Authors are expected to use Twitter nowadays. After all, the microblogging site is tailor-made for writers, artists, comedians and other creative types. It’s our chance to shine in 140 characters, which can be both invigorating and frustrating in turns. In a way, Twitter has become its own art form, with hashtags dictating genres and trends that inspire new forms of creativity almost hourly.
In that spirit of creativity, I’ve encouraged the writers in my Twitter community to join me in #FP (or #FridayPhrases). Every Friday, we tweet 140-character microfiction in the form of short stories, poems, story prompts or artistic prose. We comment on and retweet the #FridayPhrases that we like. We build on each other’s ideas. We answer poetry with more rhymes or add endings to the cliffhangers. Generally, we make a game of it.
Just because it’s entertaining, though, that doesn’t mean that #FP is without a purpose. Microfiction actually does matter. Most writers and artist focus their time on large projects. Novels, and short story or poetry collections, provide the most reward for our time. But anyone who’s encountered writer’s block knows that our brains can only handle so much rigorous focus. We also need to be able to let loose, have fun and throw out ideas that get the blood and creativity flowing. So here’s why I think microfiction (and #FP) matters:
We are building discipline. Writing takes practice. We can’t rely on a muse or inspiration or the right motivation. We write on bad days and good days. We write even when we don’t feel like we have anything left to give. We write like our livelihoods depend on it. If we didn’t, no books would ever be produced. Microfiction is just another tool in a writer’s arsenal; it allows a writer to maintain the discipline and routine of writing while also providing a shorter time investment. Every Friday, I set a goal to tweet fourteen to sixteen microfictions, approximately one an hour. Some Fridays are harder than others, but the more I do it, the easier it gets.
We are teaching our brains flexibility. As writers, we have to think outside the box. Readers are smart; they know where most plotlines are headed before they’ve read halfway into a book. We have to learn to think in multiple genres, and to pull ideas from anywhere. By participating in #FP every Friday, we train our brains to do exactly that.
We are building an idea catalogue. Most writers keep an idea journal. And instead of waiting for ideas to come to me, I actively pursue them. The better story prompts and ideas from my #FridayPhrases make their way into my idea journal.
We generate content. Writers need content. We’re expected to tweet, vlog, blog, microblog, write flash fiction, short stories and/or poems, and produce quality novels. Keeping up with all the social media demands can be exhausting, but #FridayPhrases lets us dovetail a few of those commitments. Some of my writing friends gather their #FP microfictions into a weekly blog post. For me, I’ve already turned one of my #FridayPhrases into a piece of flash fiction, and I have plans to tease out a few more into longer pieces of fiction.
We appreciate the excuse to showcase our work. Writers spend thousands of hours on books that we can’t show to the world yet. It can be an frustrating experience to produce something amazing, only to have to wait months or years for it to hit the ebookstores. That’s why many of the writers who participate in #FP share tidbits of their work. It’s liberating, and the feedback is priceless.
We encourage and inspire each other. Writing is lonely. Because of the time it requires, writing a novel can isolate us from friends and confidantes. But one of the best things about Twitter is the conversation and community it fosters. Sharing our #FridayPhrases lets us tap into that creative collective for encouragement, feedback and a healthy dose of inspiration from like-minded individuals. And really, who doesn’t need a little boost every now and then?
We have fun! Like any job, writing can become tedious. Writers aren’t immune to burnout. #FP Fridays give us a chance to kick back, unwind and connect in interesting, creative ways. I’ve met several great, inventive people through #FridayPhrases, and I always end the week feeling re-invigorated and re-energized. #FP has turned my Fridays into an exciting Twitter party; I never know what the next #FP tweet will bring, but I always know it will be entertaining!
So… what are you waiting for??
ABOUT AMY GOOD
Amy Good is a writer from the U.S. currently living in Dublin. She writes part-time, but only when her tyrannical toddler allows it! When she is not writing, she tweets about the joys and troubles of being a writer, a geek, a toddler mom and a non-native Dubliner. Her first book, Rooted, is available (at no charge) for download at www.amicgood.com.