Thursday, 1 August 2013

If I had more time, I'd write shorter,

said Mark Twain, my hero (well, one of them) who UNDERSTANDS what it is to be a writer.

It is a paradox, to be sure, or one of those riddles wrapped up in an endless enigma...

Salvador Dali's The Endless Enigma
 ...that to write short copy is so very much more time consuming than writing longer pieces.

On occasions, I've been sent six A4 pages of densely written background information and a page long brief. When I respectfully enquire how many words are required, I'm told "Oh, only about a hundred or less..." with the implication that this will a) take very little time, and therefore, b) cost very little money.


(That reminds me. I worked with one designer, who shall be nameless, who, if my copy was too long  for the allotted space, simply cut the last few words or sentences to make it fit!)

Writing short copy? Easy-peasy?  No it isn't.
Let me refer you, dear readers, to Thoreau, who said "Not that the story need be long, but it will take a long time to make it short."

Or to F. D. Roosevelt, who asserted that it took him an hour to write a one-hour speech and two hours to write a half-hour version.

It's not easy to fit complex marketing messages and a call to action into very few (compelling) words, but that's part of my job and I love it.

AND it takes time.

Believe me.