Early in my job as a news writer at The Associated Press, I was assigned to the “night radio desk.”
I arrived at 4:00 pm and needed to put the initial “evening news” headlines/stories on the wire by 4:20 pm. This meant converting stories written for a newspaper into broadcast news stories ... which involved cutting a 500 to 600 word story down to less than 100 words.
If I was lucky, the day radio editor had time to get a couple of these stories edited before he left at 2:30 pm.
While often frustrating, the job taught me to write really fast and short!
I recalled this experience when I read a Copyblogger post headlined Are You Too Lazy to Write Less?, Chris Garrett posed a key question:
- How long should an article or a blog post be? How about a landing page?
- The answer is, of course: “As long as necessary. And no longer.”
- Obvious, right?
- Most writers know that brevity is crucial. In writing, like many things in life, “less is more.”
- But in writing and in Texas BBQ, we tend to over-indulge. We don’t need the extra words any more than we need those surplus calories, delicious though they are.
- It actually takes more work to write a short post. You may find you spend twice as much time editing as you do writing.
- But you owe it to your readers to cut the fat from your content.
- Bottom line: If you want your words to have impact, get to the point — then get out of the way!
- Write a 30 second PSA (public service announcement) for your association.
- Or, perhaps write a 100-word blast email designed to get a member to register for a workshop.
One other writing guide I use: “when in doubt, cut it out.”