Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Things I learned from Facebook that make me a better writer:

I will take interest in the lives of people who are no more than words on a screen to me if those words draw something unexpected or undeniable out of me.

Some things don't need long posts or explanations. 'It's a boy!', 'Doing my happy dance', 'people can be so mean', 'It's cancer', post those and I'm in your story in a heartbeat.

Some stories take longer to build, a glimpse at a time. A photo, a meme, a memory and then silence and I may find myself anxious for more while some people spill everything all at once and I'm done. Understanding that gives me permission to kill my darlings, leave some details in the reader's mind instead of trying to cram all my own in hers. Social media doesn't work if it's just all outgoing. It's always a conversation even if the other half is just mental.
Often I am 'just mental', so no judgment here.

Seeing the power of a single post makes all those days sat mumbling words over and over to myself trying to pick the right one seem less persnickety. Words are a writer's tools. If you use the wrong ones, at some point, something's gonna fall apart.
Yeah, even on Facebook.

“I'm in pain” doesn't carry the weight for me that “I'm in need” does, maybe because at my age I know most everyone you meet is in some kind of pain but it takes something big for most of us to admit we need help. “Send good thoughts” doesn't strike the same chord for me as “please, pray for me” and nothing hits the mark like “My dog is in pain and needs help, please pray for him.”
You may be different. That's why social media has followers and books have genres.
Not sure of the history. Skipped that movie. But suspect the term Facebook was supposed to be about putting faces with people. I like that over time it's really become more about putting together a kind of book of everyone's life.

Some days reading that book makes me a better writer. Other days, it may just make me laugh enough at cats not to want to strangle my co-workers. All around, I'd say, that makes it worth checking in now and then.