Always Well Within

Calm Your Mind, Ease Your Heart, Embrace Your Inner Wisdom

The Joy of Writing Succinctly

I tend to write long blog posts.  Unwittingly, the long article became my default blogging style.

Sometimes I get word-weary though.  It can seem like writing will never come to an end.  Writing fatigue sets in, but I continue to trudge along.  Joy fades, but I am determined to reach the finish line.

In counterpoint, my friend Raam Dev crafts the single, knock-out sentence.   He whisks you away on a whimsical journey in two lean paragraphs.

Inspired by Raam, I challenged myself to an experiment:  writing [more] succinctly.

Surprisingly, dispersing the clouds of your mind – in 200 words – poured out.  Then, I explored the true path to world domination in a mere 125.

In so doing, I discovered:  writing less is fun!

Micropoetry & SiX Words

Then my friend Lori Franklin lured me with the gorgeous #micropoetry in her twitter stream,

Sliver of moon ~ piercing pool’s reflection ~ revealing two sides of me.

and her clever arrangement of #sixwords:

She wears a halo of fireflies.

So I gave six a try.  Here’s what popped out.

How powerful, the red cardinal’s song.

Sun floods in, penetrating my heart.

One-legged man wheelchairs across the street.

Melting icebergs in a wounded sea.

Unceasing gratitude for nature’s raucous quietude.

Mind wanders irresponsibly through open space.

Six-words seems indeed like the perfect form.  Apparently, the inspiration for six-word stories and six-word memoirs comes from a Ernest Hemingway legend.  Hemingway was once challenged to write a complete story in six words. This is his:

“For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”

Long articles reflect my penchant for details, complexity, and my aspiration to help.  Some topics clearly demand a lengthy exposition.  There’s nothing wrong with a long post!  I just needed to get out of a rut.

My writing experiments in brevity have proven delightful fun.  They put more spring into my writing, bring me straight to the point, and shoot me into the crystal clear present moment, feeling awake and alive.

Have you adapted a single blogging or writing style?  Does it serve you well?  Do you enjoy experimenting with different writing and blogging styles?

Image:  Courtesy of Lori Franklin.  “Tanka” is another short form of writing.

Thank you so much for reading.  If you liked this article, please share the link with others.  You can also connect with me on the Always Well Within Facebook Page or return to the AWW home page for more.  Thanks so much for your support!  Warmest wishes, Sandra

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25 Comments

  1. This post made me think Sandra. My blog posts all tend to be around the same length ~ I don’t know why…. I think that we are free to experiment and to write posts of whatever length we choose ~ the key is “does the post convey the message”. I’ve also been impressed with Raam’s ability to write posts of varying lengths and still get a very good message across. Food for thought. Steve

    • Hi Steve,

      As you may know, I enjoy writing thought-provoking posts! At the same time, there’s a saying, if it’s not broken, don’t fix it. In my case, I felt limited and feel benefit from breaking my routine. For others, having a standard length post make work perfectly. As Raam articulates so beautifully in his comment to this post, the answer seems to lie within.

  2. Writing succinctly isn’t easy. Lincoln once apologized for writing a long letter explaining that he didn’t have time to write a short one.
    Riley

    • Riley, That’s a wonderful exactly and so very true. When we write succinctly, the potency of each word can be magnified many times over if we also write well. Thanks for this example.

  3. Thank you for using my posts as examples, Sandra. 🙂

    It took me almost a decade of experimentation to arrive at where I am now with my writing style and the way I publish my work online. I discovered three things:

    First, I was writing posts that got across my message/idea/point but then I was spending time adding more content (i.e., words) to extend the length of the posts so they would fit within the 500-900 word range, because that’s what I felt was expected of a blog post.

    Secondly, I found myself dropping many ideas because I couldn’t come up with enough stuff to extend them; as I think we can all attest to, our thoughts don’t come out in 500-900 word lengths: often we only need 50 or 150 words to express them.

    And thirdly, I was limiting my ability to experiment and explore other forms of writing (e.g., poetry, short thoughts, etc.).

    I found that I often come up with three different lengths for posts: Extremely short ideas or thoughts (less than 50 words), medium length ideas or mini-posts (100-400 words), and longer essays that I spend many days or even weeks working on (500+ words). With this understand, I’ve modified my publishing style to flow within this instead of trying to conform to an external style.

    As writers who publish content online, I feel that we should all look at how we think and understand how we want to express ourselves. If we’re conforming to an external influence, we’re limiting our wonderful potential to create a environment where our ideas and messages are expressed through our core, and our heart.

    • “Secondly, I found myself dropping many ideas because I couldn’t come up with enough stuff to extend them” … oh yes, very familiar to me.

      Also very much like what you say about understanding “how we want to express ourselves.”

      I’ve been having a loss of confidence in my blog for the last week or two, and your thoughts are very welcome. Thank you.

  4. Raam,

    There are several important messages here. The key one, I feel, is that the secret is to developing one’s writing style is to look within rather than conform to external influences, which may not resonate with our core being and heart.

    Another essential message is the recognition that honing one’s writing style is an evolutionary process that occurs over time and with greater self-awareness and understanding. Thank you for sharing your evolutionary process. I’m sure it will be of interest and inspiration to others. I know your inspiration helped to liberate me. I feel far more free in my writing since I’ve started to experiment. It’s interesting to read how you found conforming to a norm limited you both from writing shorter pieces and completing pieces when they were complete rather than extending them.

    For me, another potential benefit of freeing myself from the restraint of always writing long posts is having more time to actually devote to fully develop longer posts when I do wish to write them instead of feeling pressured to get them out prematurely.

    Thanks for giving us a glimpse into the evolution of your writing style!

  5. I tend to write posts in 500 words or less. I find that when I read blog posts of others I only skim the post if it is long or I don’t finish reading it at all Therefore, I keep mine relatively short. This is probably because I read blogs mostly for entertainment. Occasionally, a long post pulls me in and I read it all but not often.

    • Greetings Patricia,

      It seems like you found the perfect style for you. It’s always good to know your own proclivities and there is certainly a big audience for shorter posts in the blogosphere! I’m not averse to long posts if they are meaningful or helpful. However, I’m enjoying my new found flexibility. Thanks for taking a moment to comment. I really appreciate it.

  6. I enjoyed reading this post and found value in it. I too am focused on expressing myself more succintly in my blog posts so this is a timely post for me.

    • timethief,

      I’ll look forward to seeing how this manifests on your blogs! It’s nice to be in sync and exploring together.

  7. I like your poems Sandra. I love Raam’s stuff and am surprised to hear he works days on some posts. Now I don’t feel so slow!!! Experimentation is fun. A nice summer thing to try. The only time I write really short posts is when i include a lot of my family photos. Love Lori’s poetry. Such a talent and lovely person.

  8. Thank you, Tess! I always find it insightful to hear the inside story from other bloggers and writers myself. I really appreciate how Raam gave us a window into his work. I’m not sure I put as much time into my longer posts as Raam, but I do like to let them simmer and stew.

    One of the points that struck me about your guest post on Write to Done was your suggestion to experiment with different style. Thanks for planting the seed! I’m finding experimenting to be refreshing, that’s for sure.

    Hope your summer of fun is rolling along perfectly! Lots of love to you.

  9. Me too long too, shorter good:)

  10. I’ve read your blog posts once in a while, Sandra, depending on the topic and this one lured me to express my thoughts because I so resonated. 🙂
    I too have meant to write shorter blog posts for sometime now but have always ended up writing longer than intended. As an online reader, I have found it hard, myself, to stay focused on long, wordy posts unless the subject matter is really, really interesting. Online reading behaviour is very different from reading offline. Offline, we read books or magazines after a long work day, primarily to relax. But, online reading happens often in the middle of work and may even be a distraction. So, we may tuck away a long article in the “later” folder never to come back to it.
    Writing succinct and to the point is indeed an art. I, too am with you in this challenge. As, this will also mean that I can write more frequently rather than that one long, perfect (seemingly) post.

    • Hi Rashmie,

      I so resonate with what you’ve said here! Reading behavior is certainly changing these days given that a great part of the world now reads online. To be honest, I have mixed feelings about whether to support the trend by adapting to it fully. At the same time, I think we must take this into consideration if we want to reach out and touch people. I’m not averse to long articles if they are well written, but I find there can be so much value in shorter ones too. My experiment has giving me so much more freedom to express my true voice in short, medium, or longer posts and not be stuck in one style alone. This is an excellent point > the long, perfect post can be exhausting, whereas shorter posts allow us to write more frequently.

      Thank you for commenting. I really liked your comment and appreciate connecting with you.

  11. We used to play a game in my writing class. I would give the students a passage and they would see who could rewrite it using the fewest words, keeping the meaning, of course. Very fun.

  12. I like trying to write less. It forces me to crystallise my thoughts and work out what’s truly important. Oh if I had a lifetime for writing.

    I find screenwriting books great inspiration for writing… the Screenwriting for Dummies is great. They talk about communicating through visuals and saying as much as possible with as little as possible for the greatest impact and style.

    • Ali,

      I appreciate your clarity and focus on writing less. Thanks for the tip on screenwriting books. I hope that you will have a lifetime for writing!

  13. One of my mentors gave me a good metaphor long ago. He said I need to think about absorption patterns. Just because I can write in reams, doesn’t mean my audience wants to read in reams.

    His message was I needed to balance my desire to nail a topic, with the absorption rate of my audience, and feedback from the people that the information is for. That led me to testing ways to structure longer writing, so that it’s scannable up front for the Simplifiers, and elaborated at the bottom for Maximizers. I also try to mix up the size, and vary things based on goals.

    I do think the trick with longer posts is that each word needs to make you want to read the next. If reading feels like work, it missed the chance to infotain.

  14. J. D.

    This is very informative J. D. I really appreciate your thinking on the topic. I’ve noticed that you do have special ways of organizing your posts. I think it might be wise for me to study them to pick up your tricks! I agree fully that once reading because a chore, you’ve lost your reader. I like this idea of absorption too.

  15. Hi Sandra. Lots of food for thought here. I’ve been feeling jaded with longer form blogging, and it’s refreshing to read your views and ideas, and those of others. Thank you.

    • Thanks for sharing your current experience with longer-form blogging. I think it’s always good to mix things up. As it is now, some of my posts are longer and some shorter. We’ll see how it evens out.

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