Friday, November 20, 2009

140 Characters of Laziness

I have been lamenting my own lack of motivation to write lately. I have all sorts of excuses. I travel for work, and I’ve been doing a lot of that lately. You would think that having nights available in a hotel room without the usual distractions would be perfectly conducive to writing, but when you’re on the road you end up working ten to 12 hours a day, and you eat like crap, and it’s difficult to get inspired and focus to write.

But what might be my biggest writing de-motivator... Twitter. Twitter has replaced blogging, email, and forums for me. When I come across something that piques my interest, instead of sitting down and putting a few hundred thoughtful words to paper and publishing it on my blog, I’ll shrink a URL and write a pithy comment and be done with it. Instead of taking the time to write out full-blown emails, I direct message friends short, 140-character well-wishes or good-natured jibes or whatever.

Although I am complaining about the impact of Twitter on my blogging and email, I have to admit the replacement of forums with Twitter has been truly positive. With Twitter, I avoid the general douche baggery of the forum, while still staying in touch with the folks I want to and up on the news that’s relevant to me. (On a weekly basis, from my friends who still frequent forums, I see tweets saying things like they need to get away from the forum before they type something they shouldn't or that their blood pressure is rising because of some comment they read in a forum thread.) Where forums often seem to foster the pompous, long-winded soliloquies of blow-hards, Twitter is a great natural filter (because I'm only following the people whose comments I want to read) and force the writer to get to the point quickly and concisely.

To be clear, I'm not anti-Twitter and this is not a manifesto, I just need to stop using Twitter as an excuse to not work my writing muscles. It’s time for me to shake off this laziness and make the time to flesh out some of the ideas that crop up. Instead of opting for the instant gratification of a quick tweet, I need to go back to my pre-Twitter, pre-too-busy-to-write mindset. The next time an idea strikes me, I’m going to do my best to avoid the crutch of a quick 140-character missive and instead stretch myself and exercise the ol’ noggin with some critical thinking or satire or whatever the situation calls for.

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