Before I get started let me say this, I am not knocking anyone or bashing the practice of using prompts… I use them all the time on my other social media outlets. I save them for blog post ideas. With that said, there are some things I have noticed that I wanted to simply voice for discussion and thought provoking purposes as I’ve recently pulled away from the prompts and certain things became noticeable.
Being on Instagram and amongst fellow writers, poets and other authors in various stages of the journey is helpful, interesting and often enlightening. But there is a flip side to all that too and further down I’ll explain.
Many use prompts for posts created by various members of the community. Many do not. Once again, I’ll reiterate my sentiments before, there is nothing wrong with either or. This is just my thoughts on it all. To each their own. And I use them too. However, I find pitfalls to both approaches but more recently in using them.
Let me explain!!
The use of the prompts gives authors and writers a no brainer approach to what to post during the journey- it helps. It takes the guess work out of “I haven’t published yet, but what do I share?” I totally get it. And am in the same boat. I’ve used many prompts for this reason. It’s hard to know what to reveal in order to create interest in the story you’re working on. Here’s the kicker though, I feel as though it’s a crutch in some ways. And often results in over sharing. It starts to feel like a clique, you do every prompt and use the hashtags to go with them and soon the people sharing the same things find you and you are in this little group. That’s great- support is great. But what about those that don’t participate in the prompts or use those hashtags? Are they less worthy of the support? I find that many won’t give your content a second glance if you don’t use the hashtags or prompts. That’s my personal opinion and experience. I guess the question is what are you there on Instagram for?
Some may be there just to share their process, whilst promoting their story. Some are there to promote themselves while trickling in their story and work in progress. And there are I’m sure a million other reasons. The prompts however begin to feel like a constant marketing campaign with little focus on the actual author and just on the process or story. I find this flawed.
Now of course some will say well if you don’t use the hashtags they can’t find you… blah blah blah…. I don’t buy it. Call me crazy but many don’t give you the time of day unless you subscribe to their monthly prompts. Harsh truths. Like I said. Unpopular opinion.
Let’s look at this a different way, I’ve researched a lot on what makes a successful author brand and social media account. I love research. Maybe too much. You know what though, the research is almost unanimous that authors should be sharing more of their lives outside of being an author. Why? Because readers want to know the writer! They don’t care where you are in the journey. Some might. Most don’t. You know who does care- other writers- because we don’t want to feel alone on this crazy road. It feeds the ego when we can share our word counts and progress, I’m not saying don’t celebrate the wins, but the constant focus on win to win to win is exhausting. And sets an unprecedented pace. And I don’t know about you, but I’m not looking to appeal to other writers. I want readers. Other people. Research also showed that you should be sharing other topics, what you hold close to your heart. Now, many authors I follow do this. They don’t do any prompts. They share their lives. There might be updates on their writing journey. But they share their adventures, their struggles with illness, their family, their other passions. And you know what… they’re selling books like hot cakes. See, I observe a lot. I watch people. Habits and notice trends. Of course it is helpful to have the support of other writers! We need to be lifting each other up!! Why don’t we celebrate the non writer material? Why don’t we celebrate the entire person? Not just the craft? And why doesn’t that extend to the writers that don’t use the daily prompts?
There’s some benefit to watching and learning how others approach the craft of writing. Of course there is! And again, I use prompts here and there and also go rogue too. I get more followers from the rogue posts. I reach more people with the rogue posts. Interesting isn’t it? I find the writers that share odd and unusual things about their lives more interesting. I want to hear about their adventures and life. Because they are people like me. I don’t want my entire feed being craft posts, I ask myself all the time if a reader came across my profile what would they see? I hope they’d see a woman, a mother, a spiritual person, a nature lover, a writer, an artist, a passionate woman, a woman who struggles in mental health and so much more… I hope they don’t just see me as a writer. I am so much more than that.
To wrap this up, I will once again say, I am not bashing or discrediting those that do prompts. I do them sometimes too. If that’s what you want to post, what your focus is on, that’s great. To each their own. I am merely sharing my thoughts on the subject. And if that means I speak about topics with an unpopular opinion, than so be it.