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March 27, 2010
How to Use Twitter as the Ultimate Writing Exercise

The micro-blogging platform Twitter has changed communication.

Traditional blogs have evolved into channels for more leisurely reading. They contain the “meaty” stuff that you read when your brain has time to digest long blocks of text. Twitter pages erupt with information that is quick to read, easy to digest, and satisfying -- instant gratification.

Although 140-character tweets may not be for everyone, condensing your thoughts into 140 characters can be a helpful writing exercise. While maintaining proper grammar, spelling, and punctuation, your ideas should be universally understood and autonomous. Make each blurb detailed and clear.

Here are three ways that you can benefit from the “philosophy of a tweet” without actually posting anything on your Twitter page (remember, it’s just writing practice).

Outline 2.0

An outline is a traditional way to organize your thoughts before writing a draft. Instead of listing out ideas, headings, or titles, write complete 140-character summaries. You can then arrange these tweet-inspired pieces in the proper order. Your outline will consist of meaningful and direct ways to start the different sections of your draft.

Characters in 140 Characters

“Just because you are a character, doesn’t mean you have character,” is one of my favorites lines of dialogue from Winston Wolfe (Harvey Keitel) in the film "Pulp Fiction." Whether you’re writing a screenplay, a novel, or any other type of fiction, succinct descriptions of your characters are important throughout the writing process. When you first introduce a fictional character, you have a limited amount of time to reveal crucial background information to the reader. By the same token, if an investor said he’d give you $100 million to make a film out of your screenplay based on a brief description of your main character, what would you say? The description better be impressive.

Think of a business objective, joint venture proposal, or advertising campaign pitch in the same terms. How would you communicate your most vital points in 140 characters to win over a prospective client, partner, or boss?

On a personal level, narrow down your character traits and professional interests for networking events. When you only have a moment to describe your employable skills, you’ll be ready. The ability to articulate your top characteristics is ideal for job interviews as well.

You never know when you’ll be put on the spot to describe something important to you in concise terms. Plan ahead and create perfectly phrased tidbits of your most beloved creative ideas. Use 140 characters as a model.

Fewer Words, Fewer Errors

Unless you are just posting tweets on your Twitter page, your writing project is likely much longer than 140 characters. When you formulate your ideas in 140 characters, however, you’ll find that those potential tweets fit well in your final draft. You won’t have an excessive amount of run-on sentences or unnecessary words to cut out. Each sentence will be initially more cohesive. It’s not that your completed draft won’t need a thorough proofreading, but when text is more refined, it needs less editing and errors are easier to spot.


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Stefanie Flaxman corrects business, marketing, and educational documents in 24 hours. She’s a writing consultant and the founder of Revision Fairy® Small Business Proofreading Services. Check out her free report and subscribe to Small Business Writing Consultant Blog to get free business writing advice. Don’t forget to say hello on Twitter!

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