Author Laura Jane Williams on how tech has helped her hone her writing and find people who inspire her.
I'm an early adopter when it comes to tech, in that I'm pretty much a "digital native". I grew up more or less alongside the internet, and all that that entails. I'm not afraid of technology or innovation, because it's always been part of my own development. Me and the 'net - we're buds.
To write, I carry my MacBook Pro with me almost everyday, setting up for a handful of hours at a time in a Stoke Newington cafe or Islington restaurant. I have two notebooks that come along everywhere, too, but I find that even to put pen to paper in those the idea has to be pretty much fully-formed. I am partial to a bit of bubble-writing as a brainstorm beginning, though! I used to write all my first drafts, back on my creative degree (I have a first class BA from the University of Derby) longhand, because it felt more "proper" that way. I've since grown out of such pretences. What a waste of time.
Ask any 30-year old this, and I'm sure they'd all say the first piece of tech they remember using is the same: the dial up tone to log onto a very primitive, desperately slow AOL. But oh my, that was music. Melody. The sound of a whole world out there.
I adore social media. When I started to take my ambition as a writer seriously, I knew I had the grit to keep honing the craft, to learn and grow as a writer (something I have committed to do until my goddamn dying day), but I also knew I needed an edge. I knew that to capture the attention of a publisher I'd have to bring something else to the table, and for me that thing was an established audience. For almost a decade I have blogged, keeping little diary entries and vignettes on Superlatively Rude, on a free template, as a way to both practice my storytelling, and start figuring out if anybody was actually interested in what I was doing. As blogging matured as a medium I began promoting myself (shock! Horror! The crassness of it!) on developing platforms like Twitter, and now Instagram. Blogging is dead-in-the-water, now, I think, but the rise of micro-blogging -- people using Instagram, for example, to tell stories in under 100 words and build a following that way - is totally fascinating to me. We're seeing a crop of really tight, loyal communities sprotuing up this way, that are enormously niche. Now my book is out, I get tagged in photos every day from others, who are telling their own communities about what they love: it's peer-to-peer marketing, and it's invaluable for what I do, and what I am trying to achieve.
I follow the blogs of Meg Fee, Hannah Brencher and Brianna Wiest's Soul Anatomy religiously. The Financial Diet is a perfect example of community-building through social media, for a very needed cause. Rebecca Woolf of Girl's Gone Child inspires me to be a better writer, and a better human. And as a reference on using social media for strong brand presence, I am 200% serious when I say pay attention to what Beyonce and Jay-Z do. They're ahead of the curve in every marketing move they make.
I'm disappointed in myself for not being more imaginative when I say that my iPhone is my most-loved hardware. Camera, communication, social, getting online... it is largely glued to my palm, and there's not a thing anyone can do about it. But then my bad tech habit is...phone overload. I'm the problem, and the culprit. I know.
One thing I've resisted is e-readers! I don't have one! Can't abide the thought of them, either. Books... they've been the most serendipitous, guiding force of my life. The right book finds you, doesn't it, right when you're ready for it. When you need it most. Books should come to us in physical form for that, left on a bus seat or passed on from a friend at the end of dinner. My favourite thing is to see other people's scribbles in a paperback: show me what you've underlined and you've shown me your soul.