Better Tweeting = Better Writing. Alright. You probably don’t see it, but Twitter can actually help you become a better writer. Of course you may likely scoff a bit at this— (jeepers however did I arrive at such a conclusion?!) and even claim that Twitter encourages people to become bad writers… especially when the typical Tweets you see look a little something like this:
- ShopaL00za143: WTH it jus stopped!! :( #verybadsituation im starving*
- kirstenIZthabest: #itsreallyannoying how you wanna b flip floppyyy make yo mind dawwggg!*
- PlinkyT0ez: @JMezzyHair “-picks something- this?” -laugh- those are pants darling “ohh! ^-^ -giggles, gets purple jacket- this?” *
*Please note these are actual Tweets. Actual names have been changed for the protection of the individuals and so I can avoid a beat down when I say they are dumb and need to go back to school. I vote kindergarten. OK that was mean. 3rd grade then?
OK, so first of all, these aren’t exactly what you’d call good quality Tweets. Not exactly engaging and compelling content, not by a long shot. And I say that with the utmost of sincerity and just a hint of sarcasm.
In no way should anyone continually Tweet like this, especially if you want to attract a loyal following. Granted, I am guilty of using the Twitter ‘shortening’ feature which can often turn plain English into readable numbers, BUT… I don’t use it all the time, repeatedly. Nor do my Tweets resemble the above Tweets in any way, shape or form.
Thank goodness eh? That’s just a little scary. And totally not in a good way.
Now don’t get me wrong… an occasional rant here and there is fine, in fact expected. And sometimes we just can’t quite fit all the characters we want into a Tweet rant. So we must shorten it somehow. Unfortunately the end result is usually some weird, decidedly pale version of the English language that is barely intelligible. Yuck.
So do the Twitterverse a favor and please make it intelligible. Pul-leez! (See? Totally intelligible right?) Or consider using TwitLonger. That helps too. Oh and secondly, if these are the typical Tweets you see in your feed, I say “Run! RUN!” in the opposite direction. Either that or I highly recommend you start looking for other, more interesting Tweeps to follow.
But I digress. Honestly, if you’re serious about becoming a writer, being active in Twitter really will help you.
Here’s how –
Twitter can help you become more conscious of the basic rules of writing. Remember the 4 C’s?
Any writer worth their salt should know how to write (1) concisely, (2) coherently, (3) concretely and (4) clearly—and this is exactly the type of writing that Twitter forces you to do. Well… forces most of us to do at any rate.
So let’s explore that a little deeper shall we?
1. Twitter forces you to write concisely
This one is pretty darn obvious. You’re given 140 characters or less within which you must convey a message. You have 140 characters to say something that makes sense and hopefully makes you sound and appear smart to your followers. (No, you don’t actually have to be smart… no, really you don’t!)
Just kidding. You should be at least a little smart if you’re trying to sound and appear smart. I read that somewhere. Seriously, you only have 140 characters to make a good impression. So make it a good impression.
The 140 character limit works because you really don’t need too many words to send a message out when you’re shooting for concise. Just remember to keep the K.I.S.S. method in the forefront of that little noggin of yours and you’ll do spectacularly well.
K.I.S.S.= “Keep It Simple, Stupid” in case you were scratching your head and wondering.
2 & 3. The fear of being un-followed forces you to become coherent and concrete
While Twitter doesn’t exactly penalize badly written Tweets, your followers certainly will. They will do this by *shocker*… un-following you! There’s a reason why people follow other people on Twitter. Ask yourself, why do you follow hundreds of people, perhaps even thousands, on Twitter?
- Because they make sense.
- Because they teach you a little something each time they Tweet.
- Because they post funny snippets.
- Because they don’t write like they’re always high on something! Or failed 3rd grade.
You need to be coherent and concrete if you want to keep your followers.
To be coherent means following the correct structure and form of a sentence to make sure that every word counts. And with only 140 characters to use, you’d better make each one count. For a Tweet to effectively get the correct message across, it must be free of spelling errors and grammatical mistakes. This is a little bit tricky, especially when you have 140 characters to fill.
You will be at times forced to condense the words and write in short hand by taking out some of the letters. For example, instead of “which,” you may need to write “w/c.” This is acceptable, just as long as you make sure that the message is still clear. It should also follow the basic rules of punctuation. I cannot stress enough the importance of punctuation. A friend put it succinctly:
“Remember, commas save lives!”
“Let’s eat grandpa or Let’s eat, grandpa. SEE?”
Now I don’t claim to be the grammar police. Not by a long shot. I’m a ghostwriter but I make mistakes just like the rest of the planet and I’m the first to say so. Sometimes they’re just accidental, sometimes they’re on purpose. And I forgive a lot from others as well. But there are times when grammar is just so poor it’s unacceptable and totally ruins what you’re trying to say.
So if that’s the case, why even bother saying it?
You also don’t want your Tweets to appear vague. While you probably have the urge to Tweet something philosophical and thought-provoking to rise above the noise on Twitter, posting something like “my life resembles the bursting of a pimple” (actual Tweet … no lie!!!) makes you sound rather stupid and pretentious. So keep it simple and straightforward. Or you can… Keep It Simple, Stupid.
4. Finally, Twitter forces you to be clear
This is probably a no-brainer, but there’s really no beating around the bush with 140 characters is there?
There’s just not a lot to go with.
So it’s not that difficult to be clear.
Much like this paragraph is pretty clear.
All you need to do is to learn how to use the right words and to edit properly.
And use short sentences rather than 10 mile long ones.
I repeat, use the rights words and edit properly.
Use short sentences rather than 10 mile long ones.
Writing clearly means that you need to improve your vocabulary and editing skills. It means using simple language whenever possible. And it means always keeping in mind that a huge percentage of the people on the web who will read your content are working with an 8th grade vocabulary level…
So go ahead and try out Twitter, if you haven’t already. Don’t be scared, I know there is a smarty pants in you somewhere that can write intelligible Tweets. Just remember to use the 4 C’s and seal it with a K.I.S.S.
Then let me know how it all works out for you and if you see an improvement in your writing by dropping me a comment or shooting me an email.
Guest author Cori is a wildly hire-able freelance ‘ghost’ and the creative brains and dubious brawn behind her blog BigGirlBranding.com. You can also submit guest articles and share youir Twitter ideas.