Don’t Tweet Away Your Best Ideas

Do you develop your ideas before you share them?

Jonathan Fields once asked whether Twitter was the ultimate creation killer. Turns out, it can be.

One of the things I learned during my move from Nebraska to Oregon a few years ago was that I was doing a surprising number of things that actually prevented me from doing the things that I’m best at. I’m a maven, in case you haven’t figured it out — I take information, ideas, and structures and make something novel with them.

When I reviewed all of the things that were more-core activities, Twitter was one of the first things to go. It goes deeper than that, though: I noticed that some of my best stuff went to Twitter and never went any further.

You can do a lot with 140 characters, mind you, but there’s a lot you can’t. Whereas I won’t say that a lot of people are using Twitter wrong, I can definitely say that I was using it in exactly the opposite way than I should have been. Rather than tweeting the idea first and then never developing it, I needed to develop the idea first and then tweet about it.

This seems obvious in hindsight, but ask yourself how many of your ideas you’ve “shared” on Twitter that never went any further. It’s amazing how easily our daily habits can thwart our broader objectives without our realizing what’s going on.

To poke into the wound a little more, consider the relatively short lifespan of a tweet: “if you are looking to get retweeted and nobody picks your tweet up within the first hour, chances are that nobody ever will.”

One hour. Poof!

One of the advantages of blogging BT (Before Twitter) was that you actually leveraged your own platform to develop ideas. Aside from commenting on other blogs or forums, you didn’t really have a place for your great ideas to go. Twitter changed all of that — in some ways for the better, in some ways for the worst. Mavens are the ones who are most disadvantaged by Twitter if they don’t leverage it in the right way.

The way Twitter distracts us is bad enough, but perhaps the thing we’ve lost more than time is our own great work. If you’ve got an idea worth sharing, Twitter is indeed the place to share it, but it’s not the place to develop it.

Rather than continually giving people a whiff of the pies you’re not baking, bake the pie and then give people a piece. Or, less metaphorically, split creating and connecting into two different modalities of action.

Simply put, Twitter is a better megaphone than it is a lab.

Here’s the challenge: the next time you have an idea worth sharing, don’t share it first on Twitter. Develop it and then share it on Twitter.


Charlie Gilkey is an author, business advisor, and podcaster who teaches people how to start finishing what matters most. Click here to get more tools that’ll help you be a productive, flourishing co-creator of a better tomorrow.