I just recently joined twitter mainly to see what it was like. Since most of my students are 18-22 in age, I try to keep up with the technology they use; I'd read a couple of short articles on ways to have fun with twitter in the classroom. One of my sisters tweets. I was curious. So I signed up and looked for a couple of writer friends I know who twitter. Through them I found some great resources. (And no, my motives are not all artistic and pure; I am a little bit addicted to Ana Marie Cox's "bedhead" photo posts.)
One of the most useful tips came from writer Toni Andrews, who I did not know before I started tweeting. (Well, really I don't know her now either; but I like her tweets.) One day she posted a link to online writing lab Write or Die, which you can find at Dr. Wicked.com. For all the gentle and humorous inspiration in books such as Natalie Goldberg's Writing Down the Bones, Dr. Wicked's slogan "Putting the ‘Prod' in Productivity" works best for me.
Write or Die lets you select your Word and Time Goal. You can choose your "Prod" mode: Gentle, Normal, Kamikaze, or Electric Shock Mode (the last one isn't real; thank goodness because I actually tried it!). And you can choose a Grace Period: Forgiving, Strict or Evil.
Once you begin writing, your time and word goals begin a countdown at the bottom of the page. If you stop writing without selecting pause, the page begins to change color, moving from a blushing pink to a blistering red. If it turns red, you will get prodded. When the Forgiving Grace Period runs out in Gentle Mode, you get an encouraging message: You stopped writing. Keep writing. In Normal Mode/Strict Grace Period an unpleasant noise prods: screeching violins and growling are the ones I'm familiar with. (Make sure you turn your computer's speakers up real loud so you get the full benefit of this prod.) Evil/Kamikaze is truly evil. The cursor moves backwards and begins erasing your writing!
Make sure you open a document to paste your writing into before you leave Write or Die. You need to copy your work onto it before you leave the site.
When you've reached your word count within the time limit, you will hear celebratory music, and you can give yourself a pat on the back. Thanks to Tom Davenport for this resource and to Toni Andrews for tweeting about it. Oh, and did you know that you can follow Red Room on twitter, too? Start tweeting!