Writing, Community & Government

Engaging With Your Readers

Roxane Gay

Lesson time 05:29 min

Roxane has been called “the best thing to happen to Twitter.” She discusses the why and how of engaging with an audience through social media.

Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars

Topics include: Don’t Block Your Blessings


[MUSIC PLAYING] ROXANE GAY: I've been on Twitter for I think at least 10 years. I started to be on Twitter because I was living in the middle of nowhere, going to graduate school, and I wanted a way of connecting with other writers and just other people from this very remote location. And in many ways it was like being at a cocktail party but in my pajamas. And I loved it because I could feel like I was part of the world without actually having to be part of the world. Of course over the past decade or so that has snowballed, and now I have what some might call a significant Twitter presence. And I'm reasonably active on Twitter not only as a writer but as a reader. I love to talk about what I'm reading, and I love to talk about current events. I like to make jokes. Sometimes I'm just communicating with my friends, and sometimes I am responding to trolls. And of course I'm always responding to readers who maybe have engaged with my work, learned that I'm on Twitter, and have come to try and communicate with me. Social media has been really great for writers because it has flattened a lot of the distance between us. But I love being able to engage with readers and fans on social media, especially when they're sharing what my work means to them, how they've taken my work and done something new with it, and when they share their own work with me, it can be really invigorating. You know, when I'm on Twitter, especially these days, I do try to just-- it's not that I'm trying to be positive, because that's not who I am, but I'm-- I never try to put negativity into the world, and that's never been who I am or what I'm about. But I do try to just talk about great books, talk about what I've been watching, talk about what's going on in the world. And when things are terrible, I do try to talk about that as well, simply because people tend for whatever reason to look to me for my thoughts on things like Breonna Taylor's murder or George Floyd's murder or the protests in Louisville, Kentucky, or the protests in Portland, or whatever. And I tend to have opinions on these things. And I also look to others to see what other people are thinking and feeling. Sometimes there is a lot of comfort in the solidarity that can arise out of a great many people sharing how they're feeling about something. I think one of the most amazing things about Twitter is that it requires concision. And so you have to really think about what you're saying, and I actually believe it's helped my writing because word choice really matters on Twitter. Even now with 280 characters, that's not a whole lot of space to create meaning, and to create meaning in ways that are going to be memorable and resonant with people. Of course, there is the other side of Twitter. It can be somewhat toxic. When you make yourself available, you don't only make yourself available to people who like you. You also make yourself available to people who disagree with you, and then...

About the Instructor

Bestselling author, professor, and New York Times columnist Roxane Gay has connected to readers around the world with her unyielding truth-telling and highly personal feminism. In her MasterClass, she teaches you how to own your identity, hone your voice, write about trauma with care and courage, and navigate the publishing industry. Learn how to document and narrate the world as you see it—and then demand change.

Featured MasterClass Instructor

Roxane Gay

Bestselling author and cultural critic Roxane Gay teaches writing for social change and arms you with the skills needed to make an impact.

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