Apologies for being slightly off-topic here, but I feel this is the best place for this post as it was NHL writers discussing this topic. Thanks for bearing with me.
A debate was started up this morning on Twitter between several prominent NHL writers (among them Dave Lozo, Greg Wyshynski, and others) about the right way to use Twitter and how Twitter seems to be affecting the style of writing. It got me thinking about how I use Twitter and how I write and if the two are connected and if they should be connected.
Personally, when I started with Twitter, I wasn’t really sure how I was going to use it and what I was going to use it for. I made an account, found some interesting people, found some Blackhawks fans/blogs/writers, and started listening. The speed at which I could obtain news was amazing and that’s what sucked me into Twitter. I could always get up to the second information about almost anything. Even if I wasn’t following anyone in regards to a particular subject, I knew that I could do a quick search and find a wealth of information and opinion on any current event.
As I started to interact with people more on Twitter, I found the true value of Twitter, at least, in my own eyes: conversation. Conversing with my network on Twitter has allowed me to better shape and strengthen my opinions, has allowed me to grow as a writer as I found out what styles and methods most people enjoyed/disliked, as well as widen the breathe of my knowledge on almost any subject.
Twitter has also been amazing in a promotional sense. I wouldn’t be here on Puck Drunk Love, writing for an amazing audience if I didn’t have Twitter. When I started my little personal blog back in 2007, the only reason anyone read it is because I tweeted my posts on Twitter. I didn’t have many readers (maybe 20 readers per post), but one of them was Andrew Bernier at Blackhawks Down Low. That allowed me to write for a larger audience and about a subject I’m passionate about. Again, Twitter helped me move to an even larger audience, now writing for Puck Drunk Love. Twitter allows your opinions and information to get spread very easily.
All of the aforementioned uses for Twitter are all valid and reasonable uses. Some people use Twitter for just one of those things, some use it for all of them (as I do). None of those people are right or wrong for how they use it and that’s the beauty of technology. It can be narrowed down to be used in just one simple way, or it can be a fluid tool, able to be used as a solution to many different problems.
The discussion on Twitter then turned to writing styles and how the long, in-depth, and analytical post seems to be a dying beast due to the speed and paraphrasing nature of Twitter. Has the waning attention span of our generation started to affect the style of writing that is most popular?
Absolutely not. And you, if you’re a fellow writer (professional, amateur or aspiring) reading this, you shouldn’t let that dictate your writing. Just as we all have our own personalities, and just as those personalities are advantageous or disadvantageous in any given situation, the same goes for a writer’s preferred style.
Take a writer like Justin at The Goalie Guild. You’ll be hard pressed to find a writer that writes more in-depth, long-form or analytical pieces than him. Justin is knowledgeable, writes extremely well, and is engaging. Writers like that, who can write a long piece, but be engaging and knowledgeable, will be successful. If you write a long piece just to surpass 1,500 words, you won’t get a reader to finish the post.
On the other side of the coin, the three gents over at Hockeenight.com excel at the short and succinct post. When I started getting into the Blackhawks blog world, their posts were my favorites to read because they are strikingly witty, intelligent, analytical and quick. They’re masters at making you laugh while still getting you to think about the intelligence of a player’s choices in a particular play from a game.
The point I’m working towards here is a writer shouldn’t write to appeal to an audience or a boss or a requirement. (I know that’s not always possible, but that’s a whole other conversation.) Myself, as a writer, I try to write about topics I’m interested in and feel knowledgeable about so that I can convey that to my readers. I inject my own writing style into anything I work on and any writer should do that. I try not to worry about if a particular segment of my readers will like this because I know that if I write the way I love to write, that I’ll find readers.
There’s been pieces I’ve written that have been uninspired, whether because of the content, my personal life, or trying to be something I’m not. The best pieces I’ve written have been the pieces where I’m passionate about what I’m writing about and where I let my entire personality (the good and the bad) show through. Writing isn’t something you can muddle through and succeed because readers can feel that through your words. If you’re passionate and let that show through your writing, readers will see that and enjoy your work because of it.
Don’t worry about how you write. Just write. Feel good when you finish a piece. Be long and verbose when the situation calls. Be to the point and sharp when required. Above all else, inject your personality into your writing. That’s why sites like Puck Daddy and Backhand Shelf are successful, because every post they put out has a bit of the author’s personality in it.
So just write. And be yourself.