by Carla King
Today we experience a profound wonder and appreciation for the technology that binds us to our very humanness. It’s difficult to imagine isolation without it, and I have to cast my mind back to the delay factor that we lived with before the internet.
Back in 1995, when I started blogging, the immediacy of feedback on my writing was jolting and a little scary, then thrilling and inspiring. As my blog matured, I came to appreciate the emotional connections that it fostered. I made real friends all over the world, many of whom I’ve met in person.
Do you remember waiting for letters from friends and family? Mailing manuscripts, placing ads, and traveling far for even the simplest meetings.
Today, all these things are easily solved with technology, so for Motivation Monday I’d like to celebrate some of my favorites for writers, and hope to motivate you to try them.
Blogging is such a very easy way to publish your own writing. You can assay or try an idea or an approach to a story. You can publish an essay, poetry, flash fiction, character sketches, and book reviews. You can provide how-to information, inspiration, or report on something that happened to you. There is plenty of crazy stuff going on right now worth writing about, and your prose can become an outlet for your ideas and experiences.
You have lots of choices in blogging platforms, but these are my favorites:
- A self-hosted WordPress blog. See this presentation by Linda Lee on what that means.
- The PubSite website builder for authors is an easy and affordable way to get started, even if you eventually want to build your own self-hosted WordPress site.
- Medium is a public blogging site you might consider if you have a theme or series you feel confident about. They have an editorial team that collects and promotes stories in the newsletter such as this week’s Stories to Help You Time Travel Away From 2020. I like that readers can highlight and comment on a word, sentence, or paragraph of your post on Medium.
There are no rules to publishing blog posts. You can post on a whim or or a strict schedule.
My favorite Facebook feature for writers is Facebook Notes, which is a real publishing platform. Publish stories to the public, a group or a list of friends, such as a writing group, as the Notes feature allows comments just like Facebook posts.
To create a Facebook Note, start with the More tab under your banner, then click Notes. You can freewrite here or paste in text. You can also add an image.
Zoom is pretty awesome for right now. I’ve used it for a couple of years to videoconference and screenshare with clients, to give workshops, and to help my parents figure out problems on their laptops (which, as you can imagine, is pretty hard, because it’s already hard even when I’m sitting there with them).
Last week I offered free online seminar on self-publishing to the writers on my mailing list. Sixty-four writers showed up, eager to learn how to finish their manuscripts and publish.
Zoom offers great video quality, screen sharing, a chat room, and is very easy to use. The free version is robust enough for most.
BetaBooks is my favorite place for sharing my writing with collaborators, critique partners, peer reviewers, writing groups, and early readers. Don’t have early readers? They’ll try to help you find some.
The founders developed the platform to solve their own problems trying to collect reader feedback: losing track of feedback, issues with multiple formats, tracking reader progress, and helping out you-know-who who can never manage to open your file. It also consolidates the feedback in one place.
There are lots of cool features, such as you can opt whether or not readers can see each other’s feedback.
Try it for free, invite your readers to BetaBooks and you’re done. You’ll see why it’s worth the $149/year subscription.
In summary, here’s what you can do now, this week, to connect with your community:
- Create (or revive) your blog
- Share stories with your Facebook community
- Get critique partners to help with your book on BetaBooks
- Initiate face-to-face meetings for work, family, or play with Zoom
Isolation may not be as difficult for introverted writers as for other personality types, but remember, those others have a lot of idle time on their hands and are looking for interesting things to do, to read, to watch. So I think now is a great time to be brave and share our writing.
Thank you, technology workers
On a personal note, I come from a technology family and over the years have combined my writing with technical skills to work as a technical writer and systems administrator, website editor, and new media publisher.
My dad retired from IBM. In the past years my brother Jeff has moved from a high-level position at GoDaddy to Facebook, and likewise, Jeremy from Walmart Online to Pinterest.
I know how stressful it is to keep up with customer demands on systems. I know what havoc is caused when even one in a bank of systems fail.
I know what it means to have the beeper go off in the middle of the night because a mainframe computer failed on a production line. To miss my brother every Thanksgiving dinner for eight years because he’s got to keep an e-commerce site running on Black Friday, and to see the other immersed in technology and human solutions to prevent bad experiences on Facebook and Instagram.
So finally, as we thank the essential workers who are keeping the grocery store stocked and the packages delivered, let’s thank the technology workers, too. There are many unsung heroes keeping the servers up, so thank you. Thank you for keeping us connected as we stress the capabilities of your systems. We really need you right now.