I love teaching in a school and innovative department in which we have opportunities to frequently collaborate and learn from other teachers’ lessons and curriculum. This week, James Edge shared the Jim VandeHei’s (@JimVandeHei) TEDx talk from 2022, “The Art of Smart Brevity – Write Less, Say More.” It’s fantastic, and well worth 15 minutes of your time to watch.

Jim’s four tips for writers are:

  1. Audience FIRST: How do you serve the audience you are writing for?
  2. GRAB ME: What is the most important reason you’re writing / the ONE THING you want me to remember?
  3. Keep it Simple
  4. Be Human
  5. Just STOP! (Give others’ their time back, use as few words as humanly possible)

I feel both indicted and liberated by this message. Since I started blogging in 2003, I’ve posted 5580 times, and guest bloggers / others have posted 63 times. That’s 5,848 posts. Yikes. But it gets worse, considering things from Jim VandeHei’s perspective. Because many of these blog posts are LONG.

In my own defense, I do enjoy writing, and sometimes I enjoy writing FOR MYSELF. Jim argues against “selfish thinking” in his TEDx talk, when it comes to writing. I recognize that’s a potentially valuable and certainly valid perspective.

It can also be helpful to write to PROCESS and CLARIFY our thoughts and perspectives, however, and to allow others to experience a “hyperlinked deep-dive” into a topic and the ideas swirling around in our heads. This is a powerful aspect of interactive writing.

But writing long-form blog posts or other articles can also be intimidating for many, and it can create a psychological “high bar” for ourselves, because of the TIME requirements longer written pieces have.

So, thanks to Jim and James, I’m thinking about writing LESS, but thereby being empowered to write more frequently. I like that idea. 🙂

Write Less (Smart Brevity)” (CC BY 2.0) by Wesley Fryer

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