A colleague at a recent job had this quote from Mark Twain in her email signature: “I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.”
One of the greatest challenges I’ve found as a writer is to strip out unnecessary words and write as little as possible. I think that’s especially hard for people like me who’ve done marketing writing for brochures or web pages where space wasn’t a major concern. When I started doing content for an online banking application, and particularly for phones, suddenly space was at a premium.
On my first mobile project I was concerned that making it too short would sound abrupt. I worked with a good mobile writer who really helped me strip out the extra words and get to the point. That came in very handy when I had to write extremely short banner ads. The business line would send me ad copy they liked and I’d have to cut it down drastically but still convey a similar theme. The shorter ads take much longer to write than the longer ones.
Even if you’re not currently writing for very small spaces, it would be a good exercise to practice stripping down some marketing content to see if you can get the message across in half the words, or even less. Doing that makes you focus on what’s essential and cut the fluff.