Should a new writer quit Twitter and Facebook?
In the Millions today, Edan Lepucki writes about going off Twitter and Facebook for the first three months of 2010. She was very good at engaging on both sites -- too good. Thinking perhaps that they were taking up too much of her attention, distracting her from getting writing done, she had someone else change her passwords on Jan. 1. She didn't unplug from the Internet completely -- she used e-mail and other websites -- but becoming unsocial in the online world made a big difference. This is her verdict:
The truth is, I don’t miss the two sites much. These days, I feel no pull whatsoever toward Twitter, despite the number of fabulous people there. In my mind, it’s a crowded elevator where everyone’s talking over one another. They’re all saying interesting things, but who can keep track? Part of me is afraid to return to Facebook. Will it exert the power over me that it used to? I want to return, and I want to show restraint. And if I can’t, I will have to detach once again. That might be fine. Since January, I’ve enjoyed the injection of mystery and privacy into the world.
Lepucki is a Los Angeles writer whose work has appeared in Narrative Magazine. She got an MFA from the University of Iowa, won an Intersection for the Arts/San Francisco Foundation James D. Phelan Award and has an upcoming project with an independent press that I'm not sure I can talk about (full disclosure: I know Edan). She is a talented writer who is making her way in the literary world, going to residencies and teaching at UCLA Extension, hoping to publish her first book soon.
She is, in short, exactly the kind of person who should be active in online communities. Isn't she?
Being on Facebook and Twitter means getting to reach out and touch friends of friends, to feel connected to writers you admire. A writer who is starting out can connect with more senior writers, agents, editors and even readers. Both sites, as the social networking gurus say, enable their users to build a brand. When talking about authors, people often call this a platform.
Is Lepucki crazy to go jumping off her platform?
On the one hand, a writer should walk away from anything that keeps them from writing, be it alcohol, a lousy boyfriend or the insta-communication social networking maw of Twitter. On the other hand, I wonder whether it's particularly vital for new writers to stay connected online.
Are Twitter and Facebook good or bad for writers? Are they good for you?
-- Carolyn Kellogg
Photo by xelcise via Flickr