Remember when Lance and his blog “Jungle of Life”, were featured as New Blog Of The Week? In the comments, Chris of Wat da Wat, paid Lance and I a very nice compliment. He wrote:

Nice pick Barbara…You know that Lance’s style of writing is similar to yours? You and he write with precise brevity.

According to www.merriam-webster.com, the definition for brevity is:

: shortness of duration; especially : shortness or conciseness of expression

Today’s Lesson

I normally write short posts and quickly get to the point.

Although I may start with three times as many words, before I publish a post, I reread it many times, pick it apart, and ask myself, “What does THAT have to do with the message of this post?”

If the answer is “nothing”, I cut it out.

This often works to my advantage. What I cut out becomes the “makings’ for a future post.

How I write won’t work for everyone. Some posts deserve to be lengthy. It’s often the only way the entire message can be conveyed.

Today’s Assignmment

What process do you follow when you write?

Do you just write and hit “publish”?

Or do you carefully analyze each and every word?


Photo Credit: dboy’s photostream

Related Posts with Thumbnails
You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
Look Who's Talking
  1. I carefully analyze and read each word. I do a lot of proof reading, and alterations before publishing.

    Furthermore, the length of my posts are determined by necessity. If a particular subject matter demands a longer post, then that is what I do. If a subject matter can shine with great brevity, then short it is.

    I prefer to do most of my posts in the short range. But, on occasion, I’ll go a little longer. I like to mix it up here and there.

    Bamboo Forests last blog post..Realizing You’re a Magician Can Create Magic in Your Life

  2. RobinNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Barbara

    It’s funny you should say this, because I was thinking about it. I have relatively short posts, and I spend a lot of time cutting them down – I was thinking it may look like I don’t spend much time on them, but it takes me ages!

    Like you, I keep the trimmings – which I may or may not use (though it may get like cleaning out the fridge – they may have to go at some point!)

    Robins last blog post..Is The World Getting Better Or Worse?

  3. Scott McIntyreNo Gravatar says:

    When I write, Barbara, I begin with a load of ideas and start pruning them down as I begin typing- or writing- them.

    Then, I’ll play about with several sentences that make the same general points, and try to cut them down into a single, succinct summary.

    Hopefully, by doing that throughout a piece, I’ll condense what could have been a sprawling ramble into the essential points.

    As for the length of any piece of writing, someone helpfully told me “as many words as you need to answer and not a single word more.”

    PS I found this humorous quote from William Safire: “If you re-read your work, you can find on re-reading a great deal of repetition can be avoided by re-reading and editing” :-)

  4. Cath LawsonNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Barbara – I guess it depends what I’m writing about. I find some posts easier to cut than others. But, like you, I can often make two blog posts out of one.

    Lately, some of my posts have been a bit long, so this is a really good reminder to cut back.

    Cath Lawsons last blog post..Is Blogging Putting You at Risk?

  5. JayNo Gravatar says:

    I do the same. I start to write by jotting down the first few sentences just to get the idea down, then I write the thing and I’m constantly revising and editing to keep the prose clean and concise (and correct typos!). Then I review it and edit and prune, doing the ‘what does this bit contribute? Nothing? It’s gone’ thing. Then I preview it because I’ll often find I pick up things I’ve missed once it’s in that form.

    I still often end up edited the published post within the first few minutes though. I can’t bear to leave mistakes in, and if I see something which could have been said better, I’ll change it. I stop once I’ve had replies. I don’t want to be confusing people!

  6. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Bamboo,

    It sounds like you write similar to me. Mixing it up is a good idea.

    Hi Robin,

    I think you hit on something. Sometimes short posts are harder to write than long ones. We don’t want our readers to be bored, but yet we want them to have value. It’s a fine line.

    I like your analogy comparing excess words/ideas as cleaning out the frig. Yes, sometimes they do get tossed, don’t they?

    Hi Scott,

    It’s that pruning process that takes time, but I like what you were told “….not a single word more”. That reminds me of how sometimes I will edit out one last word.

    The quote from William Safire is funny. :)

    Hi Catherine,

    Don’t you just love it when you have that “bonus” post?

    I don’t think you have to cut back unless you feel you can say the same thing with less words.

    Hi Jay,

    It’s not easy, is it? I lose count on how many times I preview. Like you, I’m editing until the very last minute. Sometimes I just have to say “enough” and hit “publish”.

    We would confuse people if we started changing a published post. Their comments may sound rather bizarre if we changed it too much.

  7. Dr. CasonNo Gravatar says:

    I analyze each and every word.

    I really analyze the flow of the sentence and if it’s what I wanted to say.

    Like today’s post. I wanted to show Jakey enjoying himself and not reference the allergy issue- AGAIN- just his boyish nature.

    So I chose a simple pic and told about his little boy antics.

    I do usually edit within the first couple of minutes like just a few minutes ago. But the internet here at the hotel is slow and Cath Lawson snuck in a comment. Thank goodness it didn’t reference the part I deleted! He He!

    Dr. Casons last blog post..A New Friend at Waikiki Beach

  8. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Dr. Cason,

    You brought up a good point when you mentioned “flow”. That’s another thing that I consider too. Sometimes my posts sound choppy, so I start hacking and rewording.

    I’m headed over to you post. I’ve been following along as you try to find an answer to Jakey’s health issues.

  9. NaturalNo Gravatar says:

    i do the same thing you do, i think. i don’t always write as brief, but i do write a first draft, then i read it 50 times first taking out words i don’t need, then i read it again to take out any thoughts that don’t help the post. editing takes me longer than writing the post itself.

    Naturals last blog post..Paper or Plastic?

  10. NaturalNo Gravatar says:

    Barbara, you just saved me 15 minutes if not more. This plugin works better than the one I had. I saw one more plugin I like (the footnote) that I plan to install and then I may be done with my plugins for now. Thanks and Hugs!

    Naturals last blog post..Paper or Plastic?

  11. Sometimes I read for editing three or four times. Other times it’s only once or twice and I must admit I can see the difference.

    I also have a bias for brevity. I can hardly read some of these humungo posts. If I wanted to read a book I’d read one.

    List posts and long posts have really irritated me of late. I long list post with a cute title makes me want to puke!

    Tom Volkar / Delightful Works last blog post..Today I Simply Ran Out of Excuses

  12. After setting up my tumblr on solo roleplaying, I chose the “silo” template. At first it looked cool: 9 small posts arranged 3×3 in one screen… but then I noticed they could display only so much content… which ended up letting me know I was way much too but really verbose 😉

    Miguel de Luiss last blog post..I used Mortal Coil to produce the Theme document.

  13. What do you think is the preferred length for a personal development type online article? I’ve always been a short-article kind of writer; all the way from school days. I prefer to get to the point real quick.

    But then when I decided to get serious in the personal development field early this year, I realised that most writers in this niche churn out loooong articles. And for some reason, I also found myself gravitating towards lengthy ones and spending a lot of time at writing them!

    I like your short style but I’m wondering if it would be suitable for all niches. Any suggestions will be much appreciated.

    Thks,
    Evelyn

    Evelyn Lim | Attraction Mind Maps last blog post..Guest Post: 7 Steps To Positive Self Talk

  14. MarelisaNo Gravatar says:

    You have to be pretty ruthless when editing your own work. Sometimes I’ll look at a sentence and think: “Well, it’s a little off-topic, but it’s such a beautiful sentence.” At times brevity wins and I take the sentence out, at times the beauty of the sentence wins and I leave it in.

  15. LanceNo Gravatar says:

    I guess you know how I write, huh, Barbara!

    I do proofread my posts, and like Dr. Cason stated, I try to look at the flow of the message – does it make sense. And if it seems like I’m just adding words but nothing new to the conversation, I’ll cut it out.

    That’s not to say I don’t enjoy longer posts – I do. Sometimes I think that they contain more “meat” than I put into my writing. And that’s good. If everyone wrote the same way, that would take the fun out of reading.

    I really like the idea of using the stuff that gets cut from a post for future posts – a great idea!

  16. I try not to spend too much time editing, because I’m prone to keep editing over and over and over. I do think it’s important to make at least one or two passes though. Very often I’ll remove a few words here and there to make it easier to read. On occasion I’ll split it into two posts. A post rarely comes out perfectly on the first try, but I don’t think it should. You have to get your ideas down in words to see how they’ll sound to a reader.

  17. DavinaNo Gravatar says:

    Edit, edit, edit… and edit again. I try to keep my posts to medium length when possible, but you’re right, some of them require a certain length to communicate the message.

    I prefer the shorter posts (I have to admit), the ones that pack a punch in a shorter time. But, that’s because if I’m visiting a lot of blogs it gets overwhelming when there is a lot of content in all of them.

    Guess I’ll have to space them out over the day :-) , cause I just can’t miss reading any of them.

    Davinas last blog post..Like a Bird

  18. Sunil PathakNo Gravatar says:

    My post are usually 600 or more word long
    i some how feel the topic i discuss on my blog cant be explained in less words.

    My blog is about How to Blog and 50% of my reader are new visitors so i cant expect them all to be well familiar about Blogging and several blogging terms.

    so every term i mention in my post requires brief introduction so that my new reader(new to Blogging rather then new to my blog) dont feel like left out

  19. hyrcanNo Gravatar says:

    Hmm, When I write a post, sometimes it’s a quick post, others I pour over for days before hitting post. I’m not sure why, I think there’s some that are just quick commentary, and then other post where I’m trying give detail and information which I will double/triple check, such as the one in my drafts right now… heh

    My “on-the-go” photos are instant publish. Straight from my phone to the page. Though I have gone back and added a note or edit. Usually because I didn’t feel like typing it out on my phone at the time.

  20. I never just “type and publish”, but I don’t worry too much about length. Sometimes I’m surprised by how long a post is when I preview it, but I don’t change it for that reason.

    Barbara, I think brevity is appropriate for your blog – and I love the photo above!

    Ann at One Bag Nations last blog post..Check it Out – I’m Swimming with the Sharks!

  21. VeredNo Gravatar says:

    “Do you just write and hit “publish”?”

    Yes. Blush.

    This process, or lack thereof, is sometimes reflected in the quality of my posts. But sometimes, I just write from the heart, hit publish, and the result is great because the lack of editing keeps it real.

    Vereds last blog post..Lima Beans in Gelatin… Mmmm TASTY (Wordless Wednesday)

  22. Linda AbbitNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Barbara,

    Somewhere online I read this advice and have applied it to my blog writing: Write fast, edit slow.

    I always walk completely away from my draft(s) and then review them as many times as I feel are necessary before I hit “Publish.” Reading them aloud also makes it easier for me to find those stumbling blocks where the words don’t flow well and then I know it’s a sentence or paragraph I need to rework.

    I don’t worry about length (not yet anyway). I have found that the longer posts make a great 2 or 3 part series however, and that’s nice! It’s like a bonus for my hard work.

    I admire your short, to-the-point writing style and hope I can create more of those posts over time.

  23. First I just write, sort of stream of conciousness style. Then I read it and ‘crisp it up’, but generally I don’t need to remove too much because I’m a tad task driven and tend to get the the point fairly quickly anyway. And based on the fact that I’m a tad….okay fine, a lot…task driven I tend not to read posts that go on and on and on. It means I might be missing out on some very good posts, but after about 4 paragraphs I start to skim, or give up all together. Right, wrong, or indifferent, but that’s my style of writing and reading.

    Of course my today’s post is more than 4 paragraphs, but that’s because it’s the findings from a survey…so written differently…so doesn’t count.

    Now, my comments on other blogs…they tend to drone on, eh? *smile*

    Urban Panthers last blog post..Dressing to land a man – Part I Undergarments

  24. Chase MarchNo Gravatar says:

    I write most of my posts beforehand, usually offline at home. I then proofread them and save them. When it comes time to add a post to my blog, I check it again before hitting publish. I then proofread it again after I have published.

    I think everyone can benefit from a little self-editing.

    Chase Marchs last blog post..Story is the Nature of Reality

  25. JenniferNo Gravatar says:

    Barbara, I loooove your writing style. That’s one big reason I visit your blog so much. I would love to see what your post look like before you cut them down.

    I’m a big analyzer. I write and read and edit and do it all over again countless times. I have plans to stop doing that as much, but I haven’t implemented it yet really. When I’m all done and ready to post, I get up, take a break – usually for an hour or longer and do something else. That gives my mind time to clear, then I come back, look at it again, make any final changes and click “post” as my heart goes pitter pat at a little faster pace.

    Isn’t it great that everyone has different writing styles! It sure would be boring if we all wrote the same.

  26. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Natural,

    Isn’t that amazing how editing takes so long? Who said blogging was easy?

    You’re welcome and (((hugs))) to you, too. :)

    Hi Tom,

    I don’t mind a short list post, but if there are too many bullet points or links, I sometimes just bookmark it for later.

    I haven’t had the puking response yet. 😆

    Hi Miguel,

    Welcome to the BWAB community!

    I’ve never seen 9 small posts in one screen, but I can see how it would be necessary to keep them extremely short.

    Hi Evelyn,

    I do know Steve Pavlina writes extremely long posts, and he does well with them. With that being said, when I read his blog, I know I have to have a lot of time set aside.

    Have you thought of doing a long post in a series, or would that work?

    Hi Marelisa,

    I know what you mean about those “beauty” sentences, but sometimes they, too, have to go.

    Hi Lance,

    Yes, I do know how you write. :)

    Like you, I enjoy some long posts. When the authors are eloquent, it’s an enjoyable read.

    Hi Hunter,

    Looking at our posts through the eyes of a reader is the key. We must learn to be objective, even about our own work.

    Hi Davina,

    Trying to keep up on all of the blogs we read does take time, doesn’t it? I would like to split up my reading time, but that usually doesn’t happen.

    Today is typical of that. I’m in the middle of setting up for a garage sale, and haven’t been able to visit too many blogs. I’ll be looking forward to that when this is all behind me.

    Hi Hyrcan

    Being able to find great on-the-go photos is a great way to share your work. Often a picture is worth a thousand words, and makes for an enjoyable “read/look”

    Hi Ann,

    Thank you. Since I’m doing “lessons”, I don’t want my visitors to have to read too much before getting to the assignment, as often I know they’ll be sharing a lengthy answer.

    Hi Vered,

    Ah ha, the first yes to that question. :)

    If we could all write exactly as we feel, that would be such a time saver, however, for me, my thoughts are often all over the place.

    Hi Linda Abbit,

    I like that, “write fast, edit slow”.

    You’re right, walking away from our posts is a huge help. We come back and can look at with different eyes.

    Hi Urban Panther,

    Haha, we’ve discussed the “skimming/scanning” here before and that seems to be the norm. We all have so many blogs we want to read, and skimming/scanning becomes part of our reading style.

    Hi Chase,

    Proofreading is a very important part of producing quality posts. And yes, we do benefit from self editing.

    Hi Jennifer,

    Thank you.

    Maybe one day I’ll do a post of an unedited post as a lesson. The bad thing is, it might be SO long, no one would read it. 😆

    You hit the nail on the head. It would be very boring if we all wrote the same.

    A message to all:

    As I mentioned earlier, I am organizing/preparing/pricing, etc for our annual neighborhood garage sale which will last for two days (Fri-Sat). Due to the time crunch, I haven’t had time to visit all of you, but when it’s all over, I’ll be back to my normal (??) schedule.

    I will be posting tomorrow (Fri). I think it will be a fun one, so I hope to see you here. :)

    Thank you for your understanding!

  27. Ellen WilsonNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Barbara,

    Normally I’m very anal and analyze everthing I write if it’s some kind of teaching piece. But if I’m doing something creative I usually just whip it out.

    Ellen Wilsons last blog post..Crossing the Border

  28. Al at 7PNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Barbara,

    I think brevity is important due to the nature of readers today. I think text messaging and Twitter just made people’s attention spans shorter.

    However, I think that’s only relevant when it comes to the intro. Posts should be as brief as possible to get to the hook; once the reader is hooked, you can take the reader through a short and efficient post or a long and leisurely read. At least this is what I try for.

    PS: Hope you help bring in big bucks with the yard sale :) .

    Al at 7Ps last blog post..Which Superhero Blockbuster Movie Are You?

  29. I usually try to be organic about it and let the post dictate how long it should be. When my point is across, I’m done.

    Of course, I’ve had some fun creating a few intentionally short posts. So far they’ve gone over well, so I think this underlines your point that brevity is generally a positive thing.

    And I love the idea of an unedited post as a “lesson!”

    Sara at On Simplicitys last blog post..What Feng Shui Has to Say About Clutter

  30. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Ellen,

    Lucky you, you make it sound so easy. :)

    Hi Al,

    You’re right about getting a reader hooked. If you can then keep their interest, the length of the post become secondary.

    Thanks, I’m hoping to do well at the garage sale. We’ve been working on sorting and pricing all day and have the stuff “priced to sell”. :)

    Hi Sara,

    Often a post is done, when it’s done, but it is fun to experiment, isn’t it?

    I’ll put the “unedited” post lesson on my list.

  31. Hi Barbara,

    I write for flow. My style tends generally to have lots of humor in it that benefits from simply “seeing” where a zany thought will lead me.

    If I’m writing a tutorial, however, I’ll break things down into bite-sized chunks via ‘step 1’, ‘step 2’ etc.etc.etc.

    Flow rules for me!

    Data points, Barbara

    Barbara Ling, Virtual Coachs last blog post..2008 Animal Planet Hero of the Year

  32. Pat RNo Gravatar says:

    Writing is fairly new to me but I’ve learned to cut and edit. I mostly write posts from the heart and when I feel I have a message to share that may help others. I usually write until my message has been emptied from me and translated to the page. It feels good.

    From what I’ve read here, I guess my posts are on the long side. I’ll have to experiment on mixing it up and making some short and sweet.

    Blessings,

  33. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Pat,

    Often when we blog, we write from the heart, and posts can become lengthy. That’s when we need to reread what we wrote and ask ourselves if it should be edited “down”. The answer will vary based on your subject matter.

  34. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Barbara Ling,

    Oooops, I missed your comment :(

    I agree, our words do need to flow.

  35. I used to type, hit publish, next task. Then the next day, type, hit publish, next task.. The process repeated itself until I realized I didn’t like what I was saying upon 2nd glance. (I never really used the draft feature).

    Now, I feel much better. I give careful thought and consideration to each of my posts. I feel good about the message I’m conveying and I inspire a better conversation. If what I’m saying has nothing to do with anything, I probably shouldn’t post it :-/

    Ricardo Buenos last blog post..Quote of the Day

  36. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Ricardo,

    That’s great that you learned that lesson on your own. Now you can be proud of what you write, and know you did your best.

  37. Exactly, when we write about anything what matters most is that our message should be conveyed as per our desire.

  38. […] – for asking the most interesting blogging-related questions. Your “assignments” are so much fun. I always learn something new about myself and my […]