Twitter will make you a better writer
Whether you’re an entrepreneur sharing their work on social media, a professional writer getting ‘out there’, or just writing content for your company’s Facebook and Twitter pages, one thing is true: thanks to social media, we are all publishing more than ever before.
Social media is sometimes accused of making us stupider by turning us into sheep who take in information without stretching our analytical brain muscles. But Twitter is actually the reverse. For a writer, it’s the perfect platform to improve your writing by making a bigger impact with fewer words.
Sharpen the Saw…
It’s not easy to tell a story, distribute information, and garner click-throughs in only 140 characters. If you can improve your performance on Twitter, you can definitely improve your writing skills for the longer pieces.
We all use social media, so why not make it work for you. Take it seriously. Instead of whiling away the hours watching cat videos on Facebook, you can spend your time more productively on Twitter. Because Twitter forces you to write well and understand your topic. And there are seven ways it does this:
1. Twitter forces you to find your ‘big idea’
Are you sharing a 1,200-word blog-post and trying to find 140 characters that perfectly represent the whole post? Searching to find out what’s at the heart of your writing?
Most things we write about or share should have one strong ‘big idea’, and if you can’t find that big idea, then you need to go back to the point of your article. If your work isn’t up to sharing, then maybe it isn’t up to scratch for publication at all?
Sharing your posts or ideas on Twitter forces you to understand exactly what it is you want to say.
You have to be intriguing enough for people to click through your link to read the full article; and with only 140 characters to play with. Big idea, small space.
2. It forces you to exercise your vocabulary
Writing for Twitter is learning to write with impact.
Not only do you have to say EXACTLY the right thing, you have to say it quickly, and with influence.
You don’t often see ‘filler’ words used on Twitter. That’s because filler words are redundant. When writing for twitter you need to be succinct; no fluff to take away from the impact of your message. You don’t have the luxury of a paragraph to expand and explain, and to make the words sounds nice. You just have to say what you mean, creatively.
Tweeting forces you to find the right word, instead of relying on your overused habit words or phrases – you just don’t have the space to be lazy.
3. It’s the way of the future
The founders of Twitter originally wanted the platform to be used on mobile only, because they saw mobile technology as the way of the future.
Given that the world-wide SMS limit for mobiles at that time was 160 characters, they left 20 characters for the user handle, and 140 for the message, so that it would fit all onto one screen and not spill over in to a second or third SMS.
Of course, with smart phones the SMS limit is now extended, and Twitter has removed that 140-character limit for Direct Messaging, but the brevity truly does make it one of the most mobile friendly social platforms today.
You don’t have to be long messages, because you can’t.
4. Enforced brevity is the best editor
As Stephen King says in On Writing,
This is a short book because most books about writing are filled with bullshit… I figured the shorter the book, the less bullshit.
If all writing had as definitive a word limit as Twitter, it could teach us all how to write better.
Good stories can be told in few words as shown by these 140-character novels in The Guardian. Flash fiction at is most brief!
5. Diversity of voices
Becoming a better writer is also about becoming a better reader. And when it comes to a space to read diverse voices, Twitter is one of the best places on the internet.
Twitter users in the US are more racially diverse than users of any other social media platform.
And users are also more evenly spread across the genders, as well as across education level and median income, with a spike at both ends of the latter two. Unlike some platforms that are more homogenous, Twitter, perhaps because of the ease of use, has a diversity that means you’re more likely to get a robust exchange of opinion.
6. It’s more responsive than your editor
Do you struggle getting feedback on your work, or trying to figure out what your audience likes or dislikes?
Twitter will definitely help you with that.
You can ask directly what people think, or pose questions, but you also get direct feedback by monitoring clicks, shares and favourites. And it’s easy to set up lists to track what other people are writing, or track trending topics to hook one of your articles or emails to.
Words travel faster on Twitter, and you might find your work fall onto the screen of someone who was never your target audience – embrace it, the more eyes on your work the better, and the feedback from a diverse audience will only make you write better.
7. An audience that absorbs
This won’t make you a better writer, but it might make you a bit more enthusiastic about sharing your work on Twitter – according to UK Twitter Statistics 2014, over half of Twitter users prefer to read, without responding or tweeting themselves. The silent majority who are out there reading your stuff.
This means that despite Twitter being a big, big pond with over 300 million users, only half the fish in it are writing.
Which means that your writing only has half the competition as you originally thought – not bad for your writers ego!
The joy of Twitter is many-fold, whether you actively improve your work is up to you.
Start to track that gets attention in your tweet stream, and start to focus those 140 characters. You might find it’s an easy way to learn how to write better.
Are you on Twitter? Do come and say ‘Hi’.