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How to Write in 140 Characters or Less

How to Write in 140 Characters or Less

How to Write in 140 Characters or Less

    On Wednesday, I wrote a set of tips on writing (http://is.gd/wlJ). I had in mind business and similar situations where solid writing counts.

    Joel, also of Lifehack, linked to the post on his blog (http://is.gd/wlU), saying I should do a guide to writing in 140 characters or less.

    With Twitter fast becoming an important marketing tool – maybe THE important marketing tool (http://is.gd/wlZ) – there’s something to that.

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    Being able to express yourself, clearly and forcefully, in less than the 140 characters allowed by Twitter (and SMS) is no small thing!

    Being able to do it with style and panache, to present yourself in all your greatness, to make people want to know more, is harder still.

    But worth it. If markets are conversations, you need to be where the conversations are happening. And Twitter is that place right now.

    Sure, maybe Twitter’s a fad. Maybe, like Friendster, it will collapse under its own coolness and people will move on. We’re not there yet.

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    And even if (when?) it does pass, as fads eventually do, the 140-character message probably won’t – it’s too well-suited to mobile screens.

    Writing Really, Really Short

    If concision is the key to good writing, learning to write for Twitter should place you among the greats. Already great writing is emerging.

    Hemingway, whose 6-word short story – "For sale: Baby shoes. Never worn" – is hailed as a clear ancestor to the form, would have loved it.

    But how do you get there? How do you strip your expression down to its very roots in a way that’s still meaningful, still worth reading?

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    Here are a few tips, from my participation on Twitter and what I know about writing overall. Short writing still needs to be good writing.

    • Every character counts, so use strong verbs and a minimum of adverbs – you just can’t afford to say in two words what you can say in one.
    • Once again, avoid "university words". Almost every long word in English has a short, blunt word that means the same thing. Use it instead.
    • Forget about breaking your thoughts into two posts. You have no control over how your post will get read or whether they will stay together.
    • Write first, then rewrite. It’s hard when you can feel that 140-character limit breathing down your neck. Spill it all out and then trim.
    • You can usually cut "that" and "which". "The toy train that my sister got for Christmas" can be "The toy train my sister got for Christmas."
    • Take your cue from Spanish (and Obama) and eliminate personal pronouns. "I am going to the Apple store" can be "Going to the Apple Store".
    • Write short sentences. They stand out more. You share a page with dozens of posts. Many short sentences looks like something worth reading.
    • Use punctuation! Many will tell you to rely on forceful words, not exclamation marks, but when words are limited, punctuation adds impact.
    • Be personal. Short posts are very conversational and almost intimate. That’s something business doesn’t do well, but on Twitter, it counts.
    • Get to the point. Say what you want me to do and why I should do it. You have no room to build anticipation – cut straight to the chase.

    Lots of companies are paying attention to Twitter and the services emerging in its wake. Nobody knows quite what to do with it yet, though.

    Which is fine. That just means there’s plenty of room for creative people to do what they do best – come up with innovative ways to connect.

    Get in there, follow some of the top Twitterers, and pay close attention to how they craft their posts. And remember a last couple things:

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    • Humor works. 140 characters is well suited to the snarky jab, the aphorism, the epigram. Brevity is, after all, the soul of wit. And Tweets.
    • The best you can do in 140 characters is entice – leave the sale for longer copy. Get their attention and give them someplace good to go.

    Do you have any other advice for tweeters and messaging mavens? Let us know in the comments – this is all new, I know I’ve missed something.

    I’ll admit, this post was hard to write! If you appreciate the effort, please digg it, Stumble it!, or bookmark it on del.icio.us. Or all 3!

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    Last Updated on September 20, 2018

    7 Powerful Questions To Find Out What You Want To Do With Your Life

    7 Powerful Questions To Find Out What You Want To Do With Your Life

    What do I want to do with my life? It’s a question all of us think about at one point or another.

    For some, the answer comes easily. For others, it takes a lifetime to figure out.

    It’s easy to just go through the motions and continue to do what’s comfortable and familiar. But for those of you who seek fulfillment, who want to do more, these questions will help you paint a clearer picture of what you want to do with your life.

    1. What are the things I’m most passionate about?

    The first step to living a more fulfilling life is to think about the things that you’re passionate about.

    What do you love? What fulfills you? What “work” do you do that doesn’t feel like work? Maybe you enjoy writing, maybe you love working with animals or maybe you have a knack for photography.

    The point is, figure out what you love doing, then do more of it.

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    2. What are my greatest accomplishments in life so far?

    Think about your past experiences and the things in your life you’re most proud of.

    How did those accomplishments make you feel? Pretty darn good, right? So why not try and emulate those experiences and feelings?

    If you ran a marathon once and loved the feeling you had afterwards, start training for another one. If your child grew up to be a star athlete or musician because of your teachings, then be a coach or mentor for other kids.

    Continue to do the things that have been most fulfilling for you.

    3. If my life had absolutely no limits, what would I choose to have and what would I choose to do?

    Here’s a cool exercise: Think about what you would do if you had no limits.

    If you had all the money and time in the world, where would you go? What would you do? Who would you spend time with?

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    These answers can help you figure out what you want to do with your life. It doesn’t mean you need millions of dollars to be happy though.

    What it does mean is answering these questions will help you set goals to reach certain milestones and create a path toward happiness and fulfillment. Which leads to our next question …

    4. What are my goals in life?

    Goals are a necessary component to set you up for a happy future. So answer these questions:

    Once you figure out the answers to each of these, you’ll have a much better idea of what you should do with your life.

    5. Whom do I admire most in the world?

    Following the path of successful people can set you up for success.

    Think about the people you respect and admire most. What are their best qualities? Why do you respect them? What can you learn from them?

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    You’re the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.[1] So don’t waste your time with people who hold you back from achieving your dreams.

    Spend more time with happy, successful, optimistic people and you’ll become one of them.

    6. What do I not like to do?

    An important part of figuring out what you want to do with your life is honestly assessing what you don’t want to do.

    What are the things you despise? What bugs you the most about your current job?

    Maybe you hate meetings even though you sit through 6 hours of them every day. If that’s the case, find a job where you can work more independently.

    The point is, if you want something to change in your life, you need to take action. Which leads to our final question …

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    7. How hard am I willing to work to get what I want?

    Great accomplishments never come easy. If you want to do great things with your life, you’re going to have to make a great effort. That will probably mean putting in more hours the average person, getting outside your comfort zone and learning as much as you can to achieve as much as you can.

    But here’s the cool part: it’s often the journey that is the most fulfilling part. It’s during these seemingly small, insignificant moments that you’ll often find that “aha” moments that helps you answer the question,

    “What do I want to do with my life?”

    So take the first step toward improving your life. You won’t regret it.

    Featured photo credit: Andrew Ly via unsplash.com

    Reference

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