I have started to contemplate (perhaps the very stupid mistake of) going on Twitter. Now, for a while, I was a bit of a snob about this. I assumed that twitter was just for narcissists who thought it was incredibly important to let the world know about the blueberry parfait they had for breakfast (I used to have a similar thinking about blogs). But after learning more, I have altered my viewpoint. Twitter is (or can be) just as narcissistic as any other form of social media. Yes, there are some who will just tweet about the superficial details of their life. And that is great for them. I am sure that they get something out of that. But twitter is also a way to keep in contact using a limited number of characters. Just like Facebook, blogs, video blogs (vlogs, as they are officially known), text messages, and chat rooms, twitter is designed to tell a story.
For a writer, this is great practice. In fact, this is perfect for anyone who wishes to tell stories in their career. With Twitter’s character limit, writers are forced to invent ways to tell a minimalist tale. And while this sounds easy, it is relatively hard. Writing is easy to do when given an unlimited amount of space. Writing in structure, however, requires discipline from the mind and a (much more) careful selection of words. It is here that the process of the art becomes just as important as the finished product. Indeed, the process becomes art itself.
Now, some literary sticklers may not like the high-profile word of “art” being associated with something that Kim Kardashian uses (sorry, Kim). But that is just like saying that some paper is just used for toilet paper. It should not be about the format of the message or where the message is written, but rather the content, that is most important. Writers like Joyce Carol Oates and Steve Martin (yes, he is a writer and already has three books out) both use their twitter accounts to their advantage. On average days, they send stories, inspiration, news alerts, upcoming releases, and sometimes just the occasional random thought. Yet the tightness is felt. And while this tightness could feel like an incomplete story, these writers are able to serve a full thought.
Now, of course, one could just try and write more conservatively, but there is something special about being restricted in your word count. If a program will not let you go over a specific amount, you can’t cheat and break the rules. Of course, it would only be cheating as well if you used incomplete words (like writing “I h8 hvin 8 papers 2 wrte” to mean “I hate having eight papers to write”). But if you resist both of these challenges, you could end up with quite a writing exercise.
For now, this is still something I am debating. But what about you, reader? Would you ever go on twitter? If you are on it (or are thinking of joining), what do you see as the advantages and disadvantages of using such an account?