From Sarah, With Joy

*Poet * Author * Wanderluster*

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

T is for Trimmings

You know when you're editing a novel or short story and you have to take out that paragraph that you just love but it doesn't fit? You know when you have a brilliant sentence go through your head and you jot it down in your notebook (that you always have with you at all times forever, right?) but you're just not sure how you're ever going to use it?

What do we do with these beautiful trimmings? They're like Christmas tree ornaments, but just because they don't fit on this particular Christmas tree doesn't mean they aren't still beautiful and worth something in and of themselves, right? So what to do?

This is one area where I believe social media can truly be a writers best friend. I talk about social media quite a bit on this blog, partially just because I find it so fascinating, but I want to acknowledge first and foremost that the writing itself is always the top priority. Social media can be fun, but it should not take time away from the actual writing.

There's sort of a way, though, to use social media as a creative writing tool. Like I said, I find social media highly entertaining and fascinating, and not just Facebook and Twitter, but YouTube and Tumblr and Pinterest and Linkedin and Instagram too. So what about this: what if we thought of social media as a form of self-publishing?

And here enter our poor, beautiful, neglected trimmings. Those poems we've scribbled, thoughts we've jotted, paragraphs we've clipped. By using social media as a publishing platform for these trimmings, we put our words out there, get more readers familiar with us, and don't even have to put in that much additional effort.

Tell a story using images on a Pinterest board, like Tiffany Beveridge did on My Imaginary Well-Dressed Toddler Daughter. It's even being published as a book.

On Tumblr you can write out your thoughts for your children or interview people in your city or write stories about your cat.

If you're so inclined, you can even make a short video version of one of your poems and put it on YouTube. (Here's one I did:)

I've brought up something similar a few times recently, and again, I don't mean to say that this is where we should focus our time. I just know that for me personally, using social media as a creative outlet in this way has felt almost as rewarding as publishing a short story or poem, and I get more immediate feedback this way too. This is a way to make connections and build a following and find cool people to follow. I have my big projects, my novels, that are my central focus. But these side social media projects can still be amazing quality and amazing fun, if you find a way to fit them in that works for you. I hope to do more in the future.

What do you think? Are these side creative projects on social media worthwhile or is it all a waste of time? Have you seen examples of creative social media usage that you can share in comments? What do you think is a good way to use our 'trimmings'?

Sarah Allen


  1. Even if we don't use those trimmings, they might inspire something else that does grow into a full story.

    1. Definitely! I know I've had little sparks that sit around for years before I figure out what to do with them.

  2. An interesting view on how to use your leftovers that you just don't want to throw out. I am usually so busy writing and re-writing that my blog is about all I can manage,and not all that often (except for this month). But you've got a great idea! I can try incorporating some of my leftovers on the blog....
    One thing that impressed me was an author who shot a short film to introduce her book.

    1. Oooh, a book film. That's a great idea. And yes, its definitely important to keep things prioritized and do the important and manageable things first. Keep up the good work!

  3. Trimmings? Ornaments? I'm rather pedestrian I guess. I call them "snippets". Yes, I save all of mine. Who knows? Maybe they will morph into a story of their own in the future. I can't ever tell.

    Put them up in social media? Yes, I've done that. I wish more writers did. Why not? What could it harm? And who says a story has to be 3000 to 100,000 words long?

    I like stories. Will you tell me one? Can I share one with you?

    1. Yes, snippets works too :D I think morphing them into a new story or putting them on social media could both work, depending on the situation. If we keep writing and writing, we can do both!

  4. The jury is out for me on the effectiveness of social media and side projects as a means to feed the main thing.(it's novels for me as well.) I have only seen a little bit of evidence, and for all the time I put in, it is not a satisfactory reward. I don't feel as though I am getting or have gotten a good return on my investment in social media, but I am making progress. And it is fun...most of the time.

    1. Yes, in terms of numbers, social media is definitely not as "successful" as its often touted to be. The value I've found in it, however, is that I do often find it creatively fulfilling in this way, and also I have formed networks and relationships that have been absolutely wonderful, and which I would not have had otherwise.


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