A few weeks ago, I was browsing in Barnes & Noble (I know, what a wonderful, yet soon to be antiquated experience) and came across the latest book from Steve Martin (yes, the actor). I’ve been a fan of Steve’s writing for some time now, and if you haven’t read his last novel, An Object of Beauty, I highly recommend you do. It is about art, New York, and a main character who isn’t the protagonist. I loved it.
But this book was different. It wasn’t a novel, or a novela. It wasn’t an autobiography. It was a book comprised of Steve Martin’s best tweets.
The book is entitled,”The Ten, Make That Nine, Habits of Very Organized People. Make That Ten.: The Tweets of Steve Martin.” And as I skimmed it in the store, I laughed so hard that a few people around me ended up picking it up as well. And let me tell you why I think you should, too. As a comedian, Steve Martin has mastered the one liner. Now, thanks to Twitter, he has mastered the art of saying it all, to a global audience, on the fly, in 140 characters or less. And he does so brilliantly.
Of course, you could pop over to his Twitter feed (@SteveMartinToGo) and get the same content, but the book contains all his gems in one place. It is a hundred or so pages with 1 – 3 illustrated tweets per page. As Steve said himself, he has “edit[ed] out all the garbage.” Which is important, considering at the time he had 2700 or so tweets he could have included. Need more reason still to pick this one up? All profits go to charity. And did I mention there are whimsical illustrations?
So here’s the lesson: sometime, less really is more. Don’t give yourself a paragraph, a page, or (gasp) a chapter to make a point when really all you need is 140 characters or less. Mark Twain once said, “I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.” The point here is profound: in many cases, it takes more thought and effort to write something succinct than it takes to write a diatribe. And if you need a reminder, pick up Steve’s book. At the very least, it offers a lesson in editing.
As of this post, Steve Martin has tweeted 3,333 times and has 2,606,904 followers (including @writeincolor).