Me: Hey, there (name). How are you? I just read a recent article that discussed how important it is for writers to have a platform. What do you think about that?
Writer: I think it takes away from the little time that I have to write.
Me: Yeah, but from what I hear, some christian markets require it, and a secular publisher won’t even look at an unpublished writer unless there is some form of following already established.
Writer: Okay, but then what about trusting God. I mean, if God is for us, who can be against us? Right? I think my job is to write. I’ll trust God to bring me to the right person at the right time.
Me: Good point, yes. I think that God definitely helps those who help themselves. But, it’s just social networking, getting the word out to your friends, and family that you are serious about what you are doing.
Writer: I am serious about what I’m doing. That’s why I write.
And then, the conversation ends awkwardly.
Obviously, there’s a mental resistance, almost equivalent to a serious case of writer’s block. Why?
Recently I’ve had some interesting conversations regarding the issue of writer platform. In my observation, it seems to be an area of resistance, and perhaps sheer defiance on the part of a writer, particularly Christian writers, who on one hand write for pleasure, but on the other hand, dreams of being published.
Some questions commonly asked by writers, but more importantly, the Christian writer is does social networking affect my testimony? Can’t it conflict with “being in the world but not of it” as a writer?
Perhaps the basic nature of most writers is to be an introvert, a lone thinker, one who contemplates, observes, and writes privately. So, inherently, putting oneself out in the lime light might be counterintuitive. However, maybe some of these ideas might persuade you to reconsider climbing Mount Platform and place a little white flag of surrender once you’re at the top.
Platform is basically, the act of creating a following, which means, the writer, has followers, real people that associate you, your name, your writing to what it is that you do, and love, and have passion for and might even be an expert on.
Creating this type of awareness in others can lead to developing readers, and respect from individuals interested in the things that interest you, things that you write about, your ideas and what it is that you are pursuing while developing your craft. (In fact, these individuals may be a lot more like you than you realize and can act as mirrors to help you come up with new ideas to write about.)
The interaction with these types of individuals is a great way to gauge where your read-0-monitor level is at the current time in writing history.
For example, if you write about something that isn’t popular, perhaps there is a market for the niche and then you will find others that are hiding in the shadows as well. Yes, this may feel like being “proud” or “arrogant” or saying “look at me, I’m a writer! Yoo-hoo, I said, I’m wriiii-tttinnng!” But really its a friendly gesture to invite someone else into a thought-provoking dialogue.
One great approach that I have found to be useful in the area of developing platform is social networking. I can relate to the fear that some have regarding the negative publicity social media has had with regard to temptations, and also promotion of negative beliefs, ideas, etc. However, if a writer takes social networking with the mindset of promoting positive thought into the world through writing, then it can also dual function as a ministry.
For example, let’s say that Writer A is interested in bird watching and she is writing a book on the Lost Art of Bird Watching in America. Perhaps in her writing, she is studying the history of most watched birds. She can use Twitter, Facebook, and a blog to educate the public about birds. In less than 160 characters, she can use scripture that relates to birds and tweet them. She can even use her blog to journal, or think out loud (i.e. procrastinate…and don’t all writers do this from time to time?) about the ideas that come to her and spark her interest and creativity.
One a week she can look up other like-minded individuals interested in birdwatching and blogging. She can invite them to her page, follow and comment on them as well. Viola! Networking. And guess who will probably buy her book when she comes out. The people she has developed relationships with might even be willing to do a free review of the book on their site and provide free publicity! It’s a win-win for everyone.
The art of social networking is a wonderful way to include various forms of writing, thinking, and modern creativity to help develop the writing craft. I encourage anyone who is not using this exciting tool in their personal development to do so.