Thursday, October 11, 2012

How Twitter has improved my writing

Since it took me three tries to type the title of this post, because I kept writing IMRPOVED instead of IMPROVED, this post will not be about my typing skills. I swear, I am a decent typist. No, this post will focus on a very specific benefit I've gained from using Twitter.

I credit Twitter with a major revelation in my writing. Yes, in proper novel writing. STOP GIVING ME THAT LOOK.

No, not that look, you ickle goatie.
Close, but no cigar, fennec fox.
Yup. That's it. Stunned disbelief mixed with possible psychosis. You should get that checked out.

I originally found my lovely critique partners through a contest we all entered, but we started swapping manuscripts after spending some time chatting on Twitter. While they have been the MOST beneficial thing I've ever done for my writing, we all learn little things every day that can make us better writers. One of those things was a very slow lesson learned from tweeting. I swear.

It's hard to distill something pithy, interesting, and complex down into 140 characters (or even fewer if your tweet is an @ reply or includes a photo or link). Sure, sometimes I will sit there tweaking the words around so it fits. Sometimes I'll commit crimes against English to fit everything in. And sometimes I'll give up completely and send several tweets in a row. Believe it or not, there are lessons to be learned from that frustrating exercise.

Think of your favorite joke, something funny you saw, or an exchange you had with a friend that left you both giggling. Now fit the essence of that into a tweet. I'll give you a minute.

It's hard, right? But you can do it. Just think about it and say it using the smallest number of words possible. To do that, you have to find the BEST words. And that's how it's helped my writing.

Granted, most of that help doesn't start paying dividends until I get to the editing. First drafts are gonna be first-drafty. Long and windy, and filled with poor word choices. When I edit now, I use some of the same skills I practice on Twitter, making sentences tighter, taking out unnecessary words.

Do you tweet? If so, tweet at me sometime. If not, you might want to give it a try. There are a berjillion writers, agents, and editors online who not only know how to construct an excellent 140 character thought, but who comprise one of the most entertaining and congenial groups in all the Internets. And it might help tighten up your writing, too.

There. Now I've justified the ridiculous amount of time I spend on Twitter. Well, maybe not. But I tried. :D


  1. It's so interesting to me when I hear people really enjoying Twitter. I've met some great people and found very helpful links before but a *lot* of my Twitter usefulness is hit and miss. I can check Twitter and see nothing but book sales. I've found that I have to be on Twitter at certain times to find people who will actually have discussions.
    So glad you've found it useful!

    1. I agree. Sometimes I'm on and it seems I'm the only non-bot in the twitterverse. But other times, I can't keep up with the multitudes of interesting conversations. It's completely random, and that's a lot of the fun for me.

  2. Hooray for finding writing partners through Twitter! I've found one, and she's become a wonderful friend, too, but I've had slow luck in making direct writer-to-writer connections. So, I think I might agree with Suzanne in that it can be hit or miss - but when the hits occur, it's well worthwhile.

    On the other hand, I get a lot out of Twitter for many other reasons. I may not see it as a useful writing exercise for myself, but there's a lot of great info to be gleaned from the masses.

    1. Definitely! I've learned about great agents who might be interested in my writing, as well as great books I might never have found otherwise. Not to mention the writing tips many editors and agents dispense. And all the writing communities like #WriteClub.

  3. I agree with Suzanne, so far I haven't had too much luck with Twitter. BUT I do think that condensing a thought down to 140 characters is really helpful. Word count has always been something I've struggled with and, the last time I was on Twitter, i was thinking the same thing you posted. :)

    LOVE the owl btw. :)

  4. I've never used twitter, but it sounds like it would help me be more concise. Thanks for sharing.

  5. And I am so glad you do tweet. Else I'd be bored. :)


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