Monday, May 31, 2010

My First Year on Twitter - Confessions of a Crazy Writer

@TheWritersDen ~ Writers, need a place to share inspiration, info and tips? Come join @TheWritersDen, the more the merrier 7:07 PM May 31st, 2009 via web

That was my first innocuous Tweet.

May 31st, 2009. One year, 13,711 Tweets.

I’ve picked fights with PETA, talked to Tony Robbins, and been constantly ignored by Alyssa Milano.

I’ve been followed, un-followed, cursed at, ignored, praised, loved, hated; the whole nine yards.

But what has Twitter meant to me?

I started out on Twitter as a lark. I had this vague notion that I’d meet some writers and share information; tips on writing, things like that, and that would be it. It took me a month to figure out how to reply to people, and switching between my Profile, Home and Mention page was a minor catastrophe. And who were all those people following me? Or was I following them?

I sometimes got rambunctious. I tweeted too much. I think I lost 50 followers one day. And I learned that people can get touchy if you behave like an ass.

In all, Tweeting is not the simple thing people make it out to be; there’s nuances, rhythms, beats. There’s a way to do it. Just don’t ask me how! I’d never be able to articulate it.

I’ve met so many wonderful people; editors, writers, artists, sheep herders, degenerates, nut jobs, bad spellers, geniuses, losers, goofballs and a crazy contingent of Aussies and Brits; I truly have loved you all. Even the one's who've gone to oblivion. Some have even passed away. Also, For those of you that don’t know, I fashion my twitter feed for a very eclectic mix. I mean, writers are crazy and they entertain me endlessly with the nutty stuff they come up with, but I also have a few celebs (shame, I know) and the odd person outside the literary circle. Mostly it's a crazy stewpot of characters. Also, I’ve had followers who’ve had no discernible motive for being on Twitter; then out of the blue I’d get a message from them saying that I’ve motivated them to start writing again after giving it up.

I find that very inspirational, and I feel honored by that.

I never thought I would have as many followers as I do. More impressive: I have some of the best followers on Twitter. Most of my originals are still hanging around. They Tweet less than they did a year ago, but as they say, life gets in the way. I know the feeling. I once had a love affair of sorts with one of my Twitter people, and it didn’t end well (maybe it did; we’re still great friends) and I had to take a break from it all. It’s funny, I’ve been accused of taking Twitter so seriously, but in the final analysis we’re still dealing with human beings, emotions, feelings. Yes Tweets are only text messages flashed across my Stream, but those words come from real people. If you’re asking me to be cold and unemotional about it, forget it. I love people, it’s just my way. I don’t care if I’m face to face with them, or just messaging them from 3000 miles away. That’s just how I roll, to paraphrase the hip-hopsters.

Our Twitter has been equated to a giant online cocktail party. The writers, our little island on the net, are probably the most ideal people for this type of medium: we yap a lot, have our heads full of useless information, and we can talk ad nauseum about our craft. The hard part is keeping it at 140 characters. This is something that is antithetical to writers! Which brings me to the quotes…

Yes, I post a lot of quotes. In the beginning I followed a few people whose tweet stream was based on posting quotes on various subjects. Then they started getting repetitive, and I mean re-posting the same shit over and over. Naturally I un-followed after a while (Something I don’t normally do. You have to be really nasty for me to un-follow, and even then you’d probably un-follow me first) I started posting quotes on writing, among others. I suppose I’ve gotten a reputation for it. Here’s a secret: I have thousand of quotes about literature, from movies, television, any unlikely source, all on a word doc ready to Tweet at a moments notice. I really put my heart in to it. Someone pointed out that I was using quotes as a proxy for my inner feelings. So If I was feeling sad, I’d post something sad. Happy? I’d post something happy. I was doing it unconsciously. I tend to run on intuition.

So now, after a year, I continue to reinvent myself. Twitter, according to stats, is mostly a broadcast medium (I disagree) where the majority of people tend to just tweet without interaction. I find that limits the potential of such a wonderful social tool. I know intuitively that people are social animals – and if you reach out to them they’ll respond. And I have met some wonderful people. Maybe it’s my goofy nature that disarms them.

So what does it all mean?

This may sound dramatic, but Twitter has changed my life. As a writer it has become a daily need. If I need a beta reader, someone’s there for me; someone to read my blog post? Someone to talk to when I’m feeling blue, and my writing is sucking bigger then a vintage Hoover vacuum? Someone’s there for me. And for a writer, that’s the most important thing; that instant interaction, that instant gratification! I’m in a happy place now where I’m more motivated than ever to write because I know that there’s always someone willing to read my stuff. Without Twitter I was kind of lost. I don’t know about you, but I don’t meet writers going to the grocery store, or bump into them in the men’s room very often. You meet them on Twitter. You get to know them. You become friends. And it’s been one of the best experiences of my life.

Here’s to another year of fun and writing. Huzzah!

Related Madness: Tweeversary Reflections: Celebrating One Year on Twitter (via @addthis) by my Good Friend @ggSpirit

Also, if you're so inclined, I have archived all my tweets since January (the rest are in oblivion) on my site Project Hunter

Addendum: This post was inspired by @ggSpirit, who, amazingly, started on Twitter the same day I did. I recommend her post above; her thoughts on a year of Tweeting.


  1. Congratulations!

    I can't remember when I started tweeting. It was after I saw a significant amount of traffic to my old blog is coming from that direction. One of the "link gatherers" about the virtual worlds did it. So I had to see what's going on in that seemingly pointless media.

    I liked it for a while, but very soon, I realized it is a broadcasting media. (Yeah, we don't agree on that.) It was mostly people shouthing their tweets and responding would usually just make a mess in the timeline. So I left. Actually, I discovered Plurk. Microblogging, but with responses that make sense and embedded images and video. Providing that you find a decent crew there (I did), it's a paradise.

    But recently I gave Twitter a second shot. Playing it a bit differently. Not as a mean of communication, but more as a first touch, a gateway to other media. And it works that way. I wouldn't type this comment otherwise. So, cheers to Twitter!

  2. What I should have said was, I think it IS a broadcast medium, but I try to buck that trend. I like to talk to people, and to entertain sometimes.

    And yeah, too much of the time people are quacking in void with no one interacting. The Achilles heel of Twitter. But at it's best, there's nothing livelier.

    Thank you for the comments ...

  3. Congrats. I think my first tweet was "Can you hear me now?" I have also been at this about a year, and I have learned to eavesdrop and not drop in, to follow most of them who follow me, to converse, not plug, and to say please and thank you. I have met a healer, a female pilot, some very talented writers, two of whom I find hilarious. I have gotten some recipes, and corrected a little grammar. The most interesting thing I have found is that folks view me as a nice woman, and if I so much as grouse a tiny bit or get even a little critical, the tweeps jump all over me for it! OOOH, I just love writing,blogging, and being on Twitter! molly

  4. You see? We can't escape the human condition, even on a micro-blogging site!

    Thanks for the kind words, and thanks for stopping by the Den.

  5. I'm glad to see you're making use of the medium in a humanitary way! I've found Twitter to be a good source for friendly folk, too. You get what you put into it; if you seek friendship, it finds you.

    Best to you! (Great post.)

    - Corra :-)

    from the desk of a historical writer

  6. David, it has been an incredible year. I am one of said writers that gets inspired EVERY day by your quotes. Looking forward to another year tweeting with you, my friend.

  7. It's kind of weird, David, but I found you on Twitter from a fellow truck Driver (which I am). He retweeted you and I found it inspiring. I have read all of your tweets and now am starting our blog...Believe it or not, Im an aspiring writer myself (GASP!! A TRUCKER with some sense of an education? Surely not, right? LOL). You have inspired me to get it started all over again. Havent written anything in a while, but I am now starting back because of you.

    Thanks, and congrats on the one year anniversary!!


  8. Happy Birthday or Happy Anniversary?! Nice writeup, David...I enjoyed it. Have also enjoyed getting to know you via Twitter. Here's to more tweet chats!

    With love, @SheetalMakhan :)

  9. This past January was the one-year for me. But in the beginning I felt shy and rarely tweeted. Slowly, I began to connect with people. And now I can honestly say, I'm quite fond of my twitter friends. And you have always been one of my favorites. But, seriously, what's not to love about a man who blogs and says, "I love people, it’s just my way." Well, we love you too.

  10. It's always a Love-In with me! Thanks for all your kind words over the past year.

    Take care.

  11. David,you've described my Twitter experience perfectly. Thanks!

  12. Thank you for all your comments, and all your kind words. I'm learning from you people every day -- how to write, how to blog, how to COMMUNICATE -- it's been a real experience. This is why Twitter is a God-send for all writers. Well, for me at least.

    Keep writing! Huzzah!

  13. Den! Wow, I didn't realize we had met right after you started! You already had about 900 followers- I'm not sure if you remember me. We joked briefly about you finding a 1st Ed Jack Kerouac- our banter kept up for a few exchanges- You ran into an old magazine with T.S. Eliot (The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock). I didn't tweet as often as the others-when I would come back around to say hello to you-I called it "Getting Lost in the Sea". I see now this must be around the time when you were still trying to deal with the crowd and perhaps starting your new fling. It was worth posting for me this morning because I stopped by twitter for the first time in months - pleased to see you had just updated this link. :) "For New Followers"- You gave me hope back then as well my friend. I had just started school-felt totally old at age 29-thought I was crazy for merely just wanting to write. I was thrilled to see there were a lot more than just me out there. I've always called you "Den" you remarked once I believe, "You know Den isn't my name right?" lol. Yeah, I know.

    I do wish you remember so. We hit it off. Happy writing-

    In Fair Fashion,

    Iris Alive


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