Thinking in 140 characters

by | Jul 24, 2017 | Become More Awesome

Takeaway: Fully unraveled ideas and thoughts are often more complex than a simple, short social media update. We are what we consume—but we’re also what we create. How many characters do you think in?

Estimated Reading Time: 1 minutes, 31s.

What I love the most about writing is that the process lets me think through ideas. Often I’ll sit in front of my laptop to write about an idea, and find that it doesn’t make much sense after all. Or I’ll find that the idea is much bigger than originally expected—that as I continue to pull on threads, the idea unravels and unwinds to produce something unexpected.

I used to be obsessed with Twitter—but over time, I’ve come to terms with how shallow it can be. Not shallow in the superficial sense, but shallow in that it cannot contain a lot of depth. You can only pack so much into 140 characters.

In university I used to spend my days crafting the perfect tweets, ones I thought my friends would laugh at and love. But this guided me to think in short soundbites, and not much deeper. Every thought had to fit into 140 characters.

When I started this blog several years back, I almost immediately began to think differently about what I was writing. Blogging has a more loose set of constraints than social media updates. You have room to dive deeper—blog posts can be as long as you want, and they allow you to unravel ideas to discover their true size. Sometimes they’re small, sometimes they’re large, and sometimes they can fill a book.

This is not to say there’s no value in social media, because there is. But most ideas are much bigger than what can fit in a single tweet.

When you have an idea, do you stop unraveling it once it fills 140 characters? What would happen if, instead, you continued to mull it over? Would it fill a few pages? An entire book?

We are what we consume—but we are also what we create.

How many characters do you think in?

Written by Chris Bailey

Chris Bailey has written hundreds of articles on the subject of productivity and is the author of three books: How to Calm Your Mind, Hyperfocus, and The Productivity Project. His books have been published in more than 40 languages. Chris writes about productivity on this site and speaks to organizations around the globe on how they can become more productive without hating the process.

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