Hello, my name is Kristen Lamb and…I’m a nerd. There, I said it. When I was a kid, I used to spend hours at my desk copying my set of encyclopedias or playing with my microscope. You know, the one that had three slides of celery cells stained different colors. Admit it. You had one, too.
I started writing “novels” before I knew my entire alphabet. My first novel was a real tear-jerker called, “AAAH B Y Love ZQ 197 Z” (love was the only word I knew how to spell). As you can tell by the title, it was the story of Princess Kristen and how she defeated the space aliens that invaded the kingdom on a pink dragon and threatened to take away all the rainbows and make the people all wear ugly boy jeans.
Eventually, as I grew older, I taught myself how to draw but using my dad’s collection of J.R.R. Tolkein calendars and my uncle’s Dungeons & Dragons Monster Manuals.
The nerd doesn’t fall far from the tree.
My Baby Photo
Who ever heard of YA? I was reading Tolkein, L. Ron. Hubbard, and David Eddings by the time I was 12. When I wasn’t drawing or writing or reading, I was playing video games. Wait? Not much has changed. Only now I play an Xbox 360 instead of an Atari.
Why am I taking you down this memory lane of my years as a nerdling? What does this have to do with social media?
Historically, writers have been portrayed as that odd introvert with such bad social skills he had to make up people to hang out with. Okay, so in ways it is still true.
There is a strong misconception that extroverts don’t make good writers because they can’t spend enough time alone to finish a manuscript. Um…no. Extroverts with no self-discipline can’t finish a manuscript. But guess what? Introverts with no self-discipline can’t finish a manuscript either. They spend their time reading stories instead of writing them. Introverts might be able to write the book better, but extroverts can sell more copies 😀
My point is that social media is a very natural place for nerds…I mean, writers to gather. We can feel free to be who we are, and even find people who march to a different kazoo just like us.
Social media is a direct reflection of who we are. Lately we have been talking about how publishing is changing faster than anyone can keep up, and I believe it is for the better. But, what no one seems to be mentioning is that writers are changing too. That is awesome news!
Social media is helping writers capitalize on their strengths, and mitigate their weaknesses.
I am an ENFP (Extroverted Intuitive Feeling Perceiver). ENFPs are the most common personality type for comedians and cult leaders. I have capitalized on this. ENFPs are Tigger if he were high on Red Bull and allowed to plan a bounce-house party…with ice cream cake.
I love bouncing around and making people smile. I am the comedian of the personality types. Social media allows me to use that strength somewhere other than the written page. Yes, I write humor…but I now have the ability to use my humor to build my platform as well.
I know that when I first became a writer, it was hard. All that alone time made me crazy…okay, crazier. I would spend day after day writing technical manuals…only to later hold the poor baristas at Starbuck’s hostage because I hadn’t talked to anyone in DAYS and I had 120,000 words I hadn’t used up.
Social media has added balance to my professional life. With social media, I can take breaks from my work, go on Twitter and be a social butterfly. Then, when it is time to get back to work, I minimize the screen until I make a certain goal. Interaction with others becomes my reward for buckling down and making word count. I can be a writer and be myself.
Some of us extroverts are as bad as a highly caffeinated-meth-addicted-squirrel that someone handed a keyboard. We have to learn that buzzing around the Internet chit-chatting only becomes useful if we have a manuscript to sell.
We have to learn to shut up and… OOH Shiny!
What was I saying? Oh, yeah. Shut up and focus. *scratches head* Need to write that on a Post-It.
I LOVE introverts. Seriously. I collect them. I think it is the challenge to get them to smile…or speak. I’ll take a grunt. I liken it to a sea otter trying to pry open a clam. I’m having fun while the poor clam…I mean, introvert, is having a panic attack. I have gotten better at appreciating the clam’s unique perspective, but I still won’t let them settle under the mud and hide.
Photo of me and Bob Mayer when I first showed him Twitter.
Social media is helping introverts develop skills needed to be successful. Just like the extrovert must develop the discipline to sit in a chair and write, the introvert must learn to interact with others effectively in order to succeed in the Brave New World of Publishing. Introverts can no longer hunker down in an office for months while friends and family slide food under the door and empty the pee out of the Folger’s can….
Okay, maybe you guys aren’t THAT bad.
But the point is that introverts can no longer hide, grunting to your older sibling (marketing department) to speak for you and get you what you want.
I often wonder if this is part of the resistance to social media. The extroverts are the first on board (duh). We get to socialize and that counts as WORK? Sign us up! But the introverts? I think some writers are hesitant to embrace social media because it is out of their comfort zone. Maybe you find people terrifying and you never did say the right things and what if people judge you or think you are dumb?
The best part of social media is We Are Not Alone. Okay, yeah it is a shameless book plug, but it is true. This idea is the fulcrum on which all my teaching rests. WE AREN’T ALONE!!!! WE AREN’T DOING THIS BY OURSELVES!!!
Extroverts and introverts can now become a team.
Wonder Twin powers….ACTIVATE!
We are two sides of the perfect writer. Think about it! Introverts are better at focusing on the writing, and extroverts are better at promoting the final product. But we need to do BOTH if we hope to survive AND thrive in this new world of publishing.
As an extrovert, if I start being Chatty Cathy too long on Twitter, I guarantee you I will hear from one of my more introverted tweeps.
“Um…Kristen. Aren’t you supposed to be writing?”
The other side? Extroverts are the quintessential party hostesses. Seriously. If you are terrified of social media, befriend a Twextrovert (new word, and you’ll only find it here, folks). This is the person on Twitter who knows EVERYONE and who can be counted on to introduce you to a large group of friends painlessly. Before you know it, you’ll go from 1-200 friends and you’ve only tweeted 6 times. Twextroverts are born promoters, and your greatest ally. If you aren’t good at selling, befriend a Twextrovert and they will sell for you…cuz they like to make you smile.
If you’re a Twextrovert? Befriend a Twintrovert, that Twitter pal who can be counted on to send you a DM.
“Shut up and write before I send the flying monkeys.”
Social media makes us not only strengthen where we are weak, but it provides a way to team up with others, and they can be our strength. Extroverts can get introverts to come out of their shells, and introverts can ground their extroversive pals and remind them they need to focus and return to the work. Balloons need to be tethered or they fly away, explode and end up killing a sea gull.
So are you a Twintorvert or a Twextrovert? Leave your Twitter handle so we can follow. Has social media helped you develop some aspect of your personality? Strengthen a weakness? Maybe help you become aware of a bad habit? I want to hear from you!
And, to prove it and show my love, for the month of February, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. If you leave a comment, and link back to my blog, and mention WANA in your blog…you get your name in the hat THREE times. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. A free critique from me on the first 15 pages of your novel.
Until next time….
I haven’t had Internet connection for almost a week, so the Mash Up of Awesomeness will be posted on Friday’s blog.
In the meantime, if you don’t already own a copy, my best-selling book We Are Not Alone–The Writers Guide to Social Media is recommended by literary agents and endorsed by NY Times best-selling authors. My method is free, fast, simple and leaves time to write more books.
Also, I highly recommend the Write It Forward Workshops. Learn all about plotting, how to write great characters, and even how to self-publish successfully…all from the best in the industry. I will be teaching on social media and building a brand in March. For $20 a workshop, you can change your destiny….all from the comfort of home.