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If you’re an avid reader, chances are you write…a lot. You enjoy expressing yourself through written words. And sometimes you may write too much.
AND THERE ARE CONSEQUENCES TO THIS.
I recently came upon the book Writing for Busy Readers by Todd Rogers and Jessica Lasky-Fink, at work (I work in a library–lucky me!)
One topic Rogers and Lasky-Fink wrote about is this idea of “Less is More.” This phenomenon of “Less is More” is the reason people have started going minimalistic and downsizing to tiny houses. The satisfactions in life are the little things. (If you’re a parent, this could literally be your children.)
And this applies to writing. Sometimes we may want to write long emails, blog posts, and never-ending stories to convey our messages more. However, there are some downsides to that. According to Rogers and Lasky-Fink, “More writing takes more time to read” and “…requires more concentration”. Because of this, “longer messages deter readers from engaging”.
In short, the more you write, the less engaged your readers become.
Rogers and Lasky-Fink were able to prove this by conducting an email survey. They found that twice as many people participated in their survey when their emails were shorter and more concise, in comparison to longer emails, requesting that folks take part in the exact, same survey. (4.8% to 2.7%)
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR YOU?
If you’re working on a blog post or manuscript of some form, revise it and cut down your word usage. For example:
|Because of this||Therefore|
|They are a person who||They|
|In the time frame of||While|
If you’re responding to a text message or an email, simplify it:
|Hi Sally. I’m so sorry, but I can’t make it to dinner tonight. My mother just called, and she needs help with yard work and moving furniture. She also needs me to take the dog to the vet. Again, I’m so sorry. Can we reschedule?||Sorry. Another obligation has come up. Let’s reschedule. I’ll explain later.|
In other words, when you write a story, don’t try to become the next Stephen King or imitate the Bible or dictionary; if you’re writing a text message or email, keep it short and to the point.
And note: This does not mean cutting down on descriptive words. This will make your writing quite bland. Instead, use precise words to convey your message. I highly suggest reading graphic novels to see how this is used.
If you are a reader, you are a lover of words, and you may write a lot. Too much, to be exact. And there are consequences to expressing yourself in too many words. Instead, cut down your word use and rely on precise words to get your message across. Remember: “Less is More.”