the procrastinators among us (though, for the most part, Facebook will only help you procrastinate). If you use Twitter to your advantage you can actually get a lot out of it.
Follow Other Writers
Twitter is a great way to find out really interesting information about your favorite authors. I follow Roxane Gay (@rgay); if you’ve never read anything she’s written you must do so immediately. She’s got two books coming out next year and is going to be huge. Roxane links to her blog, to great new stories and essays, and talks about the literary magazines where she is an editor. One day she was selling signed copies of her short story collection Ayiti and I was able to purchase one. She signed my name and I was giddy like a weirdo for about a week. Then I read the book and started reading her tweets compulsively. She’s eloquent and snarky and gets me back on track when I don’t feel like writing.
Follow Literary Magazines
Occasionally Roxane will talk about the things she reads in slush that she hates. I’ve seen other editors do this as well. It might save you a lot of trouble to learn the kinds of stories editors don’t want to see anymore. Plus, literary magazines tweet about their contests (we did @BlueMesaReview) or new themed issues. It’s no Duotrope or NewPages, but Twitter can help you figure out who is taking submissions. You can hear directly from your favorite authors or other writer friends places where they are submitting.
Follow the World
I don’t have cable. In my part of the world, no major news stations carried the Wendy Davis filibuster in Texas, but I got second by second updates of the action from people who were there or people who were listening in online. I refreshed my twitter page every two seconds like a maniac. The online community was furious that news stations weren’t even trying, but the world could still get all the information they needed.
Twitter, like any other social media site, does have unending amounts of idiotic information for you if that’s what you want. If that’s not what you want, you can use it as a tool to educate yourself, too. Roxane has linked to her own essays on the lack of people of color (and especially women of color) being published in prominent magazines. Slate and Jezebel are sure to inform me of the things I should be outraged about. The more I read about what’s out there in the world, the more I want to write.
Follow Through—or not.
Twitter is also a portal into the most random corners of the Internet. Think of all the strange and interesting ways you can solve your writer’s block or, yes, procrastinate. Just got another rejection letter in the mail? Lift your spirits with this gem: 30 Awkward Moments from Your Creative Writing MFA . Actually, that one might not make you feel any better, but you get the point.
With Twitter, I’m never quite sure what I’m going to get, but it’s been a really easy way to connect with other writers. We can share stories, commiserate. I can buy books from fancy writers, and get advice from them, too. So hurry up and get a Twitter account and start following Blue Mesa Review and all your favorite writers. You might want to give yourself a time limit. No more than half an hour on Twitter a day. You do have to get some writing done, after all.
Brenna Gomez is a first-year fiction student in the MFA program at the University of New Mexico. She is from Walsenburg, Colorado. Follow her: @BrennaGo