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Ask Annie: 5 MORE Twitter Mistakes Writers Make and How to Avoid Them

Ask Annie Neugebauer Writer Unboxed logo [1]

Last time I shared the first half of my two-part answer [2] to this question:

You’ve covered a lot of policy and etiquette in your blogs, but I was wondering if there are any pitfalls you commonly see writers making on Twitter? And if so, what should we do to avoid them?

—Anonymous

Today I’m going to finish it off with my second half. Thanks again for this great question, Anonymous, and best of luck!

6. Complaining about your WIP.

Look, everyone has low points. We get that. But generally speaking, they’re not great to read about. You never know what potentially interested agents, editors, or future readers you could be turning off by talking smack about your work in progress. If you feel the need to be candid about a serious issue once in a while, do that.

But if you feel like ranting about how much trouble your WIP is giving you, use that private support group we talked about last time [2].

7. Comparing yourself to other writers.

It happens. We’ve all measured ourselves against the success of others [3]. What do you do when you find yourself playing the comparison game?

Stop the chain of thoughts. Question your assumptions. Remember that people are only sharing their good news; they have bad news too. (See #s 4 and 5. [2]) Remind yourself that it isn’t a competition. And if all else fails, step away from the Twitter machine. Nothing helps put silly envy into perspective quite like a long walk, a snuggle with your pet, or a conversation with a real-life human being.

8. Tweeting while drunk/angry/bitter.

Don’t. Never, ever, ever.

Put that sucker in the incubator [4] and don’t tweet it for three days, or until you realize you’re grateful that you didn’t.

9. Going silent for over a month.

An abandoned Twitter account looks worse than no Twitter account, but we all know life gets in the way sometimes. You can’t help it if you’re going through a personal crisis. But if the issue is just that you’re busy and forgetting to tweet, there’s a simple fix for that.

Schedule time to tweet! I know it sounds crazy, but it’s actually pretty simple. Set an alarm on your phone to go off at the same time every day/every week/whatever your ideal frequency is. When it goes off, hop on Twitter. Tweeting one original tweet, retweeting one interesting thing of someone else’s, and answering anyone who’s mentioned you only takes about ten minutes. Problem solved.

10. Reeking of desperation.

Let’s be real, here. Many writers are desperate. (I know I am sometimes.) But equally true: no one likes a person whose desperation is too strong. It’s just off-putting, especially to those it’s directed toward (which for writers can be agents, editors, or famous authors). But we spend so much time and effort working toward our goals, how can we not grow desperate for success? Validation is a powerful thing, and it’s only natural to seek it. How, then, do we keep the intensity in check?

My solution is surprisingly simple: seek non-writing goals to give you a sense of accomplishment. Sometimes we work so hard on one goal that we forget we exist as humans outside of that goal. Just because we’re writers doesn’t mean we aren’t still friends and cooks and spouses and crafters and athletes. So when you feel yourself hyper-focusing on getting an agent, getting a story accepted, etc., take a step back and do something else for a while. Finishing a challenging hike can remind you that you’re capable of many things. Starting a scrapbook can take your mind off writing for a while. Testing out a new recipe can ground you. These seem like small things, but they’re not. They’re the things that make up a happy, well-rounded life. And when you live one of those, the desperation for That One Thing simply doesn’t have as much room to take over. Honestly, that’s how it should be.


Do you have a question about Twitter that you’d like answered here on Writer Unboxed? You can leave your question in the comments below, fill out this quick, easy online form [5] – there’s an anonymous option if you’re shy – or simply tweet your question with the hashtag #AskAnnieWU [6]. (You can send them to me directly @AnnieNeugebauer [7] as well.) I look forward to getting more of your questions!

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About Annie Neugebauer [8]

Annie Neugebauer (@AnnieNeugebauer) is a novelist, short story author, and award-winning poet with work appearing in over fifty venues, including Apex, Black Static, and Fireside. She's an active member of the Horror Writers Association and webmaster for the Poetry Society of Texas. In addition to Writer Unboxed, she's also a columnist for LItReactor. She's represented by Alec Shane of Writers House. When Annie’s not frightening strangers with her writing, she’s most likely frightening her husband and their two cats, Buttons and Snaps.