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Do you create Collections for yourself, or to share and feature artwork with others?

Vote! (22,264 votes) 201 comments
72,130 Deviants Online

Social Media For Artists

Journal Entry: Mon Jul 23, 2012, 7:22 AM

"You can create art in a vacuum, but you´ll never generate any great ideas from there."

The mind is a muscle and it has to be trained regularly as much as any other muscle in your body.

What does this have to do with social media, you might ask?

A lot.

In times where many are forced to work alone or as freelancers, social media replaces the work space attitude you find in a usual work environment. Social media is the "global" opportunity to "show-up" and "dress up".

Working in a dull environment or in a work space that is full of people who are waiting for "Friday" to come, you know there is not a real chance to grow on your projects or in general, that is just a place to make a living, but possibly just not for long and if you´d be honest, it is not a worthwhile station in your life too.

Whenever I talk to people, I´m astounded to get asked how I manage to keep up on par with so many social networks, the answer is simple: I consider them different departments of a big office or mall and whenever I have time I check in to get the latest news on interesting topics.
The pleasant part of this, you don´t have to deal very much with people you don´t want to talk to.

This surely means there has to be a specific self-discipline to not waste too much time online, alright, that is the nitpick, it might not be for anyone. However, I found this working for me.

The following list includes networks I regularly visit and foster, in order of priority:
deviantArt, facebook, twitter, LinkedIn, Shadowness, Pinterest, behánce & Google+

Someone might ask why using three, four or more networking sites when the most people are on facebook, because most people tend to share different things on different networks.

One thing people tend to forget is the algorithm of many social media sites, which causes to decide for you what information you´ll see, depending on your connections and your data. Data-mining software and algorithm works always in the back and sorts relevant data for you, not quite the nice English kind of dealing with your information, but this is how it works.The only way to avoid that is to manually crawl through different sources to see relevant information.

If you just rely on facebook for example, you are missing one heap of input from your friends, instead you receive many unwanted and useless bits of information gathered from a software. If the software get´s better and learns it might be possible to get information you really want to receive someday, depending on what you prioritize, but this also means we can be far better manipulated, another reason to keep this habit of manual information harvesting, because it is not possible for the software to render accurate profiles of your online habits.

I usually use online social media platforms to read news about topics I share an interest with someone, or to find inspiration. deviantArt is by far the biggest network right behind facebook when it comes to art and the ability to connect with new and established talent, so it is equally important to show recent works there, to keep in touch or follow up on topics or contacts, facebook is the more adequate option. Google+ is not really the place to be, something I sadly have found out, but I guess it is still not unimportant for search rankings and profiling.

LinkedIn has more value for a polished display of professional engagement and allows to share and gather a vast range of information from twitter to behánce as also other networks, like this blog for example.

Something really great I found and nurture, is the possibility of generating ideas through networking. Sometimes it is a nice evening with friends (yes in real life!), another times it is a small post from a friend on facebook that makes you think, it is always the unparalleled input from various sources that have an impact on us and the time to think about it in the back-burner of our brain.

In fact, being connected more with people I like to be connected with, is healthy to cultivate a creative environment, since working from home for about 4 years now.
I did not felt one day to have a creative block, thanks to the valuable input and positive affirmations I read online, its really that small notes you read here and there that are shared with thousands of people at a time, that makes you smile and keeps you going. Compare this with real life work environments, when was the last time, a colleague showed you something motivating or engaging (except for the chain-mails of powerpoint presentation of lovely sunsets or kittens...)?

Pinterest is an even better source for positive sparks of inspiration, motivation and beauty, that can cheer you up in a downtime.

Sharing is caring, even if you don´t know who will benefit from your insights and outputs, karma will find a way, and it will come back to you in one or the other way, think about it.

Visit my blog for more::

You can always browse the most popular deviations within the deviantART community, but have you ever wondered what deviations are popular among other online communities?

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DeviantART is on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Digg.
The Jim Goldstein Photography Blog examines WHY Social Media sites are so valuable to photographers today, and this is one heck of a GREAT read at that and pretty much nails it on the head! Honestly, if you take your photography seriously, then this is a MUST read for you!


In this day and age, with the internet at just about everyone's fingertips, social media is making a big boom and is useful for so much more than just socializing with others.  Each day more and more businesses jump on the social media bandwagon to help market and promote their goods.  For artists this is no different, as these websites are an excellent tool to market yourself, your skills, and of course your art!  

Benefits of using Social Media Websites

Be seen!
Starting out brand new on any social media website can be a bit daunting and building watchers/followers can take time though there are ways to get noticed faster if you are willing to put the time and effort into it.  Some time ago I wrote an article about gaining exposure.  While the article is geared towards gaining exposure on deviantART, a lot of the same concepts apply to other websites as well.  Do take a moment and give it a read.  Gaining Exposure To Art.  
The most important thing to remember about being seen is that you have to put the time and effort into getting out there where people can see you and your art.  Don't be too shy to approach others and get involved, it really does tend to pay off if you do.  

This really goes hand in hand with being seen.  Sure you might get lucky by simply posting your work and moving on.. maybe someone popular (with a large following) will stumble upon it and share it with others, or maybe someone with the ability to give a site wide feature will stumble across your work and feature it, you never know, it could happen.  But the reality is that you are far easier to be seen, even for those things, if you are putting yourself out there and making friends and just genrally being social with others.  

Make a friend, maybe two, or three, while interacting with like-minded individuals from the comfort of your home (or any other place where you have internet access for that matter).  Many social media users end up making wonderful new friends.

Market to your target audience
Being a part of, and being involved with social media websites gives you the advantage to learn and get to know your target audience.  It also allows you to have a direct link to these people once you've built a following and trying to sell and promote your work becomes much easier when those interested will have it sent directly to them, vs you having to go and pay for ads and hope that the right people see it etc etc.

Popular Social Media Websites

There are so many different social media websites on the web these days that you could probably get lost trying to hunt them all down.  I'll just make note of some of the more popular sites I've seen others promote their art on.
Since we are all here anyway, I think it's safe to say that dA is a wonderful place to post your art and be seen.  Especially geared towards art, you can not only see and find all the amazing art you are looking for, but you can post your own and be seen as well.
Many artists have their own facebook page for their art where they can upload their work and interact with their followers.  For some artists using facebook to promote their work has been very helpful.
tumblr is an easy to use site which allows you to upload your work to be shared and shared and shared by as many people as wish to share it making it a good place to get seen.
Much like tumblr, you can upload your work and others can share it on and on and on.
Link your art, add some #tags and you're ready to go.  People can search #tags and will hopefully also find your work.  Again, your tweets can be retweeted by other users making it easier to be seen.


Share your experiences in a comment below

:bulletred:How have social media sites benefited you?
:bulletred:Do you have a favorite social media website?
:bulletred:How many different social media sites do you use regularly?
:bulletred:Tell us anything else you wish to share about social media sites.  

Hey everyone! Just a end of year reminder of all my social media pages, where I post everyday!

Besides Twitter, this is the page where I am the most active. Daily photo posts, musings, convention appearance announcements, any cool project announcements... Definitely recommend you following my Facebook if you want to get to know me!

I love Twitter and use it everyday, all the time. I would say my personality comes through the most on Twitter because of it's casual conversational platform. Hope to see you on there!

Yaya's Online Cosplay Store: For anyone interested in my cosplay accessories, such as My Little Pony ears, horns and wings, cat ears and fox ears, demon wings, elf ears etc... this is the place to purchase them! My 2013 calendar is also available here, but I am close to selling out.

Yaya's signed photo prints: I get print requests on deviantART all the time and this is the place to purchase them. I sign and personalize each photo and they are printed on 8x12 high resolution glossy photo paper.                    

Yaya's YouTube: I have just started using YouTube and will be posting a lot more videos in the new year! Definitely subscribe to my channel and look out for more videos coming soon :)

Yaya's Instagram: I'm starting to enjoy posting on Instagram immensely. All kinds of random photos make their way on my Instagram account daily lol.

Yaya's Tumblr

Of course there is my website, which has a large gallery of all of my cosplay and modeling work.

There you have it! All the places on the intrawebs where you can find me!
hello gays , sorry for never update anything lately.

im just want to share other social media that i have here.
lately ive been neglecting DA , so if you want to reach me or anything , 

i'll always be ONLINE at :iconfacebooklogo: :icontumblrplz: and :icontwitterplz:

:iconfacebooklogo: >>

:icontumblrplz: >>

Fanfiction ( indonesian ) >>…

will added others if i have hahaha 8''D



Note : btw , if you guys go to AFAid next month , i open booth there , will sell a lot of SNK , FREE , HETALIA , and Evangelion Doujinshi also Prints art , and button and else ( idk ) will upload all of it later , stay tune :iconyeahplz:

*im still figuring out how to use Twitter , so sorry if im slowly to reply or else. still dont know how to use it orz...
I decided I'd write this series (hopefully) of journals in hopes of shedding some (personal) light on what I think about certain aspects of social media.

Although I deal specifically with photography in this entry, this really is applicable to any medium (in my mind).

My first is about a simple aspect, posting. I have found various trends and patterns on how sporadically people post in my lifetime of social media (not that long).

Slow down, don't post so much!!
One that I find extremely damaging to one's personal reception and status among social media is posting too much. I see it all the time, among those I do and do not watch, you run out and take a nice set of photos, or get around to processing your backlog and all the sudden you have 10s or even 100s of new photos. The temptation to upload all your great photos is both a very real but also a very bad idea.
Take it from me, I did it, when I first joined this site and I uploaded my very first photo and that first favorite came rolling in within seconds I was ecstatic. So what was I to do but continue uploading all my "great" photos and watch things come rolling in! I followed this trend for my first few months on this site and the other site I had gotten involved in (G+) and as I went along I slowly noticed a fallout of faves/watches/comments as I uploaded photos in batches. I realized why after I started to watch some artists not unlike myself. In the early parts of my involvement in social media I was fine with a lot of photos posted and even went to lengths to look at each, fave, and/or comment. At the time I had a lot of time on my hands (one of the reasons I joined was that) but as I went along that amount of time began to be more thinly stretched. So when I have people posting 10s-100s of photos at any one time, regardless of their quality, the chances that I will look at all and more importantly (to me) comment on them is increasingly unlikely. I realized that if you don't check dA for 10 days, from any one person, you should have 10 photos AT MOST, preferably less. The same goes for me and anyone else, to put someone on the spot that I'm perfectly comfortable doing so merely on how good they are is Nelleke. If you've spent any time on this site you've seen her work make its way around the front page and DDs on occasion. She has fantastic work and I mean nothing against her. However after watching her I was quickly flooded with photos, great photos don't get me wrong, however the fact that I'm now dealing with 10-30 photos at any one time is too much for me, especially when I have little emotional attachment to the person themselves (again, I mean nothing against her). On this basis alone I have un-watched some people and this will continue to take people off my list.
To give you an idea, I checked out the 4 popular (8hours) works on the front page, 2 out of 4 of the artists had posted within roughly a month, the 1 other had posted a week prior, and the last was the only one posting a lot recently. The majority of 'good' artists don't post a ton, most don't even have time.

Not only does this trend of too much take place but an equally damaging habit seems to possess some artists. That trend is similar work. I see this all the time also, and it can hurt just as much. If you post 2 photos of the SAME object from a very slightly different angle, I'm going to do one of two things, (1) pick one to fave and comment, or (2) delete both and forget about it. ESPECIALLY when you post 2-15 photos of the same thing. Don't post it at the same time, even similar types, I won't deal with it. If you have two stellar photos of a very similar things, WAIT to post both. Post one now, wait a while, post a few photos in between, then add the other. To me, the viewer, the perspective of the other is now gone to me, and now I have a new treasure to feast my eyes on. It's easier for me to view them as separate photos!
If someone is actually nice enough to waste their time dealing with your repeat photos you will find that you're now wasting your time replying to all of them.

So what's my point? What to take away from the time of your's I just wasted?

1. Life is short and time is swift. Old saying but still relevant, people spending their time perusing the interwebs for your work is time, many adults spend their time here, they have full time paying jobs, they want to watch talented people and spend a few minutes on your work a day, a minute or two to check out your latest work and maybe comment. Same goes for students and most anyone, there's almost always something else that they can be doing.

2. RESPECT PEOPLE'S TIME. Including your's, despite the saying of the first point it's still good to take a step back and take your time. Don't post the same thing 10 times and expect people to waste their time commenting/faving/viewing all of them. Don't waste your own uploading something that'll be received the same as everything else.

In summary, decide for yourself what you're looking for in social media. If you're looking for maximum feedback, (watches/faves/comments/etc), then don't post everything at once and don't post similar photos. If you're looking for a storage device and all that I've mentioned doesn't mean anything to you, don't worry about it, continue as usual, don't expect me or anybody to comment and fave every one but be grateful if someone does. It all depends on what you're looking for and what you expect from others.

This reflects my personal opinion, no one else's, some may agree and some may disagree, I'll discuss it if you're interested! I have no one in mind by saying this, and I've made these same mistakes so please don't take offense to this!!

If this was helpful or interesting let me know and I will make a couple other journals on my opinions :D
  • Mood: Love
VIDEO: School District Pays to Monitor Students' Social Media

This is why I don't support increasing education spending. It won't go to "educating" students. It'll go to crap like this!

Here's a better solution: rather than increase education spending, just dump the school security guards and invest the money that would have gone to their salaries into the arts program. Orchard Gardens did that and their overall academic performance drastically improved.

You mean to tell me that investing school funds into the arts is far more beneficial than investing it into draconian security measures? Treating students like potential artists is far more beneficial for their education than treating them like prisoners? Huh! Go figure!

Note: This piece is cross-posted from my author blog.  I thought it would be particularly useful for writers on dA.

I didn't think I'd ever write this post, mostly because there are a lot of folks out there who do it better.  Greg Pincus, Shelli Johannes, Debbie Ohi -- these are all great writers to turn to for info on social media for writers.  So, really, what could I possibly add?

But I've heard quite a few folks lamenting that social media doesn't work for them, that they don't get what they're doing wrong, and that they have no idea how to get the biggest bang for their social media buck.  So I'm popping in with my two cents.  Or rather, a few simple "rules" for social media that I think will help writers at any point in their career.

1. Don't be a jerk.
I know, this should be obvious.  And I'd like to see everyone employ it in every aspect of their lives, not just online.  But the thing about the Internet is that comments are easily pulled out of context, things linger for-ev-er, and you never know who's watching.  I'm not saying you should be disingenuous -- by all means, be yourself!  But be your best self.  One rule I have is that if I wouldn't say it in front of my grandmother, I wouldn't say it online.  (Now, both of my grandmothers are used to my potty mouth, so this rule doesn't always work.  But it's a start.)  Another is that if I wouldn't say it to someone's face, I'm not going to say it in a public forum.  Also, if it could be taken as mean, rude, or crude if pulled out of context, I'm going to keep it to myself or chat with friends about it privately.

2. Be social!
Seems kinda duh, right?  It *is* called social media.  But I've seen a lot of writers who only ever go on Twitter to post links on their blogs.  I mean, that's fine sometimes, even once a day.  But if it's the only thing you Tweet?  Not interesting.  You need to engage your followers.  Make friends on Twitter.  Make small talk like you're at a cocktail party.  Have genuine, heartfelt conversations. The writing community is smaller than you think.  Even "big deal" authors are openly chatty with friends, fellow authors, fans, and, yes, aspiring writers.  A great way to get involved in the writing community on Twitter is to try out a TweetChat.  The aforementioned Debi Ohi has a great guide to chatting on Twitter -- everything from what programs/websites to help you follow chats to the different chats that will be useful to you (there's at least one for every type of writing).  I love participating in #YAlichat and #kidlitchat weekly.

3. Be easy to find. (Have a website or a blog.)
I know not everyone has time to blog.  And not everyone has the money to invest in a dot com.  But you know what?  It's really important to have your contact info easily available, to have your bio up somewhere, a list of publications you've appeared in, a list of your books if you have any out.  Even if you only post a few times a month, the main reason to have a blog isn't necessarily blogging -- it's having a hub where you can direct anyone who needs info on you.  And like I said, you don't need to have your own dot com.  It's free to have a blog on Wordpress or Blogspot.  Or, if you're feeling particularly minimalist, Tumblr is a new option that might be perfect for you. Just make sure you have an "about" page and a "contact" page!  You never know when opportunity will come a-knockin.

4. Only do what you have time for.
Having said all of the above, it's important to use your time wisely.  Don't spread yourself too thin.  If you only have time for Twitter and a blog/website, then don't bother with Facebook and Tumblr.  If blogging regularly is too much of a commitment for your busy schedule, make a Tumblog your internet hub.  If you overwhelm yourself with too many social media outlets, you're not going to be able to do any of them -- or any of your followers, or, as I prefer to think of them, connections -- justice.

Do. Not. Spam.
Whatever you do, do NOT use your social media exclusively to post links to your own work.  Be it your blog, your book on Amazon, your new enovella, or pictures of your cat.  If you're posting a link once a day, but not talking to anyone, yeah, that's totally spammy.  If you're chatting with folks, but most of your tweets are about your projects, that's spammy.  Don't be spammy, y'all. Be social.  (See #2.)

Yeah.  That's a lot of info, especially for a "brief note."  But hopefully it's useful.  If you have any questions, please feel free to post them.  I'll do my best to answer!

  • Listening to: Meiko
  • Reading: KATANA by Cole Gibsen
  • Watching: Law & Order
  • Playing: Words With Friends
  • Eating: Sour Patch Watermelons
  • Drinking: Coke Zero

Being Real with Poesdaughter

Thu Feb 20, 2014, 3:54 PM
There's nothing better than a good story...unless it's a good story that also happens to be true. And that's why we have an entire genre known as "creative non-fiction." It doesn't get a lot of press on dA, but essayists like David Sedaris and authors like Mary Roach and Jon Ronson routinely make the bestseller list, and rightly so. Creative non-fiction isn't limited to essays and memoirs.

 Which doesn't say what creative non-fiction is. Thankfully, better minds are on hand to answer that question.

While PoesDaughter is new to dA, she's no stranger to creative writing—her master's thesis is a series of creative non-fiction essays.

What is "creative non-fiction"?

Oh, geez. This very question always sparked interesting "discussions" in my creative writing classes in college, and I don't think anybody had like definitions! I mean, this is something that's been up for debate for...well, forever.

For me personally, creative non-fiction is a story of a life. You know, a little glimpse into who I am as well as an event or a person that shaped me. Usually, it's 
my life that I write about, but that doesn't always have to be the case. I've written about Catholic saints, a bear, and even a teacher I loathe. Right now, I'm working on an essay that weaves my experiences as a student of San Soo with the legend of the Chinese Monkey King. The point is that as long as it's grounded in real-life events, it doesn't matter who or what you write about. 

When does it stop being 'creative' nonfiction and, say, become an essay?

Therein lies the problem with creative non-fiction—it's one of those genres that eludes concrete definition. It's especially hard to define now because we have social media and the internet to contend with. Many think Facebook or Twitter updates counts as creative non-fiction. But suggest that to a literature purist and watch his vein pop out of his forehead! 

Similarly, a lot of people would say that a literary analysis of Sun Wukong peppered with my San Soo anecdotes doesn't count, and others would say that it does. One of my professors, for example, adamantly argues that all writing counts as "creative" because all writing begins with rhetorical invention, which is just a high-falutin' way of saying that you've come up with an idea to write about, and you've developed that idea into something concrete.

That's a load of crap. True, using personal anecdotes in analytical essays are a good way to hook your readers, but following that professor's logic, the ingredients list on my box of Cocoa Puffs counts as creative non-fiction. 

  The Gift“Hija,” Ruben called to me as he gathered people around him in a circle in my living room. He motioned for me to come to him so I plodded through the small crowd until I was at his side. A very round man who seemed to tower above me with greatness, I gazed up at his dark face like a timid girl, more nervous about what he wanted to say to me than I was about all the eyes fixed on the back of my head. Though the day was supposed to be full of reverence and joy, it had been anything but. Ruben knew it, and I expected him to lecture me in front of my friends and family for my disrespect in the Lord’s house.
When my brother, Jeremy, and I were teenagers, my mom made us promise three things: that we’d be Confirmed in the Catholic Church, that we’d be married in the Catholic Church, and that we’d baptize our children in the Catholic Church. It was an unfair thing, in retrospect, because she did not consider what our eventual spouses would have to say
On Writing, or How to Build a FenceI probably shouldn’t say “how to build a fence” so definitively because there is no one set way to do it. The number of permutations is not countless, but given all the materials you could choose from (wood, brick, chain link, mud, etc.) and all the geometrical designs you could create, the possibilities are staggering. Furthermore, when you figure in the human element — that is, the skill of the fence-builder (or lack thereof) — that number becomes astronomical. This evidence, by extension, suggests there is not one “right” way to do it. So when I say to you this is an essay about how to build a fence, what I really mean to say is that this is a story about how I built a fence in the summer of 2006. Whether or not my approach will help you with your project remains to be seen.
It started with an idea, a daydream of all the things that could be. I gazed at the vast expanse of prairie behind my house, a blank canvas, and pictured a fence
Anecdotes in creative non-fiction should always answer the "So what?" question. Oh, so you're learning how to do Kung Fu San Soo? So what? Why should humanity give a rat's ass about your experiences? Analytical essays don't answer that question, at least not in that way. 

Look, creative non-fiction isn't simply word-vomiting your life story onto a page. You've got to shape that real-life story into something that touches a universal theme, which moves your readers on a Jungian level. It has to have character development, plot twists, symbolism, etc. For me, creative non-fiction is just like regular fiction. The only difference is that the story actually happened. 

Can social media updates be creative non-fiction?

I suppose it's all how you look at it. I believe that Facebook and Twitter updates can fall into that category, but I'm honestly still on the fence about whether or not they always count as creative non-fiction. 

You know, in fiction there is a sub-genre called flash fiction, stories that have 1,000 words or less. Why can't Facebook and Twitter, or any social media site like them, who are limited by a word or character count, be construed as a sort of new sub-genre called flash non-fiction? 

Look, deliberately or accidentally, status updates do give us glimpses into a person's life, and frequently they tell a story. I know everyone has at least one friend on Facebook who has no concept of personal censorship; that person just has to share everything, no matter how intimate or personal, with their cyber-friends. Whether it's what they had for breakfast or why their ex is a scum-sucking pig, they just want their friends to know every detail about their lives. Sometimes we pay attention to them, and when we do we feel connected to that person because we can relate to them and what they've experienced. I think that's why creative non-fiction is so great; it reminds us that, in spite of our differences, we're all still human and we all go through many of the same things (and yes, I'm aware how corny and self-help yoga I sound).

The reason I have doubts as to whether social media counts as creative non-fiction goes back to that one friend and her status updates. I believe that a genuine work of creative non-fiction will tap into a universal theme. Does a picture of my steak dinner at a fancy restaurant really tap into a theme? I don't think so. I mean, maybe you could make some sort of Marxist statement about things like that, but I think that would be pretty weak. Grasping for straws.

But in addition to that, creative non-fiction is about real-life events, and not everyone on the internet is truthful. I read on 
Cracked about a guy named Elan Gale who pranked everyone on Twitter by talking about this disruptive woman on the plane he was on. According to him, she was pissed off because the plane was delayed. His tweets gradually got more intense as this woman supposedly became more confrontational. Many people lauded him as a hero for eventually putting her in her place. But then, it came out that he'd made up the whole thing. So while his Tweets were entertaining, in the end they were just a work of fiction. 

Here's another example. I like to be funny on Facebook—I get sick of the melodramatic, hate-filled political and/or religious posts that dominate my news feed, so I try to lighten things up. One day, I posted: "If you get pulled over by a cop and he asks you if you have drugs or weapons in the car, it's never a good idea to say, 'Why? What do you need?'" Many of my friends actually believed that happened, and wondered if they needed to come bail me out of jail. Me, being the smart-ass that I am, decided to go with it and let them think that I was really updating my status from the county lock-up. 

Just because it's on the internet (especially on social media sites where you think you know people) doesn't mean it's true. 
  Breath of LifeThere is a bright light when you die. I know because I almost died once, when I was thirteen. My inhaler had run out too soon, and my mom was angry with me because I kept asking to use hers on the long road trip from Gillette to Pueblo. When we reached Grandpa’s house, I strapped my nebulizer mask to my face and sucked down large vials of albuterol while my family watched Highlander on the Saturday night movie. The medicine did nothing to stop the painful wheezing, and only served to annoy everyone else with the machine’s loud hum drowning out Christopher Lambert’s voice. Two nights of this passed. On the third night, Mom told Jeremy she was revoking his turn and was letting me sleep in the only guest bed with her so she could keep a better eye on me, and that pissed him off. He called me a spoiled brat, but I was too weak to argue. I went to bed early and stared at the ceiling, struggling to breathe. A crushing weight sat on my chest. I saw electric blue spots Flow Like WaterWater, the most abundant natural compound in the world, covers approximately seventy percent of the planet’s surface, mirroring the human body, which also contains about seventy percent. It is a compound marked by circles. The circular rotation of the Earth, in addition to the gravitational pull of the Moon, creates foamy ocean tides that can either sweep people out to sea in a powerful tsunami or sweep people into the even more powerful arms of love. Rain forms in heavy, spherical drops, and falls to the earth in sweet, honeyed fragrances. Similarly, dew beads on the ground at dawn, carrying with it the fresh scent of newly cut grass blades as a child walks to school in the golden sunrise. Whirlpools froth at the mouths of their big, circular maws. When a pebble breaks the surface of a calm pond or lake, concentric circles peacefully ripple outward towards infinity. Humans, to name one specific animal, are born in a burst of amniotic water, and when we die our tissues dissolve i  Seven Inexplicable MomentsOne: From a tender age, I exhibited a freakish connection to the supernatural world. The strange way I could see ghosts in the burnt remains of a house and how I could predict that Jeremy, my little brother, would fall off a ladder and break his arm three weeks prior to the actual incident mortified my parents, and my second sight was discouraged by their derisive remarks. Born with what they called “a wild imagination,” I drifted through childhood on the borderland between dimensions with one foot grounded in this world and one foot grounded in the next. I frequently floated into that plane, seeing the unseen mingle with the living. Certain I was defective somehow, my parents had me tested. Physically and mentally I was fine. Doctors and psychiatrists had no ailment to blame for my weird behavior. My parents, however, were not convinced I was normal. I could tell them I had just seen a dark entity hovering in the toolshed out back – its body not a body

Do you think we can—and should—be using social media better? Should microblogging have conscious intent or a universal theme?

 Hmm.... In a way, I think those kinds of non-fiction venues are written with a certain intent. I just don't think they're always written towards a certain theme. Usually not, in fact. I know, shocking! 

But as to whether or not they should be used better? I don't honestly know the answer to that, but I'd say they could. I think it's mostly mindless entertainment, and I confess I'm just as guilty as the next person. I repost funny memes and generally avoid any real debate about serious issues. The only things I'm committed to is openly rooting for the Denver Broncos, making fun of Justin Bieber and Twilight, and arguing with my brother about who'd win in a fight: Chuck Norris or Liam Neeson (the answer is neither, Bruce Lee would kill them both). 

Ideally, you'd like to think people would post thought-provoking words of wisdom and make the world a better place by circulating Marcus Aurelius' profound insights, or even coming up with some of their own. But the reality is that a large percentage of people post pictures of themselves doing their best duck-face in front of their bathroom mirrors, and the best you could hope for when you see that is that they flushed their toilets before taking the picture.

Sometimes, though, I think it's pretty obvious that we use it as a valuable tool and resource to improve our quality of living. Social media sites have been shown in the past to raise awareness towards specific issues that might've otherwise gone unnoticed by the public at large. People learn about political candidates, specific causes, and general injustices in the world, and are more motivated to help fix the problems. And I'm not talking about those "For every like this post receives, such and such will donate $1 to starving kids in Ethiopia" memes. I mean Facebook updates and Tweets have made actual activists out of normally inactive people.

In my town, for example, a local politician, Angela Giron, was ousted from office for ignoring her constituents about gun control measures. It was the first time in our city's history that a politician was recalled from office for backing unfavorable policies, and I feel it happened largely because recall supporters used social media like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and more in an effort to get the word out about Giron's actions.

Recall organizers circulated public records, organized rallies, created petitions, etc. They helped people get registered to vote and to find their polling locations. Obviously, her supporters used those same outlets as well, but I think it's safe to say her opponents used them more successfully. She was recalled by a 
huge margin, a shocking number of votes given that my town is a Democrat strong-hold, with an unbelievably large percentage of Democrats voting against her.

On a broader scale, I know of one instance when a Facebook user rallied a bunch of bikers to stand guard at a kid's funeral when the Westboro Baptists threatened to protest it. Bikers from all over the United States came to the funeral and made a barricade outside the church. Later, even though the WBC was ultimately a no-show, the bikers posted several pictures and updates about their success on Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, etc. I've read about a lot of various people using social media to organize counter-protests against the WBC, and to be quite honest, it makes me cheer every time I hear about it. 

Celebrities also use social media to help specific causes. I follow Ricky Gervais on Facebook, for example, and he frequently posts things about the ethical treatment of animals. George Takei uses it to educate people about gay rights. There's even a page for God—it's quite hilarious in spite of what you'd expect from the name—and "God" often posts suicide, addiction, and various other helplines and links to resources for people in need of help. 

I could cite several more examples off the top of my head, but I think it's clear that the social media sites can definitely motivate people to get involved and contribute more than just mindless entertainment to the masses. And the whole point of me mentioning that is that I believe when people use those sites to take part in something greater than themselves to benefit the rest of humanity, that's probably the best we can hope for. And isn't that the dream of any sincere writer?
Ursa MinorIn a life that feels so lacking in concrete identity, the one thing that answers the age-old question “Who am I?” is the knowledge that Colorado is the land that gave birth to me. Pride swells in my heart when I see a bald eagle flying so close to the surface of Blue Mesa that its glossy feathers touch the water and make gentle ripples in the lake. There is equal awe when herds of elk and deer walk by me unafraid, and there is laughter when a wild turkey gobbles as he flees from me through a thick evergreen forest. Back east where the foothills give way to the Great Plains, I am humbled by the angry tornadoes that roar across the prairie in the scorching, summer heat. In the fall, I am entranced as pale golden aspens blush in the morning sun, gradually becoming orange and then red, heralding the return of Old Man Winter. I have seen nothing more majestic than the snowpack melting off the fourteeners in roaring waterfalls, and nothing more powerful than a mountaintop blizzar The Airy Adventures of One Mr. Putt-Putt HallWhen I wound up his hangar-shaped music box, a tiny airplane gently flew from it and on a thin arm circled around to a joyful tune. Yet, when I inwardly sang the first few lines of that song — Off we go into the wild, blue yonder, climbing high into the sun — a peculiar pain bloomed in my chest and infected my throat with grief until I could no longer fight the deluge struggling to burst from my eyes. It’s because that’s what he was finally doing, climbing high into the sun where I could not follow. I would never get to hear the story of the last adventure of Richard “Putt-Putt” Hall.
Throughout my life, I sat with him on the front porch of his house by the freeway, counting cars, watching the trains rumble by as they noisily blew their whistles, and listening to him comically stutter my song: Katie, beautiful Katie, you’re the one, yes, you’re the one that I adore…When the moon shines over the cow shed, I’ll be wait

What if your life just isn't interesting enough to write about?

That question made me chuckle sympathetically with everyone who suffers from that problem. 

When I took my first creative non-fiction class, and we got our first assignment, I freaked out because frankly, I feel I'm not that interesting. I'm a boring person. I'm married with children, I drive a frickin' minivan, I'd rather be at home than at a party, I've never set a foot outside of the United States, and I'm an English teacher. I never acted crazy as a teenager because I was a shy bookworm who was afraid to break the rules. And now that I'm older and more ornery, I still can't break the rules because I have to set a good example for my kids and my students! The coolest thing I do is study Kung Fu. So yeah, my first creative non-fiction assignment made me worry. 

But my professor, bless him, taught us that everyone is interesting in his or her own way. Everyone has a cool story to tell. Everyone has a niche. It's just a matter of finding that niche and exploiting it. For example, we read a lot of Sherman Alexie's work in that class, and David Sedaris' too. Neither man had what I'd call a feel-good swashbuckling adventure of a life, but they had unique perspectives on some very universal problems —Alexie's a Native American who grew up on a reservation and Sedaris is a homosexual who had to learn how to come into his own. Apart from those things, they're decidedly ordinary people. You don't have to be Ernest Hemingway taking a kudu hunting trip to the African savannah to write about your life. 

Being interesting is all about your delivery, too. If you can remember that it's not what you're writing about so much as how you write it, any story becomes interesting. Your voice and your style are what make it unique.

For example, someone told me in a critique that I've got a dark sense of humor that's hilarious and shrewd, and that's one of the reasons they thought my writing was so great. I think I'm just a world-class smart-ass, and that quality of my character naturally comes out in my writing. That will be the case with you as well, and it should. You're telling a story from your life. Your real voice 
should come out because that's what's gonna give your story enough oomph to make people stop and take notice. Don't be fake. Don't write anything that you don't really think, and especially don't worry about saying what you think your reader wants to hear.

I'll give you a quick example of what I'm talking about, from Facebook no less. Just like we all have that one friend who is the daily winner of the TMI trophy, we also have that one friend whose kids are the most saintly kids to ever have walked the earth. The rest of us know that's a bunch of horse crap, especially if we have kids too. But most parents are too afraid to be honest about how trying kids can be because it's taboo to even think there might be times you dislike them, so these people do the exact opposite and try to make it like their kids walk on water and resurrect the dead. 

But that's boring as hell to me. I can't relate to that at all (let alone believe such a thing is possible) because quite frankly, my kids remind me on a daily basis why some animals eat their young. So I'm the one who writes updates like, "A lady at Wal-mart asked me the names of 'Mommy's Little Helpers.' Evidently, 'Xanax' and 'Moscato' was the wrong thing to say."

I got a lot of appreciative notice for that post, a hell of a lot more than times when I've sung my kids' praises. Your readers will not only spot insincerity and outright lies, they'll also be bored by them. Trust me, you're more entertaining when you're yourself and show the world what you're really thinking. And chances are, they're thinking it too. 
  A Passing ThoughtI realized what it was in the midst of what my husband later called “my first panic attack.” That foul smell of formaldehyde tenaciously clung to me, to my clothes, to my hair. I reeked of the morgue. As I drove home that night, I crumbled from grief and a loss of innocence, firmly planted in a moment of staunch surrealism.
Death had been a prerequisite for the job. If I even thought I’d have a problem with corpses, Vestal, my would-be boss, told me to find something else. Of course, it wasn’t a problem. Death and I got to know each other intimately well from the time I was a little girl. I had watched my grandmother shrink into dementia as the leukemia metastasized and infected her bones and brain. The chemotherapy and radiation treatments eradicated her taste buds and caused her jet black hair to fall out in disgusting clumps. Somehow, she inflated like a balloon, and between that and the olive green and magenta bruises stippling her skin, she looked like a mo
Bridges, BurningIn criticism I will be bold, and as sternly, absolutely just with any friend or foe.
From this purpose nothing shall turn me.

~Edgar Allan Poe
English majors at Colorado State University – Pueblo suffer under the delusion that high-falutin’ rhetorical perfection is the only way to get past the velvet ropes at Club Academia, an assumption that is foisted upon us by the illustrious Dr. Donna Souder. At her behest, we’re exhausting ourselves in a narcissistic orgy of reading, writing, and conference presentations, all in the hopes that the academic gods will cut us the same deal they did with Aristotle.
Coming soon, we have the Southern Colorado Rhetoric Society’s annual conference, Donna’s lovechild, and almost as important as who presents – hell, maybe even more important than who presents – is who is on the trendiest new bandwagon in rhetoric and composition research. People’s papers are analyzed, critiqued, and discussed as though
   The SoldierI daydream often of San Miguel del Milagro, a tiny mission-style Catholic church in a Mexican village far from tropical beaches and Mayan ruins. I see myself inside this humble chapel, kneeling before the altar during Mass, my hands folded against my forehead as I listen to the priest utter prayers in Spanish. For once, I take the ritual seriously. I talk to God; Please Lord, I say to myself, I know things haven’t always been right between us, but just this once will you have mercy on me? I inwardly confess my sins, purifying my soul so He won’t find me unworthy. In a large shrine nearby is a statue of the church’s patron saint: Michael the Archangel. He is the reason I am here. I look intently at him. In one hand he holds a cross on a staff like the Bishop of Rome, but on his head he wears the traditional Aztec headdress of a warrior chieftain. His golden wings curl behind him as if inviting me to seek shelter beneath them. He has called me here, and I 
For everyone who feels too boring to be the subject of anything artistic, I'll give you the same advice someone gave to me when I first started writing creative non-fiction: write about a first. Your first kiss, your first dance recital, your first home run.

The reason for this is simple—when it's your first, you look at it with such wonder and possibility. Everything feels so new and so fresh, and so when you write about it, it'll be easier to be interesting.

I wrote my memoir, "A Passing Thought," for my very first assignment. It was about the first body I took to the morgue when I worked as an orderly at the hospital, and it practically wrote itself. Even the symbolism of death—the curtain, the logbook, the darkness—lined up perfectly and on its own. That wasn't crap I made up for dramatic effect, that actually happened, and in retrospect that was pretty awesome how the universe smiled at me like that. In many ways, I think "A Passing Thought" is my best creative non-fiction essay to date. So for everyone who wants to try their hand at a work of creative non-fiction, I'd urge you to start with a first. 

Is creative non-fiction the best way to find one's 'voice'?

Not necessarily. Your voice is going to change according to what you write. My non-fiction voice is different than the voices I use for fiction or even poetry. It has to, in order to be more convincing. I'm not a Nazi with a penchant for pulling teeth, a prolific female serial killer journaling in an insane asylum, or a woman trying to survive the apocalypse. It probably wouldn't make sense to write a creative non-fiction piece from the same voice as the Nazi, you know? 

I think what you might mean is style, but I still don't necessarily think a specific genre will help you define it. There's really not one "best" way to develop it; it just takes time, practice, and experimentation. You've got to find out what works for you because what works for me might not suit you at all. Writers are as varied as their creations.

But if I had to wager a guess as to the "best" method of finding your writing style, I'd tell you to do something you've surely heard before: 
read. Specifically, read lots of books by your favorite authors, and when you write, try to imitate them. I don't mean copy them. I mean imitate their word choice, the rhythms of their language, their subject matter, and so on and so forth. As you practice, you'll start to recognize your own style emerging. You'll keep what you like and you'll discard what you don't. 

In my work—and this goes for non-fiction and fiction—I developed my style after studying my favorite writers, particularly Stephen King. From him, I learned how to channel my dark sense of humor and my unbelievable morbidity. I also learned how to write descriptions; it wasn't enough to be descriptive, it was what I chose to be descriptive about. I saw where to focus my readers' attention and how.

What helped my creative non-fiction was reading his novel prefaces as well as his memoir, 
On Writing; he's fairly conversational with his readers, and now I am too, almost as if you were sitting right in front of me. 

I also learned a lot by studying Edgar Allan Poe's non-fiction. His essay, "The Philosophy of Composition," was especially illuminating. I couldn't believe how mathematically precise everything was for him before he'd even put a pen to paper.

A lot of scholars will argue that he was playing a trick on people by saying that, but I don't think so. Look at his work as a whole. It's unbelievably complex and precise. I strive for that Pythagorean precision in my own work. From him, I also learned about unreliable narrators, sarcasm, and internal psychological conflict, all things I've adapted to my creative non-fiction pieces as well as my fiction. One thing I discarded from Poe, however, was his penchant for wordy sentences. That was a popular convention in the Romantic Era when he was writing (an entire page being one long sentence), but now, not so much. 
  Writing Conflict: Sadism at its FinestOne of the biggest troubles plaguing fiction writers is a lack of conflict in the plot structure of their story. Almost every writer has trouble with conflict, trouble that’s all out of proportion to the mental problems the subject presents. You can jot down notes, you can talk intelligently about various parts of the story structure, yet when you sit down to write, your story’s conflict is virtually non-existent.
How does this happen?
I suspect it’s because when you sit down to write, you have a good idea of what constitutes a conflict, but you also have an aversion to the actual step-by-step development of that conflict. Building a conflict is hard unless you’re a drama queen, and believe me, I know plenty of those. For those of us who are logical human beings, however, deliberately creating problems is unnatural. Our day-to-day life consists of avoiding trouble at all costs, and when trouble arises, it consists of finding the path of least resistance t
Flow Like WaterWater, the most abundant natural compound in the world, covers approximately seventy percent of the planet’s surface, mirroring the human body, which also contains about seventy percent. It is a compound marked by circles. The circular rotation of the Earth, in addition to the gravitational pull of the Moon, creates foamy ocean tides that can either sweep people out to sea in a powerful tsunami or sweep people into the even more powerful arms of love. Rain forms in heavy, spherical drops, and falls to the earth in sweet, honeyed fragrances. Similarly, dew beads on the ground at dawn, carrying with it the fresh scent of newly cut grass blades as a child walks to school in the golden sunrise. Whirlpools froth at the mouths of their big, circular maws. When a pebble breaks the surface of a calm pond or lake, concentric circles peacefully ripple outward towards infinity. Humans, to name one specific animal, are born in a burst of amniotic water, and when we die our tissues dissolve i
Whatever you do to help you develop your style, just keep in mind that not only is style something that takes practice and hard work to develop, it's also something that gradually changes with time. The more experience and knowledge you gain, the more you evolve, and the more that's going to affect how you write. Think about the kind of writer you were five years ago. Do you think you were the same as you are now? I can almost certainly promise you that you're not. 

A lot of people really fret about getting their style right, but I say don't get bogged down with it. Let it be what it's gonna be.

Do you have any closing thoughts for aspiring writers?

Oh, wow, there's so much I could say, but that would require a book! 

What I tell all of my students is that there are easier hobbies/careers to pursue. But if you sincerely want to be a writer, remember that it takes a lot of hard work, persistence, and time. Read. A lot. Even if it's just your cereal box. And yes, comic books count. 

Develop a thick skin; you won't survive as a writer if you can't learn to take criticism with a grain of salt. Choose two or three people whose opinions you really trust, and listen to them.

Pay attention in English class (if you're still in school, that is). English teachers don't teach you about grammar and spelling and force you to write stuff just to torture you. Language is a tool, and we're teaching you how to use it to the best of your ability. That's kind of important to, you know, writers. 

Write what you love, not what you think other people want you to write. Stay true to yourself. 

As you gain experience, always offer a helping hand to younger writers in need of guidance. Give freely of yourself and your knowledge to anyone who asks you for it. We're all in this together.

Most importantly, remember that it's the journey, not the destination, that makes writing a rewarding activity. Even if you become a bestselling novelist and world-famous and rich, even if people hail your opinion and call you a modern-day master of storytelling, even if you get a MFA or doctorate from a premier creative writing school, you will still know only a tiny amount about what it means to be a writer. Therefore, don't worry about knowing all there is to know about the craft. Learn what you can, absorb knowledge like a sponge, but don't focus so much on your education that you completely forget to enjoy the experience of writing. 

Thanks for your time!