The Renegade Writer

Don’t believe the hype? Jump in anyway.

Career columnist Penelope Trunk wrote an interesting blog post last month about Twitter — specifically about why it’s good to jump into stuff like Twittering and blogging when you have no idea what you’re doing — or even if you don’t “get” it. On a grander scale, I believe in this advice, too. Writing a book, pitching to top-tier magazines, starting a novel … you don’t know how to go about it? Just jump in. You’ll learn what you need to know along the way.

I confess that I thought for a long time that Twitter was dumb and boring and who-the-&^%$ cares about so-and-so being on his fourth cup of coffee before 10 a.m. Do I really give a rat’s ass? On the other hand, when I learned the basics of blogging, I remember feeling this twinge of excitement and my brain started churning out possibilities. Then of course my inner naysayer raised her eyebrows: “I bet there’s a lot of software stuff involved,” she whined. “Plus, you’ve got so many other things going on your life. Do you really have time for these shennanigans?”

But I jumped in anyway, just like I did with Twitter. I started a food blog with two other writer friends on Blogspot. Then I decided to use WordPress‘s blogging platform on my business website because I figured out it made updating much easier. I suggested to our publisher and Linda that we move from a monthly newsletter to a blog, the blog you’re reading right now. And lately, I’ve gone on to develop other blogs as I’ve decided to shift my writing away from newspapers and magazines; I believe deep in my heart that traditional publishing avenues are changing, and not for the better. I’m slowly learning about stuff like blog monetization and SEO — and yeah, it’s overwhelming and often I feel like I have no idea what I’m doing, but life’s little instruction books are pretty skimpy anyway, so what the hell?

I’m still not sure how Twitter will improve my life, but I’m willing to put myself out there to see what happens. Oh … and here’s my twitter: http://twitter.com/dianaburrell. And I promise I’ll try not to blog too much about my coffee-drinking habits. [db]

May 29, 2008 Advice, Ass, Blogging, Cool tools, Personal yammerings

14 Responses

  1. I’m Twittering, too! What I like about it is the ease of keeping up with friends, readers and colleagues and the ability to let people know about your writing news quickly and easily. There are so many blogs these days that it’s hard to make the rounds and read them all, but this way I can do a quick scan and if somebody mentions one of their posts and it sounds interesting, I can just click on over and read it :)

  2. Meagan Call says:

    Weird, two Meagans. Anyway. I just started twittering for exactly this reason, I don’t exactly get it, but I’m trying to keep aware of the changing technology. It changes so fast that it’s impossible to absorb it all, but at least by using the “biggest” stuff we can (I hope) understand the direction.

  3. As one who jumped in blogging very early… I held off on twitter. Mainly because I didn’t have more time to give for social networking and I didn’t know what the big deal was about posting short messages.

    Now that I’ve been on it for several months — it did have one payoff… a site mention/interview in a fellow twitter’s blog. I’ve also made a few writer friends and others. It also makes working as a lone freelance writer less lonely. If I need noise and conversation, I head to twitter.

  4. Dawn says:

    I’m reluctant to join Twitter for privacy/security reasons. Maybe I am just paranoid, but I don’t really like the idea of random people follow me while I go about my day. Does Twitter allow you to select or block certain followers? Cuz it does sound like fun!

  5. DianaBurrell says:

    Good point, Dawn. I just searched a couple people, found their “twitters” and learned all sorts of interesting stuff. So I guess the key is to keep things vague enough for the whackjobs of the world.

  6. I haven’t had any problems with whackos or anything. It’s no different than spam in email or disruptions in AIM. I don’t go telling people about my day — I try to share information that others will be of value and that does NOT include when and where I go to do my banking :)

  7. Courtney says:

    (sigh) I used to be a technophobe and now that I’m in marketing in addition to finally starting to get off my butt and move towards freelance full time, I’ve become a tech geek and I’m catching up on everything all at once. I’ve had myspace for awhile but only just a week or two ago started to launch blogs on blogspot, I joined linkin and just joined Twitter this morning…I have to say I am “twitter-pated” by the fact that I can text to twitter from my phone.

  8. Courtney says:

    I know, the “twitter-pated” was lame… :)

  9. Meagan Call says:

    @Dawn Yes you can block people. You can also make your profile restricted so you have to approve anyone who wants to follow you. I don’t bother with either… twitter is exactly as secure as you make it. I just keep in mind when I’m “tweeting” that anyone can see it, just like when I post a comment on a blog like this.

  10. Megan says:

    Diana–care to elaborate on your comment: “I believe deep in my heart that traditional publishing avenues are changing, and not for the better.” I’m pretty sure we’re thinking on the same page and, as someone who is looking to start freelancing regularly within the year, it really gives me cold feet.

  11. kathryn says:

    I agree, Megan. I would LOVE to hear more from experienced writers about how they see the industry changing. In some ways, I just don’t “get” all this freelancer blogging. How much time can one spend blogging about writing, or reading blogs about writing, or blogging about reading writing blogs? When is there time left for, well, the actual writing (and the pitching, and the billing, and …)? I’ll admit,some mornings, I find myself caught up in it all. Inevitably, though, I walk away from my computer asking, “What just happened here? What do I have to show for all that time spent?” (I now call this “Death by a Thousand Blogs.”)I’m a newbie, so tell me what I’m missing. I like the sense of community, and I like contributing to a few sites, but -yikes!- there’s this one, that one, the two over there, my RSS feeds… Is it a given these days that we should all be participating as much as possible? Is there a point when all of this busy-ness hurts, rather than helps, a career?

  12. Courtney says:

    As a marketing manager watching all the social media trends all I can offer is that blogs do a few things for your freelance business, 1)It increases your visibility in search engines 2)Helps you network 3)helps to establish you as knowledgeable in your field (or other fields as well to show your flexibility as a writer).
    I’ve written for other blogs and I have 5 blogs myself that I recently launched and although I admit it is hard to keep up with, for me it’s mostly because I have way too many ideas and it takes me a bit to choose which one I’m going to do. If you have to work on your clients’ work then do that and update your blog when you get a chance, but it does help business to have one and update it fairly regularly.It hurts your career when you see it as more of a priority than your client’s work, but it should be a relatively important aspect of your marketing strategy as a freelancer. as a freelancer you are generally all departments in one, writer, accounting/finance and marketing. all important aspects to maintain. Good luck!

  13. Dawn says:

    Thanks for the feedback!
    -Dawn

  14. Clarence says:

    Yeah, Diana,
    I still feel like you felt. After everything you have to do, where’s the energy going to come from?
    But, hey, I’m writing this! And when I’m on an assignment I am energized. I try not to do a smackdown on myself with the age/energy argument (I’m 63).

    I got into the Internet about 1991. But, now my desire to learn new stuff that comes at you so fast
    sort of diminishes the excitement. Plus, I’m still on my non-writing, work from home gig; spelled: S-A-L-E-S (and, I know you sell your writing-but, hey, that’s different). On the other hand, I’ve sort of convinvced myself that eventually this will prove infectious or addictive, and I’ll be OK.

    I’ll keep reading, writing and selling (widgets).

    Clarence

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