There’s more to micro-blogging than just narcissism. For those who have not taken the plunge, micro-blogging platforms like Twitter allow you to capture small vignettes of your life to share with the world, as long as those nuggets of wisdom are short and pithy (140 characters or less for Twitter). But such services are not just excuses to tell about the bowl of soup you’re eating; they can, if used correctly, serve as a great tool for writers.
If you’ve been hesitant to start with such a service, here are some reasons why you should consider it:
Recording thoughts: Twitter has become my new “writer’s notebook.” Instead of whipping out my trusty Mead notepad, I simply record my thoughts through TweetDeck (or whatever program or phone app you prefer). Later, I can review them, organize them, and keep whatever I like. But with Twitter, you have the added benefit of others adding interesting observations to your stream of ideas.
Organizing thoughts: When you have only 140 characters to tell what you’re doing, you’re forced to concentrate the message down to the main points. This is a great lesson for anyone who wants to write better prose. In your regular writing, you don’t want to lose all the artistry, of course, but knowing the core message you’re trying to convey will help you remove what’s unnecessary.
Figuring out you: It may not be philosophy class, but answering “What are you doing?” can help you be more of aware of the way you think and act. This, in turn, gives you insight into the way your mind works. Admittedly, I doubt many people stop to consider the implications, but every writer needs to be aware of how they work things out and see the world.
Sounding ideas: Twitter is one of the few places that I can throw out ideas and get feedback almost immediately. It’s like having a roomful of critics and other creative people on hand every single day—for free. On top of that, there’s a constant flow of ideas, tips, and useful web tools. If you’re thinking about how to move a story along or need an example for a persuasive essay, just ask. (Disclaimer: This does somewhat depend on the people who are following you; try to seek out those who engage rather than simply dictate.)
Networking: As I’ve mentioned before, part of writing (especially freelance and fiction) means doing some heavy duty social interacting. While Twitter is not a replacement for other forms of networking, it is an enjoyable way to get to know others in the industry. Through Twitter, I have already made a number of contacts simply by “following” and “talking to” them. In addition, it puts my thoughts, blog articles, and name out there for public scrutiny (more on this in a later episode).
Whatever your thoughts about social networking in general, remember that micro-blogging sites are useful tools for writers. Plus, it’s actually fun seeing what other people think. I hope to meet you on there soon.