500 Words Or Less
One of my favorite roommates I have ever had lies in a particularly poignant place in my heart because he challenged me. We were different in countless ways from how we viewed relationships to our use of free time to our opinion on children. The biggest takeaway I got from him, however, was how much he despised long-form content. And how much I utterly adored it.
For weeks, we would go back and forth arguing over this very topic. It irked me so much, in fact, I wrote a blog about how the lack of original long-form content was a blight on the online literary community. His response? He didn’t even read my blog because it was too long. Despite the constant mashing of our dichotomous viewpoints, he taught me much.
Primarily, that long-form content is not always needed. Personally, I am at a place where one of my greatest challenges is cutting when I write. It ‘s hard for many of us, in fact. Length is a crutch allowing us to cling to worthless or half-formed ideas. Overextending the range of our essays, blogs, correspondence, and personal sentiments often allow us to provide ten, half-formed ideas instead of one or two concrete concepts.
Where my roommate first opened my eyes to this (yes, I am begrudgingly admitting he was correct) the rest of this facade cleared away after reading Several Short Sentences on Writing. Regardless of your career, and how much you do or do not write, read this book.
It challenges how we write by forcing us to reflect on how little thought we sometimes place in what comes next. Per the book and my roommate, I learned how often we ramble, allowing free flowing thoughts to escape without much afterthought to what we are saying. Instead of solidifying my thoughts, I poured out onto the page neglecting that the dialogue of my mind was drowning my readers. It is never that people who read or shared did not desire to do so. Instead, it was my inability to provide them a steady trickle, not a flood.
For my new blog, my goal is to produce original, meaningful, worthwhile content. With one caveat. All of this content will be 500 words or less.
My ideas have value. I am not throttling my mind. What I am limiting is my word count. Maximum impact at minimal effort for my readers.
My encouragement to you is the same. In your writings whether emails to coworkers, creative prose, or meaningful content, what can you cut? And if you don’t cut, are you creating your desired impact?
Also, pick up Several Short Sentences on Writing.
Don’t just take my word for it. This concept is not novel.
“Since brevity is the soul of wit / And tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes, I will be brief… Hamlet”