How Twitter Can Make You a Better Writer
I promised to post ideas that bloggers could use for their own blog posts and I thought I had this week’s post nailed. I was planning today to suggest using the blog to share news and then demonstrating with an announcement of my own, but technology got in my way.
I was going to announce that I’m developing a newsletter and that anyone interested in learning more about writing better could sign up on this blog. As of the posting of this post, however, no such sign up exists. I signed up create the newsletter using Mail Chimp. This is easy. Then I went to WordPress to set up the sign up. This is not easy.
At this point, I could have just put off posting until I get it figured out, except that I sort of started this blog challenge and how would it look if after telling everyone how easy it is to post at least once a week, I didn’t?
Just turn to the tickler files, right? Well, as will sometimes happen, nothing there inspired me. So I went on the hunt through other people’s blogs (as suggested in last week’s blog) and came across an excellent explanation on how to use Twitter by J Cambell. It’s a great post about how to effectively and efficiently use this quick-hit social media too.
At this point, I’ve fulfilled the requirements, found something to say and I could file and flee. That’s fine if you’re pressed for time and you feel you have fulfilled your overall goals for your blog. But what if you want to say more? What if you want to go beyond summarizing what someone else says? How do you find something original to add?
Picture the subject as a stone just large enough to fit in the palm of your hand. Turn it over and look at it from a different angle. Do it again. Do it again. There are at least a few and more likely dozens of other things to say about the subject. How is this relevant to your industry? What else do you know about the subject? What does the original post make you think about?
It took me awhile to think of anything to add about Twitter. I came up with a few lousy ideas but decided to spare you the agony of reading them. And then, something clicked and I saw the connection I needed.
As a writer, I have naturally dismissed Twitter as anything but a quick way to toss out a message. But this undervalues a significant opportunity to hone our writing skills. In good writing, every word counts. Every sentence conveys meaning and is relevant to the one previous and the one coming. Twitter sets constraints against which wordy writers strain. How could you possibly say anything significant in 140 characters or less? Very carefully. Very thoughtfully. In forcing us to limit our words, Twitter can push us into a new realm of creativity. We have to exercise different muscles. And this makes us stronger for when you have more space.
I recently ran the Harvard Stadium steps of death – a 15-minute torturous trial that easily matched a 13.1 mile run. By the eighth “run” up, I was cursing and crying and begging to be left a couch potato content to eat bonbons all day. I’m over that now, and I trust that I’ll be able to run further and faster.
Twitter can be your stadium steps. Instead of just casually throwing out words, play with the sentence, find clever ways to say what you want to say. Try cramming big ideas into the little space. Note when you come across well written tweets and think about what makes them good. Take chances because even if what you write isn’t great, it’ll soon be swept away by the sea of other tweets.
The best part is that your legs won’t be sore for three days after.