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How Twitter Can Help You to Write with Confidence

Twitter still strikes me as an audacious, outrageous experiment.

Thousands of people talking to each other in short bursts of 140 characters.  Ordinary everyday conversations about food or the weather posted on a public timeline, there for all to read.  A service that many of us come to rely on for news, links, ideas, companionship, customers, friendship.

All provided for free.

I’m not going to try and replicate the (many, many) guides on how to use Twitter.   You’ll find a few posts on what it’s about listed at the end.  But when I was thinking about the theme of writing with audacity this month it occurred to me that Twitter was contributing to more confident, colourful, audacious writing.

Of course there are downsides to using Twitter.  It can be:

  • A distraction
  • A time suck
  • An obliteration of the time and focus you need to write something big

But on balance I’d say that Twitter was good for my writing. It’s helped me stretch, create and play.
The Last Judgement by Geek and Poke

Here are 10 ways I’ve found that tweeting can help you to write with confidence.

Twitter provides you with the opportunity to:

Write with brevity You’re limited to 140 characters to express yourself, so you’re forced to cut out unnecessary words… but leave enough to convey your meaning.  It’s a good discipline.

Use your imagination People use Twitter to share links, post pictures, compile song lists, tell stories, raise money… the only limits are in our collective imagination.

Find new resources Many people (me included) enjoy finding new articles, blogs, writers, software and applications through Twitter.  When the resource comes through a (trusted) link from a friend or someone you follow you’re more likely to click through.

Connect with like minded people Connections lead to connections, threaded by conversation.  It’s a great way to connect up with people who have similar interests or values.  You can keep on adjusting your followers to keep up with those that reflect where you’re at.

Share your words with a global audience If you’re interested in writing and the power of words there’s nothing like the buzz of instant feedback, or the knowledge that people are reading and responding all over the world

State your goals in public Some people use Twitter as an accountability mechanism.  Make public your intention to finish a chapter of your phd, complete a novel in November or publish your first book and 100s of people will help you achieve your goal… and celebrate with you when you do

Soften your writing style The conversational, rapid nature of the medium will help to soften your writing style.  While this won’t help you with every writing project it is helpful when you’re writing on the web

Become more playful Rapid fire conversational exchanges encourage creativity and playfulness… don’t you find?

Write through different moods and states 140 characters doesn’t give you much space for wrapping.  One liners can be surprisingly revelatory particularly if they flow from emotional extremes.  There’s a balance to be learned and mastered between letting it all hang out, thinking twice before hitting send, and switching off and waiting for the mood to pass.  I think those are valuable lessons to learn

Write with rapport Above all else I think Twitter will help you to write with rapport.  Recognising where your readers (followers) are coming from.  Pacing yourself for a while, to tune into the mood.  Listening and paying attention to the words that others use.  Playing back those words, affirming things that are important to others.  Focusing on the points that will connect you together.

I could go on with the last one, but I think I’ll save more for another post when I’ve thought about it some more.

Those are 10 of the ways I think Twitter has helped to make me a more confident writer and communicator.

If you’re on Twitter, are you aware of the impact it’s had on your writing?  If you’re  not, are you tempted to jump in and experiment for yourself?

If you’re on Twitter already or just gearing up to join please do follow me (@joannapaterson) and say hello once you’re there.  I don’t automatically follow everyone that follows me, but I do reply to people who chat.

Follow Joanna Young on Twitter

There are zillions of posts on and guides to Twitter out there.  A quick google search will get you going, but here are some recent favourites (including one of mine):

How to Stop Twitter Becoming a Waste of Time by Darren Rowse on TwiTip

You Know You’re Spending Too Much Time on Twitter When… by Valeria Maltoni, Conversation Agent

21 Irresistibly Irresponsible Ways to Tweet with Greater Confidence by Joanna Paterson

25 Traits of Twitter Folk I Admire and 25 Folk Who Have Them by Liz Strauss at Successful Blog

Twitter is My Village, Revisited by Laura Filton aka Pistachio

50+ Writer Uses for Twitter by Meryl K Evans

Last Judgement cartoon by Geek and Poke

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Comments

  1. Evelyn Lim says:

    I’m not always on twitter but the times when I’m on, I can see how important it can be for marketing. Yes, most definitely, to have to squeeze what I need to say in 140 characters requires a touch of creativity! I like your tip on being playful!!

    Evelyn Lims last blog post..101 Negative Money Beliefs

  2. Daphne says:

    Hi Joanna,

    Thanks for this post. I’ve been wondering what on earth to do on Twitter. At the moment I just tweet posts mainly. This gives good food for thought.

    By the way, have you redesigned your blog? I’m quite sure it looks different now, and I love the new look!

    Daphnes last blog post..The Gift of Community

  3. Brad Shorr says:

    Hi Joanna, An interesting list - I never thought about the goal-stating technique, but it makes sense. Twitter definitely forces me to write concisely. I actually find myself editing many my Tweets carefully and wonder if others do the same. As far as rapport, this is an area where I need to improve. I marvel at how certain Twitterers - you and Bob Hruzek for example, can so easily and engagingly pick up a conversation with anyone. For me that is a real challenge.

    Brad Shorrs last blog post..The Home Page - How to Write a Website, Chapter 1

  4. Deborah Johnson says:

    I have found many wonderful writers and blogs through Twitter. It’s a great place for resources, ideas and inspiration. While it has the potential to be a “time suck,” that can be avoided with proper management.

    I recommend Twitter to all writers.

  5. Ulla Hennig
    Twitter: ullahe
    says:

    Joanna,
    Finding new resources is one of the things why twitter has become very important for me. And tweeting blog posts which made me think, though I could do more of that. Connect with likeminded people - yes, absolutely. Become more playful - well, that’s not easy for me. Language is the one reason, and the other is, that being playful is something I have to learn. State your goals in public - haven’t done that yet - too audacious still…

    Ulla Hennigs last blog post..The Blogger as an Artist?

  6. Meghna says:

    I found twitter to be a useful tool which enables to improve my writing. Connecting with many talented writers through twitter is the best thing I enjoy. Thank you for sharing these helpful ways.

    Meghnas last blog post..The Pain of Love

  7. Karen Swim
    Twitter: karenswim
    says:

    Joanna, you have added another important layer to the value of twitter. We often focus on the marketing value but as you pointed out it has tremendous value for creative thinkers / workers. I believe that twitter has helped me to measure my words and find my wit. I can sometimes be funny in 140 characters, who knew! :-)

    Karen Swims last blog post..

  8. Meryl K. Evans says:

    Joanna, your article turned out great and different than I had expected. It adds more depth and thoughtfulness to using twitter. Will tweet it, of course. Plus, it helped me get to know you better and call you a friend.

    Meryl K. Evanss last blog post..50+ Writer Uses for Twitter

  9. Posts about Internet Marketing Experts as of January 29, 2009 | The Lessnau Lounge says:

    [...] for giving  me this book. Very good book, but a bit too generalized. His points are still well How Twitter Can Help You to Write with Confidence - confidentwriting.com 01/29/2009 by Joanna on January 29, 2009 Twitter still strikes me as an [...]

  10. Raima Larter says:

    Thanks for a great post - I found it via…Twitter! Yet another reason for writers to use twitter.

    Raima Larters last blog post..Fractals in Nature

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  12. Davina says:

    Hi Joanna. I like your Thesis look, especially what you’ve done with the Category titles in the sidebar.

    I’m loving Twitter. I joined a month ago and found it hard to break through the “wall”, but now I miss it when my day gets caught up. It’s definitely the playfulness that I like… kind of like a recess from blogging (not that I don’t enjoy blogging). I appreciate when I find an interesting post that I can tweet or be able to help someone out as well. However, I’ve not found it very helpful when I’ve asked a question — but that’s ok.

    It has help me feel more connected to writing and yes, the 140 character limit has been quite interesting.

    Davinas last blog post..Shopping for Effective Attitudes

  13. Gennaro says:

    I resisted for awhile, but tool the Twitter plunge this week. I was a bit worried about it’s effect on writing, but you made some solid points. In fact, I do prefer brevity. The question is whether or not that brevity contains the necessary substance and style. So far, it seems to be a lot better than I expected. It’s not “text-message” type short-hand.

    I’m @EWanderlust

    Gennaros last blog post..Wilderness, Where Art Thou?

  14. Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    says:

    Evelyn, I really think the mixture of the brevity and interaction with others makes it great for the creativity muscles. I look forward to reading playful tweets from you there!

    Daphne, it’s definitely worth experimenting and finding the way of ‘using’ it that works for you. Yes, I have redesigned the blog… a lot - glad you like the look of it!

    Brad, I wonder if it would be worth experimenting with not editing for a while. I find I need to go quite fast to be conversational, which doesn’t allow for editing unless I go over the 140 limit. So long as you’re still setting a positive intention (to be friendly, to be positive, to be conversational) you could then trust your words to come out the right way without needing to edit first. The other trick is… just jump in rather than waiting esp if you’ve got any kind of prior connection with someone. 99% of people will be delighted with the initiative.

    Deborah - I agree, it’s a great resource. You can overload yourself soaking up too many ideas and links… which is why you need to do the other bit you highlight too - manage your time and input there. Thanks for chipping in.

    Ulla, I look forward to seeing more of your playful side emerging. I know you have it… ;-)

    Meghna, I love the way you write and play on Twitter. You had me laughing out loud earlier on - I love your quick wit.

    Karen, I think Twitter’s helped me to be / feel more witty too - which is a good feeling. You are most definitely witty in 140… and a dab hand at throwing in Scots slang too :-)

  15. Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    says:

    Meryl, I think our two articles combined make for a good compilation on writing and twitter. Thanks for your comment about thinking of me as a friend. Isn’t it wonderful how words can create those threads of connection and friendship? Thank you :-)

    Raima, indeed - so many gems to discover on Twitter! good to find you there

    Davina, thanks so much for the feedback on the design. I had too many category titles to do it for all (I have too many category titles… full stop) but I think it works to have a few highlighted.

    I joined Twitter then abandoned it, then tried again and like you say managed to get through the ‘wall’. Once it clicks it can be a lot of fun. I enjoy blogging too - and it’s probably the last thing I’d stop (if torn kicking and screaming away from it) but Twitter is great for keeping up, catching up, getting to know people and yes, having fun. I’m glad you’re enjoying it too.

    Gennaro, it’s definitely worth trying it and seeing how it goes. There’s a surprising amount you can do in 140 and as you’ll see you pretty quickly get a ‘sense’ of the other person from the way they express themselves even in those short tweets. Sometimes I think of it a bit like a dance… or a song… it’s fun to see the interactions, conversations and threads… with a rhythm and life of their own. I look forward to talking to you there some time.

  16. Barbara Swafford says:

    Hi Joanna - Great list. I like how it forces brevity. The only downfall I have is I get to typing too fast and make typos. Unfortunately there’s no way of correcting them.

    Having been on Twitter for one month, I find I really enjoy it. Sometimes when I’m taking a break, I’ll just watch the tweets rolling and and won’t even tweet. It’s entertaining and a great way to get the latest news if you follow any of the networks. I definitely see it’s value.

    Barbara Swaffords last blog post..Celebrating NBOTW One Year Annivarsary With A Free E-Book

  17. Valeria Maltoni says:

    I love how you really embraced the experience, Joanna. Thank you for the shout. I even adopted the @ with the name in my responses in the blog. Twitter injects a whole new level of improv and spontaneity into the equation, which is really good to stimulate creativity.

    Valeria Maltonis last blog post..Trust, Listening, and Doing Something with it are all Connected

  18. How Twitter Can Help You to Write with Confidence | Confident Writing | Writing Help says:

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  19. Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    says:

    Barbara, I think typos are forgiven on twitter… sometimes they can lead to good conversations too. I’m glad you’ve been enjoying your first month - and that you decided to jump in!

    Valeria, yes, the invitation to be spontaneous is a great boost to creativity. It’s definitely been good for me. I’m glad I decided to jump in with both feet… it all became so much clearer after I read your post on Twitter and Italian roundabouts!

  20. Michele says:

    Wow, Joanna, I haven’t been around in a while and thought I was in the wrong place. ;-)

    #1 has been helpful to me. Give me a 1,000 - 2,000 word assignment and I’m thrilled and find it way easier than having to trim a story down to 300 words. So, finding ways to say something in such few words is really good practice.

    *smiles*
    @MicheleTune

    Micheles last blog post..Don’t Let Your Past Keep You from Your Future

  21. Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    says:

    Michele, yep, we’ve just been changing things round a bit ;-) Brevity can be fun - and it still leaves room for us to smile :-)

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  23. Bo says:

    You’ve almost convinced me to go see what this twitter thing looks like. I’ve been hesitating. There’s only so much time, but it sounds like it’s a good resource place, and maybe that would actually save time.

    Na, probably wouldn’t save time. Who am I kidding? :-) But I think I’ll take a peek anyway.

    Bos last blog post..Barn au Natural

  24. Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    says:

    Bo, please don’t take away the idea it’ll save time! It won’t. But it might just add an interesting new dimension to your life. That’s how I’ve found it anyway. Definitely worth a try.

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  26. Kevin Sandridge says:

    Twitter is my lifeline, my sounding board, and my getaway when things get too foggy upstairs - so to speak. I absolutely agree with what you’re saying here about Twitter’s ability to keep us flowing loose and free!

    Kevin Sandridges last blog post..First-Time Home Buyer Tax Credit Unwrapped

  27. Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    says:

    Kevin, Twitter is turning into my creative lifeline too! Glad to know I’m not alone ;-)

  28. Alexander says:

    I love twitter, I am always finding something interested on the site; But at times I find myself distracted when I am using twitter. That is not good when you have a lot to write/

    Alexanders last blog post..Through The Dark Times We Must Overcome

  29. Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    says:

    Alexander, Twitter is a constant challenge for me too, between enjoying the conversation and the resources and then ducking out again so you can concentrate. Or, as you say, write.

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  32. Angel says:

    Hello Joanna,
    Before, I thought that twitter is just a way of keeping connected with your friends especially if you live in both side of the world. Because English is not my first language, I am having difficulty on expressing my thoughts. But when I created an account, it helped me to write short but clear sentences. When I read this post, I find more possible ways to practice my english skills through participating on the conversations. I look forward for more great post.
    .-= Angel´s last blog ..Threadless Tshirt Giveaway at jaypeeonline.net =-.

  33. Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    says:

    Angel hello, and thanks for joining in the conversation here. I have many friends on Twitter whose first language is not English, and it always amazes me how easily they seem to be able to communicate - it’s one of the joys of this medium that it allows us to connect up across traditional boundaries of geography and language. I’m glad you’re finding that tweeting is helping you to practice your english skills too.

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  35. Lance says:

    Great idea’s I always used twitter with the frame of mind that twitter was simply a facebook status update, btw love the word brevity reminds me of haiku’s for some reason ;)

  36. Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    says:

    @Lance: for me, Twitter is definitely a different art form. I like the word brevity too, and some of the other words with that ending, like audacity, and tenacity - I did a whole series of them once.