Weekly Experiment: Outward Only

Every week in my Literary Citizenship class, I’m giving my students a new weekly “experiment” or intention.

This week it’s “Outward Only.”

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Social media doesn’t have a reputation as a force for good. A lot of people think that it makes us self-absorbed, etc. And this is true, don’t you think? It’s hard not to use SM to celebritize ourselves, to share our oh so amazing thoughts, to brag on ourselves oh so humbly. Social media does cause us to turn inward. So let’s try something different for a week: lets use it to focus outward instead.

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For the next week, use social media ONLY to help others. For one week, you are trying to make the world a better place for books. Share links. Praise others. Thank others. Talk about books you’re reading, your favorite writers or magazines.

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Nothing about yourself unless it helps someone or something. Outward focus only. Nothing inward.

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Every time you engage in this activity, use the hashtag #litcitizen.

It’s like #fridayreads.

Actually, that’s exactly what FridayReads is: Literary Citizenship.

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Join us. (And please share this post widely. Thank you!)

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How to Talk to Writers

"Stay in touch!"

“Stay in touch!”

A key principle of literary citizenship is that writers should build their community and expand their circles.

Not “network.” Not “schmooze.”

In her book Living a Literary Life, Carolyn See advises writers to send one “charming note” a day to someone in the publishing field—a writer, editor, publisher, etc. The point isn’t to ask for anything, but rather to just make a connection. These days, thanks to social media, it’s never been so easy to make those kinds of connections.

I require my students to friend or follow or email someone five times a week. Friending on Facebook, liking an Author Page, following on Twitter: these are “passive” acts. But at least once a week, they’re supposed to actually say something to somebody. Such as “I enjoy your work,” or “You published one of my favorite books,” etc.

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