This isn't going to be the standard argument for Twitter's usefulness to writers. Seeing as everyone's been told backwards and forwards until their heads spin that Twitter is good for networking and building your brand, that argument is very old hat by now. And in fact, I'm reasonably sure that y'all are sick of hearing about it.
No, there's a different reason that Twitter is amazing for writers, and here's why: at 9:52 am Eastern time on Monday, Februrary 28, Theresa Meyers wondered on Twitter if Steampunk science could develop a machine that detected whether a woman was a virgin or not. This sparked a discussion of how you'd make the machine actually function properly, which involved @nemone7 and @SyferLocke among others.
Aaaand things snowballed from there, until you come to yesterday when I spent a good portion of my workday sketching out a short story called "The Trials of the Virgin." To be fair, Theresa will probably say I was the one who sparked my own idea because I made a comment about virgin sacrifices working to get someone published and she just played off that, but I'm still blaming her for sparking my idea (my blog, my rules).
The idea was sparked in conversation on Monday -- it's now Thursday and I already have a basic outline and plot development document (sort of) put together along with slightly over 1,000 words written on the story itself. Then I found out about Carina Press's call for holiday or winter-themed Steampunk submissions, and now I'm planning to maybe turn this short story into a novella and send it along to them. Or maybe keep it at short story level and send it to David Lee Summer's Tales of the Talisman magazine during the reading period in July. It all depends on where I am when Carina Press's deadline of June 15 rolls around.
What's my point here? Well, Theresa lives in Seattle; Nemone7 lives in Dublin; @SyferLocke lives in Wichita, Kansas; and I myself make my home in Eastern Massachusetts. Because of Twitter, and the connections it engenders among people, the four of us were able to talk back and forth about an idea that one person mentioned. And yesterday, Theresa, Nemone7, and I spent at least an hour collaborating on the Google Documents outline I'd made for "The Trials of the Virgin."
Even ten years ago, this sort of long-distance cross communication wasn't possible outside of knowing each other's email addresses or belonging to an internet chat room. Go back 20 years, or 30 years, and this electronic collaboration does not exist. In the age of Twitter, you can have four creative people separated by time zones and distance collaborating on the same idea.
How is that not awesome?