The (Potential) Benefits of Twitter

Dear Reader,

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?

Sincerely,

Jumbled Writer

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18 Responses to The (Potential) Benefits of Twitter

  1. I’ve never really thought about it that way, but you are very right. Twitter does force me to really think about how to condense a large thought into just a few words.
    I do use Twitter myself. I started my Twitter account as just a way promote my blog and have posts linking to it. But it has evolved into both that and a form of encouragement to my followers.

    • Hi Ross. That’s what I was imagining it would be like. Connecting with readers sounds like another benefit. Thanks for visiting!
      –JW

  2. I never looked at it as narcissist but can see where it might be for some. I find twitter is a great way of promoting your craft/business. By helping each other we can all participate in promoting each other. The word-count required can be only the title of your blog and a link to it. If you are a writer like I am – you can also link to your books website as well. I find twitter to be a useful tool to use. Thanks for this blog and reasoning the benefits or problems. 🙂

  3. I started using Twitter a while back, but often go for days without using it at all. I’ve noticed some people have entire conversations on Twitter. I think it’s a good way to reach a large amount of people if you’re trying to share information or links. I’m still getting the hang of using Twitter, so I’m not sure if it’s been an advantage or disadvantage at this point.

    • You do make a good point. If someone wants to find out something new that you have created, all they have to do is go to your twitter account and find the link that you posted. It’s much easier than many alternatives. Thanks for visiting!
      –JW

  4. I like this posting. any form of expression can help us. In the moment it takes to write something on twitter, you have paused to reflect/compose even in a small way. Nice job.

  5. Good insight. Initially, I went on Twitter as a marketing tool. I don’t use it often for my personal comments. It’s been valuable because I’ve made connections that would have never happened without it. I’m glad for most of the people who have found me through Twitter (some are only marketing anyone). Finding amazing people and their ministry or blog or website has been great as well. Attempting to condense our thoughts into 140 characters can be a great tool for writers learning to be concise. (Clearly not my strong point) 🙂 Conclusion: Twitter is beneficial for now.

    • I am glad that Twitter has helped you on your writing path. It is interesting how many people we can meet on Twitter as well. I guess we don’t always know who is out there until we start putting ourselves out there first. Thanks for commenting.
      –JW

  6. I have a twitter but its so I am higher in the search ranks on Google and Bing. Does it work, kinda. My twitter account is on the first page but how often I will have to update it to keep it that I have no idea. Not sure it is worth the time as I have many other links on the first page too which I consider more useful.

    • That’s true. Twitter can be promotional tool just by having an account that appears in the search engines. Thanks for visiting!
      –JW

  7. The thing that makes Twitter so cool is that you can interact with people who you wouldn’t be able to reach by any other means, like celebrities, politicians, writers, journalists or comedians (even @God). I like following news agencies on Twitter because they are often first with the breaking news and interesting opinions. Actually tweeting about stuff is difficult though. Every time I tweet I lose two followers, my bad :/

    • That is true. The level of connection that comes with Twitter can be a big bonus. It definitely beats the older system of having to send a letter to someone’s publicity agent only to get the standard, “Thanks for writing” message. Good thoughts and comments.
      –JW

  8. I have Twitter attached to my blog and Facebook fan page, but until recently, rarely use it. Like you, I thought it narcissistic in the extreme but writers like Neil Gaiman and Stephen Fry (both prolific tweeters who have that “tightnes” you write of) have slowly swung me round.
    In fact, I’ve been thinking I must write a blog about this, but you’ve already said what I wanted to say (and probably better than I could’ve!)
    Thank you!
    Debra

    • No problem. I would be interested to hear (or read) your viewpoint on it. Sometimes I don’t really know my viewpoint on it until I write it out. I think that Twitter can be about whatever you make it. If you want to make it all about yourself and what you do, you can (which, depending on how you phrase it, doesn’t necessarily have to be narcissistic). Or you can do the very opposite and make it all about other people. Or somewhere in between. Thanks for visiting!
      –JW

  9. Thanks for the thoughts on Twitter. Since I started my writing life as a poet, being concise has not been a real issue for my novels. Just the opposite sometimes! However, I do have a twitter account, and am trying to learn the best ways of using it.
    Being somewhat shy, I am not one to tweet about what I had for dinner and expect other people to care, unless I am sharing a really great recipe! Yet, twitter is about connecting, and as writing is a solitary profession, connecting is not only good but essential. I do better on my blog and facebook pages, but am continuing to learn about tweeting. Like you, I think there are definitely some positive returns on doing it right.

    • Definitely. I do not have a Facebook–yet. Maybe one day. It seems there are so many websites to be aware of. I like that idea of using something that you experienced (dinner) as a way to help other people out (through the recipes). Or just as a way to connect with other people and share interests. Thanks for visiting!
      –JW

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