Monday, November 3, 2014

7 Ways Twitter Helps My Writing

I use Twitter as a microblogging tool.

Because I use photographs, Twitter limits my posts to 118 characters. In that small space I can tell a story about my day.

You can see the results in the sidebar to the right of this post. If you are reading this on your phone, my Twitter stream is here.

A small space to convey an idea forces me to examine my writing skills. Here's 7 ways Twitter is helping me to improve my writing.

1. Make words work harder

I like powerful verbs and nouns.

Adverbs and adjectives can take up space and are just too easy to drop into a paragraph. A river can churn rather than flow rapidly.

2. Avoid complicated sentences

Run-on sentences can be hard to read.

Two simpler sentences can have more impact. They can also take up less space because they eliminate a conjunction and have been simplified.

3. Cut no-value words

When I read a draft, I'm usually surprised at the number of words that add nothing, state the obvious, or provide extraneous detail.

The first draft of this post was double the length of this version.

4. Rein in punctuation

Every comma counts when you're down to a few remaining characters in a Tweet.

I've been reviewing rules for comma usage, eliminating commas where they're unnecessary.

5. Be assertive

The active voice can be more effective and uses fewer characters than the passive voice. Here's some convincing examples.

6. Experiment

It's fun to explore compact writing styles.

For example, I've attempted haiku. Haiku is about being minimal, implying rather than stating.

I believe it's OK to consciously break the rules of writing: poets do that all the time.

7  Edit, edit, edit

Twitter is unforgiving. Once published, you can only delete a Tweet; there is no option to edit.

I try to give a Tweet an extra review before publishing it.


  1. Tom, I really like this. I've just bought a satellite communicator for an upcoming sea kayak trip to NZ and I think I can microblog with it. I shall see what I can do with my dormant twitter account. Beautifully written post by you as usual!

    1. Thanks, Jerry. I am looking forward to reading your microblogs beamed from the sea: wow!