Is Twitter for Writers?

There are lots of books about Twitter. So many, in fact, that Amazon.com has created a “Best Books” list on the subject. Google estimates there are nearly 1 billion links to the search string “how to use Twitter.” Bing offers up a quarter of a billion results to the query “microblogging with Twitter.”

When I dumped my @Croisan persona on Twitter after reaching 10,000 tweets, I estimated all those little posts added up to one giant book. I thought I should have been directing my writing talent, such as it is, elsewhere.

Yet, with all those words published on and about Twitter, are those of us who contribute to the online service actually writing?

I think not. We’re just talking.

Twitter is a global conversation. It’s like walking into a party with a lot of people, some you know, most you don’t. Chatting up both strangers and friends is the reason we attend the party.

Any good conversationalist thrives on the value of give and take. The structure of Twitter forces us to limit our give in order that we take from others. Bad conversationalists, and that includes many writers, either can’t give little snippets of idle (or vital) chatter because they are too shy, or, all they can do is pontificate at length.

Some writers can only talk about themselves. That’s why so many of them on Twitter only talk about what they’re working on; how many words they’ve written in a day; or where they intend to publish their next great work. They are among the worst, which is to say, most boring people to follow on Twitter, just as they would be deadly guests at any party.

Quite a few writers, though, make excellent guests and tweeps. That’s because they understand the beauty of conversation. Oscar Wilde was one of the most sought after dinner party guests in history. And he’s not known for his long-winded talks during a meal. Rather, beyond his published writings, it is his bon mots for which we know him. He would have thrived on Twitter.

“There is only one thing the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.” Oscar Wilde

© Mark Everett Hall 2011

"A Conversation with Oscar Wilde" – a civic monument to Wilde by Maggi Hambling, on Adelaide Street, near Trafalgar Square, London (Taken from Wikipedia)

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5 thoughts on “Is Twitter for Writers?

    • Ah, I missed an alliterative opportunity to use “cacophonous conversation” in my piece. Drat! And what a terrific “conversation sculpture” of FDR & Winnie. A visual treat.

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