It’s been a long night. This afternoon, I sat at my son’s gymnastics class and came up with 28 ideas for blog posts. Except for the occasional inspirational moment, this is how I usually come up with ideas. I write down everything I’ve been thinking about over the past few weeks and I figure out what it all means. It’s a pretty wonderful experience. Today, I thought a little bit about length. And I realized that I write some really long pieces.
I love to write long pieces and I think that my best pieces range around 800-1500 words. It’s my sweet spot. I love to write. And I think people generally like to read what I write. But it’s important, when you’re writing, to think about length.
I had a wonderful English professor at Acadia University. Dr. Robert Morrison was as dreamy as he was intelligent. I once went outside to tell him that we were done filling out our reviews of his class and found him standing under an elm tree, eating and apple and reading a book of poetry. I’m not kidding.
Anyways, the real value that I took away from Morrison had to do with length. You see, Dr. Morrison had a very unique and particular take on word counts; he didn’t care about them. At all.
I want you to imagine what it would be like for someone who spent years sticking to very strict guidelines about word counts to suddenly be told that they don’t exist. It was infuriating. When he first said it, I had a few questions. Surely you jest, right? There must be SOME sort of limit or minimum. How could you plan a paper without considering length?
Dr. Morrison put it like this. Say you’re writing about elephants (I swear to God that’s the example he gave) and you’ve been given a minimum word count of 1000 words. Now say you write 850 exceptional, TRULY exceptional, words about elephants. What then? Well, if you’re like most people, you’ll then write 151 stupid words about elephants and you’ll ruin your piece. And if the maximum word count is 2500 words and you have 3000 words that simply MUST be said on the topic of elephants, you would be doing elephants an injustice by not writing those words.
So what does that mean for you and your blog? Simply this. Write down the words that you need to write down. Don’t write down any that don’t matter. That’s it.