Why Twitter is awesome for writers

Posted: April 15, 2013 in Writing
Tags: ,

Twitter

Sure, you can go for the obvious in that it’s a great way to connect with other writers, as well as your audience. And, yeah. That’s totally true. But I love Twitter for another reason.

Simplicity.

Some of you may argue that fact, but I’m not talking about simplicity of use. I’m talking about the fact that it causes us to simplify our sentences, to get to the bare minimum truth of what we’re trying to say. We must condense our words. Minimize. Purify.

This is something that I’ve always struggled with. If you’ve been reading my blog for awhile, you’ll know this to be true. I don’t always go for the direct approach. I tend to ramble. This isn’t a terrible thing, but ambiguity isn’t exactly the mark of a great writer.

Twitter makes me pause and look over what I’m trying to say. 140 characters isn’t a whole lot to work with. I tend to throw in words I don’t need. Instead of thinking about which verb would paint a stronger picture, I tend to write out a phrase that isn’t as full of imagery.

As a writer, that’s not a habit you want to hold onto.

Sure, rewriting my tweets can be time consuming. I could just send out two tweets instead of one. It’ll get my point across. People will read them and probably not think anything more about them than what I’m trying to say. My followers probably don’t even take stock of how I’m saying something. They just notice what I’m saying.

But that’s no excuse.

Twitter presents the opportunity to challenge ourselves. It gives us a set limit – absolutely no more than 140 characters. It’s a fair amount. You can say quite a bit in that amount of space. But it’s still an amount that makes you thinking about your punctuation, your word choice, your sentence structure.

Being a writer, I bet you’re like me and don’t want to break any grammatical rules. This is yet another dimension added to the game. How to be grammatically correct and get your point across.

It’s definitely not easy.

But I’ve learned a lot about my style of writing. Particularly that I do tend to throw in unimportant words. I’ve noticed that, recently, it’s been easier to part with some words. Or, at the very least, replace them with something better. And I’m not just talking about in my tweets.

In blog posts, in my WIPs, in my articles on Hypable, I’ve noticed a more streamlined approach to what I’m trying to say. It’s getting much easier to avoid fluff words (the word ‘that’ is, apparently, a personal favorite). It’s also getting easier to choose a single verb compared to a string of words that don’t paint as vivid of a picture.

Dare I say I’m learning?

Looks like it. And even though a big part of this comes from editing other people’s works, I definitely know  Twitter has also helped me out quite a bit.

What about you? Has Twitter taught you anything about writing? Has it made you better at choosing your words with more care?

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Comments
  1. ddog13 says:

    Interesting point of view. I thought of Twitter as being a limiting social network, but this changed my mind. I can’t rant about things. Instead, Tweets have a high potential of being quick and witty. Great post.

    • Karen Rought says:

      There’s no doubt that Twitter is limiting, but it was always meant to be like that. I think that’s what really makes it stand out against Facebook. Which, let’s be honest, it never would’ve been able to compete with had it gone down similar a route. I love Twitter especially because there are so many hilarious things on there. It’s definitely a stream of consciousness type of social media site, and it definitely benefits from that.

  2. Julie Glover says:

    I’ve felt the same thing with Twitter–that it forces me to streamline and that I’ve carried that into my other writing. Good thing, right?

    • Karen Rought says:

      Yes! I frequently think about that conversation we had about useless words and how we both have trouble keeping them out of our writing. I think we’ve both come a long way in that short amount of time though!

  3. Jess Witkins says:

    Sound advice! I love Twitter for that exact purpose! I just need to get better at doing it in my blogs. My posts are still typically long. I just love sharing knowledge!!! LOL

    • Karen Rought says:

      I totally feel you on the blog front! I always like to have multiple examples, especially when I feel I’m not completely getting my point across. Whenever I write a 300 word post as compared to an 800 word post, I feel like it’s unfinished!

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