Hundreds of writers keep up with their readers on Mark Zuckerberg’s social networking site; Paul Harding is on Facebook, Susan Orlean is on Facebook, Jericho Brown is on Facebook. We writers have been told that having a presence on Facebook will help increase our readership, but will it help us hone our craft?
When a reader imagines a writer at work he may call up the image of a gentle genius alone in a rickety garret, candle flickering against the damp. But the writer’s vocation requires less of a sudden stroke of solitary insight than it does perseverance, collaboration and community.
Performing artists pool their skills to produce a performance. From lighting design to choreography, costumes to continuity, a project’s success depends on its collaborators. Literature is likewise woven from the weft of a writer’s language drawn through the warp of his community. Two or three dedicated readers and a shelf of annotated novels with broken spines may be the quietest jewels in the writer’s crown, but they are his most precious.
Putting words to the page may happen in solitude but the volumes of correspondence from one writer to another are evidence that ideas incubated in the writer’s mind are warmed by conversation with a sympathetic reader.
“Almost immediately, it seems, after Coleridge’s arrival [at Wordsworth's home], Wordsworth was reading aloud his new poem ‘The Ruined Cottage’ (with which Coleridge seemed ‘much delighted’), and after tea Coleridge recited two and a half acts of his tragedy Osorio.” (“The Friendship: Wordsworth and Coleridge” by Adam Sisman, page 177.)
If online social networks are an extension of our real-life community, could Facebook become Wordsworth’s cozy hearth? What if we use friend lists, privacy controls, and a “secret” group to discuss works-in-progress?
How To Create a Facebook Writing Workshop in Nine Easy Steps
Starting a Facebook writing workshop is just one way to create a virtual writing group; there are more. Do you belong to a virtual workshop? Tell us how you keep the writing flowing.
- "A book [...] is born in privacy." Cormac McCarthy's archives reveal a research-steeped #writing process. #longreads http://t.co/l9CdqmFO 2012-10-07
- "I'm a documentarian..." ~ A glance inside the underground writing studio of journalist Gay Talese [video] http://t.co/P8yxEcyJ 2012-10-07
- Focus. Haruki Murakami on a novelist's most important quality. Quote: http://t.co/d1NDV6vC 2012-07-05
- 4 hours 'till Storywalks' Kickstarter wraps & we're just $6 short of $7500! All new $$ = icing on the cake. Help us? http://t.co/25DAUTrp 2012-06-29
- More updates...
If I’m asked what the next most important quality is for a novelist, that’s easy too: focus—the ability to concentrate all your limited talents on whatever’s critical at the moment. […] I generally concentrate on work for three or four hours every morning. I sit at my desk and focus totally on what I’m writing. I don’t see anything else, I don’t think about anything else.Haruki Murakami, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running