dear hilary: the twitter failure

Psst. I know I’m 22, and a new 22 at that – but if you ever had a question, or wanted to ponder something out loud with me in this space? Shoot me an email at I would love to wonder about things with you (and I’m always looking for new questions). 

Dear Hilary,

I don’t want to write this letter to you. Writing this letter means admitting that I don’t know how to do something. I am a blogger. Kind of. I am in love with writing. But I’m not being very disciplined about it. I started blogging a while ago, and then I wanted people to read my writing, and “follow” me, and I started (trying) to use Twitter, but I just… I don’t know how to put my question into words – it is about discipline, and writing, and blogging, and how to do it. I don’t want to fall off the horse. But I don’t know how to make this writing go.


Twitter Failure

Dear Twitter Failure,

140 characters. That’s all you get in Twitter-land. 140 characters to share a story, a link, to ask someone a pithy question or jab at someone else with a witty turn of phrase. 140 characters and that INCLUDES spaces. I don’t know who these Twitter-gurus are. Maybe they live on a mountain somewhere, coming up with ways to shorten jokes and make links zippier and find the oh-so-important tag line that will make people more likely to click over. There are Twitter parties, Tweet-ups and meet-ups and iPhone apps and Instagram. It’s enough to make our heads spin and our fingers quake.

It’s enough to make anyone dipping at the beginning of things feel like a “twitter failure.”

But did you ever pause to think you didn’t set OUT to be a twitter winner? You didn’t start your blog because you wanted to tweet about it – you tweeted about your writing because you believed that people should read it. Because there are aching beautiful things inside you and you wanted to share them with the world. You try through twitter. You try through blogging. You try through coffee dates and prayers and shouting matches and letters written on old notebook paper.

The heart of your complaint isn’t about Twitter anyway, is it? It’s about laziness and discipline and this work of writing.

There are only two questions to ask you. Two questions, and the rest is simple:

1. must you write?

2. if you must, will you put your ass on the floor and write?

If the answer is yes to one, then I hope your answer is also yes to two. I hope if you dig inside yourself, like Rilke tells us to in “Letters to a Young Poet” and you discover that you must write. That it sings like a bird aching to be uncaged, that it is the thing you can’t help doing… then please, say yes to question two. Put your ass on the floor, as Dear Sugar says, and write. Pick a number of posts and promise your blog and your heart that you will write them. Pick the ways you share those with others – maybe twitter, maybe not… maybe you need to just write them for a while and not worry about whether anyone is reading them. But if you believe this is work you should do, then you must do it.

The savvy use of Twitter will be irrelevant.




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