I admit it. I'm on the Twitter bandwagon. And I sometimes find myself obsessively hitting the refresh button just to find out what's going on. I've found so many interesting new people and blogs from a just a couple of weeks reading Tweets from the few people I follow. Just 68 (as of today) -- I am not even a bug on the windshield of the Twitternaut.
(Quick aside: If you came here looking for a post on "How to use Twitter" or even "Why I should use Twitter," I'm sorry I won't be much help. The best post I've seen recently on thinking about Twitter use is on Andy Carvin's Waste of Bandwidth. I also highly recommend AJ Vaynerchuk's blog -- read through the archives for all kinds of tips and insights.)
Everyone uses Twitter in different ways. I use it to learn, to help other people when I can, and for writing exercises. (But then, I use everything for writing exercises. Come to my house for dinner and odds are something you say or do will end up in an article somewhere someday. My friends -- the ones who still speak to me -- have learned to live with it.)
Writing Prompts from Heaven
I thought WikiHow was writing-prompt paradise until I found Twitter. From WikiHow I've gotten things like, How to make a small crossbow out of household items and How to prevent or survive a monkey attack -- both of which make interesting fodder for random writing exercises. Twitter is fun because it can be like eavesdropping in a really cool bar or, okay, maybe some kind of asylum. That all depends on who you follow and how much time you spend on the public page where you can view random Tweets coming in from all over the world.
Check out Twistori for a goldmine of one liners that you can search by word: love, hate, think, believe, feel, wish. It's hypnotic and touching and brilliant. Go there now. Any one of them will make a good prompt for your own writing.
Practice Writing Short. (Really, really, um, really short)
Twitter gives you a box at the top of your home page to type in your updates. My favorite thing about it: It counts the characters for you. And yes, the spaces count as characters. So choose your words wisely. As someone who is almost always writing to word count, I love those little numbers at the top of my screen.
If you want to practice writing short, use that box. It even goes negative to tell you how many characters you're over. I used it today to write up a few very short potential descriptors for one of my projects. Very helpful and fun. (Hint: Just don't accidentally hit "update" or people will start seeing Tweets that you might not have intended).