7 Ways Twitter Sharpens Your Writing

Twitter for writers?

Imagine a place where you could easily write 30, 40 or 50 blog posts a day.

In this place, you’d automatically receive individual feedback for each blog post on whether it touched base with your readers.

You’d be sure that every one of your blog posts would be read, and some of them would be widely shared.

Each blog post you write in this place improves your writing.

Such a place exists and, chances are, you already hang out there.

Twitter launched in 2006, at the dawn of the golden age of blogging. Nowadays, it’s known as a social network, but back then Twitter was a microblogging service. Twitter made sense to bloggers because, in simple terms, it was a blogging platform where blog posts had to be squeezed into 140 characters.

Twitter is a blogging platform and a place to sharpen your writing skills.

As a writer, you can use Twitter for all of the following.

1. Practice your writing.

Twitter is a writer’s sandbox. You can be creative, try out new things, see what works and what doesn’t. Because each update is so tiny and transient, your mistakes are quickly forgotten. But when you do something that resonates with your readers, it can reach thousands or hundreds of thousands of people in a matter of minutes.

Some writers use Twitter to share micropoems. (Check out these 100 little Twitter poems, or search Twitter for the #sixwords hashtag). Others use it to tell stories from their day or promote their work.

2. Network with other writers

Twitter is known as a social network because it’s fantastic for networking. You can use it to talk directly with all kinds of writers from established old school writers (Neil Gaiman, Paulo Coelho, Alain de Botton) to successful self published writers (Sean Platt, Joanna Penn, Ali Luke) to superstar bloggers (Jeff Goins, Danny Iny, Mary Jaksch).

Perhaps most important of all are the thousands of all-around friendly writers and editors who are still on the journey and are happy to chat, ask for feedback on their writing, and give feedback on yours. Some of my favorites are John Wiswell, Amanda Socci and Jackie Pearce.

As you network with other writers, you’ll discover writing tips, new writing challenges, and writing communities where you’ll feel right at home.

3. Keep your writing concise

“Eliminate the non-essential” is Write to Done’s advice on keeping your writing concise.

Twitter gives you only 140 characters to play with, so it squeezes the excess pith from your words, leaving only the nourishing juice. You’re forced to write concisely, to discard the ore and share only the gold.

4. Track your results

I know many writers prefer the romance of poetry and stories to the hard, concrete facts of numbers and raw data.

Yet to succeed as a professional writer, you must take a keen interest in numbers. How many dollars you’re earning. How many books you’ve sold. How many readers are subscribed to your blog.

Twitter allows you to track the success of your writing in hard numbers. You can see whether your follower count is growing, whether your tweets are being shared, and (using simple web apps such as Buffer) whether people are clicking the links you share.

If your follower count is flat-lining and your links aren’t being clicked, that’s useful feedback, and you can start to do things differently.

5. Find out what your readers want

One way of attracting more readers is knowing what your readers want. The simplest way to do this is to ask them, and Twitter provides the perfect platform to fire out questions to your readers.

Also, take note which tweets are most popular with your followers – either through retweets, replies, or clicking the link you shared. When readers share or reply to your tweets, they’re saying “More like this, please”.

6. Learn what entices

In the web age, writing is copywriting. And copywriting means attracting attention.

Twitter, with its built-in systems for tracking results, is ideal for learning what gets attention and what gets ignored. In particular, you can use Twitter to practice writing headlines that get the most clicks. The better you are at writing neck snapping headlines, the more readers you’ll attract to your blog posts, ebooks, and articles.

7. Discover creative inspiration and ideas

Twitter is a playground of ideas. Everywhere you look, you’ll find ideas for stories to tell, research to pursue, and people you could interview for your next article.

Whenever you feel stuck for writing ideas, turn to Twitter. In just a few minutes you’ll find an idea or story angle that excites you and you want to pursue.

So what are you waiting for? If you’ve yet to sign up to Twitter, or you’ve allowed your Twitter account to fade away into zombie status, get started today!

 

About the author:

David Masters teaches you how to buzz up your social media soul at Social Caffeine. Come on over and join the party.

Image by thehutch

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36 Responses to “7 Ways Twitter Sharpens Your Writing”

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  1. Karen says:

    Twitter has been great in helping me curb my wordiness. By having to condense my thoughts down to 140 characters, I’ve learned to tighten up my writing. My writing teachers would be proud.

    Also, I’ve found so many great blogs, authors and just people to connect with on Twitter, it’s become one of my favorite sites!

    Great blog today! Thank you for sharing!
    Karen recently posted..Recruiting Insights Part 1: Nailing Your Job ApplicationMy Profile

  2. Cassie says:

    Great post! I’ve had a love/hate relationship with Twitter in the past, but I’m finally making it work for me without letting it take over my life. Because that’s one very common side effect that all too often leads to “Twittercide.”
    Cassie recently posted..The “Lucky” Ones – An interview with backpacking, trailblazing crew leader David CurrierMy Profile

  3. Twitter is fun and there are days when I spend a lot of time there–but I agree it teaches writers to tighten up the word use and to get immediately to the heart of the message. This is good for some writing–not all. But on a day when writing gets lonely or the blog post is not getting hits, Twitter brings those social contacts, that positive feedback that can get you back to the keyboard. Thanks.
    Beth@Boomer Highway recently posted..9 Ways Immunization Keeps Your Adult Children and Grandchildren HealthyMy Profile

  4. Mary W. says:

    I like your idea of using Twitter as a way to practice writing. Writing in English is always a challenge for a non-native speaker like me. I should start to tweet more often :-) Thanks for the tips!
    Mary W. recently posted..How To Start Writing Blogs Fast and EasyMy Profile

  5. All of this is true about twitter. This post affirms the notion that you get out of something what you put into it. Twitter can easily be a waste of our time, or we can use the tips in this post to make it a valuable asset. I love twitter, so thanks for advocating its positive functions!
    Sarah L. Webb recently posted..Writing Emotionally Charged PiecesMy Profile

  6. Jevon says:

    Wow. I need to start tweeting. As a new writer, this is good to know. If only I could just get some followers.
    Jevon recently posted..King Larsen Trailer 8My Profile

  7. Twitter wasn’t always easy for me to love (I had a TMI problem). But, once I got a handle on the time management issues with social media, I found #1 and #7 as my reasons for loving Twitter. It’s been a key factor in writing/editing sharper and faster. Plus, I was happily surprised to communicate with a few of my favorite authors and writers I’ve been following.

  8. Stanley Rao says:

    Great Blog Thank you for sharing it with us. Thanks for the advice. I’ll try one of those tools.

  9. Ah, yes, Twitter.

    I just. Did. Not. Get. It. When I joined a few years ago I let my personal account languish, not seeing the point of it. But this year I’ve really gotten into it — so much so that I have a couple of accounts! I love the ability Twitter provides us to focus on a particular type of information or audience. The interaction is good, as is the ability to be able to quickly share what you’ve created. As an author and blogger, I enjoy these benefits. As a former journalist, I’m always primed to write shorter when I can, though Twitter takes that up a notch, which is great.

    Very good post!
    Monica Carter Tagore recently posted..You Can Make Money From Your Book — Without Selling a Single CopyMy Profile

  10. While I agree with most of the points made in the post, I also feel that there are some ways in which Twitter is actually not good for our writing. Here is my post about it, if anyone is interested:

    http://neobluepanther.com/2009/04/does-twitter-make-you-a-better-writer/
    NeoBluePanther recently posted..Your Site Goes Viral. What Next?My Profile

  11. Archan Mehta says:

    Thank you for contributing this post, but I feel that twitter is really a waste of time. Twitter can be a good way to network, but I feel we should not spend so much time on social networking sites.

    These days, people spend way too much time on the computer. That does not leave you with the kind of time you need to read a book or get some actual writing done.

    In the past, there was no Twitter and authors produced masterpieces and other artists followed their chosen professions. A lot of people would consider Twitter quite trivial and would choose loftier goals and pursuits.

    On the other hand, Twitter can lead to business opportunities and new friendships. It really depends on what you are looking for and how you choose to use social media. There are limits to how much time you should spend on-line, after all. Spending hours a day on your computer can lead to all sorts of problems.

    Sometimes, it is wise to unhook and let go of the need for constant interaction with people half-way across the world. Spending time alone doing the things you value can be the antidote you are looking for in a world that seems to be obsessing over social media. Maybe the grass is greener on the other side, literally.

    • Thanks for this comment. I’m certainly not advocating that writers sit gawping at Twitter 24/7. Indeed, writers who are organised can complete their social media marketing in just 15 minute per network per day.

      I agree it’s wise to unplug, and for that reason I don’t have a smartphone – so I can have time when I’m disconnected from the internet and fully present to the real world.
      David Masters recently posted..You’re Doing It Wrong: When to Compare Your Blog to OthersMy Profile

  12. J.D. Meier says:

    I’m a fan of the power of precision.

    Another beautiful thing happens along the way … it makes space for elaboration … it’s like automatic demand-generation in action.

    Of course, sometimes, as they say, it’s simply ‘nough said.
    J.D. Meier recently posted..Lessons Learned as a Bestselling Self-Published AuthorMy Profile

  13. BeyondRoses says:

    A warm thank you, for sharing my 100 Little Twitter Poems as reference in ways Twitter sharpens writing. Since writing little poems on twitter, I have went back and tightened up much of my own writing on my longer free style poetry.

    I found that one of the important things for me on Twitter, was to follow, and be followed by people with similar interest. As in your tip to “Discover creative inspiration and ideas”, I find that I am forever inspired by many of the poets, writers, artist, photographers, and other artistic people I follow.

    Your timely article has reminded me of what a wonderful learning experience Twitter can be, and the power of saying it, in few words. I wish you the best in your blogs, and writing projects …
    BeyondRoses recently posted..Today’s Little Twitter PoemMy Profile