As writers, how can and should we respond to the current furore over facebook and social media?

It’s a challenging question, which I ask myself at the end of a few hours buried in the digital depths:  retweeting, updating our facebook page and creating content for the website.

We created Word After Word because we’re passionate about sharing our love of writing with others. Today, growing any business means embracing all that the digital realm has to offer: social media, website content, online courses, youtube and more.

Like most other creative organisations who want to broaden their reach, an online presence is an essential part of our offer. In fact, we’re in the midst of building a suite of online courses which can be followed from the comfort of your own home, to reduce some of the barriers to attending.

It strikes me though that in an age when we are, more than ever, glued to the small screens of our smartphones, the late Stephen Hawking’s call to look up at the stars and not down at our feet, never felt more relevant.

I’d add that nothing quite beats time spent in the company of others in pursuit of a common goal – be that learning new creative writing techniques, or simply chatting over a cup of tea.

The challenge we’ve given to ourselves as we design the content for our online courses is how we can also create moments of genuine, authentic human connection? Live sessions with fellow attendees will be one way we’ll hope to achieve a sense of shared purpose and community, even if we are working together remotely.

Much as we’re all encouraged to gather facebook likes, twitter followers and blog shares, we also need to remember that time spent on these pursuits can become a downward spiral, distracting us from the real priorities – writing and sharing the love of writing with others. The more that authors are required to demonstrate their digital audience prior to agent/publisher signing, how do we square that with a legitimate moral position that might see us making an active choice to disengage from the digital in favour of the actual?

Growing Word After Word into a vibrant community is as much in your hands as it is in ours, and we hope that you’ll be along for the ride and share the journey, but, most of all, we hope that, regardless of how tantalising the content, you’ll unplug from the digital realm often.

Often enough to pick up a pen, open your notebook and give yourself pure, uninterrupted time for writing and for making real connections as you pursue your creative dreams.

Meanwhile, as I peel myself away from the computer, take an afternoon walk along the river and stop for a cuppa at my favourite cafe, I’ll be chewing over the question of how far writers and other creatives should be pressured into chasing the virtual fanbase and the digital distraction this can entail. I for one don’t need any more ways to procrastinate!

~ Fi


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