I’ve discovered a new phobia: Twitters-fear.
I’ve joined Twitter - @AlexFairhill - and I’m stumped about what to write for my first tweet.
I’m reasonably new to the social media game. I’ve had a Facebook account with the privacy set to maximum for years and have tried hard to avoid the ‘what I had for breakfast’ trap, but blogging and Twitter are foreign lands and languages. So why, you may ask, am I doing it? Two reasons: to sharpen up my writing skills, and because I need to. And I do love to travel, even if it is while chained to a desk.
In two decades working as a journalist (under a different name – separate careers and all that) I aimed to keep opinions, thoughts and comments out of my work. In making the move from fact to fiction one piece of advice has been constant from authors, editors and publishers – get a social media presence.
So here I am, present at long last on social media, slowly adding bits and pieces as I get the hang of them. I’m yet to take on Instagram, Tumblr, Pintrest and the legions of other ‘tools’, but I’ll get there eventually. Maybe.
So far there is this blog, and Twitter. I have one follower, who shockingly is someone I don’t know in real life, and follow a range of authors, publishers and others who looked interesting.
The one thing I haven’t done is tweet.
Setting up Twitter was a breeze – and so many people have tweeted interesting information. I wiggled my fingers, ready to make my grand entry into the Twittersphere, then ... nothing. Writer’s block. Cold feet. Twitters-fear.
There’s so much emphasis in writing to hook the reader early – the first par in a news story; the first page in a novel – and the first Tweet of a new account. What can I say in 140 characters than makes me sound funny, exciting, interesting, readable – worth spending time on?
And what does it mean if I can’t write one little tweet? Am I a failure as a writer? Am I incapable of penning anything without hiding behind facts or made-up characters? Am I a boring git?
“Tweet, tweet – I’m a little birdie”? Hell no.
“Hi. I’m Alex. Welcome to my world.” Ah, no. More twit-worthy than Twitter-worthy.
Retweeting someone else? Feels like a cop-out for the first attempt.
Writing my first blog about not being able to write my first tweet, then posting a tweet pointing to the blog? Cross-promotion, metahumour, circular – a clear possibility.
Maybe I can draw inspiration from others. Time NewsFeed’s list of the 13 Funniest Celebrity First Tweets includes @ConanOBrien: “Today I interviewed a squirrel in my backyard and then threw to commercial. Somebody help me.” Hilarious. If you’re a talk show host. @Pink: “i have officially entered the 20th century. I mean the 21st.” I know what she means. @Jerry Seinfeld: “Greetings Tweetarians! I have just landed on your Planet. This could be my last Tweet.” @Warren Buffett: “Warren is in the house.” Simple, straightforward, but probably won’t do much if you’re not already famous. Or in real estate.
Clearly I’m not the only one facing this dilemma. Dawn Borglund on her blog Rise suggests the first tweet is a “virtual smile and a handshake of welcome that projects a future of collaboration”. Her rules: don’t starting with an apology, be specific, and offer a slice of the future.
So probably not “I apologise for my wretched inability to think of think of anything interesting, hilarious and world-altering to tweet, but stay tuned. The writer in me could surface any day.” Too many characters.