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What Boomers Writing Their Memoirs Can Learn from Millennials

Millennials are Comfortable in the Spotlight

At 32, I’m a millennial—part of that much-scorned generation of selfish, entitled, participation-trophy-toting crybabies. If you ask me, of course, we have plenty to cry about:

  • Crushing student loan debt.

  • High unemployment and historically low pay.

  • More stress and depression than any generation before.

  • Being priced out of the housing market.

  • A racist and misogynist president.

  • A dying planet.

But.

What we do have going for us is likewise significant. We’re also:

  • The best-educated generation.

  • Incredibly tech-savvy.

  • Closer to equal pay and gender equality than any generation before.

  • Comfortable with being in the spotlight.

That’s right—since most millennials came of age on the internet, and the vast majority of us have social media accounts, we know what it’s like to put it all out there—and be seen.

After all, we’ve always known Big Brother was watching. He’s just been more obvious of late.

Millennials Demand Great Stories

Captains of our ships, men, women, and non-binary individuals alike between the ages of 22 and 37 are okay with—and may even demand that we’re—living a great story. And we’re okay with earning recognition for it. 

That is: We live big lives, take great risks, and love hard. And then we tell the world about it.

After all, practically any achievement by a millennial in this political and economic climate deserves much more than a participation trophy.

Millennials Live for the Now—and Know Their Worth

In a lot of ways, I and my friends are screwed. We can’t afford kids. We don’t know when (or if) we’ll retire. We don’t expect Social Security. With rising healthcare costs, who knows if Medicare will stick around, either? 

For that matter, who knows if the planet will?

And yet, because we can’t live for the future, we live for the now. More than any generation before us, we celebrate everyday moments big and small—by posting them to Instagram. We Tweet random thoughts over bowls of Cheerios and engage the serious debates that follow. We lift each other up and we never discount our own worth.

Especially the value of our voices.

After all, that’s the only vehicle for social change that my generation seems to have embraced.

Millennials Take Credit Where It’s Due

I cannot say the same for the older adults I work with, who need so much coaxing, so much safe-space-building, to believe that I—or anyone—wants to hear their stories.

Generally, clients 70+ don’t want to write a memoir about themselves, but so many friends and family members have badgered them about it that they’ve finally agreed. Only, once we’ve sat down together over cups of coffee, they downplay their lives. Couch stories about trailblazing careers and raising large families in vague language and a “Well, that’s just what we did”-mentality, refusing to take credit where it’s due.

Boomer Writing Memoir.jpg

Oh, boomers and the silent generation. We want to hear your stories. We want to learn from you. We want to honor you! Let the selfish, entitled, “me” generation teach you what it’s like to focus on yourself … because you never have before.

To my fellow millennials: I can’t wait to read your memoirs. When you’re 70+, you will have under your belts a lifetime of practice at sharing your story. I know they will be spectacular.

After all, you’ve already shown me that they are.

4 Twitter Hacks for Writers

Last night, I took a class called Making Twitter a Writer’s Best Friend with Richard Santos of the Writers’ League of Texas. It was fun and informational, and in case you’re a #badMillennial like myself who also doesn’t really know how to tweet effectively, here are the most helpful takeaways (for me) from the evening!

Follow agents and editors.

Agents and editors have always been the publishing industry gatekeepers, and until now, they’ve appeared perennially locked away in downtown Manhattan offices utterly impervious to the likes of little old me. Thanks to social media, however, these people (and yes, they really are just people!) are more accessible than ever before. They have public handles, and unless their accounts are locked, anyone can follow them to see what they have to say. Their daily postings might include a random assortment of writing advice, query letter tips, cat videos, and political jousts—and if you’re extra lucky, a little hashtag written as #MSWL.

Use hashtags the right way.

To be honest, I thought “using hashtags” meant just putting the pound sign in front of random words to make them turn blue. I knew you could search hashtags and find other people using those words, but I didn’t realize there was such an art to it. Two hashtags to search for and start following (and also using yourself, when appropriate) are #MSWL and #submishmash. MSWL stands for Manuscript Wish List. If an agent uses this hashtag, it means s/he is hoping that a book manuscript meeting a particular description (which they will then spell out) lands on their desk. Do you have a book like that? Then reply and let them know (in 280 characters or less) and follow up via the proper channels (whatever the submission guidelines on their website dictate). Use #submishmash to find journals currently accepting submissions via Submittable.

These Twitter hacks for writers make managing your social media platforms a breeze.

These Twitter hacks for writers make managing your social media platforms a breeze.

Participate in pitch contests.

A pitch contest is when writerly hopefuls ‘pitch’ their manuscript idea to an agent over Twitter on a specified day or days of the year. Go to this pitch contest calendar to find out when the contests are held every year, and how to participate. (Hint: it’s generally via a hashtag.) Hone and re-hone your pitch until you have something concrete, specific, and 280 characters or less. Finally, tweet your entry into the contest and see what happens!

Contribute more than you take.

If you’ve already published a book, don’t use Twitter strictly as another platform for promotion. The truth is, no one cares about your book unless you also have something more interesting to say! So, be honest, be genuine, be you—and occasionally plug your baby. Also plug other writers’ works, comment on trends in the industry, and be vulnerable or witty or sarcastic (if that’s your tone) about #thatwritinglife. 

Good luck!