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Facebook posts will not make you a writer

ARTS & CULTURE
By Lucas Wafula | November 19th 2016

Social media has helped develop literature as many writers glean writing ideas from different sources and learn from established authors whose work is sometimes displayed and discussed in these spaces.

Conversely, social media is also quickly breeding a group I would refer to as phonies, who totally believe they are writers of note even though they have little or nothing to show. This group has choice words for anyone who thinks they are not writers. Such acts are nothing but delusion and any young writer who desires to grow and make a mark is better off deploying a different strategy.

Likes on Facebook do not qualify one as an amazing writer. The simple reason for this is that most people who end up on your Facebook page are your friends. They will most likely be biased and won’t want to annoy you by bashing your work (post).

Have you ever realised that even the silliest of posts attract likes? Even those by possible paedophiles or obvious falsehoods like Michelle Obama being a man?

Reliance on Facebook likes as an indicator of how well you are doing is an exercise in futility that won’t add value to your writing. Further, Facebook is more of a public space than it is private. Tagging friends in your posts exposes your work to more people who will commend or dismiss your work.

I have noticed that many of the so-called writers who post their work on Facebook have no patience with anyone who faults their writing, which often has to do with the simplest of spelling errors. My take is that if you make a bed then you must sleep in it.

Instead of working hard to attract undesirable reaction, a young writer will be better off getting advice from a professional.

This group of phonies also quickly dismisses and insults other writers, book and newspaper editors. I am a literary editor but when I write this column, I am just a writer and my editor decides on whether to publish what I write or not. Either way, I don’t throw tantrums.

Endorsement from a professor or a renowned writer may give you a chance but won’t change peoples' opinions especially if it is mediocrity that you are peddling. A coat of gold can’t change a pig.

Many would-be writers are turning to social media to seek recognition. They boast about what they have written, and how they will soon be unleashing more ‘powerful’ texts. Well, writing and getting known is a slow process.

Besides, writers are known for the quality of their work. People read, critique and rate them, placing at a certain level on the writing scale. I once watched a ‘writer’ who had self-published his work tell the whole world on national television how wonderful his novel was but up to now, I haven’t seen it on a shelve or in the hands of a reader. I doubt it was even reviewed. Look, it is your work and not your mouth, that will accord you fame and possibly fortune.

Clearly, social media has led the creation of virtual groups, some which seem to be made up of activists. However, editors and publishers don’t work with lobbyists; they work with individual writers.

They develop their work and also expose them to the world of readers. At the same time, publishers encourage criticism of published works which is the reason for reviews. I know a Chief Executive Officer of a publishing firm who was employed as an editor because of his objective criticism of a book that had been published.

Ganging up and hating newspapers and/or book publishers won’t help your writing. Ask yourself if your cause will add value to you and the world of writing. If it does then you are on the path to growth.

The only way you can improve your writing is by writing, embracing criticism and putting to use the ideas you get. It will take time but when the reading world notices, embraces and recognises your writing, it will be worth the hustle.

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