Today is the day when I typically blog (I usually I publish new posts on Wednesdays and Saturdays) and by Rachael's request, one of my Twitter followers, it shall be about what Twitter taught me about writing, and Twitter taught me a lot. If you're a writer and are not on Twitter yet, you should consider joining. The community of writers there is amazing, and it's by far the perfect medium that I found to express myself daily, hourly, heck, even minute by minute, to sharpen my language. Here is what it did for me:
My book is not published yet, and I already have a reader base. Perhaps the biggest thing that I learned from being on Twitter is that people actually like my writing and want to read it. Seriously. When I started out, I didn't think anybody would care. I had my Twitter account set up a while ago, in January of 2010, but only started actively tweeting about writing when I quit my career in May of 2012 to write full time. I began with 2,000 followers in May of last year and am over 50,000 followers now (I blogged about how I got to this number here.) At first I timidly did what other writers do, posting links to smart articles, tweeting smart sounding thoughts of other people, and in general being very serious. In time, I noticed what other writers do, like Maureen Johnson, for example. I saw that she is being herself and is completely goofing off. So I tried to tweet what I really thought, what came into my head. It got retweeted. I tweeted some more. It got retweeted some more. Slowly, I gained confidence in the fact that people actually like what I write, and like what I tweet, where as before I thought it was a bunch of nonsense in my head. In short, tweeting my real thoughts on writing, my real pains and aches and triumphs and victories gave me enormous confidence as a writer. It taught me that my writing gets better the more I write, or, in this case, the more I tweet (you can see instant feedback based on the number of favorites or retweets).
My beta readers have helped me shape my novel. This is directly tied to me tweeting my writing progress, my daily tribulations, my wrestling with my own inner demons and continuing to write no matter what. When my drafts were complete, simply because I have, unknowingly, built up anticipation, there were always many eager people to Beta Read my drafts, and their feedback helped me enormously. Those were people who were complete strangers, apart from our interactions on Twitter, and therefore they were very honest in their feedback, both positive and negative. It helped me grow as a writer, it also taught me that it's absolutely okay to write utter shit, as long as I continued writing every day, because of this collective community experience, where people have already done what I was doing, namely, writing their 1st novel. If you ask me, Twitter is way better than any writer's group. It's instant, it always perfectly fits into your schedule, and it's candid. There is none of this sugaring over that you don't need. In short, my twitter followers taught me that it's okay to fail.
I learned to tell a story in 140 characters. This is probably my favorite take-away from Twitter. Often I would want to write a whole paragraph, to express a particular thought, but I couldn't! 140 characters only can hold so many words, so I would edit, and think, and edit some more, and think some more, and then finally come up with the same thing I wanted to say, but in very few words. You know what this is called? It's called, gold. Because when I started doing rewrites of my drafts and editing, oh, this came in handy big time. I would see same long paragraphs in my writing and suddenly I knew how to trim them, simply because I had daily practice on Twitter. This taught me concise thinking, and soon much shorter sentences started automatically come into my head when I write, all from the practice of daily tweeting.
I'm not the only one who doubts, Neil Gaiman doubts too. It's one thing to be all afraid because you're a rookie and a nobody like me, it's completely another thing to have doubts when you're Neil Gaiman. And reading Neil's tweets, his doubts, his fears about his new book coming out and what people will think about it gives me liberty to be okay with my doubts. We, artists, always doubt out art, and it's okay. The most important thing is to keep creating art and keep sharing it, and in this sense Twitter taught me courage. Slowly, timidly, I came out of my shell and opened up. This feeling is incredible, it enables me to write on the days when I don't want to write, when I horrible, and lonely, and scared, and think that my writing is shit and nobody will ever want to read it. What else can a writer ask for? Twitter is like my daily muse, it never quits, it always prods me, and it keeps me going.