Should writers tweet?

Sage CohenProductive writing3 Comments

Do you tweet? Are you curious about trying? Why should a writer use twitter, anyway? And what’s the best way to get started?

Robert Lee Brewer (poet and editor of Writer’s Market, and Poet’s Market) has a really great post called Twitter Cheat Sheet for Writers (Updated) that explains the advantages of tweeting, gives an overview of the terminology, gives ten tips for optimizing your use of twitter, and even offers some extra resources. I’m going to riff on his great offering with a few insights and tips of my own.

I think there are three, primary advantages for writers who tweet:

  1. Give service. Share relevant information with the people who are seeking your expertise on a certain topic or genre.
  2. Build community. Connect with people all over the world who share your interests and inclinations. Exchange insight, information and inspiration with them.
  3. Evolve. Through the offerings of your tweeting community, you can discover new resources, learn about new opportunities, and plug into possibilities that take your writing life where you want it to go.

As a poet practiced in compression and a marketer practiced at saying something relevant, fast, I’m intrigued by the 140-character limit. Offering something appealing and useful in a sentence or two is an art unto itself. And, whether we like it or not, this is what the reading public’s attention span seems to be dwindling down to; so we may as well get proficient at it.

Still not sure if tweeting is for you? It’s fast and easy to check it out. You can register at twitter for free, create a profile in a minute or two, search on a topic that interests you and follow a handful of people who also report an interest in that topic. Try offering a few tweets directing folks to information that has been useful to you. See who responds. And follow the trail of tweets to see where you are led.

If you really want to be efficient about how you use your tweeting time, first review the great resources Robert mentioned. Plus, I’d like to offer another two that have greatly simplified my information-receiving-and-sharing process:

Google Reader: Compile everything you read online in one fast and simple interface, then easily tweet about everything you want to share with your audience. If you’re not sure what you want to tweet, you can simply scan through the dozens of posts that will surely have collected in your Reader, and share what’s of greatest interest to you.

TweetDeck: Organize your twitter feed to highlight themes, people and #(hashtag) topics that interest you or are most relevant to your platform or genre. (For example, I have a column in TweetDeck dedicated to #poettues, a community of poets facilitated by Robert Lee Brewer that exchanges information about the life poetic on Tuesdays.) When you see certain people appearing again and again in a certain #topic that interests you, you can follow those people if you enjoy the information they share.

What do you love or hate about tweeting? What are you still wondering about? What tips do you have for the rest of us about how twitter has served your writing life well?

3 Comments on “Should writers tweet?”

  1. RE:What do you love or hate about tweeting?
    What are you still wondering about? What tips do you have for the rest of us about how twitter has served your writing life well?

    It’s a frustrating place to get noticed, for me, and even for my Cat, Nikita, who also Tweets. ;-D

    Most of out Tweets, so far, have been links to our blog posts, including our creative writing efforts.

    Trying to connect with fellow writers would be cool if I could find more, and do so easily.

    Nikita is frustrated by the fact that so many of the Critter Twits are not even Critter Bloggers, or in related businesses, and careers, and he has to block so many of the Twits who want to follow him, and hope he follows them.

    I’m going to look at the links you suggest, but in the meantime, here’s a little something to put Tweeting, and what to expect from it, into its proper perspective….

    According to one site that tracks such details…

    @Mad_Macedonian is the 661,309th most popular Twit on Twitter! ;-D

    @Nikita_TwitPuss is somewhere in the 800,000’s, I just couldn’t pin it down, hee, hee! ;-D

    Hey, look on the bright side!

    At least we are among the Top 1 Million!

    Whoo Hoo!!! ;-D

  2. Twitter does seem to be a bit incomprehensible to people before they properly try it out for themselves (I’ve been doing some work training people how to use it lately and getting them from “What’s Twitter?” to actually tweeting can be quite a process).

    As a writer, the best part about Twitter for me is the opportunity to interact with “real” writers (the more-published-than-me kind). I think Twitter’s quite lovely like that – it could be just a one-way conversation with little ol’ me “following” what these people are saying, but it’s actually easy to fall into conversation with them. And that’s usually a good reminder that 99% of published writers are very normal people (perhaps just poorer than average!) and that they too were once unpublished.

  3. Kiril, sounds like finding the right community has been a primary challenge for you! I wonder if joining in conversations with people you (and your cat) admire would help you get better traction? People want to follow folks that they are learning from, inspired by, etc.

    And Amanda, I laughed out loud about the normal people / poorer than average! I agree: it’s really helpful to get all the folks we admire down off their pedestals and into the humble truths of their actual lives! : )

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