Thursday, July 6, 2017

Writing Productivity—Don't Be Your Own Worst Enemy


By Edie Melson 
@EdieMelson

There are a lot of tasks we must master as we make writing a priority. But with these additional tasks, our productivity may drop. 

Learning how to juggle this multi-tasking is part of becoming a professional writer. 

12 Productivity Mistakes to Avoid
1. Multi-tasking. This one is a biggie. Yes, we have a lot of things we must do from, writing, to editing, to marketing. But it’s not an efficient use of our time if we try to do everything all at once.

2. Unlimited web-browsing. We definitely need to build an online platform, but spending hours surfing the web isn’t the way to do it.

3. Working without a schedule. The way to get all the various tasks done that need to be done is by scheduling our time. Find the most creative time and guard it for your writing first. Then work around that time for the other tasks you have to do.

4. Avoiding the hard stuff. It’s only human nature to want to do the easy things first. But that’s not always the most efficient use of our time. Come up with a schedule, then do the tasks that are scheduled, whether they’re hard or easy.

5. Talking instead of working. Writers are like anyone else, we’re passionate about our craft. But we need to make sure we’re spending time practicing our craft, not just talking about it.

6. Not networking. We shouldn't spend all our time talking about writing, but that doesn't mean we should isolate ourselves. Others can give us much needed perspective and insight into things we're struggling with. 

7. Using cheating as a reward. It’s great to build in rewards, but make sure the rewards aren’t sabotaging your progress. For example, if I’m on a diet and I lose five pounds, I don’t want to reward myself with a calorie-laden meal. With writing, if I make my word count goal, I want to build on it, not take the rest of the week off.

8. Thinking only about the big dream. Sure we all want to write a blockbuster. But that isn’t my only goal. I have lots of goals that will lead up to that one. Don’t be a big-picture writer and lose out on the chance to fulfill your dream.

9. Over planning. Yes, we need to make plans, and follow a schedule. But if we’re so concerned with the process of planning, we’re wasting valuable time. Write down your goals, come up with a schedule and then GET TO WORK.

10. Not learning. With writers, like most creative endeavors talent is a good start. BUT diligence trumps talent every single time. Doing the hard work to learn all that’s involved with becoming a professional writer will get you much farther than even a huge amount of talent.

11. Working without a goal. When I sit down to write, I've learned to have a goal. Sometimes it's a word count. Other times its to write a certain number of blog posts. Without a goal, I tend to wander. With a goal, I stay focused and make progress. 

12. Comparing ourselves to others. This is a biggie. Each of us will follow a slightly different path on this writing journey. None is better or worse than another. Be the best you can be—right now—and don't look to others to judge your progress.

This are the hindrances I’ve found to writing productivity, I’d love to know what you’d add to the list.

Don’t forget to join the conversation!
Blessings,
Edie
Edie Melson is the author of numerous books, as well as a freelance writer and editor. Her blog, The Write Conversation, reaches thousands each month. She’s the co-director of the Blue Ridge Mountains ChristianWriters Conference and the Social Media Mentor at My Book Therapy. She’s also the Military Family Blogger at Guideposts. Com, Social Media Director for SouthernWriters Magazine and the Senior Editor for NovelRocket.com. Connect with her on Twitter and Facebook. Don't miss her new book from Worthy Inspired, WHILE MY SOLDIER SERVES.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Ordering Your Days on a Weekly Basis

I've received a lot of questions since I posted my personal writing schedule. Most dealt with the idea that many of you are not writing full time, yet you still need help ordering your day.

It doesn't matter whether you write as a calling, a hobby or a business. We all perform better when we have expectations and a way to judge results. For those of you just starting out, here are some suggestions.
  1. Set small, measurable goals
  2. Under estimate the time you'll be able to put in
  3. Adjust your goal setting to a weekly mode, rather than daily
Weekly Word Count Goal
One of the things I've found most helpful when setting word count goals is to set my goal for the week rather than the day. I still have two teenagers in and out of the house so sometimes life interrupts life. To combat this, I set a weekly wordcount goal for my fiction endeavors. Then, I break it down into daily totals. If I miss a day's goal, I can make it up later in the week and I don't wind up feeling like I've failed.

Weekly Project Goal
You may normally work on smaller projects, like articles or devotions. If that's the case, try to set a goal of one devotion or article a week.

Revolving Weekly Goal
You might want to try something I call a revolving weekly goal. This is where you have a different goal every week for 3 weeks and then it starts over. The first week you might complete a small project. The next week, you look for markets where you can sell it. The third week you might spend learning about the craft of writing. Then you begin the cycle again.

Whatever method works for you is the BEST method.

Just remember, that no matter how early or how far along you are on your writing journey we all need to spend time studying the craft of writing. That can be done through reading books, attending a seminar or conference, or reading blogs and websites.

All of these are necessary for us as writers to improve our craft.

So what have you found works best for you? Share your insights with the rest of us - please!

Don't forget to join the conversation,
Blessings,
Edie

Edie Melson is the author of numerous books, as well as a freelance writer and editor. Her blog, The Write Conversation, reaches thousands each month. She’s the co-director of the Blue Ridge Mountains ChristianWriters Conference and the Social Media Mentor at My Book Therapy. She’s also the Military Family Blogger at Guideposts. Com, Social Media Director for SouthernWriters Magazine and the Senior Editor for NovelRocket.com. Connect with her on Twitter and Facebook. Don't miss her new book from Worthy Inspired, WHILE MY SOLDIER SERVES.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

An Organized Schedule Leads to Success

As many of you know, I had a really productive year in 2010 and a lot of you have asked how I accomplished it all. I did it because I was willing to follow a schedule - it was my way of eating an elephant one bite at a time. I learned how to break large tasks into smaller ones. here are some of my suggestions.

It doesn't matter whether you write as a calling, a hobby or a business. We all perform better when we have expectations and a way to judge results. For those of you just starting out, here are some suggestions.
  1. Set small, measurable goals
  2. Under estimate the time you'll be able to put in
  3. Adjust your goal setting to a weekly mode, rather than daily
Weekly Word Count Goal
One of the things I've found most helpful when setting word count goals is to set my goal for the week rather than the day. I still have two teenagers in and out of the house so sometimes life interrupts life. To combat this, I set a weekly wordcount goal for my fiction endeavors. Then, I break it down into daily totals. If I miss a day's goal, I can make it up later in the week and I don't wind up feeling like I've failed.

Weekly Project Goal
You may normally work on smaller projects, like articles or devotions. If that's the case, try to set a goal of one devotion or article a week.

Revolving Weekly Goal
You might want to try something I call a revolving weekly goal. This is where you have a different goal every week for 3 weeks and then it starts over. The first week you might complete a small project. The next week, you look for markets where you can sell it. The third week you might spend learning about the craft of writing. Then you begin the cycle again.

Whatever method works for you is the BEST method.

Just remember, that no matter how early or how far along you are on your writing journey we all need to spend time studying the craft of writing. That can be done through reading books, attending a seminar or conference, or reading blogs and websites.

All of these are necessary for us as writers to improve our craft.

So what have you found works best for you? Share your insights with the rest of us - please!

Don't forget to join the conversation,
Blessings,
Edie

Edie Melson is the author of numerous books, as well as a freelance writer and editor. Her blog, The Write Conversation, reaches thousands each month. She’s the co-director of the Blue Ridge Mountains ChristianWriters Conference and the Social Media Mentor at My Book Therapy. She’s also the Military Family Blogger at Guideposts. Com, Social Media Director for SouthernWriters Magazine and the Senior Editor for NovelRocket.com. Connect with her on Twitter and Facebook. Don't miss her new book from Worthy Inspired, WHILE MY SOLDIER SERVES.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Juggling Family, Commitments and Writing

by Edie Melson @EdieMelson


Life is busy. I know this fact catches no one by surprise.
We all fight the battle of too much to do and too little time to do it. And it’s one of the biggest struggles writers face. I know we all have the same 24 hours in each day, but at times it’s harder for writers. Juggling family, commitments and writing can seem like an overwhelming task.
Not because we face more time commitments, but we have the added challenge of working from home—at a job many people consider nothing more than a pleasant hobby.  Even if we have an additional job that takes us away from home, the time we spend writing is a job, and deserves the same kind of respect and priority. I address this issue specifically in my blog post,  I Don’t Get No Respect!
Today I’m going to address how to give writing the time we need to, and still fulfill our other commitments? It’s not easy, but I’m going to share some tips that may help.
Decide where you want to go with your writing. You don’t have to schedule your time to get there overnight, but to get there, you do need to know where you’re going.
Take an inventory of what’s happening in your life right now. This is also going affect how much time you can realistically spend on writing.
Now answer these two questions:
  • What are you doing now, that you love MORE than writing?
  • What are you doing now that you DON’T love more than writing?

Once you have these three issues decided, here’s how to move forward.
Set deadlines. Even if you don’t have a client waiting for an article, give yourself a deadline. Then, write it down. It’s easy to fudge a deadline when it’s just in your head.
Set a weekly writing goal. If you write fiction, it may be a word goal. If you write articles or devotions, it may be a finished product goal. (For example, I’ll have 2 finished devotions every week.) I recommend a weekly goal rather than a daily one because it’s easier to meet when life happens. Here are three options to setting this goal that you may not have considered:
Weekly Word Count Goal. One of the things I've found most helpful when setting word count goals is to set my goal for the week rather than the day. I still have two teenagers in and out of the house so sometimes life interrupts life. To combat this, I set a weekly word count goal for my fiction endeavors. Then, I break it down into daily totals. If I miss a day's goal, I can make it up later in the week and I don't wind up feeling like I've failed.

Weekly Project Goal. You may normally work on smaller projects, like articles or devotions. If that's the case, try to set a goal of one devotion or article a week.

Revolving Weekly Goal. You might want to try something I call a revolving weekly goal. This is where you have a different goal every week for 3 weeks and then it starts over. The first week you might complete a small project. The next week, you look for markets where you can sell it. The third week you might spend learning about the craft of writing. Then you begin the cycle again.

Build in some room to breathe. Let’s face it, life happens. And more than that, unscheduled crisis come up at the worst possible time. To combat that, I’ve learned to build some additional time into my schedule. For example, if I have an article due on August 15, I put August 10 on my schedule as the due date. This gives me room to maneuver in case I have an emergency. It also gives me the opportunity to turn something in early (always a plus for you as a writer), as well as have some extra time for editing.
Find a critique group or partner. If you’re meeting regularly with someone, you’re more apt to be producing regularly. What if you don’t know any writers nearby to meet with? Look for an online group.
All of these things can help us find the write balance in life, but I'd like to know what works for you. How have you managed the juggling act that is life today? Leave your answers in the comment section below.
Don't forget to join the conversation!
Blessings,
Edie

Edie Melson is the author of numerous books, as well as a freelance writer and editor. Her blog, The Write Conversation, reaches thousands each month. She’s the co-director of the Blue Ridge Mountains ChristianWriters Conference and the Social Media Mentor at My Book Therapy. She’s also the Military Family Blogger at Guideposts. Com, Social Media Director for SouthernWriters Magazine and the Senior Editor for NovelRocket.com. Connect with her on Twitter and Facebook. Don't miss her new book from Worthy Inspired, WHILE MY SOLDIER SERVES.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Do You Have Unrealistic Expectations for Social Media? Part XI, Social Media Basics for Writers

by Edie Melson @EdieMelson

“I’m not getting any traction with social media,” is one of the complaints I hear a lot as I travel and teach writers how to connect.
There are a lot of reasons people feel this way, a few are legit, but most are just unreasonable expectations. Today I’m going to address the unrealistic exception for social media that many have.  
Unrealistic Expectations

The more time I spend on Facebook and Twitter, the more friends and followers I’ll have.  I’ve addressed this one several times, but I still hear it the most. Truthfully, after you’ve come up to speed on social media, spending more than thirty minutes a day on social media will trap you in the law of diminishing returns. This is a case of work smarter, not harder.
I’m spending time talking about my book, but my sales aren’t reflecting that. If you’re spending the most of your social media updates on yourself or your product, you’ve missed the point of social media. Social media is about building one-on-one relationships, it’s NOT an advertising platform. Building relationships will increase your reach and more people will hear about your book. THAT is where your increase in sales will come. Making your social media updates all about (or even one half about) you will drive people away and you may see a decrease.
Social Media is a fast way to increase my reach. Well…not so much. Like anything worth while it takes time—and consistency—to build a following. It took me about nine months to go from about seventy-five Twitter followers to one thousand. Then about a year to go from that to ten thousand followers.
I need to stay current with all the new social media platforms. Again, not really. The thinner you spread yourself, the shallower your reach. To get to the majority of your audience who’s on social media, you need to be on Twitter and Facebook. And you need to have a place where you are blogging regularly—that can be a personal blog or a group blog. If you find another platform you love (like Pinterest) find a way to work it into your thirty minutes a day.
I need to balance my time equally between Facebook, Twitter and Blogging. You do need to have a presence on all three, but you’ll find your own sweet spot. That’s where you need to concentrate your efforts. Do you have five thousand Facebook fans and only seven hundred Twitter followers? Then Facebook is your sweet spot. Spend the majority of your time there. Maintain an audience with the other two, but go with your passion. That strategy will always get you further. Beyond that, you’ll enjoy it more.
A social media platform is more important than anything to sell your book to a publisher. It is important, but without an excellent product (a well-written manuscript) it’s practically worthless. That’s another reason it’s so important not to spend more than thirty minutes a day on social media.
Social media isn’t a fast pass to a super Internet presence. As I’ve said before, anything worth having takes…well…work.
BUT that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t work at it. It can give you a distinct advantage when you’re looking for a publisher for your book, and when you’re trying to connect to readers for your book.

What expectations have you found that are unrealistic when it comes to social media? Do you struggle in a specific area—if so, share your thoughts in the comments section and we'll see if we can come up with a solution.

Don't forget to join the conversation
Blessings,
Edie
Edie Melson is the author of numerous books, as well as a freelance writer and editor. Her blog, The Write Conversation, reaches thousands each month. She’s the co-director of the Blue Ridge Mountains ChristianWriters Conference and the Social Media Mentor at My Book Therapy. She’s also the Military Family Blogger at Guideposts. Com, Social Media Director for SouthernWriters Magazine and the Senior Editor for NovelRocket.com. Connect with her on Twitter and Facebook. Don't miss her new book from Worthy Inspired, WHILE MY SOLDIER SERVES.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Social Media Basics for Writers, Part X—10 Tips to Help Writers Get More Twitter Followers

by Edie Melson @EdieMelson


Once we see the value in Twitter, the next thing we need to know is how to get more followers. 

I haven’t run into many people who don’t want to increase their numbers, so today I’m going to share 10 tips to help writers get more Twitter followers. 
Why do I want more Twitter followers?
  • It gives me credibility
  • It increases my reach, and makes it easier to spread the word, no matter what my message.

How do I get more Twitter followers?
1. Be sure to follow people back. It’s considered good manners to follow people back who follow you. This doesn’t mean you have to follow people who make you uncomfortable or who are trying to sell you 10,000 followers. Use common sense, but unless there’s a good reason be nice and follow people back.
Don't protect your tweets!
2. Don’t PROTECT YOUR TWEETS. On your Twitter profile there’s the option to protect your tweets. This locks your account and doesn’t let people follow you unless you approve them. If you feel the need to protect your tweets, you really shouldn’t be on Twitter. This social media platform is a place to get found, not lurk.
3. Make sure your 160 character ABOUT ME gives a good picture of who you are. You don’t want to over use hashtags here, but you do want to cover all the things you might tweet about. Here’s what I have as my description: Writer & Author—passionate for life's stories & God's path. #Militaryfamily blogger http://Guideposts.org #steampunk #vets #scifi #socialmedia4writers
4. Show your face. Always use a picture of YOURSELF as your Twitter icon. The evidence is overwhelming. People respond to a head shot where you can see the person’s smile. The only exception is if you have a business account. Then you can use your company’s logo.
5. Have a regular presence on Twitter. I Tweet a lot more now than I did when I started out. More first goal was to Tweet four to six times each day, four or five days a week. I use Hootsuite to schedule my Tweets throughout the day. Do NOT send out all your tweets at once. This is called hogging the stream and is the height of bad manners!
 6. BE CONSISTENT with the subject of your tweets. I tweet about social media, writing, some books, and issues important to military families. Occasionally, I’ll find something that I just want to share outside of those topics, but that’s an exception, not the norm.
Make sure you're sharing valuable content with
your Twitter updates.
7. Make sure you’re sharing valuable content with your Twitter updates. Don’t make your Tweets all about you. Instead, promote others who have something valuable to say to your followers. I know it’s counter intuitive, but it works every time!
8. Look for strategic people to follow. Here’s what I mean. I’m working on a science fiction manuscript and trying to grow my Twitter followers for that specific market. To find new people to follow, I visit some of my favorite science fiction author’s profiles. Then I click on their followers. This does two things.
1. It gives me people to follow who are interested in following a scifi author.
2. It gives me a good chance of them following me back because they’re already good about following back.
9. Reply to others publically. Twitter is a public medium and people like to be mentioned. If someone says something nice about you, or mentions you, be sure to reply publically to thank them. I also keep a list of people who regularly mention me and try to find something they do that I can mention.
10. Don’t use an auto responder. You may think you’re being polite, but what you’re really being is irritating. Auto responders are obvious and no one likes messages from a computer clogging up their timeline.
What NOT to do!
What NOT to do
There are several things that may seem tempting for short cuts to Twitter followers. I cannot urge you strongly enough not to try them. This is one of these times when if it sounds too good to be true, it is.
  • Do NOT buy Twitter followers.
  • Do NOT use ANY automatic programs to increase your followers on Twitter.

Twitter has very strict policies against these practices and I’ve known several people who have had their Twitter accounts suspended because of this.

Edie Melson is the author of numerous books, as well as a freelance writer and editor. Her blog, The Write Conversation, reaches thousands each month. She’s the co-director of the Blue Ridge Mountains ChristianWriters Conference and the Social Media Mentor at My Book Therapy. She’s also the Military Family Blogger at Guideposts. Com, Social Media Director for SouthernWriters Magazine and the Senior Editor for NovelRocket.com. Connect with her on Twitter and Facebook. Don't miss her new book from Worthy Inspired, WHILE MY SOLDIER SERVES. 

Thursday, April 20, 2017

What Do I Say On Social Media? 23 Conversation Starters for Authors

By Edie Melson @EdieMelson

I'm constantly being asked for ideas of what post on social media. 

It's important to use those updates as a tool to start a conversation with your friends and followers. 

So I've compiled a list of 23 social media conversation starters for Authors. These should help you never be at a loss for words!

23 Social Media Conversation Starters
1. Now that hashtags have caught on for a lot of different social media platforms, ask your followers/friends to share their favorite hashtags.
2. Take advantage of the seasons and ask, "What are you reading this summer (fall, spring, winter, etc)."

Look no farther than the calendar for update inspiration.
3. Along the lines of following the calendar, get more specific. For example today is Lazy Day, World Lion Day, National Duran Duran Day, Skyscraper Appreciation Day, and National S’mores Day. It’s also National Smile week—just think the social media updates you can create around those! I post the days for the month to come on the last Thursday of each month. Here's a link to August Calendar Days. You can also post questions about what week this is, and what month.


4. Share a new author you've discovered, and invite your followers/friends to do the same. The author doesn't have to be brand new—just new to you.


5. Post a cliche you hate to hear and ask others to post ones that irritate them.


6. One of my most popular social media updates was when I asked for favorite writing quotes. You can do an infinite variation on this by asking for quotes about love, family, mothers . . . you get the idea.
Share your favorite music to write by.
7. Share your favorite music to play while you're writing. 

Or even better, share a Spotify playlist. 
8. Ask for recommendations for new movies.


9. We all grew up rolling our eyes (maybe only mentally) when mom came out with one of her sayings. Post one of your least favorites, and ask your followers to chime in with one of theirs.
10. In this day of smart phones and tablets, ask for app recommendations. People are always happy to share new things that help make life simpler.
11. Ask for help with your current writing project—such as naming a character or helping refine a non-fiction topic.
Share an image that inspires you.
12. Images are hugely popular, share one that inspires you.
13. Do a new take on What I Did Last Summer, and post what you did this summer, or fall, or last weekend.
14. If you like to cook (or even if you don’t) share a recipe that you love or one you want to try.
15. Make a list and share your favorite people to follow on that specific social media network. For example, a list of favorite Instagram or Twitter accounts.
16. Share something from your bucket list, and ask for your followers to share something on theirs.
17. Post a funny video and ask others to comment or post one they love.
18. Put together a nonsensical list—like your favorite Dr. Seuss words or funniest oxymorons—and ask your followers to add to the list.
19. Post the link to a devotion that inspired you today and ask others to do the same.
20. On TBT (Throwback Thursday) post a picture from your childhood.
Take a vocabulary test and share the results.
21. Take a vocabulary test, share the results and the link and ask others to share their results. Here’s a link to get you started on Test Your Vocal. (And for the record, I scored 36,000 words.)
22. Ask your followers for ideas of what to share on social media.
23. Post your favorite line from a movie, and ask people to guess which movie it’s associated with.
As you can see, the list could go on and on and on. The key to always having something to say on social media is to keep a list of ideas of what to talk about. Otherwise, if you’re like me, when you’re ready to share something your mind goes blank.
So now it’s your turn. What would you add to my list? Don’t be shy, share your thoughts in the comments section below.
And don’t forget to join the conversation!
Blessings,
Edie
Edie Melson is the author of numerous books, as well as a freelance writer and editor. Her blog, The Write Conversation, reaches thousands each month. She’s the co-director of the Blue Ridge Mountains ChristianWriters Conference and the Social Media Mentor at My Book Therapy. She’s also the Military Family Blogger at Guideposts. Com, Social Media Director for SouthernWriters Magazine and the Senior Editor for NovelRocket.com. Connect with her on Twitter and Facebook. Don't miss her new book from Worthy Inspired, WHILE MY SOLDIER SERVES.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Social Media Basics for Writers—Tips for Composing Effective Social Media Updates

by Edie Melson @EdieMelson


Twitter, as many of you already know, is my Social Media Sweet Spot—my easy button, if you will. It’s my go-to place to send and receive information. Because of that, I compose all my social media updates from a Twitter mindset. So no matter where I'm sending the update, I compose it with Twitter in mind.
I know that Twitter is NOT the sweet spot for many of you reading this blog.
Part of that is because you’re not really sure what constitutes a good tweet. You’ve heard just enough about hashtags and twitter etiquette to make you cringe at the thought of composing your own tweet. So rather than failing, you either stick to retweeting what others share or just pass on the whole thing.
Today, I’m going to break it down for you and share my tips to composing the (almost) perfect tweet every time.

Twitter Basics
I have four types of updates I share on Twitter (and all social media).
  • An insightful quote or thought.
  • A question to get the conversation started or make us think.
  • Something funny, because let’s face it, we all need to laugh.
  • A link to information I find valuable and think will enrich your life.

But What IS a Perfect Tweet?
The definition can vary widely, depending on who you ask. But since you’re reading my post, I’m going to give you my definition.
A perfect tweet makes someone’s life a little bit better, and does so in a way that’s easy to share with others.
Components of a Perfect Tweet
There are certain things that good tweets have. Not every tweet will have every one of these, but here are the list of things that make a tweet good.
  • An attention grabbing headline—this is the main focus of your tweet and can be a statement or a question. It makes others what to learn more, take action, join the conversation and/or share what they’ve read.
  • A clear attribution—I’m a writer, so authorship is important to me. If someone says something brilliant, I really want them to get the credit. So when possible, I include the person’s name and/or twitter handle. (A twitter handle is your Twitter user name. My Twitter handle is @EdieMelson).
  • Hashtags—stop groaning! You knew I was going to include this one. A hashtag is a number sign (#) that’s put in front of a group of letters and/or numbers. This makes that particular topic searchable anywhere within the Twitter universe. There is a specific number of hashtags that’s ideal. For the highest number of shares, use two. One is good, two is best, three or more is not so good.
  • A link—if you’re referencing something you’ve found online, you’ll want to include the URL. Be sure to shorten the link. Hootsuite will do it for you, but if you don’t use Hootsuite or a scheduling program, I recommend www.bitly.com. If you’re just posting a question or a quote, there’s not always a reason to include a link.
Format Your Tweet
There is a general order in the way you arrange the components of your tweet.
Do NOT start your tweet off with an @ sign (Like @EdieMelson) unless you are replying to something I said. A reply tweet will only be seen by those who follow BOTH you and the person you’re replying to.

Hashtags can be used at the beginning, middle or end or your tweet. But the best way to use them is organically, within the body of the tweet. Second would be toward the end. Lastly, at the beginning.
Finally, we all know Twitter limits tweets to 140 characters. But I do NOT recommend you use all 140 characters. For one, if someone retweets your update, something will get lopped off the end of the tweet because the retweeters info will be added to the beginning of the tweet.
So ideally, keep your tweet to under 120 characters. But remember, this is just a guideline, not a hard and fast rule!
Here's the order I tend to like best:
  • Headline
  • Attribution
  • Link
  • Hashtags

Example and Explanation
Here is a tweet I composed for this post:
Tips for Composing Effective #SocialMedia Updates – via @EdieMelson #writing http://bit.ly/1LZyiMe
Breaking it Down: 
Tips for Composing Effective Social Media Updates—is my headline, my attention grabber.
#SocialMedia and #Writing—are the two hashtags I’ve chosen to use. They reflect the focus of the tweet and are popular hashtags.
@EdieMelson—is my attribution. I used it in this tweet because I’m composing the tweet for ClickToTweet, which means someone else will be sending the tweet out. If I was just sending this out, I would NOT use @EdieMelson because the tweet would originate with my Twitter account and everyone already knows it’s me.
http://bit.ly/1LZyiMe—is my shortened URL or Link. This URL will take the person clicking on it directly to this post.
Common Questions
1. What if the blog post I'm referencing is a guest post, which attribution do I use - the author of the post or the owner of the blog? If possible, it's good to use both attributions. Here's how I would handle that:
Is Your Manuscript Written to Death? - via @VaughnRoycroft on @WriterUnboxed owl.li/xHH8x #amwriting 
2. What if the person I'm referencing doesn't have a Twitter handle or I don't have time to research it? People who don't include their social media info is a big pet peeve of mine. If it's not easy to find, or you can't find it, just use the person's name. 
3. What if I don't have room for everything? This happens frequently with Twitter. After all, we only have 140 characters. If I don't have room to include the author of the post and the blog name, I prioritize and use the author's name. If I don't have room to use two hashtags, I only use one. The key is to stay flexible and don't overthink this.
4. Do I have to always use two hashtags? No, use the hashtags that make sense and what you have room for.

Now it's your turn. What questions do you have about composing updates? Do you have format you like to use? Be sure to leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

Don't forget to join the conversation!
Blessings,
Edie