Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Filling Space

Recently, I've felt like there is a lack of substantial entries on this blog. I keep reminding myself that a high word count does not necessarily make for a good blog.

The problem is that word count really does matter.

My sister recently wrote on her Facebook page that she was trying to eek out one more page for a paper she had to write. I recommended that she spell out all her contractions.

That's when I realized it. Whether it's a third grader's book report, a college term paper or a job in the "real world," we never quit worrying about word count.

In high school and college, my teachers started telling us that it's about quality, not quantity. I remember one music history teacher who told us he would be happy if our paper was a carefully worded haiku, as long as it got the point across. I knew he was exaggerating, but when it came down to it, he expected some sort of minimum length. (He just didn't define it.)

In journalism school, we were taught to keep our writing short. Space was at a premium. We even did exercises to reduce our word count.

But when I started working at actual newspapers, there was always space that needed to be filled. Occasionally stuff needed to be cut down, but I spent more time padding stories than trimming them.

Writing up information about prospective customers is part of my current job. Depending on the situation, sometimes we don't have very much information to write up. There's not a length set in stone, but if it's deemed to short, they kick it back to us to beef it up.

And what I find most ironic of all, is that half the time people aren't interested in reading all those words we struggled to write. Have you ever skipped an article in a newspaper because it was too long? What about a blog entry.

I think this is a good time to end this post.

No comments: