We shiver reverently in the face of famous tweets like “More Light!” or “To be or not to be, that is the question”. That’s why today many people keep a diary or write poems, but never dare to write their own “big tweet”. But with thorough preparation and some practice, Twitter isn’t rocket science – here are five tips for getting started in the world of twitterature.
1. Place: Traditionally, famous twitterates chose the home office as their place of work. Some appreciated the spot at the window, some found inspiration or at least transpiration in looking at the bare wall. Others, among them Austrian author Alfred Polgar, preferred to tweet in the “coffee house” (Viennese slang for “Starbucks”): Polgar found both silence and noise at home discomforting and only really got into the flow of writing when coffee house guests were called by false names. Still others – such as the well-known contemporary twitterer and part-time US president Donald Trump – prefer the loo as the creative locus that gives their tweets the proper flair. Everybody has to find out what works best for them.
2. Time: Many great tweeters create their works within fixed time windows, some always in the morning, others only in the evening when there’s a “whodunnit” on TV. We urgently advise against unstructured, spontaneous twittering – it has embarrassed countless hopeful novices to the bone. Stephen King, on the other hand, is known to produce exactly 1.2 tweets every day – Twitter success is also a question of self-discipline.
3. Genre: The biggest hurdle for the inexperienced writer when staring at the empty white “What’s happening?” field is choosing a topic. Here it can help to commit to a genre. Popular Twitter genres are horror (mostly as a first-person narrative in response to everyday observations), thriller (“Here is a link to 15 cat pics, picture 9 will surprise you!”), or satire. US author @pourmecoffee, for example, has established the satirical commentary on headlines and everyday politics as an art form in its own right, while Briton @arenaflowers keeps testing the limits of the delusional, holding up a mirror to the Twitter crowd – acting, in a second job, as social media brand manager for an online florist. A special case is @TheOnion: While apparently tweeting satirical news, the news items are actually real.
4. Style: Everyone strives for a unique writing style, but very few succeed in developing a distinctive linguistic hand. But much is already achieved by clearly outlining the spectrum of one’s own forms of expression: Insult or hate commentary? Vulgarity or rant? Condescending, misogynistic “mansplaining” or rather a general arrogant know-it-all tone, so as not to be limited to a female audience? The only thing that helps here is trial and error, practice, and refinement – no one is born a hater!
5. Role model: Those who write, quote, and so it helps one’s twittering to follow role models. But caution is required! Numerous representatives of the traditional canon are today considered by a broad public to be “old white men”. At the same time, however, the choice of an outsider can also prove to be a dead end. For example, @realDonaldTrump once appeared to be a role model to many, being considered the inventor of “demagogic surrealism”, thanks to his famous tweet “Covfefe”. However, more recent works by the artist – such as “LAW & ORDER!”, published just in an era of protests against racist police violence – clearly fall far behind Trump’s own (liter)aryan role models from 1930s and early 1940s Germany. Therefore: Watch out whom you emulate on Twitter!