Twitter is the digital Wild West.
It can a decent place, but often it’s a hostile environment better left to those who wish to navigate the seedy underbelly of the Internet.
It started as a microblogging tool that morphed into so much more, so much that people often fail to categorize what it is exactly. It’s news, social media, entertainment, and sex bots all rolled into one.
To be fair, if you tried to explain Twitter to someone,….ahem grandma, it sounds insane.
It’s the electronic version of going out your front door and yelling and the whole world being able to hear you.
You can even digitally shout at celebrities, and sometimes they will answer back in a curated tweet written by their assistant and approved by their marketing department along with a sponsored hashtag.
It’s a crazy place, in one scrolling section you can see author’s flocking their books, comedians cracking jokes, people supporting one another, and um nazis, not like the Internet definition of nazi’s but like real Neo-nazi’s.
There’s all matter of content from every corner of the Internet.
But, if you use it right, Twitter can definitely sharpen your skills as a writer.
It’s pretty good training ground. I’ll tell you ten ways it will help you.
Here they are:
1. Forces Brevity Into Your Writing
This was more true some year’s ago when the the character limit was 140, but now’s it’s 280, which is still a pretty small space to fit your message in.
Brevity is the soul of wit, and so theoretically, Twitter should be your wittiest writing.
But, good writing is economical. You cut the fat from sentences. You trim your words to their barest essentials. Twitter is the perfect place to practice this. Your space it artificially limited to you can tap out a witty retort with minimal characters.
It forces you to be creative and it puts limits that you can’t break.
If you want to have a word count limit on a blog post you can, but there’s nothing stopping you from going over.
So the word limit is one of Twitter’s best features. If you want limitless space try Instagram. Some comments there need a table of contents and multiple volumes.
2. It Forces You To Have Thick Skin
One of the cool things about Twitter is that anyone can talk to you.
One of the worst things about Twitter is that anyone can talk to you.
But, as a writer you need to develop a thick skin. When you put stuff out online you have to be ready for the inevitable blow. People will tell you that your work sucks. They will say that you can’t write.
You will hear that’s “this is the worst thing I’ve ever read.”
And so on, this is on top of personal attacks and name calling and all the other fun things that can happen.
But, eventually it starts to just roll off your back and you go on about your day. Twitter can do this in hyperspeed.
You can fire off tweets and people might not like them, but it will get you used to seeing negative comments. And, you don’t have near the emotional investment in a tweet that you would with anything else.
You can be “Oh they didn’t like that one joke about Star Wars? Oh well on to something else.”
It’s harder to do that with a book, trust me.
3. You Can Get Used To People Not Caring
People hating your work is one thing.
People not caring at all can be even worse.
But, it will happen. At some point you will write something and it will be a dud.
Just (insert crickets noise here.)
And that can be heartbreaking.
But, if you write on Twitter a lot then you can go through this several times a day.
You hammer out a quick joke that you think everyone is going to love, and…. nothing happens.
This will happen multiple times a day.
So then when it happens with something you care about you can deal with it better.
You know not everything is going to go viral each time you write it and Twitter reinforces that. Boy does it do that.
4. It Exposes You To Great Writers
There are a lot of great writers on Twitter. Stephen King, Joyce Carol Oates, and John Scalzi are all active on Twitter and fun to follow. They drop hints about writing life and what’s it like being a best selling writer and it gives you something to aspire too.
There are plenty of people putting great work out there and using Twitter to promote it.
Plus, there are tons of writers putting out poems on Twitter and even short stories that fit into a tweet. You can find all sorts of creative people there.
5. You Can Follow Jon Winkour
Jon Winkour runs a a Twitter account called “AdvicetoWriters” it’s actually the first account I followed. Actually, I only have a Twitter account so that I could follow this. I made it after hearing about it on a podcast.
It’s one of my favorite things ever and it’s incredibly simple. All he does is tweet out quotes from famous writers about writing, but it works. I don’t know how many I’ve seen that just inspire you to keep writing hard and going for it.
My personal favorite and one that I read every day is:
“If you can quit, quit. If you can’t quit, you’re a writer.” R.A. Salvatore
And there are many more.
6. You Can Follow The Dictionary
Merriam-Webster’s account is a great tool for writers. It’s fantastic for expanding your vocabulary.
They post a new word each dare, usually an esoteric one, and it’s handy for putting some literary arrows in your quiver. It’s nice to spice up your prose with some juicy, unctuous bon mots.
I mean did you know what mythomania meant?
Me either. But now I do.
Keep up with this account and soon you’ll be a sesquipedalian scribbler in no time.
7. It Can Inspire A Larger Work
I don’t know how many times I’ve made a joke and then realized that it was a good premise for an article or a short story.
Treat it like a notebook that other people can see. This is a benefit too because you can see what ideas work and what doesn’t.
I once shot off a funny short story premise and then got a bunch of comments saying to write the story. So I did, and it might never had happened had I not written the tweet.
8. You Can Learn Self Promotion
This is a big one.
One of the hardest things to do when becoming a writer is to learn how to market one’s self.
It’s not fun and it makes you feel like a sleazy self promoting jerk.
And I am. I write because I want people to read it. No one will if I don’t promote it.
Many writers refuse to do it. You don’t know which ones refuse though because you’ve never heard of them.
Twitter is the easiest self promotion tool there is. Plus, everyone else is marketing something so you don’t feel like you’re the only one doing it.
And it’s easy. Just one little tweet and off you go. You can get your feet wet. There’s no big ad spot to write and hardly any room for copy. Just a quick message of “Hey read this” will do.
You can cut your chops before moving onto more involved social media marketing.
9. You Can Work On Humor Writing
There are very few places that as conducive to humor writing as Twitter. There are accounts that got famous just from doing this.
I mean every one is a comedian on Twitter.
Comedians love Twitter because you have to think of something witty since the space is so limited.
I used to write jokes on Twitter professionally, you’d be amazed how much material you can fit into a single tweet.
10. You Can Write Anywhere
Perhaps the best aspect is that you can do it anywhere. Twitter allows you to practice writing when you otherwise wouldn’t have the time to write.
Are you waiting in line? Write some jokes.
Waiting for your friend at the bar? Knock out some promotional tweets for for next project.
Since you can do it from your phone, and like everyone else you always have your phone with you, there’s no excuse not to do it.
For instance, you could write 10 tweets a day which would take maybe ten minutes.
It doesn’t sound like much but that’s over an hour of writing practice a week. And if you’re that active your following will grow and that’s that many people who can find your other work.
And there you go ten reasons Twitter will make you a better writer.