Write 5x More but Write 5x Less
There are 2 things I have come to believe about writing:
The average person should write 5x more things than they do. The average written thing should be 5x shorter than it is. See? Write 5x more but write 5x less. Write more often, but make each thing you write shorter.
I don’t care what it is. Blog posts. Novels. Google docs. Articles. Wiki pages. Write more of them, but make them shorter.
Why write more often?
- Because writing helps thinking.
- Because practice will make you better.
- Because writing is more shareable than speaking.
- Because humans are worse than computers at storing knowledge.
- Because writing your old thoughts frees your brain to think of new thoughts.
Why make them shorter?
So write more, but write less.
- Because the shorter it is, the more people will read it.
- Because of the Pareto principle: 80% of the value is in 20% of the length (hence “5x shorter”).
I definitely agree with the first part of Critter’s piece on writing more. I have a backlog of 1000+ ideas in evernote and I’d love to work on these ideas even though I already write everyday. And there are immense benefits to the writer as well as the broader community when we share our writing out there.
In the past, I’ve advocated for writing less. But writing less is a rule of thumb, and like many rules of thumb, there’s nuance behind it. If clarity is the goal, such as the case for much business writing, then you’re likely better off writing less. But if you’re persuading the reader or telling a story, writing less may make your piece blunt and not emotionally resonant.