Goins, Writer

On Writing, Ideas, and Making a Difference

Does Twitter Make You a Better Writer?

Twitter Makes You a Better Writer

Tweet, tweet

According to a post on Copyblogger, Twitter makes you a better writer.

For those of you who have been living in a cave for the past five years (I hope it was a nice cave), Twitter is a “micro-blogging” site that allows you to only write 140 characters per post.

News anchors and celebrities and bloggers are leveraging it to build a tribe and reach the masses.

But there’s another aspect of Twitter that we’ve overlooked. It makes you a better writer.

Really, Twitter makes your writing better?

Yep. At least, according to Jennifer Blanchard, author of the aforementioned article. She explains:

What all of this means is, you have to be concise.

You have to know exactly what you want to say, and say it in as few words as possible.

Many writers, however, are “wordy” and often have long, drawn out descriptions and sentences, so it can be pretty difficult to create a message that’s only 140 characters.

In addition to forcing you to be concise, Twitter also forces you to exercise your vocabulary and improve your editing skills, says Blanchard.

I admit I never thought of Twitter as a means of improving one’s copywriting skills, but she makes a point.

In fact, although I’ve been using social media for years, I’ve only recently learned how to use Twitter the right way. And it’s making me a better writer.

Here’s what I’m learning and applying:

  • Get to the point, already!
  • Action-oriented writing gets the best response.
  • You have to write about others more than yourself.
  • Frequency is key to building a tribe, but don’t overdo it.
  • Being responsive and available to your tribe is essential.

Mostly, I’m learning how to be concise

If you struggle with endless blog posts and run-on sentences, start tweeting.

We don’t need more noise. We need more value.

Awhile ago, I learned that really good writers don’t need to write long, drawn-out descriptions in order to communicate their message. They slice and dice; they edit like samurais.

Great writers cut out superfluous “fluff” and stick to the meat of their message.

They don’t use nice-sounding words if they don’t need to. If they do use complex verbiage, they do it in order to deepen the reader’s experience, not to make themselves look smarter.

If you can get into the habit of cutting out the excess, using the right words (not the biggest ones), and editing yourself until you’re as clear as can be, you’ll become a better writer. With or without Twitter (preferably with).

So let’s try it out

In 140 characters or less, tell me about yourself in the comments.

If you come up with something really good, tweet it. While you’re at it, share this post:

If you haven’t registered for a Twitter account yet, do so by clicking here (it’s free). Once you’re on there, follow me and say hi.

Has Twitter taught you to be a better writer? How? Share in the comments (and tell me about yourself).

About Jeff Goins

I am the author of four books, including The Art of Work. I also run an online business teaching writers how to get the attention their work deserves. Every week, I send out an email newsletter with free tips on writing and creativity.

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  • http://warriorshepherd.com/blog/ Dave Hearn

    Twitter may make you a more concise writer, but I think there are still some pitfalls that it can make you fall into–namely the lack of pronouns, articles, and using weird abbreviations…

    But I am a fan of concise writing. And a fan of starting sentences with “But” and “And”.

    (By the way, nice site. I may be in touch for your copy writing skills in the future.)

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      You’re right, Dave. It’s a potentially slippery slope.

  • http://jeffgoins.myadventures.org Jeff Goins

    Thanks, Dave. Good call on twitter’s limitations in making you a better writer. You’re right. I think this advice is only relevant to those who are willing to apply it. For many, twitter makes you a sloppier writer (in order to be pragmatic).

  • http://thinkspurlove.blogspot.com David

    I was once told a story about a journalist’s first assignment. He covered some major event and sent in a long and detailed multiple page story. His editor called him back and said if God can tell the creation of the entire universe in 700 words or less, you can do better.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      That’s good.

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  • http://twohourblogger.com Martyn Chamberlin

    I love Twitter. Don’t know how else to say it. It’s cooler than Facebook. That (fairly) recent redesign turned it into a shiny object that can’t be ignored. 

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      me, too.

  • http://www.kristinnador.wordpress.com Kristin Nador

    Twitter has shown me there’s an art to the pithy observation and  I am no ‘artiste’ in that arena. As for me in 140 or less:

    Truth hunter, tea sipper, and recovering pessimist starting second life as a writer. I have a compulsion for obscure pop culture references.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      such as…?

  • http://somewiseguy.com ThatGuyKC

    I’m a Twitter/Mac/Google fanboy who loves to write, start, create while encouraging and connecting others.
    (with 34 characters to spare)

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Perfect! Enough for a RT.

  • http://www.bretmavrich.com Bret Mavrich

    What makes for good writing makes for good tweeting. Do you know why people hate to read boring books? They hate to read boring sentences.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Concise! Well written. Right on.

      • http://www.bretmavrich.com Bret Mavrich

        Thanks Jeff. I just signed up for the new eBook the other day. Can’t wait to read it.

        • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

          Awesome. I trust that you got it? (Nice pic, btw!)

          • http://www.bretmavrich.com Bret Mavrich

            Jeff, I did get it. Thank you. I look forward to getting to know you better. (BTW, what’s blog rocket all about?)

  • http://lifeallin.ent Jacob Musselman

    Putting life on the line to pursue God-given dreams; gaining new friends & loving old ones; squeezing out every drop of fun along the way.

  • Ines Franklin

    Love this post.  But, if you want to be an amazing writer, tweet only 120 characters so that others can share what you say.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Amen, Ines!

    • http://twitter.com/JourneyMike Michael Cheshire

      Great point. Something that I’ve really never thought of in my tweets. 

  • Ernie

    I really enjoy trying to pack a lot of punch into my tweets…though sometimes I laugh at myself for spending so much time on 140 characters!

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Really? Like, how much?

      • Ernie

        Sometimes I sit there for 2-3 minutes and occasionally I’ll stew on one for 10-15 minutes during a break at work or one my drive home. Not sure how much of a difference they made, but I generally walk away feeling like I tweeted something decent!

        • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

          Nice! Thanks for doing more than adding to the noise.

  • Sharideth Smith

     i’ve always been a pretty efficient writer.  primarily because i’m lazy.  twitter has taught me to choose my words more carefully to get across not only the right idea, but the right tone.

  • Sharideth Smith

     i’ve always been a pretty efficient writer.  primarily because i’m lazy.  twitter has taught me to choose my words more carefully to get across not only the right idea, but the right tone.

  • http://www.atlumschema.com Andy Mort

    It’s made me a better writer because it’s given me access to countless other writers, blogs etc and this has had an incredible impact on what I have learned.  I think this is the most important thing – I have learned by observing other people’s tweets, seeing what is possible and having no pressure fun within the constraints of 140 characters. It is also a mind trainer – allowing the airing of micro-thoughts that would previously have got no air.  I’ve found little tweets have developed into fully fledged ideas that I didn’t pre-conceive.  Sorry, I know that’s not what this post was about but I just wanted to take it from a slightly different angle! :)

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      I like this about Twitter, too — the networking side of it.

      • http://www.atlumschema.com Andy Mort

        Yeah totally. Although, I wouldn’t necessarily say it is ‘active’ networking that has made me a better writer, rather just the access to networks of writers (‘passive’ networking/observing) through clicking on links I have seen and reading. Not necessarily engaging verbally/typerly, if that makes sense. In other words, I have learnt from quietly watching from the sidelines before diving in myself – but then I’m just that sort of person! :)

  • http://www.dberruti.blogspot.com Deb.

    Living the dream & loving it, misadventuring, short-story-long-girl who’s clearly been living in a cave and is in desperate need of twitter.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      I like the word “misadventuring.” :)

  • Yahya6699


  • Patricia W Hunter

    A writer and photographer, I’m cultivating “an eye for life’s mercies” on Pollywog Creek, with my husband, daughter, two cats and one dog.

    Very interesting commentary from you and CopyBlogger, Jeff. Thank you. 

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Love the fact that you live on Pollywog Creek.

  • Anonymous

    Lover of trance music, blogging, WordPress, social networks and networking. Looking to the future instead of the past.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Stuart, what exactly IS trance music?

      • Anonymous

        Hey Jeff,

        Trance music is a genre of Electronic Dance Music (EDM) that was extremely popular as I grew up in the late 90s. It continues to attract people to the scene, with tens of thousands attending even just one event at stadiums/venues/festivals around the world.

        It has a broad range of sound, from being quite progressive, vocally or a tougher sound.

        I started a trance blog in 2009 and just lately I redesigned it and have started posting to it again. I’ll give it a full launch once I have some other features in place > http://www.ilovetrancemusic.com

  • http://duane-Scott.net/ Duane Scott

    I love this! I now finally have the justification I needed to keep twitter. :) 

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      hah! er, um… you’re welcome?

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  • Denise Richter

    Twitter is my own AP Wire. People who feed my mind, spirit and funny bone are worth following. Love it! As for me: mother, wife, daughter, sister, friend, teacher and blogger. Thanks for your blog! Cheers, Denise  http://sanantoniotourist.wordpress.com

  • Joann Sosa

    lazy dreamer [id is often no match for my ego]. gratefully creativity drives me and ambition rides shotgun!

    YAY me! expresssed w/ 33 characters to spare!!
    often 140 characters to say what I must is excitedly challenging YET since this was about oneself it was moreso.. pressing! LOL!

  • http://sdavismedia.com/ Sean Davis

    You know, I started feeling this way once I really started to get into Twitter. It was a challenge for me to tweet because I used to be a fluff writer. I didn’t know any better!

    Though I didn’t use Twitter to help me improve my skills, I have been learning to be more concise. Mainly, I’ve learned a lot from reading the work of other writers. As a reader, I noticed how much I hated the fluffy stuff and enjoyed reading the focused writing. Why I felt the need to be fluffy is beyond me. I think it was my way of proving that I was smart.

    Now I know better.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins


  • http://twitter.com/PatWooldridge Patricia Wooldridge

    Twitter helps me be more concise. I love interacting, and am impressed by the wisdom and fun that others share. 

  • Lee Lueck

    This post reminded me of my first tweet: Writing in fewer than 140 characters is the perfect platform for an editor.