How Twitter can make you a better writer (and editor)

When I joined the content team at IF just over a year ago, I came in with the mantra that creative writing made me a better copywriter, and copy writing made me a better creative writer. Despite the obvious differences between the two styles, I strongly believe that they complement each other.

But over the past year I have come to realise that there is another tool in my copywriting arsenal that has affected my writing more than anything – Twitter.

I was a Twitter user for about 4 years before I joined immediate future, but it was not until I was writing for Twitter every day professionally that I realised just how is has benefitted my writing in longer forms (although you may beg to differ!).

Twitter has always been a fantastic resource for writers as far as finding content is concerned, but it is also a superb way to hone your craft and creativity. Here are some of the ways you can use Twitter to become a better writer – or, indeed, give you belief that you are a better writer than you think:

Vocabulary and choice of words

When you’re writing to a character limit, you have no other option but to be brief. And in doing so, it makes you think about the words you use or whether there is alternative synonym to utilise instead to save you a few characters. In doing so, you find new words and new ways to say things that will only make your writing richer.

The two most important tools for anyone writing copy (whether you’ve been trained to do so or not) are physical copies of both a dictionary and a thesaurus. Don’t trust the internet – it’s over-Americanised, meaning you’re more likely to use alternative spellings or miss the nuances in meaning of a specific word.

Clarity and concision

By being forced to be concise, you find yourself removing the fluffy, rambling verbiage that (if you’re anything like me) formed most of your college and university coursework. Over-writing is a major issue in all forms of writing, and across all sectors. Twitter is a fantastic way to practise saying what you want in as few words as possible.

Indeed, one of the world’s leading linguists, Steven Pinker, was interviewed in The Guardian last year, said:

“If you take it as a challenge [Twitter] can hone your skills as a writer. One of the cardinal rules of style is to omit needless words, but that’s what Twitter forces you to do.”

Proofreading

I’ve written before on the importance of proofreading your copy. But without you realising, Twitter is actually helping do exactly that. For instance, if you write a post and add a photo and a URL, more often than not you’ll find yourself frustratingly just over the character limit. You’re forced then to scan your writing a few times for superfluous words, errant punctuation or obvious mistakes.

There’s no rule that says tweets need to be grammatically perfect (or correct in any way), but as a brand – or even as an individual – people will tend to listen more if they can see your copy is error free.

The best advice I would give, especially if you’re conscious of being too flowery or waffling too much, would be to make your tweets too long intentionally. Cutting them back and editing them down is the best way to see these points in action.

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