It took me a while to get Twitter, but I have found myself using the microblogging platform more than I use Facebook these days. While your Twitter account is public by default, which can be a big turn off for those who are concerned about privacy, I have discovered the platform to offer more interesting information.
The links that people share are more relevant (to my interests). The conversations are snappier and hold my attention longer. And yes, I don’t see gory photos of people who have been injured or are sick and need help. (Don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against promoting charitable causes, but I find it difficult to stomach very graphic images.)
On another note, I have been thinking if Twitter can also offer some interesting benefits to writers in terms of improving our skills. As you may already know, Twitter has a 140-character limit. That fact is where everything revolves around.
The value of brevity
Greek philosopher and mathematician Pythagoras was supposed to have said “Do not say a little in many words but a great deal in a few”, and I suppose that he would have been a Twitter user if he were alive today.
While there are some cases when we have to expound and write long pieces, there is indeed beauty in being able to get your point across in as few words as possible. It takes skill, though, and if you need to work on brevity, I think Twitter is a great venue to practice.
The importance of accuracy
More than having to keep it short – 140 is the magic number – people who use Twitter (and who care) also need to pay a little more attention to the accuracy of their message. And when I say accuracy, I am referring to grammar. There are many ways to shorten a sentence, but not all of them equate to proper use of grammar. You may be scoffing right now, but I have found myself pondering on the wording of some tweets to ensure that I get my message across, use the most appropriate grammatical structure, AND keep to the 140-character limit. It is a wonderful challenge at times!
To answer the question I posed from the get go, yes, I think that Twitter can be a useful tool for writers. Of course, the temptation of being lax (as I sometimes am, also with text messaging) will always present itself, but if you slightly alter your perspective, you can derive more from Twitter than simply interacting with other people online.
Are you on Twitter? Follow us @freelancewj, and let’s try to keep each other’s writing skills sharp!