Should Authors Avoid Social Media?

One of the benefits I saw was that I could ask for feedback on a book cover design and I had a whole team of people who offered their ideas (Royan Lee, in particular)

I once heard an interview with an author who said that "real" authors avoid social media, because they need to "protect their craft." He said that authors need solitude in order to do it the right way and that too many people are afraid of what's inside of them, so they move to social spaces instead of living in their heads.

It has me thinking about blogging and social media. As I work on Keeper of the Creatures, is it still worth it to spend time online? Here are my thoughts on the benefits and drawbacks of using social media while writing.

The negatives:

  • I have a tendency to create terse dialogue after spending time on social media. I forget that people talk in more the 140 characters. So, there are times I tell myself to slow down and let the characters talk. 
  • Initially, I tend to ignore gestures and setting. When I blog and use social media, it's a place free of the physical environment. I find myself closing my eyes and actually picturing what I'm seeing while I type. 
  • When I'm fully immersed in social media, I find myself expecting instant feedback. But novel-writing is more solitary. Nobody tells me what sucks. I don't get RT-styled metrics saying if a line is good. 

The positives:

  • Twitter has taught me to look more closely at individual lines. I spend longer in crafting a phrase. I'm more comfortable with turning words around. 
  • I am exposed to different speech patterns. While this might not sound like a big deal, it's easier for me to see the varied uses of verb tenses or the regional phrases that people use. 
  • I can solicit feedback when I need it. I tweeted out three potential first lines. Although I am not about to crowd-source my novel, I like the fact that I can go to a group of people when I am stuck. 
  • I feel a little less crazy about spending this much time in my writing. Left on my own, I would probably write the story, read it aloud to my three kids and leave it at that. However, it has been the encouragement from friends on Twitter and Facebook that have convinced me that I should spend time on this project and self-publish it. 
John Spencer

Professor. Maker. Speaker.
I want to see schools unleash the creative potential in all teachers to transform classrooms into bastions of creativity and wonder. Read more →
Email me at john@educationrethink.com for speaking inquiries on design thinking and creativity.


  1. I feel funny even writing this, seeing as how I'm not a "real author" in my mind.

  2. I've always approached blogging and social media differently than I approached something like a novel or even an essay and the major reason I've been able to take a different approach is that I had a lot of experience with "on the spot" writing when I was in college writing for the student newspaper as a reporter and (mostly) as a columnist. Having to give 1000 words to someone every week for the better part of four years put me in a different head space than when I would be typing out a manuscript or doing the third draft of an essay that I wasn't sure was ever going to be published.

    In the world of on-demand publishing/feedback that is social media, it's hard to remember that much of the entertainment that we value, even the written word, took time to create and craft.

    1. I think that's what I'm realizing. I might spend two hours revising three paragraphs. I'm not used to play around that much with word choice. And I'm not used the the end result not looking that much better initially.


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