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Posts Tagged ‘Christina Hamlett’

Why Bother?

Why Bother?

Well, there’s a question and a half! Every so often I ponder this question, and at the beginning of a new year, it’s extremely appropriate.

Life can seem like such an uphill battle that it’s easy to think, “Why bother?” After all, if whatever you’re doing isn’t getting you where you want to be, maybe you should just quit. I mean seriously. Quit. Or don’t quit. Only you can decide which path is right for you.

In a YouTube video I posted a few months ago, I remarked that I’d watched a video with Pastor Rob Bell and author Elizabeth Gilbert, where Rob commented that perhaps we don’t need to “find” our place in this world, so much as “create” our place in this world. Wow! That really hit home, since I’d spent most of my life trying to figure where I fit in. I’ve come to a conclusion; I don’t need to fit in. I can create my own place and thrive from there.

But what if what I’m doing is hard? Really, really hard. I’ve questioned this chosen path of writing so many times. I’ve cried, I’ve pleaded with God to give me a sign, I’ve meditated, and I’ve demanded. I’m still right where I’m meant to be. I’m still struggling. I’m still learning. I’m still growing – sloooowly. Maybe someday I’ll look back and wonder why I couldn’t see what was right in front of me, or why I even questioned who I am and what I want to do with this life I’ve been given.

Struggles Ahead

Struggles Ahead

In reflection it occurs to me that every struggle I’ve had to go through has brought me to this point in my life. I’ve hated the struggles while I was going through them, and I know I’ll hate the ones that are looming out of sight. After all, what if my choices lead me places I don’t want to go? What if I never reach my goals of making a living from my writing. What if all my family and friends never understand what I’ve been trying to do? What if I fail?

So why bother? I have the free will to change my course and do something entirely different. The next question is; do I really want to? What will I gain if I do? What will I lose? Every choice has pros and cons, and being a reasonably intelligent woman, I have to consider those pros and cons every single day. From the moment I open my eyes in the morning, to the moment I close them again at night, I have to choose how I spend my hours. Sitting here writing this blog post, I could be doing something else. But this question has been bugging me, so I’m better off getting it out in the open where I can see it. It’s a big question, and the answers are scary.

Do I have to answer today? Right now? Tomorrow? Next week – or next year? No, I don’t. I could just drift along and let life take me where it will, but knowing me, I won’t like that either. I know I need to feel I have goals and some measure of choice in what I do. I need to be intellectually challenged – Lord knows I’ve had life challenges enough. I don’t need any more “blessing in disguise”. I want them front and center where I can see them, so I know there’s a reason to bother. Of course what I want isn’t necessarily what I get. It isn’t always what any of us get. So, we choose to either bother, or not bother. There are consequences to both.

For me, I choose to continue to work at writing because I feel my most authentic when I do. I feel good at the end of the day when I’ve done the work, sat in front of my computer, slogged at getting the words down on the page of my current WIP. Even when I know it’s not perfect, it’s at least a start. I have that choice. Every day. Now, because I can, I choose to work five days a week at my writing, leaving the weekends for family, friends, errands and household chores. After all these years, I know this is when my brain functions best, so I’ve learned to go with what I know works for me.

Networking works!

But if I’m not making a wonderful living from my writing, why bother? If I’m not a famous author yet – after five, going on six, loooong years – why bother? I guess the answer to my own question is because not writing scares me more than failure. I’m afraid that if I stop, that’s where I’ll feel I’ve failed myself. I don’t know what the future will hold, but I do know that I love writing stories. I also love interviewing other writers from around the globe and getting to “know” them. Connections matter to me, so if I were to stop, I’d lose that. I also learn so much from other writers like Molly GreenAnne R. Allen, Ruth Harris, Christina Hamlett, Janna Graber, Deb Cooke (aka Claire Delacroix), Jeff and Alicia Rasley, and so many more I’ve come to know and enjoy through my writing and interviews. I think about the connections I haven’t made yet, and I don’t want to give those up either. For me, they are reasons to bother.

When I think about the question “why bother”, as it pertains to anything in life, I guess the answer is to consider what you’d do if you stopped. Are you okay with the consequences? Does stopping fill you with relief, or disquiet? If it would truly be a relief, then perhaps it’s time to try something else. On the other hand, if it fills you with disquiet or upset, then you aren’t done yet. Possible future or past failure doesn’t matter. It becomes a moot point, since that’s no longer why you do it. You do it because you aren’t finished with whatever your “it” is, or “it” isn’t finished with you. Simple. As. That.

So, I guess I keep writing. I can add to my repertoire of writing. I can explore new avenues of writing to add to my novel-writing, such as freelancing with articles, more interviews, or non-fiction. I can fall in love with the written word and communicating with others all over again and stop worrying about the what-ifs. What I choose not to do is stop. I choose to bother. Doesn’t mean I’ll never complain again, or worry, or agonize, or cry, or demand, or question. That’s not part of the bargain I have with myself or with God. I’ll just do my absolute best and see how it all turns out. It’s all any of us can do.

What have you chosen to bother, or not bother with for this new year?

 

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Unfinished Chapters

Unfinished Chapters

Look what just arrived in my mailbox today! I’m so thrilled to receive my contributor’s copy of Unfinished Chapters from Editor, Christina Hamlett! This is an anthology I’ve been looking forward to reading.

“If Life came with a ‘rewind’ button, we could insert ourselves into missed opportunities, give voice to unspoken words, make amends for hurtful deeds, keep friendships from falling by the wayside, and even linger to smell the roses.

Twenty exceptional writers share their true stories of love, loss, missteps, chance encounters, do-overs, and the musings of ‘woulda/coulda/shoulda’ moments that make us so uniquely human.” Christina Hamlett, Editor

Those Were The Days

Those Were The Days

Thanks to Christina and her team for making this book a reality I’m pleased and proud to share and be a part of (Those Were The Days, My Friend, page 43).

Unfinished Chapters is currently available on Amazon and Amazon Europe (UK, France)  via POD (print on demand)  ORDER YOUR COPY NOW!

It will also be available in some bookstores and libraries in 6-8 weeks, and will be available for download on your Kindle some time in November, so stay tuned for more information.

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Soul Full Eye by Artist, Lisa Redfern

Soul Full Eye
by Artist, Lisa Redfern

I have to admit, I’m a lover of fantasy. I love the idea of going after the dream, wishing on a star, and clicking my heels three times to achieve my deepest desires. But that’s not gonna happen any time soon. So what am I left with? Reality. I’m left with the realization that I have to do something, anything, to make things happen. No fairy godmother is going to come along and wave her magic wand and make me or my life what I want it to be. Talking about it, planning for it, making lists, researching, none of these things really advances me toward my goals in a substantial way. Oh, they may be necessary aspects of beginning a new project or adventure, but they don’t have the same effect as getting off my duff and actively doing the nitty-gritty work necessary.

 

When I talk to groups of people who attend my writing workshops, I always start by asking where everyone is in their writing journey. At least half, if not more, of the class talks about how they want to write, how they have always wanted to write, which is why they’re in my class. Beautiful! Wonderful! But I then ask those same people, why they haven’t started to write yet? That’s when the excuses come into play. They’ll claim that they haven’t had time, or the self-confidence. Some will claim they need to learn how to write before they begin. I then ask if they know how to use a pen and paper, or computer to put words down into sentences. Everyone nods their head and laughs. Of course they do, but they want to learn how to begin. I tell them it’s really very simple. They just start writing.

 

babies walkingEver watch a baby learn to roll over, crawl, walk? Ever watch a toddler climb, begin to talk, feed itself, and all the other astounding things they do each and every day? No one teaches a baby or toddler to do these things. They just decide to do it, and they keep making mistakes and trying again until they get it right. Yes, they will fail, and they might cry in frustration, but then they’ll get over the tears and make another attempt, until they get it right. Then once they’ve mastered that feat, they begin to tackle another in exactly the same manner. Try, fail, fall down, cry, try again, fail again, fall down again, cry again, then get back up and do the whole thing over again, until success is reached. No one has to teach them any of these things. Oh, we as adults can encourage and praise, but that’s all. The rest is up to the individual child to discover what works for him/her and find their own way. So it is with writing. You can take all the courses you want, make incredible outlines, plan to your heart’s content, but until you actually plant your butt in the chair and begin writing, you aren’t a writer.

 

That doesn’t mean the learning curve isn’t huge, because it is. Yes, there are guidelines and things to learn, and tons of ways to fail, but the words on the page are what writing is all about. Nothing else. This writing gig is a loooong battle that never really ends. I’m learning that for myself the hard way. As I continue to slog through revision after revision of my latest WIP, I could get discouraged, and sometimes I do. If I’m to move forward though, I have to get back to the business at hand and write. It doesn’t even matter if what I write in the first or second draft (or third or fourth) is particularly good; that’s what edits and re-writes are for. The key is to sit down and write.

 

It has often occurred to me that life is exactly like writing, or anything we wish to accomplish in our lives. At some point, the rubber must hit the road for the car to move forward even one inch. It doesn’t matter what challenges you’re faced with, to move forward means doing something. It’s okay to stop and consider the options though, and in fact, it’s extremely advisable. We were given brains to use them in constructive, creative ways, so we might as well use them to figure out ways of getting what we want.

 

Interviewing Interesting Writers

Interviewing Interesting Writers

Everyone has different dreams and goals. Each person is unique unto him/herself, and we can all learn from each other. We can all be inspired by others and apply what we learn to our own lives, or just admire the doer for their innovation and creativity. Anyone who regularly visits this blog knows I interview other writers, primarily because people fascinate me. I began interviewing other writers from around the globe at various stages of their writing journey for another blog, Christina Hamlett’s You Read It Here First.

Through Christina, I’ve had the great privilege and pleasure of “meeting” so many incredibly talented people over the past year. People who are taking their dreams and running with them at full speed. People who seek new ways to express the deepest part of themselves, and help others along the way. Talk about inspiration! Each one of the individuals I interview shines a light into an area I had never explored before. Although I may never choose to climb a mountain, like fellow writer, Jeff Rasley, be able to create stunning pieces of visual art, like Lisa Redfern, take a love of animals and turn it into unique stories told from a dog’s point of view, like Carol McKibben, write wonderful, witty plays like Christina Hamlett, translate an admiration for another person into a series of books, like Tony Lee Moral, trek around the world and write about my adventures, like Janna Graber, or gather my family and head out to parts unknown to experience new cultures and ways of life, like my up-coming interviewee, Michelle Tupy, I can be inspired by them to keep playing my own tune and following my own dreams.

 

I find it reassuring to know that people can do literally anything they choose to, and do it with skill, finesse, and a lively sense of humour about trials and tribulations they encounter. I love knowing it’s okay to make mistakes, to fall down, and then get back up to try again. In fact, since I started writing, I’ve come across scores of people who are launching themselves forward into their lives with gusto, and with a look over their shoulder to see who they can help along the way. How cool is that? In talks with other writers, like ML Swift (watch here for his interview in the coming weeks), who chose to dedicate the last years of his mother’s life to helping her get through the devastating effects of Alzheimer’s Disease, then wrote about that experience, I realize that we all have something to give, and get, from other people. Perhaps we should retain more of the dogged determination of infants who watch, learn, internalize, then gather the courage to get out there and DO something, damnit!

 

So yes, learn all you can about whatever it is you want to go after, but at some point be prepared to put yourself out there, risk humiliation, overcome fear, and HAVE FUN with the whole messy business of living your life while going after your dreams! And if it helps to close your eyes and wish upon a star, cross your fingers, click your heels together, whatever, then go for it, because we can all use whatever help God, the Universe, Allah, Buddha, whatever you want to call it, can give us.

Wish Upon A Star

Wish Upon A Star

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Office For One

Office For One

 

 

 

 

 

Office For One: The Sole Proprietor’s Survival Guide, by Christina Hamlett is the perfect read for anyone either currently in business for themselves, or even thinking about it! Chock full of useful information, tips, and solid business sense, this book gives the reader what he/she is looking for; real, hands-on, useable advice about starting, operating, and growing a sole proprietor business. Whether a woman who decides to work from home while caring for children, writers who toil in solitude to create something worth reading, or the man who yearns to run his own business his own way, Office For One gives the how-tos, along with reminders of the inherent pluses and minuses of doing so. Far from a boring business manual, this book enlightens and pours many lifetimes of experience into its pages. A must read for Solopreneurs!

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Christina Hamlett

Christina Hamlett

I’m thrilled to welcome the multi-talented and accomplished media relations expert and award-winning author, Christina Hamlett, as my first blog interviewee. Christina and I initially met online via LinkedIn, then followed each other over to Facebook and began connecting on a more regular, personal note. I quickly realized that here was a lady who had walked the walk and gave back generously to those coming up the ranks. I was honoured when she offered to interview me for her own blog, You Read It Here First, in May, 2014. After reading and reviewing her book, Media Magnetism, I was convinced this was one writer I wanted to interview and get to know better, and whose words of wisdom needed to be shared.

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Q You have been involved in so many things over the years; playwright, author, actress, theatrical director, etc. What are you most proud of today, and why?

Being able to write plays that are performed across the country and around the world by young people, and receiving sweet fan mail like this: “Dear Ms. Hamlett. How are you? I am fine. I beat out my best friend for the part of Lady Elaine in The Knight of the Honest Heart. It was fun to put on this play. I’m going to be a famous actress when I grow up. I just thought you’d like to know. Thank you for writing this script because it has changed my life.” Priceless.

Q What has been the lesson most difficult for you to learn, either personally or professionally?

Patience! Back in the day when everything was sent via snail mail, I was very much like Charlie Brown sitting under the mailbox and waiting, waiting, waiting. At that time, it could take six months or even longer to get a response to a query. Although email has significantly shortened that wait period, I’m the first to admit I get impatient if I don’t receive a response within 10 minutes.

Q You know I have to ask this; What advice would you give to up-and-coming writers?

The universe will never open up and grant you nine unobstructed years to work on your Great American Novel. If you’re really committed to the dream of being a writer, you have to grab chunks of time whenever and wherever you can find them. As a writer, you are your own boss as well as your own worst obstacle if you allow procrastination and self-doubt to keep you from plunging ahead. You also have to learn not to edit-as-you-go. Many a writer never finishes a book because s/he is much too hung up on trying to craft the best possible first sentence in Chapter One. Insider secret: Whatever you write, a zealous editor could likely end up changing it anyway so just stop agonizing about it.

Media Magnetism

Media Magnetism

Q In your book, Media Magnetism (www.mediamagnetism.org), you talk about using social media wisely. We’ve all seen people, some very professional people, misuse this communication tool. What do you see is the key to using social media wisely to help build a strong platform?

It’s all about establishing yourself as someone who is engaging, entertaining and offering refreshing posts that readers can’t wait to tune into each day. Surveys show that customers are more likely to purchase goods and services from someone whose name is not only familiar to them but whose personality is also genuinely likeable and trustworthy. While there’s nothing wrong with tooting your horn about your latest book, for instance, you never want to do a hard-sell in social media. What you want to do instead is a soft, subliminal sell that establishes you as the best possible expert on your book’s topic. It’s likewise critical to know who your audience is, what’s important to them, and where they tend to congregate so that you can fashion your own blogs – and do guest blogs – around topics that will hook their attention and make them curious about what else you know that’s helpful to their lives, jobs and dreams.

Q Writers and other creatives deal with rejection on what can feel like an almost daily basis, and this can be tough on the ego. When you give or receive a review or critique a piece of work, what are you looking for, and how do you approach giving or receiving feedback (two sides of the same coin)?

When I give reviews/critiques, I always take an objective approach (even if it’s not a genre that appeals to me) and look at elements such as originality, character development, dialogue, pacing, structure, etc. I also look at whether the writer has used the most effective medium to deliver his/her story. Many aspiring screenwriters, for example, have skill sets that would be a much better fit for plays, novels or short stories and I share this with them. Further, I remind them – and myself – that writing is a subjective craft. If 10 people independently find 10 different things they like/dislike, it just reinforces that subjective element. Conversely, if 10 people zero in on exactly the same things (i.e., dislikable characters, contrivances, lame dialogue), this is something that needs to be remedied. I also tell writers that although it’s lovely to have the adoration and support of friends and relatives giving critiques, odds are that none of them are actually in the publishing or production business to make informed decisions about a project’s marketability.

Q You have mentored many others along their own personal and/or professional paths, but who would you consider is your greatest mentor, and why?

I was blessed the most to be mentored in the craft of playwriting for 20 years by the late Sylvia Burack, founder of  The Writer and Plays Magazine. She taught me everything I know about crafting an entertaining story, peopling it with interesting characters, and putting words in their mouths. Unlike a lot of editors and publishers, she also took the time to explain why she was rejecting a script and what she believed I could do to make it better. Not a day goes by that I don’t feel her looking over my shoulder and either nodding in approval or raising an eyebrow and saying, “Are you quite sure that’s your best work?” Everyone – regardless of their career choices – should be so lucky as to have a Sylvia encouraging them to pursue their dreams. When she retired years ago, I asked her what she was going to do with her old IBM Selectric typewriter, the very typewriter on which she had composed 20 years worth of letters to me. She was going to just leave it in an alley behind the office on Boylston Street for someone to steal but then decided they’d more likely give themselves a hernia doubled up from the laughter of seeing something that antiquated. And so instead, she shipped it to me along with a new ribbon and a box of white correction fluid. Today, it keeps company in my office with a 1917 typewriter that weighs roughly the equivalent of a cast-iron stove…and still works!

Q Where do you do most of your writing?

I have a beautiful home office with French doors that open out toward the dining room. (We do lots of entertaining so this set-up makes it incumbent upon me to keep the room reasonably tidy.) The French doors are flanked by a suit of armor and a black velvet dragon named Mischief. Holding court in the middle of my Oriental rug is Viktor the Siberian tiger (one of 310 stuffed animals I have collected throughout my life). My L-shaped oak desk has a high, 6 foot long hutch with lots of cubbyholes and cabinets that prompted one of my friends to remark that it reminds her of a really quirky Advent calendar! My love of books is evidenced by all the bookcases behind me and my love of photography (we travel a lot) is reflected in the fact that virtually every square inch of wall space has something hanging on it. (I suspect that one day the drywall will completely collapse from the weight of all the frames.) A life-size standing cutout of Captain Jack Sparrow literally has my back. I often turn on the miniature white lights in my silk ficus tree when we have dinner parties; they throw off just enough light that guests who haven’t been here before have been known to freak out that there’s a pirate standing in the shadows by my chair.

Q You write for Plays, The Magazine For Young People and have written two books targeted to aspiring young filmmakers: Screenwriting For Teens and ScreenTeenWriters. What is it about working with young people just coming into the business of screenwriting that you enjoy the most, and the least, and why?

I like being able to ignite young imaginations with tips, tools and resources that weren’t available when I was their age. And besides, nothing keeps you younger than mentoring teens and tweens! Sadly, the thing I find the most disheartening about the current generation is the pervasive attitude of “entitlement” which has been fueled in large part by the current administration. While I delight in letting young people know what they need to do in order to hone their craft, there’s a growing segment that is not only ignorant of how to correspond professionally and respectfully with adults but also believes they shouldn’t have to work hard if they can just make demands on anyone they perceive is successful at what they want to do. I even had one of them tell me, “The problem with Hollywood is that all you old people need to go away.” My, my, not exactly the best way to endear oneself, is it?

Q We all experience failures and successes in our professional careers. What would you consider your greatest failure, and what did it teach you in preparation for future success?

Not joining the Navy in 1972, although I’d really label that more of a disappointment than any sort of career-crushing failure. It was a rainy Sunday morning and I had just come home from an audition. My heart was really set on getting a particular part but I learned that same day the role was going to someone else. Maybe my theatrical career was already over, I thought, and I should be doing something completely different. I remembered walking past the military recruiting offices everyday on my lunch hour and a light bulb came on that maybe I should just join the Navy and see the world. So off I scampered in the rain to sign up, only to discover that the recruiting offices weren’t open on Sunday. I came home, sulked for a bit about the lost audition, and the following Monday I got a surprise call from a director I had auditioned for three months previous asking if I’d like the lead role in an upcoming comedy. The takeaway lesson in this is that there are three important lessons in life: (1) Everything happens for a reason, (2) It’s never the reason we think, and (3) Timing is everything.

Q With so many significant changes happening right now within the publishing industry with regards to digitalization, self-publishing, and questions surrounding the need for traditional agents and/or publishers, what do you see is the future of publishing and writing, and why?

Traditional publishing and electronic publishing will continue to co-exist but I predict that more and more writers will want to take control of their own intellectual property. What many aspiring authors don’t know is that (1) the shelf-life of new books in brick and mortar bookstores is 2-6 weeks; (2) traditional authors get 8-15% royalties vs. 70% royalties for those self-published; (3) almost 30% of hardcover and paperbacks end up in landfills; (4) the timeframe between book contract to actual publication at traditional houses is 18-24 months; and (5) agents are rarely interested in authors who only have one book up their sleeves. As more writers turn toward self-publishing their work, this will also require them to become their own PR/marketing department as well as fully utilize the advantages of social media and professional networking.

Q As children, we all have dreams of what we want to be when we grow up. Would you say you are following that dream, or something completely different?

I always knew I wanted to be a writer and, happily, that’s exactly what I am.

Q What has surprised you the most about your life now vs. when you first started?

The only real surprise is how my writing style has evolved from what it was when this journey began.

Q Do you let anyone read your work in progress or do you make everyone wait until you’re all done?

My husband (who is also an excellent writer, editor and proofreader) is not only my brainstorming partner but he’s also the first one to read whatever I’ve written. We especially have fun reading all of my new scripts together out loud at the dining room table. Since we have both spent time on stage (I was in theater; he was in opera), we’re adept at splitting up the roles and doing a wide range of accents. I’m sure that on the occasions when a window is open and our readings are particularly boisterous, our neighbors must wonder exactly how many people are living with us.

Q What is next for you, Christina?

In addition to several new plays, I’ll be releasing a new business book this fall called Office For One: The Sole Proprietor’s Survival Guide. I’m also working on a chick lit novel called All But the Midnight Kiss, and Exit Strategy, a contemporary political suspense about a cover-up in the Congo, the escalation of Ebola, the scandalous resignation of an intelligence director, and a corrupt president.

Bio: Former actress and theatre director Christina Hamlett is a media relations expert and award-winning author whose credits to date include 30 books, 156 stage plays, 5 optioned feature films and hundreds of articles and interviews that appear online and in trade publications throughout the world. She is also a script consultant for the film biz (which means she stops a lot of bad movies from coming to theatres near you) and a professional ghostwriter (which does not mean she talks to dead people). Learn more at http://www.authorhamlett.com.

 

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Media Magnetism

Media Magnetism

 

 

 

 

 

 

Media Magnetism, by Christina Hamlett    *****

 

I found Christina Hamlett’s Media Magnetism to be a terrific book chock full of useful information, tips, and guidance. With an impressive array of contributing industry experts, Media Magnetism covers all the areas of media anyone could want. Filled with real examples of what-to-do and what-not-to-do, this book will definitely be one of my primary go-to referral sources. Whether you are just getting started or a veteran to media usage, I would highly recommend this book.

 

 

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I'm A Writer

I’m A Writer

I’m a writer, but I’m also a business person. My writing is a creative process that results in a tangible product that can be bought and sold. I am the CEO of my career, if I want one. It doesn’t matter whether or not I have a publisher, editor, agent, or pr manager, the buck stops with me. As a consumer of books, I already know that readers hold me ultimately responsible for the product I put out there, and are judging my value as a writer with each and every book I write. That’s a lot of pressure!

 

One of the things writers learn very quickly is that we are also responsible for getting the word out about ourselves and our work. Readers want to know about us, and many like connecting with the writers whose work they’ve come to enjoy. That’s very cool. But as great as that is, we also need to connect with other writers and industry professionals on a regular basis. Writing is lonely work, so when we reach out and meet others who are as invested in this business as we are, we learn and grow as individuals and as professionals. That’s where social media is a tremendous boon. In fact, it is an important tool for anyone in business.

 

The ability to easily and cheaply connect with others who share our likes and concerns on a global platform is something entrepreneurs have never been able to dream of before. By forming meaningful relationships via social media, we enhance our ability to do more than sell a product or service. We enable relationships of various levels to grow. Consumers can easily connect with providers and build the necessary trust levels that help a business grow and develop over the long term. This is no different for writers who take their work seriously.

 

Over the course of the past several years I’ve been writing, I’ve made some terrific connections via social media venues such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads. Other industry professional’s blog posts have proven to be tremendous sources of information and resource for me. Each of these on-line resources provides its own unique brand of communication.

 

For example, LinkedIn is used primarily for businesses, but there are a ton of LinkedIn groups dedicated to writers and readers. No matter what your business industry is, you can share ideas, concerns, industry related news, etc. In fact, through LinkedIn I was connected by a podcast host, Adam Scull, of Eat, Sleep, Write, who invited me to participate in a podcast interview. Adam’s podcast is dedicated to writers and readers, and since its inception, has grown by leaps and bounds. Not only did I enjoy the experience of doing my first podcast interview with Adam, but it allowed me to experience an entirely new medium of communication I’d never heard of, let alone dreamed of contributing to.

 

I hear so many people denigrate Facebook, but if used correctly, it’s a fabulous tool for staying and keeping connected. It’s also a great medium for building relationships with others who share your interests in business, and reach new consumers. I’ve “met” some incredibly talented people on Facebook who are writers, publishers, readers, editors, playwrites, etc. Now, I’m very judicious when I accept people to Facebook. I don’t accept everyone who requests it. I make a point of visiting their own pages before deciding whether or not they are the kind of people I’d like to connect with. People like Jonathan Gunson, Christina Hamlett, Joanna Penn, and others who are avidly involved with my chosen career of writing bring so much depth and knowledge that I just don’t have yet. Their generosity in sharing their experiences, industry information, and ground-breaking industry news makes my life easier, and more interesting. On a personal level, these industry connections help me realize that we’re all in the same boat, battling the same issues, and learning from one another. The funny jokes, inspirational quotes, and personal touches help make writing feel less isolating. We are part of a community. And that’s the crux of the matter. In business, any business, you need to reach out beyond your product or service and become part of your immediate and global community. Human beings generally crave connectivity, and social networks enable this on a grand scale.

 

Beware of Pitfalls!

Beware of Pitfalls!

But there are pitfalls that many people fail to see before it’s too late, even with something as “harmless” as social media. I can’t begin to count the number of times I’ve seen a posting by someone, family, friend, or industry professional, that is just plain offensive, rude, or unprofessional. I remember reading something a while back that stated you should never post anything on social media that you, literally, wouldn’t mind the world reading about on the front page of your local newspaper. If you are in business, you don’t want your followers gaining a poor opinion of you because you posted a picture of yourself drunk and disorderly on Facebook. On LinkedIn, the expectation is that members will comport themselves in a business-like manner and not be offensive, confrontational, or rude. On Twitter, the same holds true. You are what you write and post.

 

As a business person, you want to be sure that the message you are putting out there on social media reflects the image you want others to have of you and your product or service. It’s so easy to screw it up with one or two really ill-advised posts, tweets, or comments. Remember, these venues all just provide brief snapshots of who you are, so you’re going to be judged, rightly or wrongly, by what you put out there. A good rule of thumb is to have two Facebook accounts, one for personal, meaning family and friends, and one for business. This keeps the two areas of your life a little tidier, and hopefully lessens the chances of a poor image of you.

 

Blogs are terrific for a number of reasons. I read other blogs because they share information I don’t have, or I resonate with the message they are putting out there. Through blogs I’ve discovered more blogs, other writers, and industry information websites that are really useful in helping me grow my knowledge base and craft. That’s important to me. I now follow a number of blogs regularly, and although I may not read every single blog daily, I do read at least one a day. I’ll comment on posts that I’ve enjoyed, and share my own opinions. Remember, writing is lonely, so it’s nice to have a virtual gathering place to express and share ideas and information.

 

Writing a regular blog takes me about 1- 2 hours every two weeks, depending on research etc. If you want to develop a blob for your business, great, but make sure the content continues to remain regular and consistent. I hate it when I visit a new website or blog, only to find the content is out of date or months old. You have to give people a reason to visit you again. If you’re a boring host, you won’t have many visitors. Of course this takes time, but it’s time well invested. More and more companies are realizing the benefits of building a community of followers who are interested in learning more about them, their industry, how-to’s, etc. When something new is happening within your company or industry, you can share it with your followers, and become a trusted ‘expert” in your field. Blogs also invite readers to participate by posting comments, which in turn invites others to likewise share and contribute. This sharing of ideas quickly builds a community of people who all share an interest in your topic. For businesses, it doesn’t get much better than this.

 

Twitter is great for sharing short blasts of information and ideas. It’s a fun way to keep in touch with others who share common interests, and allows business entrepreneurs to share new information or updates on their products and services. A tweet about a book launch goes around the world in seconds, and is completely free, as are all these other e-venues. The ability to attach a link, photo, or video makes sharing this type of information incredibly easy. What a great business tool! But again, be careful what you share. People are watching and judging you by the content you choose to share.

 

Goodreads is an amazing place to share information, book reviews, and participate in discussions on books with writers and readers. You can post and read reviews of books, and discover new writers in any genre. You can connect with writers directly, ask questions, participate in virtual book clubs, and indulge your love of the literary world to your heart’s content. I’ve discovered some incredibly talented new and seasoned writers through this site, and have been thrilled to receive some really wonderful, thoughtful reviews of my own work. For a writer, Goodreads is an invaluable tool not to be overlooked.

 

But do you have to spend copious amounts of time on social networks in order to connect and share your information? No. On average, you only need about ½ an hour to an hour total to dip into each of these areas daily, review what’s being said on each of them, share, comment, or like just a few, and move on. Be forewarned though, it’s easy to get drawn in and distracted, and writers are notoriously easy to distract. By setting scheduled time limits for each networking activity, it can be easily managed. If after your real work is done and you want to go back and “visit” again, go for it and have fun.

 

Never fear

Never fear

Rather than fear social networking, by embracing it in a professional, realistic way, I’ve discovered a whole new world of people whose work and opinions I’ve come to respect and enjoy. Hopefully, they feel the same about some of what I share as well. Being able to communicate on a global stage, instantaneously, is a lot of fun, but it comes with responsibility. I encourage people to join the on-line communities, but please, be respectful.

 

I always welcome comments and would love to hear your thoughts on social media for business and for pleasure. If you enjoyed this post, please consider sharing it with your circles. Thank you.

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