Twitter Your Way to Better Writing…
Editor’s Note: Allison first wrote this post about how to become a better writer in the early days of Twitter. With the constraint of 140 characters, we were all working hard to be funny, interesting and concise. It wasn’t easy, but the exercise of writing and rewriting content made us all better writers.
Writing is hard. Anyone who tells you differently probably isn’t very good at it. Writing requires constant practice and study in order to achieve even a basic level of ability. Writing exercises, journaling, and even letter writing are all be great ways to improve your writing skills. One of the best ways I’ve found to keep my writing sharp is by twittering.
When you tweet, you boil your message down to bare bones because Twitter allows you only 140 characters per tweet. That is about 15 words. In comparison, I’ve already used more than 100 words in this short blog post. Most people actually keep their tweets under 120 characters to allow for maximum retweetablity (repetition of their message by others) This limited text can make it seem downright impossible to say anything interesting, clever or informative. But it can be done! Check out @bgKahuna as an example of creativity in 120 characters or less
Using Twitter can be like a game How many words can I eliminate from this tweet yet still keep its original meaning? What shorter synonym can I use? I’ve even been known to pull out a thesaurus to help keep my tweets lean and mean.
This habit of harsh editing translated to longer documents, helping me pare a sentence down to its essential parts. After all, brevity is the soul of wit–and no one wants to read a 20 page email. (This same skill helps us write significantly better blog headlines and meta descriptions to make our content visible to search engines)
In addition to careful word choices, Twitter forces you to consider your audience. Is this a business or social tweet, or a mix of the two? Knowing your audience will help you predict what may offend, interest or amuse them them, and maybe generate a retweet. This same skill will translate well to anything you write.
Will tweeting make you the next Ernest Hemingway? Probably not. But can it help you keep your writing concise, punchy, and audience appropriate? Absolutely.
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