Whoever said “If I had more time, I would have written less…” stuck a red pen through the hearts of writers for generations to come. So many words, so little time — and space!
Variations of the quote have been connected to John Locke, Benjamin Franklin, Henry David Thoreau and Mark Twain. The original, though, is thought to have been written by French mathematician/philosopher Blaise Pascal in a letter in 1657. Translated from French, it read:
“I have made this longer than usual because I have not had time to make it shorter.”*
Any writer who’s bumped up against a word count limit understands Pascal’s pain. But Pascal couldn’t imagine the challenges of today’s digital writers (nor that a computer programming language would be named after him in the late 1960s — but no room for that here).
Today’s writers must craft tight copy for webpages being viewed by people on smartphones. We’re communicating via brief Facebook updates and 140-character Tweets. Web articles must be chunked out for easy scanning across multiple pages. Case studies, white papers, appeal letters, essays — everything we write must be tight, to the point and persuasive. Continue reading