A few weeks ago Ms. Lovett (@lovettromance) urged me and some of the others in our writing group to hop into a Twitter chat (#rwchat, more on that later). She’s become very involved, not only in participating but in helping to organize and run these weekly chat sessions. Until now I’d been watching from the sidelines, seeing just her part of the conversation show up in my feed. So I figured it was time to jump in.
This was not an easy thing for me to do. First off, I haven’t been in a chat room with strangers since high school, or a chat room with friends since college. (That sounds terrible, doesn’t it? Nostalgic stories for another time.) More importantly, I’m not forthcoming in the friendliest of social situations until I feel comfortable. So, put me in the very public space that is Twitter, with a bunch of strangers, and let me at it! I did not do a lot of tweeting that first week.
But, I read. I listened. And I began to get little people-vignettes of the participants, little looks into who they were and what they were writing. And the next week I posted more. Got into actual conversations. And did it again the next week.
Why You Should Chat: For Yourself
It was fun. And interesting. I learned things. As has been said time and again, Twitter is a space where many varied voices can congregate around a common topic, and that means getting a wide range of responses. The more perspectives, the better. Not only can you discover new things, you can actually meet a person who feels that way about that thing that you don’t really understand!
For instance, one week the topic was pantsing. I am not a pantser. So it was enlightening to hear from a bunch of people who are.
In short, it’s going to open your mind. While also flexing your ability to be pithy in 140 characters (minus the chat hashtag, so even fewer!).
Why You Should Chat: For Your Bottom Line
And it even gave my stats a solid boost! Now my impressions graph has big jumps on Sundays. There are a ton of lurkers who never speak. Being a participant means those eyeballs are on you. And they might decide they like what you say enough to check out your profile, your website, your books. I’ve seen an uptick in followers immediately after chats, too. So this has tangible benefits.
You Should Chat with #RWchat!
#RWchat stands for “romance writers chat”, and it is indeed geared towards those who write romance. Topics are sometimes specific to romance (h/H dynamics, HEAs, etc.) and sometimes more general, seen through the lens of romance. For instance, is it easier or harder to outline when you know you have to reach a Happily Ever After (HEA)?
The folks who turn up are friendly and funny, and they’re always looking for more people to join.
But Bronnie, I’m not a romance writer… and since when are you?
I consider myself a YA writer first, but romance is nearly always involved in what I write.
And let me tell you, don’t knock the romance community. It is healthy as hell and super supportive. The Romance Writers of America (RWA) enables many great things. They define a romance as something where the relationship is the primary element in the story. Do with that what you will, but I believe that even a romance subplot deserves support and knowledge from experts.
How do I join a chat?
RWchat.com’s FAQ section has a really nice overview. The short version is, watch the hashtag for the chat, and when you want to join the conversation, make sure you include it in your tweet. Then try to keep up with the replies, mentions, and faves that roll in.