For the last two weeks I’ve been introducing the first two major myths about social media for writers (part one here). So far, I’ve pointed out that being a writer on social media is much more difficult than some people who have you think! This week, I’m going to finish this mini-series of blog posts by focusing on a biggy – that social media is a place full of people who know better than you.
Myth 3 – Social media knows better than you
Being a writer on social media can be a great place to go to share ideas and get advice. But too often we are told that the opinions of strangers (because, they are mostly strangers) are really important to your work. It’s a difficult balancing act, because there are of course hundreds of places that you can go to get really good advice.
But there’s a reason that people are reluctant to put their work out there on these kinds of forums. Social media can be vicious. Depending on the mood that people are in when they log on to their computer (or phone), the reaction to someone’s work can be disastrous for a writer’s confidence.
We are programmed as humans to seek approval from those around us. That’s an evolutionary thing. But the evolutionary thing was created to keep us part of the pack, to prevent us from being cast out into the dark woods. It wasn’t designed for anything creative, and it wasn’t designed to work across the internet with people you’ll never see.
How to fix it – value the right opinions
Here’s the trick. Find the right opinions to value. Social media is a great place to get opinions, but there’s unlikely to be an entry requirement for those giving them. But do you know what does have entry requirements? Your group of friends and trusted opinions.
Hundreds of opinions can be found on social media. But you should come up with some way to vet them. What writing of other people’s did you enjoy? What comment did they make that gives you reassurance that they know what they’re talking about? It sounds horribly mechanical to reduce people to such basic entry criteria, but it will mean that you’re going to get opinions that aren’t just well-rounded (and probably more considerate of your feelings), they have value.
Deciding whose opinion to value is the a key step to making the most of social media. If you don’t then you’re likely to end up with a lot of opinions, but not one of them meaning anything to you.