Short, Sweet Tweeting

I have recently become aware of how ridiculous I become when drafting a tweet. Seriously, one sentence, maybe two, sans punctuation, without capitalization, and often leaving out words in lieu of crude abbreviations could take me up to 20 minutes to form – all so I can condense my thoughts into one perfectly formed statement that will both reflect my personality and impress all 147 (plus or minus) of my followers.

Sometimes, I find myself thinking in tweets. Something happens, say I see an oddly dressed pedestrian crossing the streets or hear the backend of a dramatic conversation while waiting in line at Publix, and my mind immediately begins to concoct some sort of witty one-liner about the said happening.  All of this got me thinking about whether or not Twitter is good for my aspiring writing career. Is it possible that my beloved social networking site is doing more good than bad?

Since our later years of elementary school when we first began to test our hands in extended writing, we were given limits on how much we could write before our teachers became tired of reading the same unimaginative papers and correcting the same irritating grammatical errors.  My first experience with this came in the fifth grade when we were asked to write at least 3 pages describing our rooms using all of our senses. While everyone else moaned about how it was totally unfair that we were being expected to write three whole pages, I grew nervous as the initial 3-page assignment grew to 6 and finally 10 pages.

Much later in life, I encountered the same basic problem as I struggled to crank out scholarship essays that would both move my readers to tears and perfectly express my character all while staying under the allotted 5,000 characters. And the struggle continues, as even this article will be cut short the moment I venture over the 600- word limit.

We are constantly being reminded to make everything we write short and sweet otherwise our audiences might lose interest. And Twitter is only reinforcing these habits that have got me shortening my thoughts into small, easily digestible fragments. For example, if I go off on a three or more tweet Twitter rant, chances are most people will stop reading after the first tweet and the ones who don’t will be hitting unfollow before they can even scroll up and read my carefully planned conclusion in the last.

Suddenly the thought of writing an entire novel, as was my childhood dream, seems almost as impossible as climbing Mount Everest, curing cancer, or finding out just how many licks it really takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop. Could it be that the years of careful conditioning to write perfect three-paged, five-paragraphed essays coupled with my more recent religious use of Twitter have rendered me incapable of pursuing my chosen career? If so, I guess it’s time I switch over to more lenient forms of journaling. I hear blogs are still a thing and Mark Zuckerberg has yet to put a character limit on Facebook statuses.

Sure, I understand the importance of brevity and succinctness when writing, but there’s still a word (or two) to be said for elaboration and detail because sometimes a tweet is worthy of just a couple more than 140 characters.