If you are like me, then I’m sure your life has been forever changed by the glorious sunrise that is Mad Men. It’s awakened a desire in me to dress snappier, order increasingly more complex cocktails, and to write better. In fact, the Social Chic owes it’s existence, at least in part, to the shenanigans of Donald Draper and Peggy.
Since starting The Social Chic, I’ve also been doing a bit of work in the world of copy-writing for my marketing clients. True to Mad Men, the art of writing persuasive text is a difficult task indeed. While I still encounter writing challenges, there is one thing that has gone a long way in improving how I write concise and compelling content. Even if you don’t write professionally, improving your writing skills pays big dividends, regardless of occupation. The art of writing is the art of refining your thoughts, and who couldn’t benefit from improved thinking?
My trick for compelling writing is simple:
A Good Tweet Is One Step Away from Good Writing
This revelation has gone a long way in helping the way I think about writing. A good tweet is a microcosm of best-practice writing techniques, so mastering the art of the tweet leads to the mastery of writing. The writing benefits of Twitter are many, but here are some of the ones that I have noticed:
The main hurdle I face when writing is cogently presenting my ideas. Twitter, with its strict character limit, forces you to distill your thoughts down to their fundamental components, while at the same time maintaining some degree of eloquence. You could think of the perfect tweet as the perfect thesis statement: both have to be compelling, must clearly explain their position, and must be concise. Most people couch their arguments in vagaries, in order to conceal the weaknesses of their position. Twitter allows no literary fog; everything tweeted is straight and to the point. Imagine what a political debate would look like if it occurred on Twitter? Who knows how many people’s political platforms would fall apart without the fog of verbosity and rhetoric?
In addition to being clear, a tweet must be compelling, compelling enough to warrant a click-through or a reply. In order to stand out from the social noise, you need to develop a unique style. With Twitter, you have to put in a great deal of thought to have a unique voice that fits 140 characters or less. If you can be compelling and unique on Twitter, who knows the glories you can pen when your writing is set free. Like living in a world of strict Haiku, Twitter puts immense restraints on your expression, but in doing so trains your creativity and elegance of form.
Finally, Twitter makes you think about grammar, everyone’s favorite subject. Grammar, although the bane of humanity, is the essential foundation of all literary and verbal expression. Like learning to crawl before walking, twitter forces attention on the basics of sentence structure. Run-on sentences simply can’t survive on Twitter.
I’d love to know any insights other people have about this topic. Leave a comment and let me know your thoughts.
Mr. David Benson is a social media analyst and coffeephile. He currently lives in New York City and works as an analyst for Mashwork, a social media analytics company.