Ben on the XP thread wrote something which made me smile. I hadn’t seen it before – a Google search attributes it to various people but I suspect it originates with Mark Twain (Update: Apparently Blaise Pascal said it first, but in French):
Whoever came up with that gem, I applaud them. Writing a short, pithy response is far harder and takes longer than splurging everything onto a page. This is how I go about writing shorter responses:
- I write down all the ideas which the post, email etc. gives me.
- I work out which of the ideas are relevant to the conversation. I delete the others.
- I work out which bits of text duplicate ideas, and I delete or reword until each piece of text explains one or more unique ideas clearly.
- I look at how much text each idea in my post takes up. If the idea isn’t actually worth spending that much text on, I delete the text.
- I think about how many people are going to read the post. If the remaining ideas aren’t worth their time, I delete the post.
- I try to get to the previous stage as quickly and ruthlessly as possible. It’s like being a pirate on the seas of your own intellect, which isn’t so bad.
Many of my deleted posts are helpful for me to write anyway as they help me think through my thoughts. I don’t always write shorter responses, even when I should.
I have no idea whether this is a short enough post or not, but if you got this far I must be doing something right.