A few months ago, I wrote a post on how Blogs and Wikis make students better writers–teachers too for that matter–and wanted to follow it up with how tweeting improves writing. In the interest of brevity, here are three quick ways:
You learn to be concise.
Twitter gives you only 140 characters to get the entire message across. Letters, numbers, symbols, punctuation and spaces all count as characters on Twitter. Wordiness doesn’t work. Twitter counts every keystroke and won’t publish anything with a minus in front of the word count.
At first blush, that seems impossible. It’s not, though. It challenges you to know the right word for every situation. People with a big vocabulary are at an advantage because they don’t use collections of little words to say what they mean, they jump right to it. All those hints your English teacher gave you–picture nouns and action verbs, get rid of adverbs and adjectives–take on new meaning to the Twitter afficionado.
You learn to be focused
With only 140 characters, you can’t get off topic or cover tangential ideas. You have to save those for a different tweet. Tweeple like that trait in writers. They like to hear what your main topic is and hear your thoughts on it, not your meanderings. When you force yourself to write this way, it really doesn’t take a paragraph to make a point. Use the right words, people get it. Consider that the average reader gives a story seven seconds before moving on. OK, yes, that’s more than 140 characters, but not much.
Here’s an idea. If you feel you must get into those off-topic thoughts. write them in the tweet and then edit. Go through your overly-long tweet and cut cut cut.
Writing short messages helps you perfect the art of “headlining”.
Fiction writers call this the book or story’s title. Bloggers and journalists call it the headline. It has to be cogent and pithy enough to make the audience keep reading, but it also has to grab them. That’s a tweet. if you can’t grab tweeple in 140 characters, they won’t come back to your profile.
Tweets need to be written knowing that tweeple can @reply
Yes. This is the world of social networks where people will read what you say and comment. That’s a good thing. It’s feedback and builds an online community, be it for socializing or business. Develop a thick skin and take comments with a grain of salt and two grains of aspirin.
Tweet me at #askatechteacher with your thoughts.
–reprinted with permission © Examiner