Writing chats are the best part of being an author on Twitter, in my somewhat-humble opinion. They are great opportunities to network, make friends, and think about your project, promotion, or platform in new and exciting ways.
What is a Writing Chat?
These are weekly gatherings of writers under one hashtag that usually take place over an hour. Some of these chats are separated by genre, some are about writing itself, character building, world building, or networking.
I love when someone says something super profound or exactly on point. And our chat usually devolves into chatting about baked goods, so there’s always fun stuff going on.
– Mercedes Siler, co-host of #HappyWritingChat
How Do You Find a Chat?
One Twitter account, Free Writing Events keeps a schedule of chats as well as other daily challenges and events in the Tweet-o-sphere, their site has a full directory and list. Also, keep a lookout for what your friends are saying and sharing, they can help point you in the right direction!
How Do They Work?
Most chats follow the same or similar structure. For the first 10-15 mins, everyone is invited to introduce themselves and are asked a small question about their progress, goals, or just to share a favorite GIF.
Then, every 5-10 mins, the host asks a question for everyone to answer, typically these follow a single weekly theme.
TIP: When answering, don’t forget to include the chat’s hashtag! If you forget it, delete your old tweet and copy it with the hashtag so it’ll show up in the chat’s stream. These groups can be pretty fast-paced, so few will go back to see what you said!
Depending on the length and timing of the chat, usually they’re comprised of 5 or more questions. After all the questions are done, the host might make announcements, share news, or discuss the next week’s topic!
Tips and Tricks
Retweet, don’t reply to the question tweet!
This helps people find the questions easier when the initial tweet gets buried under loads of answers – and it puts it in your own Twitter feed instead of just a long list of replies!
If you join late, jump into the latest question, don’t go back!
Not only does it mess up the continuity of the stream, but if you focus on earlier questions, you might miss the next ones!
ALWAYS REMEMBER THE HASHTAG.
Hosting Your Own Chat
The most challenging part is coming up with topics for weekly chats & questions for those topics. I rely heavily on my community to help with these topics and also sometimes steal them from other chats!
– Dianna Gunn, host of
Thinking about starting up your own group? Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Pre-schedule all of your questions and introduction tweets
The last thing you want to worry about is getting them all out at once when you’re busy chatting with everyone! Free software like TweetDeck and HootSuite can help you manage your timing.
Make a graphic
Putting the questions in a graphic can make them easier to find and stand out as well as keep the chat cohesive. Be sure to include the question text in the Tweet, however, for users who use screen-reader software.
Have countdown tweets
The best way to get people interested is to schedule some tweets a day, an hour, and five minutes before the chat starts.
I would say the most challenging part of hosting a chat is timing. It’s really hard to find a time that will work for everyone, and in reality, with all the different time zones of the world, you won’t ever find that “perfect” time slot.
– Autumn Lindsey, host of #WM_Chat
That being said, just scheduling a handful of tweets isn’t the same as hosting! Be there, chat and joke with your guests, and make everyone feel welcome, and they will come back week after week.
Pick the right hashtag – and be ready to defend it!
Sure, #TheWriteStuff or #WriteHereWriteNow seem like fun puns, but everyone and their dog has made those jokes and it’ll be confusing sharing your amazing chat with a whole bunch of other extraneous nonsense.
But once your chat gets popular, some people will misuse it – either accidentally in confusion or as a way to latch onto the attention the hashtag gets. Be prepared to explain what the hashtag is for and to ask people to stop using it improperly if it comes down to it!
Give it a test run!
Some chats – like #HappyWritingChat – have open slots for guest hosts, or usual hosts will be taking time off. Volunteering to host can give you lots of great experience and exposure to an already-established audience while helping you figure out the nuance and rhythm of the chat.
We have to remember we all win together, and those authors just starting and writing their first word are just as important as those who have major publishing deals in your chat.
– Dionne Abouelela, co-host of #HappyWritingChat