The Blogger Is Not the Blog

A few weeks ago, I got a hard-to-take evaluation. It was an art journaling course, and the evaluation said, “Quinn is fake. She is not authentic,  and I will never take a class from her again.” Hard to read. But every evaluation is important to me.

Mirror ball from

Mirror ball from

I separate evals (as I do opinions of me) into ones I recognize and ones that are not about me. Often, in classes, a lot of insecurity, competition and fear comes up for participants. Feelings of not understanding fast enough or perfectly enough.  The easiest thing to say to ourselves is, “the instructor is not giving me what I need.”  And sometimes that’s true. And sometimes the instructor is just the mirror for what the participants doesn’t like about herself and recognizes in the instructor.

How much of this evaluation is mine to own? How much to I need to adjust to make the class better for everyone?

A contributing factor:  the person who wrote the evaluation reads my blog. And that is always a danger. Blog readers create visions of what the writer is like. It is a vision they love (occasionally one they love to hate, but then they don’t take the course) and one they think is the “real” blogger.

Chicago Park reflection by Maria Chanourdie

Chicago Park reflection by Maria Chanourdie

Just like the movie is never as good as the book, a class is not as good as the blog.  Your imagination reading a book is much bigger than the reality the director can conjure from actors and special effects. So I am less than what people imagine. I can’t possibly be the calm, loving, generous person I try to embody when I write. At least not for more than 15 minutes at a time.

Here is what is true: I do not write about disagreements I have with friends or family, unless I talk about my own behavior and what I learned. When I do write about others (as I am writing about a class participant) no identifying details are included. But that does not mean I do not squabble with my spouse or disagree with my friends or disappoint my clients. Indeed, I do. But you won’t find drama details on my blog.

When I show a piece of art in progress, or a mess I made while in the studio, you can assume the rest of my life follows suit. I learn from making mistakes and fixing them.

There is a huge difference between being authentic and sharing every problem in my life. The difference is one of discretion and discernment–what I call emotional editing. The lessons show up, told in a way that makes the point approachable. There are blogs that build readership on drama, but this isn’t one of them.

When you see me in class, you get who I am–and that’s not going to be the blogger you imagined. You will see imperfection and mis-speaking. But you will get the absolute best I can be that day, speaking to you wherever you happen to be on that day. And if we can honor the creative force in each of us, we will both have a rich experience.

Come join me in Minneapolis on May 18 and 19 for Monsoon Papers and some explorations of your creative path in deep writing and mixed media. And then, come join me at the Madeline Island School of the Arts in July  (22-26) for a week of deep writing and creative awakening.

—Quinn McDonald thinks the difference between authentic and pleasing everyone is that “authentic” is being me, and pleasing everyone is impossible.



Five Tips to Improve Your Social Networking

First, you have to know I’m not a self-proclaimed social networking guru, genius, or miracle maker. I’m a writer, and social networking is largely about writing well. Whether you are a beginner or have been on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Goodreads, Tumblr, Flickr and Pinterest as soon as they launched, these quick tips will make you better at it. Some of the tips may be completely opposite to what you’ve heard. Writers learn differently from other people.

I love this image, but I still believe content is king. Image:

1. Social Networking is about content. Cheap, starchy filler may attract followers, but it won’t keep them. Choose something you know about and care about and stick to writing about that.  At a book signing, I heard Martha Beck say, “Information is not power anymore. Attention span is power.” Content commands attention. Comment communicates.

2. Be curious about the world. No one loves a know-it-all. Even if you are an expert, there is plenty left to learn. Keep reading, keep researching, keep being curious. Learn from your readers and your audience. It’s contagious and your readers will love it.

3. Deliver what you promise. If you write a how-to article, make sure you show your readers how to do it. Too many articles that promise “how” simply tell you “what.” Be specific. Include steps. Imagine your how-to article being used to train your dog. If the dog is off chasing a squirrel at the end of the article, you either have a lab or your article needs re-writing.

4. Don’t be a tease. Tweets or Facebook posts that start, “Check this out. . .” or “Here’s what I think. . .” and then a link is not nearly as fascinating as you hoped. Give people a reason to click, a juicy temptation to leave the page they are on. And reward their decision with a great photo or article.

5. Don’t link all your accounts. Twitter is a different medium than Tumblr or Pinterest. If your audience overlaps, they really don’t need to see the same thing twice. Or six times. Automatically re-posting your Tweets on Facebook insults your friends and confuses your audience. If you are too lazy to re-write for a different audience and a different objective, do not expect your audience to find you fascinating.

A bonus tip: Size isn’t everything, particularly in audience numbers. Having a huge number of followers and thinking they care about you is the same as standing on top of the Chase building in Phoenix and thinking you are influencing the Valley just because you can see from Goodyear to Gilbert.

Social networking is about influence, and that’s not necessarily about numbers, it’s about what those numbers do, think or say.

—Quinn McDonald is a writer who finds social media fascinating, weird, unpredictable and wonderful, frequently simultaneously.

Hating Change: Hate the Wind

Change causes us to break out in a sweat. We react to change with procrastination, with fear, with stubbornness. It doesn’t matter how we react, change is driven by time, and change happens unexpectedly. Fast. Unnervingly fast. Hating change is like hating the wind–it doesn’t care that you hate it; it still blows.

The instand of change: you are traveling 65 mph, you can see, the weather is good. Suddenly your windshield smashes in, glass flies throughout the car, you can't see. Change. Did you notice the image of the bird in the middle of the impact zone? It's not what hit the windshield, it's what you see in it.

What makes change so awful? Most of my clients answer, “it’s the unknown next-step portion of change I hate,” but I don’t think so. When I ask a coaching client to give me an example, they tell me about feeling excruciatingly emotionally unprepared. Awkward. Not up to the task of facing change. Feeling not ready is the inevitable companion to change. So is feeling awkward, ungainly, not suited for the task. What makes change so awful is the lack of adjustment time. No time to prepare the perfect reply. No chance to look chic and unsurprised. Change catches you by surprise, with your shoes untied and not ready to run.

Change throws us into a formal party while we are still wearing our emotional play clothes. Suddenly, what seemed appropriate for the emotional playground doesn’t fit into the serious polished-shoe environment we find ourselves in. We are caught off-guard. And off-guard,  without time to plan, we make bad decisions.

My coaching practice is rooted in helping people survive change. Then thrive with it. But it’s not easy, and there can be a lot of tears first. Change is not always a friend.

When change whips around us, it’s a windstorm of confusion, decisions, and often paperwork—all within a tight deadline. You get laid off, and must choose a generous package with a non-disclosure signature or no package and a sense of righteousness. A loved one is diagnosed with a life-threatening illness, the kind that destroys plans, futures, whole families. What decisions are right? What decisions are right now?

The second part of change we hate is the fast decision making. We make decisions that are based in fear, and then see days and months of self-blame stretch in front of us. When loss is a choice, we make decisions that buffer the loss, and watch anger flood in, because we settled for less than we wanted because we had to decide quickly.

Change doesn’t always mean bad news, but even good change can look like bad news. Teaching clients to deal with change often starts with learning how to stay calm. Harder than it sounds. But once you’ve learned that, you can see change as a tool, not as a result. And that gives you the power to build.

Quinn McDonald is a life- and creativity coach who helps people survive change and thrive in a changing time. Write her at QuinnCreative @yahoo. com to find out how she can help. [Close up the spaces to make the email address work.]

Day 3: Diary? Journal? Notebook?

“Day 3 of What?” you ask? Find out, join us if you feel called. And thanks for spreading the word: Life of Deb and  Blue Twig Studio.

Worth Noting:
In her blog iHanna asked an interesting question about questions–how long to do wait for the universe to answer you?

Krystyna faced wind and rain and decided it wasn’t a walking day. What then? Here’s her image-rich answer:  “I nearly gave up on the meditation, then decided it was ok to do it lying in my warm and comfy bed. The idea of hatching myself arose as a result.”

Paula S. in Buenos Aires wsn’t sure about walking. Then she did:  “Still I got my writing and walking in.  I almost cried after the first block in an “I´m REALLY doing this” way. It was surprising how powerful the feeling was.”

*    *    *    *    *
What kind of writing are we doing here? Journaling? Writing in a notebook? A

A hidden stash with a secret door. Probably filled with journals.

diary? The short answer is easy: it doesn’t matter what you call it, as long as you are writing at the same time every day.

The longer answer involves your history. If you haven’t done this before, you may be more familiar with the word diary. You may have had one when you were younger. You may think of a diary as a place to write secrets and a journal a place to write your private thoughts. Some people think of diary as a calendar, a way to track what happened in a given day, where they ate, how much they exercised, or other regular activities.

People keep journals and diaries for different reasons:

  • To track business calls, miles driven, money spent for business reports or taxes
  • A to-do list, perhaps with details added
  • A place to write their ideas and work out projects, perhaps with drawings
  • A way to track scientific notes, which are used in peer review
  • A place to capture quotes and interesting phrases, maybe write poetry roughs
  • A place to write story drafts to share with others
  • An art book to fill with colorful pages to show others
  • Any of the above to be strictly private

The work we are doing here is different. To my way of thinking (you are free to make up your own rules), this writing is very personal, maybe difficult to write and admit to, and something to be kept private.  I’m writing in a book that I stick in a bookshelf. It looks like a lot of books in a bookshelf and would be hard to pick out in a house filled with books. Why am I so secretive? Because I am being brutally honest in these pages, writing down my confusion, admitting to what I don’t know and can’t figure out, what I need and don’t have,  and not editing it in any way.

Is this really the path to creativity? For me it is. Creativity is my religion. I need to speak to the Creator openly, so I can get answers, inspiration, conclusions. As I show up completely honestly, I will develop honest, solid answers. And for me, that’s where creativity starts–with meaning making.

What is the source of your creativity? Where do these good ideas come from? If you want to use that as a starting point for writing, please do. If you want to share an answer that’s not too raw and private, welcome.

Quinn McDonald is a creativity coach who is spending 30 days exploring and refreshing the wellspring of creativity with a group of strangers who feel like friends already.

Image source:

Book Promotion: 10 Steps in the Time Line

The chartreuse book promotion binder, brought emails from people who noticed that I called yesterday’s blog “Organizing The Book Promotion: Low Tech Rules” and grumbled that I didn’t spell out the rules. Ah, modern language. “Rules” in this case wasn’t a noun–as in “Six Rules for Self Promotion,” but rather, a descriptor meaning “Low Tech is the best way to handle promotion.”   I could have said, “I’m rockin’ it old school,” but it makes for a long headline.

Hating to leave readers waiting, here are the first 10 steps I’m taking in promoting my book, Raw Art Journaing: Making Meaning, Making Art. First of all, North Light Books, the publisher, just sent me a big pdf spelling out some things that help.  So. . . .
1. Read the information from the publisher. (4-6 months out). They know how to do this. Choose items you want to do first. You are more likely to start.

2. This is your book. It is your responsibility to promote it. (Always). I was surprised to hear people say they thought the publisher was responsible for promotion. To me, that sounds too princess-and-the-pea. The book was my idea, and my work, and the person who can promote it best is the one whose idea it was and who wrote it.

2. Make a time line. (4-6 months out). I will need to promote the book for a long time. I’ll want to avoid both overwhelming myself and burn-out from doing nothing else except promotion.

3.  Over-promoting yourself bores your friends. I’ll want to stay interesting by being interested in other people’s lives, books, projects, and classes.

4. Reserve the name of your book as a url. (As soon as you are sure of the name of your book.) Then make a website. I reserved and created a website for RawArtJournaling when I started to write the book. There are reasons for keeping a book title site separate from your website–if your business is very different from your art; if your employer would frown on the distraction of your book from work; if your clients would run if they knew you had written a book. In that case, promoting your book secretly creates a new group of problems.

4. Create or unite your website if it makes sense. (3 months out). Luckily for me, I want to attract people who would enjoy the book to my business website,  People who hate the book will hate a lot of my core values, and may not find my coaching, training values, or writing to their liking, either.  That’s a concept I have to be OK with: not everyone will like my book, me, my photo, my age, race, religion, weight, height, logo, or my values, and they will say so in their blogs and reviews. Meanwhile, I want people who do like my values, training, writing, book, and ideas to find everything in one place. And that’s why I’m uniting my business site and RawArtJournaling.

5. Identify with your book. (5 months out.) That means creating a signature on your emails, getting a business card with the book name on it. Since I did art in the book, I will create a set of Moo Cards with art from the book. Once your book is on Amazon, go there and create an author’s page. Link your blog posts or Twitter, FB or other social media to the author’s page.

6. Line up book signings and events. (5 months out.) In the case of a how-to book, it doesn’t make much sense to do a reading–although there are sections that are great for reading out loud (you’ll see!).  I’m suggesting to the bookstores that I’d like to do a demo or project. That makes it more interesting, and perhaps draws people who are interested and persuades them that the book is worth buying while they are there. I think if you aren’t famous  (yet!) it’s a good way to go.

7. Line up classes about the book at art, craft, or paper stores. (4 months out.) Same rule applies–people are more likely to buy the book if they see how it works through a class. I’m making sure every class I do is new, fresh, and fun.

8. One book store doesn’t do it all. In Phoenix, people live in self-sufficient neighborhoods–so within a three-mile radius of my house I have three Home Depots, two Michael’s and a Hobby Lobby, and easily a dozen grocery stores. People won’t travel 10 miles to see a book signing, much less 30, so I’m planning a lot of different events. People who come to multiple ones are welcome!

9. Plan some press coverage. (3 months out.) The press won’t know about my book. There are 200,000 books published each year. Only 5 percent sell more than 5,000 copies. I want my book to be one of them, so I’m sending easy-to-love press releases to local press outlets. I have to focus on summer items for immediate release, and pitch magazines for items that happen three to six months for now. And yes, I have to send images for immediate use. Low-res images are fine. It’s good to be contacted if the news source needs more.

10. Plan a blog tour. (4 months out). A blog tour is a group of bloggers who agree to let you write a guest post about your book, or run an interview, podcast, or mini-class on their site. You “stop in” at each blog over a two-week (or longer) time period around the time the book comes out. The purpose of the tour is to make readers other than yours know about your book. I’m planning on asking a few people I don’t know as well as people I do know, letting them choose from available dates, and preparing Q&As as well as being available to their questions.

Interview Fears? Seven Tips To Get You Through.

Are you media ready? With the profusion of podcasts, video blogs, community and internet radio, being media ready is as important as having an answer to the question, “What do you do?”

The biggest disaster is people who “wing it.” There is no excuse for being unprepared for an interview. It’s unlikely you will be pursued by investigative reporters, so you will know about the interview in advance.

Some tips on preparing for a radio or podcast interview:

images1. Ask the date, time and location and how long you will be on the air. Don’t assume, ask. Check your calendar before agreeing. Ask who else is on the show, and find out what their area of expertise is.  Just because the podcast/show is an hour long, doesn’t mean you have an hour of talk time.

2. Ask the name of the program, the content, the name of previous popular guests. You’ll be more comfortable being on a program that plays to your expertise.  It might sound interesting to be on a hot political program, but if the host thinks interviewing means firing non-stop questions and accusations about your point of view, you have a lot more preparing to do. Even more so if politics isn’t your area of experience.

3. Two questions that precede any interview: Who is your audience? What’s the objective? You’ll need to gear your comments to the popular culture reference of the audience–I once spoke about the family gathering around the kitchen table for activities and the host replied, “I never ate at the kitchen table. Breakfast was in the car on the way to school, and dinner came from the drive-through on the way to soccer.” He lost interest in my field of expertise because I didn’t sound credible to his demographic.

You need to know the objective, because everything you say needs to be geared to meeting the objective. Are you persuading, being the local expert? Is your purpose to rally around a cause? Contribute money? Have people show up somewhere? Unless you know the purpose, you don’t know what to say.

4. Ask for a list of questions. It’s fine to do that. Again, there are few investigative reporters left. Most likely, you are being asked because you have information. If the host says, “We’ll just talk,” then it’s your job to create a list of questions you want to be asked.

5. Prepare a list of points you want to make. Put them in the order of most important to least important. Make the points interesting to your audience. “Writing in a journal is fun,” is not nearly as interesting to college-age listeners as “Journals aren’t just on paper anymore. You can keep a video journal and create your own mashups, too.” A well-written point keeps you on topic and makes a great sound bite.

6. Have some information to back up what you are saying. Your opinion is great, but having several studies that prove your point is better. Tell the host a link to the study is posted on your site, offer to send the information to the host. Even better, post a link to the whole study on your site, right after the summary you write about the study.

7. Gear your style to the objective. Are you asking for agreement or contributions? Be vivid, inject stories, use emotions. You don’t need to break into tears or yell. Logic is on the left side of the brain, but judgement is on the right, along with emotion. Facts are necessary, but if you don’t bring the audience from understanding what you are saying to agreeing with you, you missed the objective.

Preparing for a show actually calms you down and makes you a better presenter. A good presenter becomes a popular guest, and that opens the door to being invited back.

–Quinn McDonald is a writer and trainer, helping people speak in public and write well.

Follow Friday: Twitter Blogs Worth Reading

Micro-blogging is the latest way to express yourself. I’ve read it a dozen times this week. But when I got to Twitter (and I Tweet) what I see is not micro-blogging, it’s a lot of self-promotion—micro-flogging more than micro-blogging. I’m for that. You can’t express a full concept in 140 characters, although you can do a good job of teasing an article, sending along a quote, and posting an idea.

Online, then and now

Online, then and now

On Twitter, Fridays are the days you praise the people you like and hope that others will follow them (put them on their list of people whose comments you want to read regularly). It’s called Follow Friday.

Because Twitter allows no more than 140 characters, it’s hard to tell people why you are recommending someone.

So this week, I’ve moved my #FollowFriday to my blog. Here are some recommendations of blogs that are consistently well written and well thought-out:

Maria Schneider , or on Twitter, @mariaschneider explains about  #fridayflash on her blog today. Maria explains a community of fiction writers who all write at least one piece of fiction a week, post it on Friday, then let others know. Sure it builds readers, but even better, it builds writing muscle and self-confidence. It’s one of the few times I’ve wished I were a fiction writer, but I’m non-fiction. We build writing muscle and self-confidence other ways.

Maria  helps us, too, because she shares useful information: Here are 25 people to follow if you are a freelancer.

Here are 25 more people to follow if you are a writer who needs to figure out the ropes to make a book come together.

Ken Robert is Mildly Creative. I’ve recommended him often, because his writing is damn good. In this article, he tackles the spiky topic of what to say when people ask you to remove something from your blog because they don’t like it. I had that happen last year, and the consequences were pretty drastic for me when I refused. So I caved. I still feel ambivalent, because I caved and got the retribution anyway.

Here’s the quote from his blog post “Blogging on Eggshells.”

Please understand, it’s not my intention to offend anyone, but this is a blog about living a creative life. If I start removing anything that bugs someone, it’s tantamount to me telling you to unleash your creativity, to be authentic, and to freely express yourself as long as it doesn’t upset anyone. Goodbye, Inspiration. Hello, Puritanism.

He’s right. I’m proud of him. I wish I’d said that. Follow Mildly Creative on Twitter.

Other people worth following: Diana Adams of Adamsconsulting is a literate geek. She could bore you to tears, but she never does. Her posts are thoughtful, informative and interesting. Her website needs flash to view, but it’s graphically well-done, and her marketing makes you feel smart. All marketing should do that. Follow Adamsconsulting on Twitter.

BeCreative2Day browses creative sites so you don’t have to. And you want to follow her recommendations. Here’s an example, unique matchbook designsRead BeCreative2Day’s  (Cory Fausz) blog, too. The photos alone are worth it.

CopyBlogger  (Brian Clark) helps you market online. In a way that doesn’t make you want to take a shower afterwards. And he allows himself to be 3-dimentional on both his blog and on Twitter.

Alyson B. Stanfied is @abstanfield on Twitter. If you are a freelance artist interested in learning business skills, you should read her blog. Following her on Twitter is also a good idea.

Ali Turnbull is Fit to Print. You will find her links reliable, and if you are a writer, necessary. If you want to expand your general knowledge and have fun at the same time, follow FitToPrint on Twitter. Here’s why she wants to delete the word “try” from the English language.

Paul Sloane’s blog today demos why corporate brainstorming doesn’t work.
Follow Paul and his lateral thinking skills on Twitter.

Want to know more interesting people to follow? Drop by any site above and see who they follow. Smart people follow other smart people.

—Quinn McDonald is a life- and certified creativity coach. She teaches people how to write and give presentations. She also  manages four journals that travel the world. You can follow me on Twitter, too.


Theme Thursday #13: 8.20.09

Time to surf so you don’t have to! This Thursday’s theme is creative humanity–what we can do to live authentic, creative lives every day. These websites help:

Morse-code of cups (c) Quinn McDonald (c) 2009

Morse-code of cups (c) Quinn McDonald (c) 2009

Ken Robert is Mildly Creative. I’ve mentioned him before, now I’m checking in all the time. He’s calm and thinks things through. Here’s his post about Seven Things He’s Deleting From His Life. You might want to lighten your load, too. I love his ink drawings on the site, too. They go with the tone and voice.

I’m a big believer in micro-work. Very different from micro-managing. Micro-work is doing the smallest possible step toward creative work. The tiny steps brings us closer to doing creative work and allows us to approach the work without the negative self-talk getting so loud we give up. Here are two steps to micro-creative work.

The Art of Dramatic Living is a blog that has their Theme Thursday on Friday. Her blog is far more intellectual and thoughtful than mine, and you will find a whole community of authentically-striving artists there. Well worth visiting every Friday.

If you like taking notes and want to keep your loose-leaf notes in a journal, check out Ple Designs’ leather pouch for loose-leaf journals. Or, simply put your journal in the pouch with a pencil or pen. Check out their sales page as well.

And just for fun, here is a link to creating anagrams of your name. It’s not one of those quizzes that makes you give up friends’ names. It’s just a link that’s fun. You don’t even have to use your own name. I have it set to John Smith.

Shameless self-promotion: I’ll be teaching secret codes and private language journaling at Changing Hands in Tempe on Saturday, 8/22. Details:

You can join in on Theme Thursday: post three links to sites you love or blogs you follow. You can do it on your site or in comments here.

Five Most Recent  Theme Thursdays:  * * *  Creative Play 8/15/09 * * *   Creative Play 8/6/09 * * * Creative Play 7/30/09 ***Creative Play 7/23/09 * * *Creative Play 7/16/09 * * *

—Quinn McDonald is a life- and certified creativity coach. She teaches people how to write and give presentations. She also  manages four journals that travel the world.

Theme Thursday #12 Falls on Saturday This Week

Last Thursday I was distracted by personal scheduling issues, so the Creative Play of Theme Thursday appears on Saturday this week.

The lead article today is about Linked-In–the professional equivalent of FaceBook. Neal Schaffer is a smart

Raven Coil journal by Amanobooks, listed below

Raven Coil journal by Amanobooks, listed below

marketer, good writer, and sharer of solid information. So you can ignore his uber-busy website with zillions of distracting typefaces, sizes, colors and feed links and focus on the article on how to avoid big mistakes on Linked-In, you’ll find Linked-In a useful tool.

Gabi Campanario used to live in Spain. Now he lives in Seattle and does amazing illustrations. He just started using Issuu, a website that lets you turn PDFs into books. He has an example of some sketches he turned into a video book for his son. Clever idea, well executed!

Gabriel is the one who started Urban Sketchers, which you’ve seen in Theme Thursday more than once. Urban Sketchers is an invitation-only blog of people who sketch scenes of where they live or travel. On this page is the report of a great event called “Shut Up and Write,” originally organized by Mary Ann deStefano, who runs Mad About Words. Writing with a friend is easier than writing all by yourself.

Amanobooks is amano my own heart. He makes interesting, functional journals for a variety of uses. His website opens your head to what can be created creatively and used practically.

You can join in on Theme Thursday: post three links to sites you love or blogs you follow. You can do it on your site or in comments here.

Five Most Recent  Theme Thursdays:  Creative Play 8/6/09 * * * Creative Play 7/30/09 ***Creative Play 7/23/09 * * *Creative Play 7/16/09 * * * Creative Play 7/2/09 * * *

—Quinn McDonald is a life- and certified creativity coach. She teaches people how to write and give presentations. She also  manages four journals that travel the world.

How to Make Twitter Work for You

Twitter annoyed me at first. I didn’t get it.
So brainless, so thoughtless. Who cares what you are eating, wearing or listening to? But wait, that was just the people I was following.

One tweet

One tweet

At first, I followed everyone who followed me. That seemed polite. It also seemed like third-grade behavior after about three days.  People follow you for a variety of reasons not having anything to do with intelligence, humor or excellent sources. It took a few peculiar people (women with numbers after their names) following me to figure that out. They had a huge number of followers, followed as many, but had no updates (posts to the general public at Twitter.) I found the website of one of these woman, and I hope that no one investigates my computer in the near future, because it will be hard to explain why I was looking at such a variety of ummmm, exotic images involving preternaturally blond women and animals.

Many twitter

Many twitter

Back to Twitter. Here’s how I found people to follow: Three times a day, I’d go to Twitter and read what various people said. Anyone who wasn’t helping got removed. “Wasn’t helping” included people who posted 40 tweets, each 15 seconds apart; used incomprehensible sentence fragments; hyped their own ability as experts in Web marketing; posted links to their own Websites that required registration or giving up private information. Those were obvious as were people whose purpose on Twitter is to get 10,000 followers. It simply wasn’t what I was interested in.

Before I removed them, I’d click on some of the people they were following. (Each person has a visible list of people they are following.)  Often, I’d find interesting people to follow. I concentrated on people who do what I do–write, coach, speak professionally, create art, read books.

In other words, I started with what I knew, and branched out from there. I add people as I find them through others Re-Tweets, I drop others who aren’t helpful or interesting.

I started out following 50 people, and slowly built it to about 200 people or organizations who were thoughtful and posted good links and information, explore areas I know a little (or a lot) about. They are not carbon copies of me, but they are in my field. Another name for this is networking. Not a bad idea, overall. I’m not interested in numbers, I’m interested in quality. Just like before Web 2.0.

And it works. Is everyone a genius? Certainly not. But you get ideas that work for you, and that’s the point.

And here’s a good article about using Linked In if you are a freelancer. One of the people I follow on Twitter wrote it.

Other articles on finding the right people to follow on Twitter:

WebWorkerDaily includes Twello, a yellow pages for Twitter fans.

CreativeWisdom also talks about Twello, but has some other great ideas.

TechLifeWeb uses a method like mine, but it’s funnier.

Quinn McDonald is a writer, life coach and teaches writing and communicating clearly. She also teaches people who can’t draw how to keep an art journal through raw art journals.