This week my workout was cut in half. Instead of 32 laps in the pool, it’s now just 16.
It’s a major adjustment. One that is feels twice as hard. It’s funny - how can you cut something in half and it be twice as hard?
As humans, we’re not afraid to use words. Jargon. Buzzwords. Run-on sentences. Big words. Words with no meaning.
Schools train students that length is important. Five paragraph essays. 10 or 20 page papers. If you fill up a whole blue book, you feel more accomplished than if you just wrote one page. More is better.
Why? It’s easy to write more. To use fluff and ramble.
It’s difficult to make every word count. To save space without losing meaning. It’s hard to write with focus.
Here’s an example - let’s look at 2 different email service providers. MailChimp and Constant Contact.
Lots of software companies fail to explain what they actually do. In this example, just take a look at homepage of each company.
MailChimp uses three words. Send better email.
Constant Contact goes for a 13 word explanation. Successful marketing starts here. Bring your marketing together with the Constant Contact toolkit.
Which is more clear? MailChimp explains exactly what you do with their software. It’s dead simple. So simple even my mom uses it - not kidding.
Constant Contact leaves you wondering what’s in their toolkit. The word marketing is redundant. This is where it starts? And it comes together? It sounds confusing.
This doesn’t mean MailChimp is automatically better than Constant Contact. Or you shouldn’t do business with Constant Contact. It just illustrates the importance of a simple message.
If it were easy to write less more people would do it. We wouldn’t have sentences like “We bring innovation to strategy through Strategic Interrogation, Engineered Creativity and Directed Research” - via designjargonbullshit.com. More words might sound elegant to you, but it just makes other people scratch their head.
Suck it up. Write short. Use small words.
A few good words can be worth a thousand pictures.
Roy Peter Clark, How to Write Short
The pool switched to a long course. Instead of 25 meters, it’s now 50 meters. The 16 laps are the same distance as the 32 laps.
My workout didn’t lose any purpose when you cut it in half.
It got better.