Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Less Is More

A couple of months ago, I wanted to enter a writing contest. We were to choose a photograph and write a story to go along with it. After writing mine, I realized that my four-hundred words had to be cut by one hundred words.

Now you have to be concise to tell a story in four hundred words and the thought of taking out a fourth of them was daunting. But I did it, and I think my story was stronger for the purge.

I've been thinking about how that relates to my communications: email, conversations, letters, etc. Here is a typical conversation between my husband and me:

Me: What would you like for dinner? Do you want to go out or order in? I could cook that tenderloin or we could have breakfast for dinner. What do you think?

Hubby: Um...

Me: You're probably sick of leftovers. Let's see... there's a pizza in the freezer? Would that be good? But we did decide that we'd quit eating so much fatty food.

Hubby: Um...

Who can get a word in edgewise??

In conversation, critiques, and emails, I tend to say the same thing three or four different ways, or even the same way several times.

And one last thing I do: I always say one sentence too much. The last sentence is the one I usually replay over and over asking, "WHY DID YOU SAY THAT???"

In this renovation year, I'm going to try to be more concise. Stop repeating myself. Give people a chance to answer my questions. Write succinctly (and start by taking out every word that ends in -ly).

My husband used to work with a man who had a sign on his desk that pointed toward the person across from him. It said, "GET TO THE POINT." Good advice.


Ginny said...


And--me, too.

This morning I wrote, edited, re-wrote, and edited some more, a post to a thread on LibraryThing until I'd almost decided I really--wait, strike that--had nothing to add to the conversation and nearly deleted the whole thing.

mamie said...

I totally get it. I do the same thing on Facebook. Write, delete, write. Simplify, complicate, delete. Post, regret, delete. Post, find typo, delete retype. See? I'm doing it again..... YIKES! :)