Over the past few weeks I’ve been really diving into Google+, and I’m loving it. Most of my friends have given me weird looks when I talk about it. And I hear the same things. “No one is using it. The place is a graveyard.” That is when I invite them to check out my feed, which has a mass of new content daily.
That’s when I say, “You’re using it incorrectly.”
Most people are trying to use G+ like Facebook. I find my friends and we post pictures to one another and let each other know what we’re up to. Which is totally fine to do with G+, but that’s not the only thing you can, or should do with it.
I explain it like this. G+ is like taking Facebook and Twitter and smashing them together into one beautiful interface. Follow your friends, but follow other people as well. Find others that share similar interest as you. Which is easy enough because you can search by hashtags or see what is trending for the day. Once you’ve done that, start dropping these people in circles.
Oh yes, circles. Where the real power of G+ comes into play. I have people separated out into family, RPG pals, writing groups, celebrities, and so-on. It’s awesome. And as I post content I can filter who sees what by selecting the appropriate circle. That way I’m not bombarding my family with gaming news that they won’t or don’t care about.
Lastly, are the new communities that Google has introduced. Within hours I’ve signed up for several writing communities that have been awesome. We’ve been having great debates on the state of the industry, sharing tips, and being generally supportive of one another.
If you’re looking for great communication about whatever you’re interested in, I highly recommend giving G+ another look.
If you aren’t with a dedicated writing group, find one, now. I know that comes across a bit harsh, but I can’t stress enough how important they can be, and are. When I started writing in 2011 — like putting some serious effort behind it — I relied on myself for the critique process. But I could tell that I wasn’t going to get any better without more eyes on it.
Over the past year and a half I can see how my writing has been honed by the great group of people that I meet with every other week. Everyone, no matter their point of view, has something to make you think about and consider.
I had just finished my recent short story and shuffled it off to them. I was pretty happy with it. I felt that the characters were strong and the combat was good. Come critique day I received confirmation on those feelings.
But it was everything else my tiny little eyes missed that they picked up on.
On how certain character motivations didn’t line up. Where actions that I thought were clear were actually very muddled. They gave solid ideas on what they felt was most important and what could probably be cut. It was exactly what I needed.
And because I meet with them in person, I’ve learned to trust their instincts. I know on a personal level their likes and dislikes. Where we all stand on certain tropes and genres. You can’t underestimate this side of the group. Because it is that personal touch that will inform you on where their feedback is coming from. Which, in turn, allows you to implement it in the best way possible.
Certainly, there will be comments and ideas that you have to filter through. Half of the table may love your ogre vampire who loves daisies. While the rest thinks it’s a travesty to mankind. In the end you will have to decide for yourself if that ogre is worth keeping. But at least now you have a better idea of where that character stands.
So I encourage, even implore you to get out there and find yourself a group. Check out meetup.com or other social media sites. And if you can’t find one, make your own. I’m certain there are other starved writers in your area looking for feedback.
Oh, and one final note. Make sure everyone writes or reads in a similar genre. Nothing is more frustrating than trying to critique Chick-Lit when all you read is SciFi/Fantasy 🙂
Well that didn’t last long. I was very excited to make the jump over to using my self-hosted blog site. I was able to get it’s theme to match my website and have a really unified look to everything. I couldn’t have asked for more.
Except I can.
Like, getting in touch with other writers.
Which for me is far more important than having a unified style across my platform. It’s nice, but if I can’t contact the people who’ve been following me over the past year, then what’s the point?
So I’m back to using wordpress.com. Which has a stronger community element than the other option. And we can all agree that being in touch with one another and exchanging ideas is what the internet is all about. Don’t you agree?
I’m glad you agree.
With that said, the next couple of days I’ll bring everyone up to date on what I’m working on and how things are going with my first book. For those that don’t know, I have progress bars on my website that give a quick visual glance on my current projects.
Also, I’m getting heavily involved in some great writing communities on G+. If you have a G+ account and want to know more about them, let me know and I can send you an invite.
See you all in a few days.