If you’re a writer, at some point of time or the other you’ve been told you need to be on twitter. I joined in about two years ago (I’ve requested an archive of my tweets so I’ll know the exact date I joined soon. I’m weird that way.)
Recently I came across an article in the New Yorker (directed there via someone’s tweet, of course) by essayist Thomas Beller. It discusses everything from which classical/ famous author would have made a good/ bad tweeter, to twitter and privacy. What it also does is talk about drafting your work on twitter, and describes the author’s personal experience doing it:
I found the experience to be strange, exhilarating, outrageously narcissistic, frightening, and embarrassing. In other words, like writing. But also like acting, or playing a concert—something whose essence is bound up in the fact that it’s being done live. You can’t really see the auditorium and don’t know the size of the audience. It’s like throwing paper airplanes out a high window: someone may see their elegant dive, maybe a lot of people. The plane will be rushed onward and out of sight. Except there is now a record of it. I assumed my series of tweets was a draft. They were not pages crumpled on the floor, exactly—more like pages to be stacked up and put aside, where, like some gourmet dish, its elements might have time to blend.
A day or two later I assembled the tweets, revised them into a short essay, and sent them out for publication. I didn’t say how the first draft had been written. This is how I thought of those tweets, as a first draft, one which would lead to another draft and maybe another and another, until I thought it was ready to be published, which it was.
Would you consider drafting your fiction on twitter? Not #twitfic ( I love the series by Jocelyn Rish) where you have to write the entire story in 14o characters, but actually write the first draft of a story or essay on twitter, composing it in the Twitter window?
Cool but I won’t do it
No way. I already find Twitter’s 140 limit frustrating. This would make me (far more) insane! 😉
I guess I’d be too worried about people running with my ideas, on the other hand this would be a good way to force yourself to condense your ideas… Dorothy Parker would have made an awesome tweeter, I would have followed her account! Tolkien would have been terrible! Lol.
I agree about Tolkien :). I think tweeting would inhibit my flow.
Only if you were using it for more than plotting I think. Maybe you just have to do ‘one at a time’. 🙂
No. It’s hard enough writing with unlimited space…although when O’Henry was asked why he wrote short stories, he replied, “Because I don’t have time to write long ones.”
That’s so O’Henry…I wish I could say stuff like that off the top of my head!
I think it would be an interesting thing to try, certainly if it was just a first draft of something! What have you got to lose? And it is a good challenge and I like a challenge. In the words of Barney Stinson, “challenge accepted”
Ah, let’s see how you measure up to it then! Kidding 🙂
I will let you know the results 🙂
Interesting idea. I don’t think I could write a draft on twitter because I can’t stand the thought of anyone reading my manuscripts until like the third draft, when I’ve cut out most of the crappy parts. 🙂 I think I’m going to read some of the #twitfic you mentioned, because I think it’s a cool concept.
Yep, #twitfic is cool. I’m happy to share my second drafts, but, I don’t think I could draft long fiction on twitter– the 140 character thing is too limiting.
This is a wonderful idea! What sold me was the analogy to playing a concert. Having been a performing violist, so much of a musician’s art is practiced in time, or “in the moment.” So, if it’s a clam, it’s done and then gone. I was amazed and of course, thinking with my ears, at how much I thought was bad, the audience liked. So, this has some similar qualities to it. One can always go back and re-read or listen to a horrid recording (our orchestra managed to play a perfectly hideous “Bolero” years ago. The strings were fine, but the winds and brass, to a person, botched every solo. We couldn’t leave town fast enough. I never did watch or listen to that broadcast on PBS.) so, accordingly, there are some of my posts floating around in the blogosphere, I wish I could burn. This is my long-winded way of saying “yes.” This sounds awesome!
I love your long-winded ways, and wish you would drop by more often. 🙂
Not a twitter fan (I had to join for my day job and have not visited my account since! LOL!) but I am in awe at anyone trying this! A full MS on twitter!?!? Now that’s a challenge and a half! Take care
You sound like my husband, who isn’t a twitter fan either. Yes that would be a challenge– imho even a small flash fiction would be a challenge to draft on Twitter.
Yes I would consider doing this. Would you consider my Add a Something Flash Fiction? I’ve started with the first ‘tweet.’ 😉
I don’t see it working for me. But maybe I’ll try. Right now it kinda seems that the story behind the work is more important than the work itself…
Why would anyone in their right mind want to do that publicly? Not me thanks. I’m too much of a stickler for detail and mildly neurotic. I couldn’t put the whole plot ” out there “
I don’t think I could do an entire piece 140 characters at a time, but I have toyed with summing up a days writing accomplishments that way. Easy to go back and look at progress when forward motion is hard to see.
Very interesting concept. Not sure I’d want to put all out for scrutiny before editing.
That’s a novel approach to writing and I could see how it could be a brilliant method for certain types of people and certain types of writing. However, I do not see it working for me.
It’s an interesting idea, but I always have to go back and change certain parts of my story, so it’s not exactly ideal for my kind of work.
I would not draft anything on Twitter or any other social medium.
I once came across someone who used Myspace for this purpose – to be more accurate, he drew himself to my attention looking for feedback. I was not impressed by what he had written but restricted my comments to errors he could easily correct. For this useful proof-reading I was subjected to abuse by one of his fans. As a result, I now tend to keep my thoughts to myself.
Wow, thanks for the shout out – it totally made my day! While I have fun with the daily twitter fiction, I can’t imagine trying to write something longer in tweets. Although I can see it helping with writing very tight sentences because of the character limit, I think it would probably lead to a choppy flow. Plus rough drafts are supposed to be about being messy and just getting it out, whereas focus on the character count would immediately put me in more of an editing frame of mind.
Good luck with it….writing every day is the best way to start…
Reblogged this on Ajoobacats Blog and commented:
Using social media…
I thought that you had to have part of your brain removed in order to be on Twitter
As inexperienced as I am in the ways of twitter, I’m still not sure I understand the question, but I do enjoy Jocelyn Rish’s work so I’m off to explore this a little further.
Quite an interesting idea, never heard of it, never tried. But hey, why not!
Bhavya, let’s know if you do try it 🙂
It’s an interesting concept. I don’t know that I’d be up to it, though!
Me neither 🙂
The article was very interesting; the issue of ownership in particular caught my attention, and is the biggest reason why I probably wouldn’t draft something over twitter – copyright is becoming more and more impotent as social media/technology continues to develop, and I wouldn’t want to risk losing the rights to my own work (if that’s even a thing that could happen). Barring that though, while I probably wouldn’t do it myself, it does sound like an interesting writing exercise at the very least, and perhaps even an inspired act of guerrilla-writing.
I don’t think copyright will be an issue, cos it will be Twitter timestamped, after all. But I agree it might be a cool exercise for those willing to attempt it.
It’s interesting and I’ve heard about people doing that, but I don’t think I would. I’d probably get lost and confused. Then have some neurotic breakdown because I’d be editing myself too much to adhere to the 140 character limit on each tweet. But I think more organic free-flowing writers would enjoy it!
I’m pretty organic and free-flowing but thinking in 140 characters might unhinge me.
I’ve never thought of doing that, but I did draft the description of a story I’m working on. It went well and really helped me figure out how to describe the story.
That’s cool. Not sure I could do that Patricia!
Ambitious! Not something I would attempt though.
Yep, me neither, Alex. But as I see in the comments, loads of folks might!
Wow, that is really interesting! I imagine it would open up a whole new story, as you write it in such staggered intervals.
I suppose so– but I’m not sure I wouldn’t get completely blocked if I were writing fiction.
I’m a huge fan of flash fiction, so I might!
Give it a shot, and link us to the results!
I don’t think I’d be up for doing that. Although it’s an interesting way.
I’m with you, I write too fast in the first draft to be able to tweet it in 140 characters