If you’re a writer in the first stages of your career – or any stage in your career, in fact – then Sarah Duncan’s blog is a must read. The author of five novels (including the highly-praised Kissing Mr Wrong), Sarah is also a creative writing lecturer and the Royal Literary Fund fellow at the University of Bath.
I’m a big fan of her blog, which covers everything from characterisation and dialogue to writing a synopsis (or not, as the case may be) and finding an agent. Yesterday’s post, as thought-provoking as ever, examined the thorny question of networking for writers – and more especially, the dos and don’ts of Twitter.
Sarah smartly compared Twitter to a drinks party. “ At this party it's socially acceptable to eavesdrop on conversations and join in if you've something to say even if you don't know the people talking, but generally the party operates on the usual lines,” she wrote. “Only the most socially inept people bang on about themselves all the time, conversations are about give and take, and no one likes being sold things at a social event.”
I reckon Sarah’s drinks party analogy sums up the best and the worst of Twitter. The most entertaining people on Twitter hardly ever mention their books or articles or blogs (mind you, many of them are such superstars they don’t have to), while the most annoying people never blooming shut up about themselves.
Actually, the best things about Twitter are the friends you make. I’ve chatted to lots of people on Twitter so often that I forget I’ve never actually set eyes on them in real life. I met a couple of writers at the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s summer party recently and it felt like I’d known them forever.
Oh, and when it comes to singing Twitter’s praises, my biggest treat of the week resulted from a tweet. Quod, my favourite Oxford restaurant, recently ran a competition to win lunch for two. I retweeted the competition - and guess what? I won! So thank you, Quod, for a fantastic lunch. It was the perfect end to my week on Twitter.