Monday, February 27, 2023

How Much is Enough When You Write?

Keeping the reader's attention by writing just enough is one of the hardest parts about writing.

How Much is Enough When You Write?

To get the right word in the right place is a rare achievement. To condense the diffused light of a page of thought into the luminous flash of a single sentence, is worthy to rank as a prize composition just by itself…Anybody can have ideas–the difficulty is to express them without squandering a quire of paper on an idea that ought to be reduced to one glittering paragraph.

Mark Twain.

Every writing project is going to be different to the one before.

Here are some questions to think about when you start a writing project:

  • Be honest with yourself, is your subject matter an interesting subject for the reader?
  • Are there other resources your audience can go to that offer more information on the same subject?
  • Are you restricted by the format you're using to put forward your information?
  • Do you think your audience is going to read everything?
  • In order to gain an understanding, how much does the audience need to read to achieve this goal?
  • What are the main elements of your text, and which of these are critical and which have the least importance?

If you're really into the subject you're writing about it's easy to get carried away and go off on a tangent.  

Remember you want to give the reader something valuable to take away.  In order to do that you should be focusing on the message you're trying to put across to your audience.  This should be done above everything once you start writing.

The Benefits of Reading Always Outweigh the Cost

At the end of the day it comes down to whether people want to sit and read what you've spent hours writing.  Of course your audience has no idea how much has gone into a particular article, all they're interested in is the information and if it's what they're looking for to solve a problem.

At the end of the day you're offering your audience valuable information, and this should be done in a way that is entertaining, simple and to the point. 

You should always aim for quality over quantity.  Length doesn't always convey value, and can easily bore your reader before they've even passed the first paragraph.

At the end of the day people prefer efficacious text that breaks down strips down what they need to know in great detail but put in a simple way.

Reading Time

Most writers measure their work by how many paragraphs or words they've produced.

Your audience will work out how much time they think it will take to read your article before they've even started.  If it looks too long, they'll walk away, but if it looks like it won't take too long they'll take the time to read it.

In a 2019 study it was shown that the average adult reads 238 words per minute.  You'll always have a mixed audience of mixed abilities and not everyone will be able to read that quickly.  

Every word written is extra time spent by your audience of which they may or may not have.  

People today live busy lives and often require information on the go.  Everything you write needs to be something of substance and information worth having.

Here is a simple guide to help you write just the right amount for your audience.


Think of your writing the same way you would look at a portrait of someone.  The further away you move the less detail you can see.  You may want to include your key points in the opening paragraphs and expand a little further on.  

Either way your message always stays the same no matter how long you make the text.


If you've been given a limit to the amount of words you can write, try and keep your focus on what needs to be said.  Focus on what your writing needs to say to the reader.


Writing long pieces of writing, especially online, won't always get you the SEO results you expect.  Remember that Google is looking for quality content that gets straight to the point, and provides answers for people.  And long-form writing isn't the golden rule when you're writing online.  Giving the reader the right answer is.

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Read more:

What is Clear Writing and How Can It Help You Be a Better Writer

How to Reach Your Audience When You Write

How to Plan Your Writing

How to Research Your Writing to Give t Substance

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