Writing is easy: All you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead. -- Gene Fowler

Monday, January 17, 2011

Writing Weight Loss with Twitter

I've discovered that writing Twitter posts has had the effect of tightening up my writing. With only 140 characters at my disposal I'm forced to be very precise with my words. I'm generally unwilling to use textspeak, such as changing 'you' to 'u' or other such nonsense. That just looks uneducated and unprofessional to me. So I gain characters in other ways. It's certainly gotten me to reduce the clutter in my sentences. Adverbs get cut left and right. Sometimes the resulting tweet seems like it's missing something, some slight nuance of meaning that one word provided. And maybe it does. But maybe that meaning wasn't as important as I'd thought.

I also gain a character or two per tweet by not double spacing after each sentence. When I was learning to type in high school, that was the rule: finish a sentence, double space. It's less important now, with so much writing being done on word processors or other computer software that handles spacing. There's a lot of debate and discussion about this on the Internet for those who care to explore it. Me, I'll keep double spacing in my text unless I need that space, as in tweets. You won't notice my double spacing here in the blog, because Blogger automatically changes my double spaces to single ones. One might argue that by changing to single spacing I could save a whole lot of keystrokes over time, since the second space is eaten by Blogger (and probably other online sites I may post content to as well). Think of the wear and tear saved on my keyboard, let alone my fingers! I shall think kind thoughts at those people and continue in my old-fashioned ways.

Writing a poignant tweet is a little like writing poetry. In poetry, every word counts much more than it would in a longer work. It's one of the reasons I love poetry. I love the economy of language, the painting of landscapes in just a few words, the ability to evoke a mood through a clever turn of phrase. I admire poets who excel at this, and I strive for it in my own writing.

What are your techniques for tweeting? Do you embrace or reject textspeak shortcuts?

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