5 Ways Twitter Helps You Become a Better Writer

 

I’m so excited to be over at the awesome Sacha Black’s this week. Her intro for my post gave me a good laugh. Much love to her for that and for hosting my words and wisdom. Or my words, anyway.

Check it out and drop a comment completely agreeing with me (or heckling…I’m good either way). Cheers!

 

 

Whether you love Twitter, hate it, or feel a bit iffy, I’ve got news for you.

Tweeting improves your writing.  

Clicking the button on someone’s blog with that little blue bird on it doesn’t count. I’m talking about composing a tweet. Writing something. All the cool kids are doing it. I’ve lost count of how many hashtag games there are on Twitter.

What am I going on about? Here’s what: Twitterature. Get it? Twitter Literature. I know. Sounds made up. It’s not. It’s a real thing. Seriously.

If you’re a writer not taking part in any of the prompts on there, you’re missing out.

Why are you missing out? Here’s why: Microbursts. Get it? Micro fiction bursting with story. This one is not a real thing—it’s something I completely made up for my book but totally should be a thing. (For my fellow nerds, yes, microbursts are real but they are a weather phenomenon so don’t go there. We’re talking about writing. Focus, people!) You’d be surprised how much you can fit in a tweet.

Let’s talk about how this fast-paced platform helps you become a better writer.

 

Way 1 – Learn to Be Concise

You have to be brief when writing a scene, story, or joke in 140 characters or less. Even if you tend toward the dark side of verbosity, you can tweet. If you’re naturally wordy, you won’t be. You can’t be. It’s 140 characters. With a hashtag. You can’t afford to be long-winded. Succinct is the secret. The limit forces you to edit. Every. Word. Counts. Cut the crap, you know? Get rid of it. If it doesn’t fit in that tiny tweet, make it fit. Writers from all genres do this every day on Twitter.

Continue reading…

 

Why You Should Embed Tweets in Your Blog Post

 

lemon-shark-screen-shot-sarahb

 

I shared how to embed tweets in a blog post but you may be asking yourself why you’d want to.

 

You: “So, Sarah, that was cool and all but why would I need tweets on my blog?”

Me: “What?! Because!”

You: …

Me: “It’s awesome, that’s why!”

You: …

Me: “Okay. I’ll tell you.”

 

These embedded tweets are… Psst… Come closer… *whispers* Interactive.

I know, right? How cool is that?! Readers can do anything right from your blog.

  • Open your tweet
  • Visit your timeline
  • Check out a hashtag
  • Follow
  • Like
  • Retweet
  • Reply

Everything is clickable. It’s basically a live tweet. One that you’ve highlighted. One that you want to share with your blog readers.

I do like Twitter but, let’s face facts, that thing moves like ticker tape. It’s so easy to miss tweets from your tweeps. Depending on how often you post, that tweet is going to be much more visible here.

And it doesn’t have to be just one. You can make an entire post from tweets. Maybe you’ve had an interesting conversation about traditional vs indie publishing. Or the best way to make brownies. Or whether spiders or rats have had better PR. (I’ve had that last convo quite recently: Mickey Mouse and Spider-Man. It was weird.)

Regardless, it makes for a fun post and people can interact with each tweet by liking, retweeting, and even replying to it right from your blog.

 

FOLLOW:

This allows readers to…well…follow you.

Click to enlarge

 

TIMELINE:

Your name/avi brings readers directly to your timeline. (They can open a specific tweet by clicking on the time/date of the embedded tweet.)

Click to enlarge

 

LIKE:

Click to enlarge

 

RETWEET:

Click to enlarge

 

REPLY:

Readers can reply to your tweet right here.

Click to enlarge

A pop-up box appears, they write 140 characters (or less) in reply to you, then click “tweet”. This shows up on their timeline and yours. Nice!

Click to enlarge

 

Let’s try this, shall we? I’ll embed a tweet or two, you have fun:

 

 

* I tried a poll a few years ago and, when I posted about it, most bloggers said they hadn’t seen the poll on Twitter. If you embed it, both your blogging friends and your tweeps can vote.

 

Hope you found some fun ways to use a tweet on your blog. Remember…a well-placed tweet can make a good post great. (I just made that up but it’s kind of cool.) 🙂

Happy blogging (and tweeting) days, my friends!

 

How to Embed Tweets in Your Blog Post

 

lemon-shark-screen-shot-sarahb

 

Tweets aren’t just for Twitter anymore.

Here’s a neat thing you can do with those tweets right here on your WordPress blog. It’s wicked cool. And easy. 3 steps…done.

All of you lovely bloggers know I’m not a techie but I wanted to share this fun find with you.

I have visuals, too, which is awesome. Admittedly, I went a bit bonkers with the arrows but…you get the point. (I know. I’m hilarious.)

First we’re going old school with a “cut and paste” URL option, then we’ll embed an html code like we know what we’re doing.

No need to hurt your eyes squinting at the screenshots—you can click to enlarge them. Let’s get tweeting on our blogs.

 

Copy Link Option:

STEP ONE:

Choose the tweet you want. Click on the cute, little grey v-shaped thingy in the top, right corner.

Click to enlarge

 

STEP TWO:

You’ll see a drop-down menu with all sorts of neat things like “pin to your profile page” (or “unpin” if it’s already pinned), “share via DM”, and “delete tweet” (for those times when Twitter decides to add a typo after you’ve posted). Click on “Copy link to tweet”.

Click to enlarge

Here is what you’ll see. Select and copy. It’s a URL so you can use this anywhere you’d use a link.

Click to enlarge

 

STEP THREE:

Open a post and paste the copied link. You’ll be in “visual” view for this. Hey! There’s a tweet!

Click to enlarge

Copying the link works well on WordPress but may not work on other platforms. On a website, for example, this option will simply create a URL to the tweet.

 

Embed Code Option:

STEP ONE:

We’re going to embed that tweet now. Hold on to your hats. Choose the tweet you want. Click on the cute, little grey v-shaped thingy in the top, right corner. There’s that drop-down menu. Click on “Embed tweet”.

Click to enlarge

Here is what you’ll see. Select and copy the html code.

Click to enlarge

 

STEP TWO:

Open a post. Switch to “text” view. Paste the code. Hmm…there’s a bunch of html stuff there I don’t understand. *shrugs*

Click to enlarge

 

STEP THREE:

Let’s switch to “visual” view and see what happens… There they are! Except, erm, they look different. Click “Preview”.

Click to enlarge

No worries! When you preview, they look the same.

Click to enlarge

Embedding has a few more options and benefits but, for the sake of brevity (and for those who don’t play well with html), these are two ways to get a tweet into a WordPress post. Pick one, have fun, and tweet on.

Tune in tomorrow, Same Bat-Time, Same Bat-Channel, for my follow-up post on embedding tweets. What they are and why you want to use them.

Happy blogging days, my friends.

 

Breathe In, Breathe Out… Check Twitter, Answer Emails

 

Meditation Beach - sig

 

I’m meditating.

Yay, me.

I’ve tried this before but never stuck with it.

Meditation has always felt like a hand-me-down sweater that looked pretty on my older sister but never fit me quite right.

So, recently, I ditched the books and switched on my phone.

That’s right. I’d decided to turn my phone off to reduce stress. Now I’m going to turn it on again (first thing in the morning—fab way to start the day) with emails, calendars, and social media waiting to pop up and bury me in notifications. Why? To reduce stress, of course.

A soft voice is telling me to take a deep breath in…and out…in…and out, feeling the stress melt away as I become mindful of the TEXT MESSAGE: WHAT TIME IS YOUR DR APPT? in…and out…notice your breath rising and falling…rising…falling…TWITTER: SOMEONE LIKED ONE OF YOUR TWEETS! notice where the tension in your body is…WORDPRESS: NEW COMMENT WAITING APPROVAL ON LEMON SHARK REEF!

Cell phones are an odd place to go for relaxation.

Yet, here we are. Or, as I like to say, “It has come to this.” The digital generation where everything you could ever want is waiting on your home screen.

‘Tis true. There’s an app for pretty much everything now (but that’s another barrel of bananas).

There are tons of meditation apps out there ranging in focus (housework, walking, commuting, work, pregnancy…) and price (free, $100/year, $30/year, $3.99 one-time purchase…). With all the choices available, I’m overwhelmed. I’m spending a lot of time sifting through them. I’m having difficulty choosing one. It’s starting to stress me out.

I don’t write about irony a lot but a lot of things I write are ironic.

This is one of them.

First, turning on a device that’s distracting and stressful to become mindful and reduce stress.

Second, trying to choose one in the enormous collection of meditation apps saturating the virtual world.

Yes, I can turn off my notifications when I meditate. Then turn them all back on. Every. Single. Time. Yeah, that won’t happen. And phones ring with, like, phone calls. Yes, I can turn my ringer off. That won’t happen, either. Also, they have handy things like reminders, notes, and to-do lists that screech, “LOOK AT ME! I’M IMPORTANT!” And you have to yell back at them that you’re on your way to Calm and you’ll get to them later and, by that point, you’ve lost your way.

 

“How do I get to Calm?”

“Oh, that’s easy. Go to the corner of Distraction and Stress. Take a sharp right onto Digital Way, where you’ll see notes, reminders, and to-do lists. Pass those and keep going straight until you reach Relaxing Scenery. If you don’t like that space, you can dive into the scum-covered Decision Pond and wade through until you find a new Calm. Good luck!”

 

So. It has come to this.

 

Do you meditate? If so, have you ever used an app? How is that working for you? (Feel free to drop the name of the app in the comments if you like it. Thank you kindly.) Whether you meditate or not, what are your thoughts on using an app for this practice?

 

Go *Tweet* Yourself

 

Go Tweet Yourself - sig

 

I just figured out I could retweet myself.

Late to the party.

I won’t lie. I played around with it a bit, hovering over those double arrows, clicking them, unclicking them, and generally goofing around.

My first thought, before I played, was: “That’s weird. Why would I do that?”

My second thought was: “I wish Twitter would introduce some useful new features.” (Ahem. Edit button.)

It went downhill from there:

“Hee-hee. I wonder if I’ll get a notification from myself that I got an RT from myself.”

“Where would it come from?”

“What would it say? ‘You retweeted you!’ or ‘You really think you’re something special to RT your own tweet, you humble fool.’

But, then, I got to thinking about how I use my Twitter account.

As I’ve mentioned, I mine my own tweets for future short stories and flash. So it might be kinda cool to revisit a piece of micro fiction and have it show up on the timeline of someone who missed it.

Then again, I could just pin it or copy and paste it into a new tweet… So, I guess, I’m back to my first reaction. Retweeting yourself is weird.

My Sunday thoughts in 200 words or less.

ThoughtBubble

Do you retweet yourself? Did you know you could retweet yourself? Do you find any benefits to retweeting yourself that I’m completely missing? Did you notice how I just like saying ‘retweet yourself’ because I’m immature and find it amusing?


Q&A, FAQ, FYI #Tweets4Blogs

 

As you know, I created a writing prompt for my tweeps. It’s been wicked fun and I know a couple writers who have already used their tweets to write a flash or blog post (myself included).

But this is a new venture and I’m working out the kinks. So, today, I’ve ditched my poor Thought Bubble in favor of a follow-up FAQ to the original #Tweets4Blogs post.

 

Sarah Brentyn tweet4blogs - sig

 

I have a hat. For real. I’m using the old pick-a-name-out-of-a-hat trick. (Hee. Hat trick. Nice.) Anyway, each week, I’ll put in slips of paper with forms on them (1 line, memoir, haiku, etc.) to decide what we’ll be writing that week.

Yes. This is exactly what you’ve gotten yourself into. A prompt from a hat. But, hey, don’t underestimate the power of a hat. I mean, Harry Potter was sorted by one. It gave him a sword to defeat the basilisk in the (secret) chamber of secrets. Also, it sings. Wicked powerful.

After the hat business, I’ll make up a prompt. It’s going to be silly sometimes so bear with me.

Remember our mantra: It doesn’t have to be good, it just has to be done.

I want you to have buckets full of gems to dig through for your blog so, when I create the prompt, I’ll keep that in mind. But I’ll also be thinking that I want you to have fun.

Don’t take yourself too seriously. It’s unbecoming. And not allowed. I’m very strict about this rule.

Everything is good. We’re all shiny, happy people here. Okay, really not. Please don’t be a shiny, happy person near me. *shudders*

Okay! Rules!

Eh. No rules. (But here is a “FAQ” or “Q&A” page.) Also known as “FYI”. Pick one.

These tweets are yours. They are for you. Your own mine full of gold. But I’ll let you know some stuff. (And I’ll alter this page as we go along.)

 

#Tweets4Blogs Idea Sarah B

Original artwork by @ReeDwithaBee

 

The tweets from the last few weeks? Amazing. I’m blown away by the variety and quality of responses. Just awesome.

Here are the FAQs:

  • Why the heck are you doing this? To give you inspiration for your blogs (flash fiction, short stories, posts…whatever floats your boat). My glorious reward? Reading your awesome writing and knowing you’re building a gold mine.
  • When the heck are you doing this? Tuesdays. (I will pin the prompt to the top of my Twitter timeline.)
  • Is there a due date? No. These are ideas, sparks of inspiration. For you. Sticking to Tuesdays gives you a better chance at making sure you write weekly but, basically, “whenever” is a good time to tweet.
  • Should I “reply” to your tweet? No need to “reply” to my prompt, just write your own tweet using the hashtag #Tweets4Blogs. Also, you don’t need to link back to me, my tweet, or my blog. These are for your own, special Twitter library.
  • How do I write the hashtag? Hashtags are not case-sensitive so whether you write #Tweets4Blogs, #TWEETS4BLOGS, or #tweets4blogs, you’re good.
  • What are we writing? We’ll be using various forms of poetry and prose (see Forms below). Each form should follow the prompt for that week.
  • How many should I write? As many as you’d like. If you have time for one, write one. If you want to write two, ten, twelve, go for it.
  • Will you RT every tweet? I’ve actually decided not to RT these. Here’s why.
    • First, these are for you. I want the #Tweets4Blogs hashtag to be a fun way to get you tweeting interesting material that you can find in one quick step.
    • Second, I don’t want to miss anyone. It is SO easy to do. (I know this because I missed a few last week.) How did I manage that? I’ll tell you. Writers respond to the prompt on different days. Also, some people participating in this have private accounts so their tweets don’t show up under the hashtag. In addition, some Twitter twerps have started using the hashtag for their own nefarious purposes and mucking up the feed. Damn them! (It’s only been two weeks—how did they even find us???) So there you have it. Just know I am reading and loving these tweets you’ve written.

Forms:

First line – One sentence (the, erm, first line)
1 line
– One sentence
Micro fiction – A story/piece of fiction
Memoir – Nonfiction (about you or, at least, based on a true story)
6 words – Um. This would be six words (See what I did there?)
Haiku – A 3 line poem using the 5/7/5 format. First line 5 syllables. Second line 7. Third line 5.

Prompts:

This will be anything from “cookies” to “a 7-yr-old trying to take over the world”.

You’ll soon have a collection of awesome stuff you’ve written which you can quickly and easily find on Twitter. Using the search bar, enter your handle and the hashtag. Like this:

@sarahbrentyn #Tweets4Blogs

And, just like magic, all your words will pop up for you to admire and, hopefully, use on your blog.

Go forth and tweet, my fellow word weavers! And, remember our mantra: It doesn’t have to be good, it just has to be done.

 

A few tweeps wanted to participate last week and said their writing was kind of, um, bad (for lack of a better word). My answer to that is as follows:

“No, no! You’re thinking about this all wrong. Bad writing, clichés, fragments, adverbs… All good.  This is a no-pressure prompt! Now go write!” See? No pressure. *mwah* Believe it or not, even what you think of now as “bad” writing can later spark an idea for a beautiful blog post. It happens. Trust me.

See you on Twitter. Same Bat-Time, Same Bat-Channel.

 

Be Your Own Muse #Tweets4Blogs

 

Sarah Brentyn tweet4blogs - sig

 

I’m tired of my talented tweeps telling me they have nothing interesting to write. (Say that three times fast.) Whether on their blogs or on Twitter… Doesn’t matter.

So. We’re going to mine our tweets for inspiration. (Please do read that when you get a chance—it’s short.) Yes, you will have something to mine. And, no, it will not be boring.

I’ve had numerous fellow writers recently ask me about Twitter prompts.

I have pointed them (you know who you are!) in the direction of a variety of challenges but I think there’s some shyness or confusion somewhere.

No matter.

Here’s the deal. I am going to give you a prompt each week and you will write a poem or micro fiction or memoir in 140 characters or less.

It will take no time at all and you will soon have a collection to scroll through for your blog. You might spark an idea or an entire blog post. Maybe a flash fiction piece.

I’m going to make this easy.

Every Tuesday I will pin a prompt to the top of my timeline. Why Tuesday? Eh. Why not?

Follow the prompt, write something, and use this hashtag: #Tweets4Blogs

Like this:

I’m writing haiku
To demonstrate how easy
Tweets 4 Blogs will be 

#Tweets4Blogs

See, in that “haiku”, I’ve also managed to demonstrate how awful the writing can be. But that doesn’t matter. It’s the spark of the idea, remember? Good.

Once you’ve tweeted, move on with your day. That’s it. In a few weeks, use the search bar and enter your handle and the hashtag. Like this:

@sarahbrentyn #Tweets4Blogs

Look at the garden you have! No, seriously, look at that stuff. It’s gold.

The seeds of inspiration that move like ticker tape on a Twitter timeline don’t have to be masterpieces.

Here’s our mantra: It doesn’t have to be good, it just has to be done.

Two minutes. Every week.

 

Be your own muse!

Visit me on Tuesdays for the prompt.

 

Mine Your Own Tweets

 

Break out your spinning wheel. With all the straw stuffing your Twitter timeline, you can find some serious writing gold.

Look at your tweets because there’s a story there. Possibly many.

Right there. See that? It’s the beginning of a blog post. Maybe even a personal essay. It could be turned into some flash fiction.

Mine your tweets. You’ll find some gems in there.

Scroll through your Twitter account. Tweeting doesn’t carry the same pressures as other types of writing. They’re often spontaneous, unfiltered thoughts.

Tweets have your voice, your experiences, your opinions. And something about the content made you want to put it in writing and publish it.

Not all that glitters is gold, though, right?

So let those zingers and one-liners be. If it fit into 140 characters neatly, leave it alone. Or pin it to your profile page. But don’t drag it out and drag us through a post about something that should have been left on your timeline. If you have to force it, let it be.

Otherwise, grab that tweet and spin it like Rumpelstiltskin.

 

Rumpelstiltskin

Illustration by Paul Zelinksky

 

My Sunday thoughts in 200 words or less.

ThoughtBubble

Do you ever look through your Twitter (or Facebook) timeline? Do you grab ideas/words/stories from there?

 

 

Tweeting Into ‘The Nothing’

 

If a tweet falls on a timeline and no one clicks it does it make an impression?

 

The Nothing - sig

 

We’ve all blogged into The Nothing. Most of us, anyway. Blah, blah, publish… Crickets.

(Or grasshoppers. I always mix those up. Actually, we found a huge one of these insects a few weeks ago and it turned out to be a katydid. Cool, huh? Just agree. Indulge my inner nerd.)

What about tweeting into The Nothing?

I’m not sure what a tweet actually does if it doesn’t translate to a visit to your blog—a comment, a reading, or a simple “like”. I’m not that great at math but when I see 15 RTs and 2 visits…

“Tweet Activity” is mind-boggling: Impressions, Engagements, Retweets, Interactions, Link Clicks… They even have percentages, line charts, bar charts… It’s wild that I get to see that data & info and you don’t. I feel like the Great and Powerful OZ.

Here’s what you see: I tweeted your post and it only has 1 retweet. Here’s what you don’t see: 12 Link Clicks. Or, conversely, you see 12 retweets but don’t see there’s only 1 Link Click.

Things aren’t always what they seem.

 

My Sunday thoughts in 200 words or less.

ThoughtBubble

Do you view your Tweet Activity?

If a tweet falls on a timeline and no one clicks it does it make an impression?

 

* Tip: hover over each tweet activity—it explains the feature. It’s kind of interesting.


My Twitter Poll and Pinstagram

 

I sort of mocked the new poll feature on Twitter. And by “sort of”, I mean I did. It was rude.

Pinstagram1 - sig

After a few silly polls, I realized this thing wasn’t going away and thought, “Hey! I can ask people stuff on here!”

So I posed a serious question to my Tweeps…

For writers, which is the better social media: Pinterest or Instagram?

I know. Mind-blowing.

But I really wanted to know this. Most of you are aware that I’m not interested in spending more time on social media. If I decide to get a new account, I need it to be beneficial.

I’m not sure how many writers actually saw the question, which was only up for 24 hours, but I did get an answer. And here it is:

Pinstagram3 - sig
Wait. WHAT? Are you serious? A tie? A 50/50 split? Stupid poll. I was right. I don’t trust this thing. It’s evil.

And I am back where I started. So now I’m using my blog as a poll. A better poll. I will get answers. I will know who voted. I will receive explanations as to why people voted the way they did. Right? Of course right. Thanks, gentle readers.

 

Really, if you think about it, blogs are just big polls.
(Related ‘Thought Bubble’)

 

My Sunday thoughts in 200 words or less.

ThoughtBubbleWhether or not you saw this or voted, what are your thoughts? As a writer, which social media platform is most beneficial? And if I get a tie, I’m going to send you low-fat, sugar-free cupcakes until you vote. Oh, yes, they do exist. Don’t make me send fat-free…

Ooh! Also, I’ll give a gold star ⭐ to the first person to give the correct number of times the word “poll” (or “polls”) was used in this one poor post.

ETA: You know, the answer could be 11, 12, 13…less or more. Because I didn’t specify if you were to count the words in the title, photos, or tags. So… “YOU get a star! YOU get a star! YOU get a star! Everybody gets a star!”