07 Sep

Writers on the Interwebs

Posted in Blog, Community, DIY MFA, Social Media, Twitter


I’ve been stalling for a few days, trying to figure out what to say for this post.  See, I wanted to talk about online communities, how to find one that fits your style and how to make the most of them, but I kept running into an impasse.  The internet is a BIG place and there are so many options that it seemed any selection of online communities I mentioned would be horribly minuscule and wouldn’t come close to representing all that the internet can offer.

The second part of the post (how to make the most of online communities) was also giving me trouble because who am I to tell you all how to make the most of your blogging/tweeting/web-surfing?  I’m basically a newbie at it myself.  I mean, I’ve only had this blog for six months and I joined twitter even more recently.


This is why, instead of giving advice in this post, I’ve decided to tell you all a little about my own journey, what I’ve found that works for me and resources that have helped me along the way.

I started blogging back in 2007 with two blogs: one for knitting and one for writing.  Both were terrible, or at the very least, seriously unfocused.  I had no idea how blogging “worked” and what the “rules” were (mostly because I spent all my time writing and very little time reading other blogs).  I just wrote about whatever came to mind on that day and since my mind was often empty, I didn’t post very often.  I mean, for crying out loud, I had more pictures of my cats on those blogs than I had of stuff relevant to my actual posts.

So I put those blogs out of their misery.

Then in grad school, I decided to give the blog thing another go with swimagainstthegrain.blogspot.com  It still exists… I left it up, because some of the posts are not terrible.  Early one Sunday morning, I started doodling in my notebook and before I knew it, I had drawn this little guy.

I kept doodling and by the time my hubby woke up, I had pages and pages of iggi scattered across the office floor and I had transferred the image to the computer.  It was at that moment that I realized iggi was my “brand” and I needed to adapt my blog accordingly.  So I rebooted my blog, moving from the old url to this one and iggi and I have been a team ever since.

Along the way, I’ve found a series of really useful resources that have helped me figure out the big scary world of the internets.

  • inkygirl’s Writer’s Guide to Twitter taught me everything I know about tweeting, twitter chats and twitter etiquette.  She also has a list of twitter chats relating to writing.
  • Adventure in Children’s Publishing does a recap every week of Best Articles for Writers every Friday.  It’s organized according to category so it’s easy to find topics you’re looking for.
  • Jody Hedlund’s blog is chock-full of useful posts about writing, blogging and social networking.  Here are just a few of the goodies you’ll find on her blog: Learning How to Use Social Media Effectively and How Important is Blogging for Unpublished Writers?
  • Elana Johnson just wrote a great post on Monday about building a blog audience: Blogging Trifecta Explosion!
  • And no list of online resources would be complete without the fabulous group of writers that brought us WriteOnCon!  Though I was in Ireland during the conference, I have browsed through some of the recaps and I’m continually amazed at all the wealth of information that’s there.
  • Don’t forget also to look up professional writer organizations.  I found this list of Writers Associations that looks to be pretty good.  At the very least, it can serve as a jumping off point.

For those who are new at following blogs, one great tip I got from my friend and fellow blogger, Ghenet, was to signup for Google Reader.  If you have a gmail account then you essentially already have it, you just have to set it up.  As you subscribe to blogs using RSS feeds, the blogs will appear in your reader, allowing you to browse all the new posts of the day in one screen.  Kind of like a newspaper.

Long-term Goals: if you don’t already have Google Reader (or something like it), set it up and start connecting with different blogs.  If you’ve been resisting Twitter, consider setting up an account, even if all you do at first is follow tweets.

Today’s Task: Since we’re talking about community, today we’re doing a group project!  Please share in the comments which online communities or resources you visit and tell us why you find them especially useful.  If we all pitch in together and give one or two unique answers, we can collectively put together a comprehensive list of online communities and resources.  Later in the month, I’ll go back through the comments, add some more links and put together a user-friendly Resources list to post at the end of DIY MFA.


Comments on this post

  1. Stina Lindenblatt says:

    I love iggy! He's the reason I visited your blog after I saw your comment on Elana J's post yesterday.

    I'm a member of YALITCHAT, which is a community of YA writers and authors.

    I'm off to check out Jodi's blog. 😀

    1. Samantha Vérant says:

      I second Stina. I LOVE iggi, and what each letter stands for! Way cool. A PB idea?

      Anyways, the community thing is weird for me. I started out writing YA and MG — had my connections– and then I moved to adult, a memoir, and the project of which I'm currently working on. The long of the short is: it doesn't matter what genre, but finding connections with like minded folks. Now, that's a community!

      1. gabi says:

        Oooh iggi loves you guys too!

        Stina – Is YALITCHAT the same as or linked to #yalitchat on twitter? Or is this a different community?

        Samantha – Great comment. And you know… I have been dying to write a PB for a while now. Wheels are turning in the iggi brain… 🙂

        1. darksculptures says:

          I'm pretty HTML deficient and looking forward to finding out which sites have aided other writers.

          1. Janice says:

            The sites I visit most are:

            http://www.Kidlit.com is an awesome blog. Associate agent Mary Kole from the Andrea Brown Literary Agency is very generous with her advice.

            http://www.yarwa.com Is the young adult chapter of Romance Writers of America. I signed up last week, but looks to be a great community.

            http://www.verlakay.com/boards/index.php or The Blue Boards is another great community of writers both published and unpublished. So may resources on the forum: Education, colleges, picture book, MG, YA, religion in YA, sex in YA, swearing etc

            Twitter is an amazing resource. So many links and interesting people.

            As Gabi mentioned, the Friday roundup on http://www.childrenspublishing.blogspot.com is invaluable.

            (deleted the last post – typos lol)

            1. Caroline Starr Rose says:

              The on-line community that is essential to me right now is the Elevensies. We're a group of debut middle grade and YA authors (85 of us, maybe?). We have chats, weekly check-ins, and can throw out questions or news for each other at any time.

              While much of our discussion is closed to the public (allowing us to support each other through highs and lows), there are many things available to outsiders, too.

              1. Bekah says:

                I am resisting Twitter! I just don't have time LOL.

                1. Bekah says:

                  Oh and how Do I get this Google Reader thingy?

                  1. gabi says:

                    Janice and Caroline – thanks for the tips and links!

                    Bekah – I know what you mean. I resisted twitter for a while too but I finally caved.

                    And to get Google Reader go to: http://www.google.com/reader

                    If you have a gmail account I think it's just a matter of logging in and then you're good to go.

                    1. Kelly says:

                      Iggi is adorable!
                      For writing for children, I learned the most at Verla Kay's blueboards messageboards. I visit there a few times a week. I also learn from other writer's blogs as well.

                      1. Ghenet says:

                        Thanks for the shout-out! I don't know what I would do without my Google Reader 🙂

                        I follow some of the same blogs as you. I especially like the recap "Adventure in Children's Publishing" does because it includes practically everything. I'm sort of new to Twitter to (well, I've had it for a while but I don't update it as much as I should).

                        I look forward to picking up blogging, tweeting (and writing, for that matter) again after my wedding!

                        1. Sonia says:

                          I agree, I love iggi! an iggi-centric picture book would be amazing. : )

                          Google Reader is FANTASTIC. I highly recommend it to everybody (and if anybody has a good blackberry app for it, I'd love to know!).

                          This great nine-point plot chart saved me from horrible writing block recently—I can't remember where I found it (was it here?) but it got me thinking and writing, which is all you can ask for when you're struggling. http://querytracker.blogspot.com/2010/02/how-to-plot-or-revise-your-book.html

                          I also follow some great agents on Twitter, like Daphne Un and Boston Book Girl (no spaces in either username), who give wonderful insight into queries, etc.

                          1. Kerryn Angell says:

                            I love iggi! And Google Reader and for those new to it go to Settings and drag the Next>> goodie link onto your bookmarks. Click the link and you'll be browsing through the blogs you follow in no time.

                            The combination of this post and yesterday's sent me thinking about categories of communities in much the way you've categorised books on our reading list. My comment was way too long so I've posted it on my own blog under Writer Status: Online.

                            1. Samantha Vérant says:

                              Ha! I knew it! Iggi WILL become a PB. Awesome Iggi! As for twitter, set up your blog and twitter to post on your FB. Makes life much easier.

                              1. Samantha Vérant says:

                                One more thing – as a former creative director I'm really impressed with your all around approach to this blog and the creativity. From start to finish, it's awesome.

                                1. Sonia says:

                                  Oh, I meant to ask! Are any of you going to participate in NaNoWriMo? http://www.nanowrimo.org/

                                  1. You can call me Ant. says:

                                    Great post, I'll check out those writing links! I found Elana's blog just yesterday, and I'm LOVING the blogging trifecta going on this week! Thanks for stopping by my blog, and good luck with getting unstuck! 🙂

                                    1. Meghan Schuessler says:

                                      Savvyauthors.com (that's 2 Vs, even though it looks like a W lol) is a great site. The Romance Divas chat forums are always fun and informative. And RWA is key if you're a romance writer, of course.

                                      1. gabi says:

                                        Hi everyone! Thank you all for sharing links and resources. You guys are awesome!

                                        If you have any other ideas, feel free to keep adding to the list. I'll be putting together a Writer's Resources list that I'll put up toward the end of September.

                                        Sonia – as for your question about NaNoWriMo, I've always wanted to do it, but unfortunately, this year it's not meant to be for me. My WIP has a deadline this fall and I think I'll be too burnt out to write another in Nov. But I'd love to know if anyone else is doing it and I'd love to hear how it goes!

                                        1. Connie says:

                                          Okay, I totally love Iggi!!!

                                          1. Roland D. Yeomans says:

                                            I also love Iggi. He looks like he might be related to the dust bunnies in all my apartment's corners!

                                            Thanks for visiting my blog and following. Thanks even more for sharing a personal slice of your internet's beginnings. It makes me feel not quite so alone, Roland

                                            1. Marguerite says:

                                              Hi gabi! Great blog and discussion going on here! I love iggi, too! Thanks so much for stopping by/following my blog and for the great tips!

                                              1. debiwrites says:

                                                Hi all! Hope you don't mind me jumping in.

                                                I also highly recommend Verla Kay's blue boards ( http://www.verlakay.com ), and I follow several blogs including http://www.pubrants.blogspot.com and blog.nathanbransford.com .

                                                Oh, and gabi, iggi is simply adorable!

                                                1. kathanink says:

                                                  Good post! I started my blog about a year and a half ago, along with a few others that met in an online writing class (Darksculptures is one of them). Over time, I realized that reading others' blogs is a terrific idea, but can also be a major time suck from my writing. So I have had to limit my blogging and the blogs I read. But I think it's a tremendous way to build community!

                                                  As for Twitter – I also have an account. My blog posts directly to it, so those are mostly my only posts to it. I rarely read it. For those afraid of Twitter, you don't have to do much. Just post a link to your blog and you might get a little extra traffic – voila!

                                                  1. Jody Hedlund says:

                                                    Thanks for the shout out! I appreciate it! 🙂

                                                    1. Dave Symonds says:

                                                      underdown.org is one I've read a lot, as well as QueryShark.

                                                      1. graywave says:

                                                        Better late than never (I'm trying to do the DIY MFA in a week having got the start date confused!) I have three blogs I regularly update plus a couple of others. My Google Reader is always way too full and I follow over a thousand people on Twitter. Plus I have email subscriptions to plenty of other things – like newsletters. So, rather than list all that, let me mention a site that I often find quite diverting and sometimes even inspirational – StumbleUpon (http://www.stumbleupon.com/) I've set mine up to be as quirky as possible so it will deliver things I don't expect.

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