Keep it Simple

“One day I will find the right words, and they will be simple.” – Jack Kerouac

Keeping things short, sweet and to the point has not always been my strong suit. I was the one who always wrote the novel length email or card or essay answer. I was the one who needed extra room to write on the group birthday card.

Recent jobs have cured me of this (almost) in favor of the super effective, and easy to browse through when busy, bullet point version. You may know what I am talking about here, your co-worker writes the dreaded super long email when you are busy, so all you really wanna do is cut them off and ask them to just give the bullet points. What do you really need me to get so I can move along to the next task?

It’s not always easy to break it down simply but it can usually be done. The same is true of our non-business related writing. It’s not easy to make our prose tight or our poetry lean, but the writing is usually better for the time spent making it cleaner.

This last week on my personal blog post, I accepted a 99 word flash fiction challenge. I knew 99 words (no more, no less) sounded challenging, but after a few tries I realized just how few words that meant. The resulting flash fiction was an interesting first attempt, but the lesson I got from having to cut down my words was a helpful one.

Words, lines and paragraphs began dropping away as I tried to pare down what I had written so that I could get my story within the constraints of the word  count limit. It felt much like a puzzle toward the end – what pieces needed to be there and which just didn’t fit? What if I were try it this way instead? The result wasn’t perfect, but it did finally work, and it read far easier than the original versions. It was cleaner and less bulky.

Keeping it simple will be something I will have to work toward. I have to remind myself that simple doesn’t have to mean ordinary or plain. It does mean I need to avoid letting things get unnecessarily overdone.

Do you struggle with making your writing (or your life 😉 ) too complicated? Ever think it may be time to keep it simple? Please feel free to share in the comments. I always love to hear from you.

Thanks for reading! Have a great week!

~CJS

2 responses to “Keep it Simple

  1. Keeping it simple is difficult, especially trying to get your story across in so little words. It really makes you appreciate the weight of each word that you use. I still struggle with it. You did a great flash!

  2. Yes! The weight of each word really stands out as you start to cut. It was a great challenge. Hopefully it can help me with my editing – because I need help 🙂 Thanks AJ!

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