The depth to which individuals feel beholden to members of online communities fascinates me. There's a sense of belonging to groups of writers, fans, and readers that support you and engage with you, that creates a wonderful atmosphere of camaraderie and sharing. But remember that this is A) still your job and B) still the damn internet where everything is permanent and no one has to see your face when they insult you.
Now if you're writing personal essays, none of this really stands. The whole art is sharing. I'm thinking more from the social media angle, here.
Before I go on, I want to say: sharing is good. Camaraderie is excellent. A community to support you on the road to publication is essential. Don't stop sharing. Be yourself... but be at work.
Here's an easy-peasy list:
1.) don't shit-talk. Especially if you think it's private or a "sub-tweet." It's not. We all know. This doesn't mean you can't take a negative, critical, or oppositional opinion. It just means that I think it's wise to do so respectfully. Wise, and karmic-ally sound.
2.) don't mislead. Do not tell me that you're the author of five novels, when you're the author of three.
3.) tread carefully with those "funny time I totally fucked up" stories.
4.) don't share when you've gone on submission. Share this with your friends and betas privately . Not the world.
5.) also tread carefully with medical stuff.**
6.) Personal asides are awesome. Personal drama is less awesome. It's a little like sitting between two people who are breaking up on the subway. Granted, if I am so put out by this, why not just unfollow you... well, I do. That's sort of the problem.
** general opinions about a brand of dairy free milk you like, your busted elbow, how you're sick in bed watching cartoons, how a paleo diet seems to have made you feel really great lately or a gluten free bread that you love ... those asides are super, duper fine (and often helpful!) I'm talking about like "well tomorrow is the day I get that butt mole removed" or like "Does anyone know what this Rash is? ::picture share::" type stuff. Essentially, imagine that you're back in high school and everyone knows. If that is NOT cool with you, don't share it.