The 140 Character limit on Twitter is still in place, and there’s no certainty it will be removed. Regardless of what happens on that front, the following remains something all writers need to think about…probably for more than 140 characters’ worth of time:
by Patrick Allan
Twitter is planning to extend its typical 140-character limit, and a lot of people are welcoming the change. But as annoying as the 140-character limit can be, I’ve found that it actually helped me practice a few principles for better writing.
It Forced Me to Declutter My Writing
Writers love words, and they love to use as many as they can. This can lead to a lot of clutter, or what some might call “fluffing” or “padding.” When you fluff your writing, you’re adding words you don’t need to convey your message. It may make your paper longer, but as William Zinnser, the author of On Writing Well, adamantly conveys, it weakens your writing:
Clutter is the disease of American writing. We are a society strangling in unnecessary words, circular constructions, pompous frills and meaningless jargon.
Twitter only gives you 140 characters to play with (for now). That means your thought, joke, or news peg must be, as Zinnser explains it, “stripped to its cleanest components.”
When I write out a tweet, I am constantly reminded that I over-complicate what I’m trying to say; and If I want to share my thought, I have to whittle down my cluttered message. In theory, you can declutter every piece of your writing this way.
When you go to edit a piece of your own, don’t be afraid to ruthlessly cut words like you would in your tweets. In fact, Zinnser recommends you examine every word you put down. You’ll probably be surprised at how many of them serve no purpose. Figure out what you want to say and say it as simply and efficiently as possible first; then worry about nuance. Remember, brevity is the soul of wit….