As I type this, I’m on a Zoom call. On mute and no video, of course, because I’m listening in on a writing seminar, and typing as I skip over the bits of writing advice not related to my genre of interest.
Three months ago, if you would have asked me, I’d have told you I didn’t know what Zoom was. Ok, I exaggerate. I did take one non-writing class on it, last year.
In the last two months though, I’ve been on more writing-related google meets, skype calls, Instagram lives than I’ve been in my entire life. The pandemic has shut us in, but it has also opened up so many opportunities. I’ve watched fab authors do readings of their own books and of others’ books, writing and book festivals are going online with workshops by big names on zoom and google meet. I’d recommend signing up for talks (about writing and other topics) at the Hay Festival: it is online and free to register. Some events have sold out–of course the one with Margaret Atwood and Benedict Cumberbatch is no longer available.
I do not know quite what to make of it yet, because once we’re out of lockdown (I’m still hoping we’ll return to a situation where we will be able to freely mix around in crowded situations), more people might spend less time online. One thing is clear though–online meets have the potential for increasing our reach if we can get ourselves heard above the noise. Any live, even with famous actors, gets about a hundred or so in the audience. A mega event with big-name performers manages to attract a few thousand. Even a recent talk between Stephen King and John Grisham, had about a thousand viewers at any given time. All things considered though, this is a way to reach audiences with relatively less investment in terms of time, effort and resources.
At this time last year, I would have sweated pellets if asked to speak on video, but after a few months spent at events chatting about my book and the writing life, it has become easier. Not that I’m planning a writing podcast or a writing Youtube channel any time soon (let’s not get crazy here–I’m an absolute introvert in real life)–but the fact is that I’ve listened to more podcasts while cooped up, and that newer generations are more attuned to videos.
Ever since the lockdowns, I’ve attended book groups, writing critique groups, author talks, you name it.
Here are a few of my takeaways:
1. Figure out a quiet place for the reading/ listening. Use earphones.
3. When attending a writing event or seminar, make sure you mute your microphones if it is a two-way thing. Upload a profile picture–makes a better impression than the default ‘egg’ icon provided by the software.
How many online writing meets have you been part of lately? What’s your advice for giving an online reading, or moderating an online writing meet?
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