whatever you’re writing, cut it in half
in editing a stack of cover letters for students, I found myself writing the same note of feedback to everyone regardless of study, experience, or job for which they were applying.
That note of feedback: I challenge you to take what you have here and cut it in half.
What I mean is that what they were saying in a big, ol’ long, windy, verbose paragraph could actually be said in a brilliant stroke of two to three sentences.
Perfect example: That paragraph that talks about everything you learned at that summer job – instead of writing it out in seven sentences – challenge yourself to use three to four sentences. So, how do you edit it down? What are your three or four best, most favorite, stopyoudeadinyourtracks thoughts. That’s it. Write that. And only that.
That ironic advice for me. I am a classic over writer; I fell in love with William Faulkner’s long, complicated, cerebral style in college. I just can’t quit it. I unconsciously default to long sentences that usually require a breathe about three-fourths of the way in. So, I give that advice with all due respect – it’s a real part of the writing process that I think about for me every, single day. I look at copy – and then cut it in half.
Whatever it is you need to write today – maybe it’s an email, a LinkedIn post, a press release, a thank you note, a TED – doesn’t matter how big or small – write it out; then, cut it in half.
(Perfect example: This blog post.)