Today, I had a minor setback. My first instinct– to go and share it on social media.
I don’t share much of my private life on my blog, nor on my Facebook or Twitter. I’m wary of the big brother watching — of the fact that I’m a product to be sold–these services are free because what I share is the product.
But recently, I’ve noticed a tendency– or maybe a temptation– because I don’t give in to it, of sharing about my life on social media.
I recently read this article in the New Yorker by author Dani Shapiro, about exactly how damaging giving in to this temptation can be for writers:
I worry that we’re confusing the small, sorry details—the ones that we post and read every day—for the work of memoir itself. I can’t tell you how many times people have thanked me for “sharing my story,” as if the books I’ve written are not chiseled and honed out of the hard and unforgiving material of a life but, rather, have been dashed off, as if a status update, a response to the question at the top of every Facebook feed: “What’s on your mind?” I haven’t shared my story, I want to tell them. I haven’t unburdened myself, or softly and earnestly confessed. Quite the opposite.
In order to write a memoir, I’ve sat still inside the swirling vortex of my own complicated history like a piece of old driftwood, battered by the sea. I’ve waited—sometimes patiently, sometimes in despair—for the story under pressure of concealment to reveal itself to me. I’ve been doing this work long enough to know that our feelings—that vast range of fear, joy, grief, sorrow, rage, you name it—are incoherent in the immediacy of the moment. It is only with distance that we are able to turn our powers of observation on ourselves, thus fashioning stories in which we are characters.
There is no immediate gratification in this. No great digital crowd is “liking” what we do. We don’t experience the Pavlovian, addictive click and response of posting something that momentarily relieves the pressure inside of us, then being showered with emoticons. The gratification we memoirists do experience is infinitely deeper and more bittersweet. It is the complicated, abiding pleasure, to paraphrase Ralph Waldo Emerson, of finding the universal thread that connects us to the rest of humanity, and, by doing so, turns our small, personal sorrows and individual tragedies into art.
I am given to Facebook updates and blog posts about the small things in life. Now I’ve begun to wonder whether that’s affecting my storytelling. Maybe I’m not building up enough steam over the years, by letting it out through my social media updates. Maybe the fact that I talk about small, impersonal-sounding details on my blog is affecting my storytelling abilities.
What’s your take on this? How much of your inner life/ rants/ life news do you share on Facebook and other social media? If you’re a writer, do you think sharing life experiences on social media detracts from an author’s ability to tell a story?
I don’t share my personal life stories or personal sufferings online (I don’t like it when some people whine online). I don’t have a Facebook account (just a page). I am not on Instagram (I’ve tried one though). But, I do share things that I learn from my personal experiences and sufferings. I do use them in my writing. However, I believe sharing personal things garners attention, no?
I’m coming late to this blog post (haven’t been online much) but I’d like to say that it depends on what purpose social media has for you. For example, my Facebook page, my personal page, is strictly private and where I communicate with friends and family. I have a Facebook page for one blog, and a page for my Perceval novels. At these pages, it’s all business, as it is for my Twitter account. For my commentary blog, I tend to reveal a bit more about my experience because I am posting from my personal experience and background. On the Perceval blog, I do my best to stay focused on writing, classical music, movies and books, and leave my personal life out of it, unless it affects my posting frequency as my recent surgery did.
What I dislike more at blogs in ranting. I’m fine with some personal sharing, but as soon as the ranting starts, I move on.
Do I think allowing my personal life into my online writing affects my offline writing? Not really. The only way it affects it is in the time suck social media is!
As a fiction writer, I have the luxury of keeping the two separate. I can share my everyday frustrations as well as strange stories from my past without it taking steam out of my other writing. For me, telling my life stories is a fun pastime, not the big long-term goal. It’s fun, not serious.
Now that my college drinking stories have started to run together and form some wider coming of age story, I’ve found myself enjoying it less because now I have to write about bad times (every story has bad times!) and that blurs the lines between my easy-going blogging and my more ambitious writing.
I see where you are coming from and I totally understand your conflicted emotions!
I had never thought about it this way, and it is such a helpful perspective. Sometimes I catch myself counting social media updates as some sort of saved inspiration for a future piece. I need to stop posting and waiting and start that heart achey process Dani Shapiro describes…
Sharing, and knowing how much to share, is always difficult.
Tina Jordan wrote a great article in Entertainment Weekly (July 18, 2014 #1320) about Marion Zimmer Bradley, author of The Mists of Avalon. Apparently, the writer may have been guilty of some horrific crimes, particularity against children. It has changed Tina’s love for the book.
The point is that some people will love and identify with you more because of a common bond. And others will hate you and avoid your books for the exact same reason.
Kevin Smith faced this when he released the movie Dogma. I recall protesters at the movie theater, blocking the entrance to the mall. On one hand, he took a lot of heat and lost some potential fans. On the other hand… best media coverage a movie can get without spending a dime on advertising.
So you could take a stand on something big, and maybe get over-exposure as a result. What’s that saying… there’s no such thing as bad publicity… perhaps it falls in there.
Just a matter of if you can handle being associated with it.
I’ve wondered about this myself when it occurred to me that I used to publish essays on a regular basis, but since starting my blog, I do blog posts. I’m not sure this is a negative thing, but I definitely think my need to do a more intensive essay is dissipated by the blog posts. On the other hand, I frequently do FB statuses that are “written” – writerly observations, as you say. I think this has actually helped people know me as a writer. As to the disclosure of the personal, I’m more likely to do that in a blog post than FB – then I’m always surprised when I see someone in person and they mention it!!!
I think , what you share and how you share is crucial. Fiction can never be 100% fiction it is a fine balance, an extension of an writers experiences told in a different context in a different dimension. The more it becomes imaginary the greater the chance to disconnect with readers.
I write short stories based on imagination, but it definitely has shades of experiences from my own life.
I share things that I don’t care if people know and, for me, it doesn’t block me from further writing but, then again, I don’t think of myself as a writer. Writing is intensely personal whether it is fiction or not. One is creating something that comes from deep within. I believe each person is unique and where one would never write anything on facebook or feel it impedes their creativity, another would feel just the opposite. In the end one has to go with what motivates and stay away from what doesn’t.
I am not a fiction story-teller, so I may not be the one who can comment on how sharing my life experiences will affect my story-telling.
But, story-telling, in a general context, is the best way to reach out and touch the minds and hearts of the readers – be it a blog, an article, or even a subject book. Researchers have found that story-telling is the best way for education!
So, in that aspect, all my blogs (which is the only medium I write), are stories. I weave stories with supporting data for my blogs about population. It could be my personal experience on talking to people about the topics, which I share about, or a sharing of a personal life story of a subject who decided to do something in their personal lives about India population.
My twitter one-line sharings are pretty much well-known public data, and I am not concerned about it. I carefully choose my circle in Facebook – and distinguish between a friends-only posting and a pubic posting, so that way, I am not too much worried about what I share.
So, in a nutshell, even my personal life sharings on any media (blog, Twitter, or Facebook) has not affected my writings in any way.
Having said that, I am always a bit cautious about what I write and how I modulate :-).
Hope that makes sense…..
I don’t use Facebook at all — leery of the lack of privacy and the great time suck that it would probably become for me. But I am older, so it is easier to not have that be a part of my life. Recently, when I was getting ready to move, I spent some time reading through a box of old letters from friends and relatives, written in the pre-digital era. I was struck by how thoughtful and clever everyone was, how much time and effort went into their messages to me. I find that missing from most communication I receive now. For me, writing a blog, and reading others, gives me a chance to re-create some of that kind if communication, but it takes time, and way more thought than Facebook or Twitter would.
Sometimes there is temptation of sharing but then you know how social media really is. I think so its better to keep some distance
What an interesting thought, I never realised it but I do believe it’s true. I recently posted something on my facebook, quite poignant to me, with the intention of turning it into a more elaborate blog post. I got many likes and many comments, and since then have done nothing about the blog post! I will keep this is mind, the quick satisfaction one receives from a ‘like’ is temporary and not as long-lasting I feel, as the feedback you get from a truly gripping, deeply personal piece.
I don’t share anything on my social medias. I just don’t feel like the world needs to hear I’m having a bad day or that I just ate at Taco Bell. Still, I will post on Twitter if I’m excited about something or if some huge, sad thing just happened in pop culture.
Hmm, I share certain specific subjects, and unless something that happens to me might be useful to some other reader/writer/gardener/opera-goer, I try not to succumb to the temptation of sharing it. It does happen sometimes, I don’t think putting something on a post stops you developing thoughts about it that are very different in the long term. Then I am not writing memoirs.
It’s clear that some people see themselves as writers when they post certain things on facebook but to me, some feel completely out of place – something that may become obvious when the ‘friends’ don’t have any comments to make. But maybe a blog is just too much work.
At fil media. However, over time, I came to reaslcial media. However, over time, I came to realize that wasn’t a choice I was willing to continue and have gone the opposite direction. I rarely post anything about my life on social media. I do post my blog posts about my continuing change into a computer programmer and IT professional. My private life, however, is shared more directly with those people who are part of my inner circle as it were. I have found that this strategy seems to work better for me.
I don’t share much. It can become an obsession, infringing upon not only my time but view of who I am. It feels like over exposure, boasting, I don’t know, makes me want to ask: who cares what I had for breakfast. But, to each his own. I have friends who make very good use of Facebook with interesting aspects of their lives.
I don’t think sharing personal details, of course to a certain extent, affects my writing style…I usually share small happenings of my daily life on social media…a nice thing to see that people could relate with them and interact accordingly… 🙂
I used to share small vignettes of stuff I observed, but now I’m wondering if I should.
An intriguing post. I do not think that story telling capabilities go wrong – after all I think writers strongly relate to happenings around them, and thus write. But talking about random small, sorry details on social media will not help you but put you out for other’s to analyse you. They do not read interconnected to me.
Random, small details seem interesting to me, and they generate the most responses on my FB. I wonder whether it’s a good or bad thing.
I don’t think any kind of outpouring from an author’s side will effect their story telling abilities. I have seen stories coming out from many such updates.
That’s good to know, Preethi. I’m yet to form an opinion about this, but all the perspectives in the comments teach me so much.
I have developed a habit, as someone else mentioned, of formulating sentences to post on Facebook when something significant has happened to me. Its pretty stupid really, especially when you get no ‘likes’ and realise that no one cares. Better to keep it for the fun/trivial stuff or simply just for looking at people’s holiday snaps and use the blog for deeper self-expression.
Absolutely. Not many people give a damn about the serious stuff on Facebook.
i don’t like to share my privacy but sometimes criticizing about life, humanity, and my thought…i like to discuss some topic with my friends
Yes, Facebook seems to take out the political in me. Weird.
You know that is what I was exactly thinking. Facebook and all give me a continuous outlet of my inner feelings. I noted its affecting my creativity negatively. I stopped sharing personal updates as a starter. The blogs I share are personal (actually creatively put to fiction) to impersonal they have no negative impact on my creativity. Recently my updates on google plus are more than fb.
So far I’ve noticed no negative effects on my creativity either from all the randomness I’ve been sharing. But then what do I know?
I rarely use facebook, it’s merely a tool for keeping in touch with distant family, I don’t understand the appeal of posting life details to a public forum. That said, others get some kind of satisfaction from doing so, so I suppose it depends on the person. Each to their own.
I used to post random things I observed. Nothing intimate, stuff a writer would notice. But I’m wondering if that is such a great thing.
Some people believe that just writing, no matter what you write, helps you improve. I’m wondering whether that is necessarily the case. Maybe writing only tweets all day makes your writing tweety (and puts it in danger of being eaten by Sylvester).
Yes, writing, no matter what, does give you some opportunity for improvement.
Writing on Twitter makes you brief, to-the-point– that’s not a bad thing. I was reading about some or the other successful author who said that writing Vogue copy (left, dress by Valentino , shoes by Ferragamo) helped her too.
I too believe no writing is ever wasted. (I just threw away a 90,000 word draft last year, then another 50,000, then another 30,000.)
But to truly improve, we must receive critiques, realize the flaws and make a conscious effort to improve.
10,000 hours of writing would only help if we remain constantly aware of the scopes for improvement 🙂
I suppose that depends on the person, if it’s a way of expressing yourself and letting yourself be heard then I would say it is a good thing but if it’s posting for the sake of simply posting, without a real purpose, then possibly it could be a bad thing. The real harm is done when a person obsesses over the posts, constantly updates for fear of not being seen or heard; posting every detail because it is then that the virtual world becomes an extension of their own mind and they diminish themselves as a result. That’s my opinion at least.
And I agree wholeheartedly with that. The day FB likes become more important than my reading or writing, I shall quit. So far, I only post stuff that seems to resonate with my audience.
These are great questions!! I enjoy blogging, FB, and Instagram, especially blogging, but I sometimes have to walk away from all of it or I don’t get anything done on my WIP. It is always a juggling act! I do agree with you that it is different for everyone, and each writer had to find what works for that writer. My love is writing fiction, and so I think that is where the deepest expressions of myself appear, but I do also love blogging! I don’t get too personal on FB, except I do link my blog, but I only blog every three weeks or so. Thanks so much for opening up this conversation! (I hope to be on Twitter soon, but will need some -a lot!- of help from my friend! ?)
I’ve been enjoying this convo, too, Dixie. I quit social media on some days, and am the richer for it. Give me a book instead, anytime.
I share only the writing or illustrating process. It’s what works for me, and others as well. Great post!
Yep. We should share what works for us.
Ah, this one is easy.
Social media is new, so you should see it as an opportunity to tell stories in a new way. Not every story deserves a book, but a good story is a good story.
‘a good story is a good story’: agreed. I wonder though whether social media is the right platform for them? I’m ambivalent, really. But then on some days when I share an observation on FB and get almost as much interaction as I get on this blog, I don’t give a damn. Stories are about communication, aren’t they ? 🙂
Agreed. A good story is a good story. And there are different audiences for different stories, even FB.
Sharing or not, I think we must do what works for us. I know people who are very lonely and so sharing their stuffs on social media gives them some sort of sense of companionship. As much as it is like washing one’s dirty linen in public, if it can help one stay sane and not feel lonely, I won’t ever judge it. We are different afterall.
Agree with each word of this comment.
I don’t think posting on facebook necessarily detracts from other creative endeavors. I usually consider facebook status updates to be in the nature of one-liners or brief anecdotes, an entirely different process from a longer, more thoughtful blog entry (or work of fiction, or whatever else it is you’re working on). I guess for me facebook is slick, entertaining chat and blogging is more of a monologue. I purposely keep my facebook and blogging separate though. Each to me serves a very different function.
My FB and blogs are connected. But I don’t reall share much of my personal life on either.
I have radically curbed my urge to share anything beyond the most mundane on facebook — though I do often share my blog posts. I find myself sometimes feeling embarrassed reading/seeing some of the more personal posts of FB friends in my newsfeed — kind of like craning my neck to look at a car crash. Also, what you’ve written above resonates for me; so much of status updates would be better used for the raw materials of story telling. It seems so wasteful. Nice post. Shared it on twitter and facebook 😉
Thanks for the share and I know what you mean about the embarrassment.
An interesting notion that posting regularly to Facebook vents some of the “steam” that could better be used in other writing pursuits, and I suppose there’s some truth to it if you don’t distinguish between what you write in your blog and what you write on some other social-media venue. For me, Facebook is a much more spur-of-the-moment type of thing for reacting to current events, while I think of my blog as something I use to entertain. My Facebook posts tend to be reactionary, while my blog entries are more planned out (though anyone who has read my blog would probably reject that statement). Facebook is effortless, and it shows. Blogging is more like work, but also a labor of love.
To me both FB and Blogging are like work on some days. Interesting distinction you make here.
I do rant from time to time, sharing blog updates and interesting quotations. But, sometimes we need a break from social media. Whether we like it or not, we have become narcissists on social media.
Absolutely. I try and keep away from FB most days for this very reason.
Given how wordy I still am in all my blog posts and my books, I think I’m still doing okay in the face of social media, haha.
However – it’s an interesting issue to bring up. We are living in an age of instant gratification and short attention span. One example: thousands of non-edited self-published books available.
Twitter and FB can have the power to teach us brevity, though. Also to the broader question… I think sharing life experiences brings credibility to our storytelling and draws readers in, eventually, to the stories we wish to sell vs simply share in bites.
Twitter and FB can have the power to teach us brevity, though.— That’s so right. Nothing teaches rewriting like twitter on some days. 🙂
I found not only your post and the included article section interesting and thought provoking, but also everyone’s comments.
I hope to make my blog more of a forum rather than my own platform. I like to listen to wisdom from others– I have so very much to learn.
I’ve stepped back from facebook and only post big things (like updates on my daughter’s surgery earlier this week). Otherwise I stay pretty quiet. I also recently went through and pared down my friend’s list to mostly family.
I don’t do any other media besides my blog, and I do occasionally post ‘life’ posts, but usually because what’s going on in my life is going to affect my blog in some way. I posted last week about how stressed I am about the upcoming school year, and because of this I’ll be taking a short blogging hiatus. Otherwise I try to keep my blog book focused/lighthearted 🙂
My facebook is all over the place– and I usually treat it as one of my writing faces. My rule for posting? If I write an update and still feel like posting it after half an hour– I post it. Otherwise it remains in my notes.
The experiences I share usually involve me poking fun at myself. Most people in my circle know: I’m a writer, my teenaged daughter says some really funny stuff on a consistent basis, I’m terrified to open canned biscuits, and I hate spiders. (And now, YOU know these things.) I don’t think those things are too personal. I guess I’ve been on social media for so long, (remember AOL Chat rooms?) I don’t consider what I share online as detracting from anything I may write for publication.
Very few people love spiders :). I can hear your blog voice in your comment– so I think it makes a good platform for you as a writer.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I think that there is not one right answer to your question. Every person reacts differently in similar situations. I mean that what you understand as personal information which should be kept private, is not perceived as personal from everyone else. For example, you might consider that your relationship status should be private, while for others it’s not at all something they think about. The “problem” begins when we are considering the details of our own lives more important than they actually are. If your personal life can inspire others, you shouldn’t fear to let people know your story. So, I believe you can share your life with the public if there is a “higher purpose”. Writing and posting about all the insignificant details that are totally useless to everyone else or writing about totally impersonal things should be a matter of personal choice… Of course, that’s only what I think… 🙂
Every person reacts differently in similar situations.
That’s much wisdom right there. I try to figure out what others are doing, but in the end, I end up sharing what I feel is right for me.
Though I cannot say about you, but for me sharing personal experiences on my blog and social media sites is a huge success, I use to get many good complements when I started sharing my own personal life on my blog and social media….
Alok, I’m sure you’re doing what’s right for you.
I don’t share a lot of my life details on Facebook or blogs. I do share some. I’m not much of a writer so I share more of my life through photos.
I think we all have our methods/ limits of sharing, and that’s all okay. 🙂
Mostly I reshare and retweet stuff on my FB and Twitter. I scarcely do personal. It therefore does not hinder my ability to tell stories.
Thank you, Peter, for sharing so many of my posts! How’s the writing going? Have I missed a new story?
I don’t think we should consider all social media as the same. I keep facebook for my personal friends and twitter for my impersonal friends, those I know only through cyberspace. All my writing is personal and some so personal I don’t share it on facebook, only on twitter and tumblr. I think as a writer you have to think twice about what and where you share it.
My tweets are unprotected, so they’re as public an expression as my blog. But you’re right different strokes for different media– their very natures are different.
Reblogged this on Beyond The North Waves and commented:
I’ve believed for a long time now that Facebook particularly is a toxic realm of disappointment that serves no purpose other than to sap your creativity. This article seems to agree, though perhaps not so vehemently!
Depends MJ how you use social media. (see my comment somewhere below). In a way you are absolutely right!!!
I just shared this post on my personal FB-page together with the following remark:
“…. ‘Social Media is not about quantity but about Quality’. I recently tweeted that with a link to one of the many blogs I manage and got some great remarks. Even the local tourism bureau ( #visitstanford) plugged in as did numerous others and I lost count on the number of retweets etc. (at the end it’s Quality that brings in quantity and not the other way around… ). I’m always amazed seeing on the daily flow that there are people who like every FB-page they see (wonder how they keep up with that…). My personal FB-page had once over 3000 likers/followers. A few years ago I ‘unfriended’ about 90% and I left only the people who I know in person of with whom I have build up a good cyberspace relation during the years (most via private messages or ordinary email and Skype). Yes a lot happens behind this ‘smoke screen’. Where there is smoke there is fire ….. (old Dutch expression) ….. but you don’t have to show everyone in the whole world your private (intimate even sometimes) world. A glimpse maybe; yes. Whatever one shares on social media tells something about the person and, reading between the lines, I notice many ‘spin-doctors’ making up fake-stories; so much liked by so many people. For me it’s more Who likes or comments and not how many likes and/or comments. …”
BTW Same applies (more or less) for business/commercial orientated social media. One of the blogs I manage has over 1000 followers but my ‘client’ only follows 20 to 30 of these … etc…
I suppose it all depends on our own social media strategy. We have to tailor ours to our needs. Thank you for sharing this post.
o my goodness … this is something to think about though I see from the comments (always interesting) that much thought has already been given. I’m amazed at some of the stuff that does get shared on eg FB and even more amazed at how many ‘likes’ it attracts. Well, that’s ok we’re a diverse bunch.
FB likes are geared towards pics and funnies, mostly. I try and keep my hankering for ‘likes’ in check. And in any case, I love the combined wisdom of bloggers in my comments section more than the silent likes I receive on FB.
In recent months I’ve found myself drifting away from Facebook. Though, to be fair, I’ve rarely shared deeply personal things on social media. Drifting away from Facebook has led me to turn to other social media platforms (twitter and instagram). I don’t think it really should affect storytelling. When you write about the “small” things, they’re all aspects of your life story, they reveal what’s been on your mind, what you’ve been thinking of, what’s inspired you lately.
Bernadette, I think Shapiro in the article quoted in my post says that the weight of small things kept to oneself builds up, till one day the dam bursts when we write. Not sure I entirely agree with her, but I can’t entirely disagree, either.
What little I post on facebook reflects my view of the medium itself – trivial. The only real exception to that is that I occasionally share something that is particularly apposite, or that I think deserves a wider audience. No posting concerns any political or religious views I may hold.
I post practically nothing on twitter or google+, although WordPress does notify my blog posts.
Keith, That’s as good a strategy as any. I tend to be more political on FB, but I’m trying to get a handle on that.
Reblogged this on The Call of Troythulu.
I totally agree that status updates are not “our story”; I share plenty of stuff online that’s important in the instance where I write it but passes from thought a few moments later.
On the other hand, that’s how I tend to write books as well. Starting out I just write whatever comes to mind, whatever is relevant at the time, just because writing something is better than writing nothing. I think in that sense, status updating could even be helpful for storytelling in that it gets stuff off your chest and out of the way for when you really need to buckle down and write clearly.
It all depends on our individual writing processes, I’m sure.
Hmm, good questions. I mostly feel social media is about getting attention rather than sharing stories. I try to have an open mind, but often feel like I’m not quite getting it. If I share something really personal, I usually regret it. I find I don’t really want to talk about it after all. So instead, I focus on the light and frivolous.
Sharing should be discerning, imho. And everyone needs to decide what their personal limits are.
I tell some about my life on my blog, but not overly much. Very little on Facebook though it’s the place I sometime visit to see what’s up with others.
Tossing It Out
I’m pretty similar in my outlook, too. I only post about my personal challenges if they come in the way of my blogging.
I used to be active in Facebook before,even though I wasn’t willing to pour out my life story online,it was a habit to check in frequently.Somehow,I felt it was abiding because all one concerned was with likes and photos and heavy emotional or humorous content.Definitely mind was stagnant.Now,I have stopped there and I do feel there are more things in the world to think about and write..
Reblogged this on Momentum.
Normally, I write my muse
That’s a great question. I would love to learn how to ask great questions so I’ll be visiting regularly. Thanks.
“Still waters run deep” comes to mind from reading this post…I appreciate the thought provoking, non-fluff @damyanti !
You know I’m very private on my blog. I’ll let people know some things in general if they pertain to my blog’s overall theme, but little beyond that.
These are very interesting points. Social media does change the game significantly. I find myself having a thought or seeing something beautiful and immediately start composing a status update or photo caption about it in my head. But then, what is left for ourselves? What is left for our own minds to mull over and think through to completion, that may be where we loose things, giving it away too soon, before it has time to ruminate and sit with us. I have to curb my impulse to post.
For some it can invite a flow of ideas . . . but, very little that happens in my life gets shared in public.
I rarely rant on social media, but there are times that I will get my panties in a bunch and post something that mainly has to do with my community. I really try not to post political or religious views because they seem to be hot topics to debate. I do understand the hesitation behind sharing your life with others. However, I would like to think that something I say may relate or help someone else. I have also found that if I work too hard to come up with something to write about that it makes it much harder.
I don’t rant on Facebook/social media, or share too personal details of my life. Most of my comments are birthday wishes, but I will share/like jokes and articles I find interesting. Your posts are not small or impersonal topics either:)
I too think there does seem to be a lot of sharing of trivia on the social media. I hope blogs retain the depth that most have. Writing to me is personal – more like introspection. Sometimes I like to ‘mull something over in my head’ .whereas at other times I just put down feelings of the moment. Sometimes I don’t even “post” what I write for I do not want to inundate readers with mundane stuff.
I think Emerson’s thought that you have paraphrased is a good rule of thumb for bloggers .. viz the complicated, abiding pleasure of finding the universal thread that connects us to the rest of humanity, and, by doing so, turns our small, personal sorrows and individual tragedies into art.
It’s a completely different medium. The truth is that it -should not- affect your ability to tell a story (write a book) because it is not telling a story.
That said, I don’t share much on social media, but that’s because I’m not a very share-y person.
GREAT post…I to try to post very little about my personal life…just my personal perspective. Though I understand the great benefits of FB especially for those who have family scattered throughout the US and the world. But…me personally I totally agree with one the previous posts it’s a BRAG BOOK. Totally! Enjoyed this post!
Social media is in its early stages, but we will experience a point where we will be surrounded by people who have never known life without it. I am not working as a writer, I write for my enjoyment. I’m not trying to attract a following, but I do want to share my thoughts, opinions and memories. When I was in college in the 70’s I wrote an op-ed piece for the campus newspaper. I don’t see much difference between that and my blog. We have always shared information to varying degrees. I drive past houses that have banners in the yard announcing new babies, graduating children and men and women going off to and returning from war. We’ve had that for years. Social media is a new form of communication but I think writers can work with all forms.
That’s a very interesting question. I’m generally a private person and rarely post personal details on social media, so I’m probably not a good opinion on the topic, but my gut feel is that you’re not hurting your storytelling by sharing little life details online. As a chronic non-sharer, I wonder if you can actually improve your storytelling by learning from the types of responses you receive from your social media posts? Do your readers’ reactions (or lack of) give you any insight into your storytelling techniques? I don’t suspect real-time interaction with people via the written word is inherently bad for a writer, but then again, I’ve been wrong before.
I am such a private person that sometimes I wonder what will happen if my writing starts attracting a crowd. How would I manage this invasion to my personal space? But, certainly I believe that there are some things to be shared and others not. Writing is an art, a story of only that of which you can tell, therefore share it for all to see. Just don’t be distracted from the bigger picture. The world doesn’t need your facebook updates, but it needs your story!
I think, as with most things, it depends. If you are going on too much about personal issues, I suspect you will irritate readers who are visiting to read about your writing.
On the other hand, carefully scattering insights about yourself among your posts on writing, goals, and bits about where your ideas come from, can create a warmth and sense of camaraderie between yourself and visitors. I know I enjoy reading about others’ personal experiences in writing, and how their personal experiences impact their writing.
In sharing the personal, I suppose you just have to “mind the depth,” not overdo it, and also not fall into the trap of turning your site into your daily, “personal moan.”
Very thought-provoking posting thanks. There are two points I “dislike” about some audiences/readers: one is that some people think that everything one writes is autobiographical, and the other is that the writer agrees with everything he/she writes. If a character in a play I wrote was a misogynist, I am amazed how I am criticised for being a misogynist! (I’ve wandered from the point…) I agree with Dani Shapiro!
I’m not a memoirist so maybe it’s different for fiction writers. I think the more often we relive the moments of joy, despair, fear, anger and other deep emotions, the better we will be at making it authentic to our readers.
I don’t share tons of personal stories on Facebook. Usually small little trials or triumphs. Some of them may find their way into a blog post or maybe a story later on, but they are not the center of my writing world.
My first thought on reading Shapiro’s quotes: “Hogwash!” Of course, every person is different. Every writer must follow what is best for their storytelling heart.
Social media is still relatively new, but it has significantly changed the way we communicate and disseminate information, not to mention the many ways information about us is being collected and stored. I understand that author’s premise, but I don’t see how authors will be able to remain relevant if they don’t adapt to new publishing platforms and practices as well as providing content in the timeframe and context readers want.
I don’t see social media disrupting a writer’s ability to produce quality material in story or memoir form, and whether one chooses to use social media for personal disclosures depends on a lot of factors. It appears individuals frequently change their minds about their own decisions.
If I interpret his sentiments as a rather fine distinction between a memoirist and a blogger who shares personal experiences and thoughts, his distinction doesn’t resonate with me. The “likes” and immediate gratification are irrelevant. The question is “am I, as a reader, as moved by the memoir posts of bloggers as I am by the more traditional medium of book-size memoirs?” My answer is “Yes.” I find them both informative, meaningful, full of emotion and well-developed.
Authors can have great impact in either medium.
I don’t usually share too many personal details on Facebook, Twitter, or even in my blog, for that matter. I think that all this technology makes it so easy to share our personal lives that some don’t think twice about it.
I don’t know if social media detracts from an author telling a story, but I do think it’s better to leave some things a mystery.
You don’t write with the same intensity and focus on Facebook or Twitter, so I don’t see a problem. We all post inane stuff on social media—-every single one of us!
Would Shakespeare have updated his status if it were available in his time? Would we think less of him if he told us how his cat knocked over a candle while on the second draft of Hamlet? You cannot empty the creative bucket—if you have it—then you can get more of it. Don’t worry about using it up. 🙂
I’ve only just joined FB, and only because I’m going to be self-publishing my novels this fall. From what I’ve read from various articles/ blogs/ books on self-publishing, self-promotion is a necessary evil if you’d like to (eventually) earn a living with writing. FB and a blog are two of the suggested tools to help build readership. So, what have I posted so far? Only my own blog-posts and links to a couple good articles, and The Daily Create (http://tdc.ds106.us). Thus far (joined last week) it has not made me feel like it’s taking away my creativity or ability to write, but it certainly did take away writing time with my learning curve on setting it up.
I think, like anything in our lives, FB could be a creativity-squasher, just as T.V. or too much booze, or negative friends/ family who aren’t supportive of you. I guess I would argue it’s just a tool, so how you use will determine its effect on you.
I quite enjoy the 140 character discipline of Twitter, though I can’t say I’m endlessly fascinated by photos of people’s pasta salad lunch. Some of our fellow human beans are just chronic over-sharers – doesn’t matter whether it’s on Twitter, FB or – heaven help us – public transport. 🙂
I don’t follow people I know on Twitter. If I really wanted to know about their lives, I’d just stalk them.
I see the various social fora as different platforms with a very different audience. The result is the need to use them differently, with different tones and content. Facebook for friends and family – day to day personal stuff, updates, photos and so on. Twitter is for the people I’d like to be friends with, to both share information and engage, mostly with fellow writers and potential readers. Linked in is a broader window to the world – here I share me views of the world, writing or social commentary – almost like a column. I think the key is to understand what your objectives are and if you get that right you’ll achieve not only results, but opportunities to write in lots of ways about lots of things. If anything, it’s helped be more creative and been a welcome break when another project feels tired or starting to stagnate.
I am having a similar dilemma. Facebook is sneaky, snooping and I want to leave, but I have a lot of artist friends, wordgame friends and, of course, family on there. All I really wanna do is post something wickedly funny and sell my paintings. Love to hear how others manage sales.
I usually put up “safe” topics on social media: cute kitty pics and adventures, my cool garden shots, the time I found five bucks on the sidewalk…Those are the things that make me human. They make me “real”, which might be good PR for book sales and relationships in general.
I also tend to post things on FB that are writer-related. I might comment on other people’s posts about whatever, but because I want my friends to take the fact that I want to be a writer seriously, I try to keep them I’m the writing vein.
I feel like my fb friends don’t care that I write (judging by “likes” and comments). I recently decided to stop posting links there. I get more support from the blogging community.
I’m inclined to agree with Dani Shapiro’s admonition. Same danger lies in talking too much about the story you are working on instead of just working on it.
Interesting. I’m writing a memoir and have never divulged details on social media, even though I post to fb and I tweet. I also find that my Facebook “friends” aren’t that interested in what I’m writing anyway – outside of short status updates.
I’ve turned almost completely away from social media. The inanity that fills my timeline is intolerable sometimes. I sent links to my stories on my social media and not one “friend” was interested in reading 1000 words of my life as I poured it out and watched it squirm. No, they wanted to know what color my pink roses in the garden were. They were pink, I thought they could assume that. The cut and paste philosophy choked me. I eschew the petty post of thirty second bloviation and seek out the orators of life on WordPress and other literary places of thoughtful exchange. Books still captivate me. Pictures of Johnny’s first booger does not. I know, I know. I’m old and bitter. I can’t help it.
You are far from being alone. Many people enjoy extended, thoughtful discourses that won’t fit in a tweet and can’t be captured in a selfie. We are gradually getting older and our numbers smaller, but it will be beyond the end of our lifetimes before our kind disappears. So take heart. We’re here for you.
No, I think you’re fine. Any writing helps you put emotion and words to thoughts and actions. That’s constructive. If anything, sharing it, will make you think deeper about it.
Having said that, I never have that sort of time, nor enough security to share those details. I don’t even tell my family most of my stuff!
I try to use FB to hone my idea muscle. I attempt to come up with some pithy yet funny thing each day to share with my worshipers – I mean followers. Being original and funny and concise is a challenge and it makes me a more creative thinker.
Funny is good for me too. Funny always begins as forced, or worse as puns. Puns are the least common denominator of funny.
Once you work through the first draft, past the second and finally find the “funny” in the topic or premise you’re working with, then you have flexed your grey bicep enough to find something worth saying.
I only write a funny sentence about once a week, but when I do, it’s orgasmic. Of course, I get zero “likes.”
That’s a very interesting way of looking at it. I wish I could write one funny sentence a year. I don’t believe I have. All the bones in my body are mournful 🙂
Never divulge private issues or too much personal life. I tried it several months ago – it resulted in my old site closing at my choice. Not worth it.
Absolutely. Personal life is personal for a reason.
Well, here I am again. You already know my answer. I don’t participate in Facebook. I don’t tweet or text. I don’t even have a status to update. (What does that even mean?)
I do interact with readers who comment on my blog, but even there I have disabled “likes”, and I don’t publicize the number of followers or page views I have.
Instead, I work at transforming my experiences and my convictions into stories and essays that people want to read. End of story. (And no, no emoticon. I’m trying to wean myself away from those, and from exclamation marks, too.)
Besides — I’ve found that if a piece is good enough, or relevant enough, it will “get around,” as they say. There’s no need for me to worry about Facebook or such if my readers are going to post it there for me.
Linda, you’re one of a kind. I’m still afraid of commenting on your posts, and since you’ve disabled likes, I usually just lurk :). (And there, I’ve let loose an emoticon.)
I wish I could be more like you, but I guess I find it too much effort, and most probably, even if I put in all the effort, I couldn’t be like you. You’re a class of blogger all your own.
I try to remain honest to my voice in stories I write, and my blog. I read and write as much as I can, in an effort to be the best ‘me’ I can be.
I can only hope that’s enough.
Of course it’s enough! And actually, the biggest reason I keep responding to posts like this isn’t to prescribe “my way” as the answer for everyone, but to raise some alternatives, and encourage people to really think through what they want their blog/writing to be.
So on we go! You keep right on lurking, and I’ll keep trying to be the best I can be, too — whatever that is!
Your approach is definitely working – with over 6k followers on your blog.
I might be biased because I use social media a lot, but I use it as a way to keep my family updated and to network. I don’t necessarily think it detracts from my ability to tell a story. I even think it might add to it sometimes and I think it helps spread my story. I have followers because of social media and the things I post on it. However, I am one of those people that doesn’t like to see posts about the bad things going on in someone’s life. It’s not something you really should share (in my opinion).
The only thing I write these days is a blog, and it’s a diary blog, so the small stuff of everyday life is necessarily a part of it. I’ve never been a deliberate or meticulous editor, so in most cases I publish lightly edited first drafts and have always done so. If I did write a memoir someday, it would be written in the same way as I’ve written everything else–inspirationally, off the cuff, with light editing and minor rewrites. If that means I’m not a true writer in this other author’s eyes, well, he’s getting paid for his writing and I’m not. I have no motivation to turn my writing into drudgery when I’m giving it away for free. I still write to the best of my ability, but in life, you always get what you pay for, and the value we get from free-to-read blogs is significantly in excess of what we pay to read them anyway. Just my take on it.
I agree with this completely, not much to add 🙂
If my intention was to write for pay, it would probably make sense to withhold some information.
I call facebook Brag book. One of the things I have struggled with on my blog – is how to be authentic without posting something that would hurt others or damage my life in other ways…
For me there is a certain amount of insecurity when it comes to sharing personal information. You don’t know who is reading it and why. I feel better sharing writing experiences, not personal ones (other than things that aren’t overly ‘deep’). I do not think it detracts from your ability to tell a story, but I do think it’s a necessary distraction.
I have a love/hate relationship with facebook. Its great for keeping in touch with family and friends when you travel but if you let yourself get dragged into it, it can be a complete waste of time.