My #1 Twitter Productivity Tip

Taking a total break from my usual history posts today!

Sure, as an author, you can be active on Twitter without spending a lot of time on it. All you need to do is pay someone to find other (often fake) followers, automate your RTs, and schedule a bunch of book promos to post every hour on the hour.  And, maybe that works. I see writers that are probably way more successful than me do it all the time. But, are they having any fun?

To me, 3/4 of the fun of Twitter is found in the engagement with other perfect strangers who at least seem like they might be fun to know. Now, some of you may be thinking, "Yeah, fun for you. But, I'm an introvert!" Yeah, well, so am I. Technically, anyway. When I tell people that, they tend not to believe me. I tell them it's true, but I've just been overcompensating for so long, it's become second nature.

Of course, Twitter can be a huge time drain, and the first key to being a successful author (or so I'm told!) is to write. So how do you engage and leave enough time in your day to actually produce something, let alone take a shower and do a load of laundry?

The answer is lists. No, not the kind of list you make at the beginning of every day. (Although, that's a good productivity booster, too) I'm talking about Twitter lists.

You see, after I reviewed my new followers every morning, I used to look through my tweet stream to see if there was anything worth retweeting. In the old days, I retweeted a lot of book promos. Then, I read @RayneHall's book, Twitter for Writers, where she pointed out how absolutely boring accounts that do nothing bur RT book promos can be. And, she is right!

So, that left searching through a sea of tweets that I had very little interest in, trying to find something to RT. After an hour of reading total garbage (and worse) I would maybe RT two or three posts. That didn't feel like I was engaging very well.

Quick aside: If you follow this method, you really need to hone your self-discipline. I am proud to say, I have never seen anyone twerk, although I have a good idea what that means. Which is more than I can say for Kanye West. I have steadfastly refused to Google him to see who he is. (It is a him, right?) Yes, I probably live in a different world than a lot of people, but I am happy, ok?

Now, I create lists of accounts that tweet about things that I am interested in. Here are a few examples. I've linked the list name so you can check them out.

wordnerds - People who like the English language as much as I do. Right now, most of the accounts on this list are dictionary accounts. Still, they create some great tweets.

grammar nerds - Same idea as the wordnerds, except with grammar. Lots of funny people on this list, and a few who need to lighten up a bit about apostrophe's. (That last one was my contribution to their OCD.)

History tweeters - Includes mostly professional and armchair historians focused on American history, but I've included a few regency tweeters as well. Can't have too many tweets about 18th century women's footwear!

Winos - These are folks who love wine as much as I do and have a sense of humor about it. I'd have a similar list for coffee lovers, but they aren't quite as funny. Too busy trying to change the world, I guess, instead of making the most of it.

Worth Revisiting - This is just a hodge-podge of intriguing people that didn't fit into any of my other lists.

You get the idea...

Now, every morning I go straight to my lists to see what people I actually follow in the truest sense of the word have to say. Within 30 minutes, I've responded to a dozen tweets (the other half of engaging) and RT'd two dozen more. Some of these accounts are so good, that I wonder sometimes it they don't think I'm stalking them.

Quick Tip: I use Buffer to schedule my RTs so I don't overwhelm my followers.

To create your own lists, just go to lists under your profile drop down menu and choose 'Create a list' in the right-hand sidebar. Then, when you run across an interesting tweeter, you can add them to a list (or create a new list on the fly) by going to their account, clicking the gear next to the follow button, and then clicking 'add or remove from lists'. When you want to visit your lists, go back to lists under your profile drop down and then choose the list you want to visit.

You can also subscribe to someone else's list if they've made them public. For example, I've subscribed to @RayneHall 's Writers with Cats. (Not really sure why other than I am a writer and I have cats.) Here's how you do it: Go to their Twitter page. Click 'lists' in the horizontal menu above their tweet stream. If they haven't created any lists it won't be there. Click a list that looks interesting. If you decide you want to subscribe, click the 'subscribe' button in the box at the top of the left-hand sidebar.

Easy peasy! Thanks for letting me share! And, I'd love to hear if you found this helpful.

Now back to that manuscript...or the laundry.



  1. I'll have to add you to the 'Writers With Cats' list. :-)

    1. Miss Cocoa, Bandit and I would be honored!