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Write Less Say More

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I recently read a short piece about using software to improve your own writing. To paraphrase one of the suggestions: “do away with weasel words, the passive voice, adverbs, cliches.” 

I’m adding “complex sentences” to the list.

Out of curiosity, I looked through things that I’ve written. I am not pleased.

I am wordy. I create complex sentences, then interrupt myself in the middle.

(The last sentence started out as “I tend to be verbose and wordy, with many complex sentences filled with interruptions.” Anyone who can write “verbose and wordy” without immediately cringing ought to be kept far from a keyboard.)

I face a new challenge: write less, say more.

There are two approaches I can take to be successful:

  • Edit as I go. Never finish a sentence without hitting the backspace key at least a dozen times. (I need a keystroke counter to see how often I type either CTRL Z or Backspace. It is constant.)

  • Write unencumbered by an attempt to write well . Once finished, go back and edit.

Option two is superior.

I have taken the first approach so far in this little piece. Now that I am paying attention to my propensity to write long, complex sentences, I am constantly trying to re-write the sentence before I’ve even figured out what I’m trying to say.

It would be better to just get the idea down on paper, and go back and fix it after the fact, than constantly interrupt the flow of the idea coming out of my head.

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