It’s been almost four years since I first set up my Twitter account. I joined in August 2007 as part of a story I was writing about the implications Twitter could have for journalism.
“I never thought I’d be a Twitterer who twittered tweets” was my lead. (Clearly, the word “tweeted” wasn’t yet part of my vocabulary.)
After I wrote the story, many journalists told me Twitter was just a passing phase, and that it didn’t hold any promise for journalists.
A lot has changed since then.
Twitter is now my primary source of news, as it is for many journalists. But it’s also been an important tool that’s helped me strengthen my writing skills.
Twitter teaches me to write succinctly.
As a writer, I’ve always had a tendency to be wordy. I was the student who wrote longer essays than I needed to, and the newsroom intern who had to be reminded to stick to her word count.
Twitter forced me to change.
The social networking site taught me that in writing, every word counts (literally). By limiting myself to 140 characters, I have to be strategic about how many words I use and how I use them. Training myself to write succinctly on Twitter has made me more aware of extra words in my storie.
Twitter makes me feel like I’m part of a community of writers.
I’ve never met the majority of writers I follow on Twitter, and yet I still feel connected to them. I regularly see their tweets, and sometimes I send them a reply or direct message.
I offer feedback on their work, and I share my own ideas and stories with them. Having these conversations with other writers makes me feel as though I’m part of a community that cares about the written word. And it gives me a chance to strengthen my voice as a writer by contributing to the discussion.
Poynter’s Roy Peter Clark has often said that to be a better writer, you have to read, write and talk about reading and writing. Twitter is one of the best places to have this conversation.