I love a good quote. There’s just something about the ability to summarize a complex thought or issue concisely and creatively.
As a journalist, I always loved any articulate source. But it wasn’t only the ability to say something fluently or coherently. It was the ability to say it well — that little creative spunk that gave the words life. Those were the sources I found myself returning to.
If you follow me on Twitter, you know that I share a lot of quotes there. Yes, it’s because I love quotes, but I also think we can learn from them. This post contains some of the best quotes about writing tight.
Why Write Tight?
Before we get into the quotes, let’s talk about this concept of writing tight. Why bother writing concisely? After all, as one of my favorite quotes on the subject says, it’s easier to do just the opposite.
Clarity and Comprehension
Brevity ensures readers understand the main idea without wading through extraneous information. Dense, wordy paragraphs can obscure the main point and confuse the reader. Reading shouldn’t feel like work, which is why writing sometimes has to.
Respect for the Reader’s Time
It takes about four hours to write a blog post. The average person then spends less than 40 seconds reading it.
People have limited time to read. Concise writing respects the reader’s time by conveying information efficiently and effectively.
People can usually only remember three or four points from something they read or are told. Readers are more likely to remember the main points of a piece of writing if it is presented concisely.
My mentor says you don’t understand it well enough if you can’t explain it simply. Concise writing is more professional and authoritative. It shows that you know what you’re talking about.
The average person needs to be exposed to a message at least three times before they remember it. But that doesn’t mean they want to be exposed to it three times in the same piece. Repetitive information or ideas can dilute the impact of a message. Concise writing helps in eliminating redundancies.
Online readers have notoriously short attention spans. The average attention span is about eight seconds. Concise writing can help retain readers’ attention and keep them engaged with the content.
Every word carries weight. When a piece of writing is concise, each word and sentence can pack a more significant punch. Every word on the page has to earn its value.
Concise pieces are easier to repurpose or adapt for various formats, like social media posts. Being able to repurpose content helps you get the most from every piece you create.
Aesthetic and Rhythm
From a stylistic perspective, concise writing can have a pleasant rhythm and flow, making it more enjoyable to read.
Writing concisely forces you to hone in on what’s truly important, helping maintain a clear focus. This focus is why it’s more challenging.
Best Quotes About Writing Tight
Now that you know why you should write tight, let’s look at what some other great minds and writers say about the practice.
The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do.” — Thomas Jefferson
Examine every word you put on paper. You’ll find a surprising number that don’t serve any purpose.” ― William Zinsser
Kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings.” ― Stephen King
I leave out the parts that people skip.” – Elmore Leonard
The shorter and the plainer, the better.” – Beatrix Potter
If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.” — George Orwell
A successful book is not made of what is in it, but what is left out of it.” ― Mark Twain
I believe more in the scissors than I do in the pencil.” ― Truman Capote
Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very’; your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.” – Mark Twain
The road to hell is paved with adverbs.” – Stephen King
Have something to say, and say it as clearly as you can. That is the only secret of style.” – Matthew Arnold
Writing is easy. All you have to do is cross out the wrong words.” – Mark Twain
Apparently, I find Twain a quotable guy. If he were one of my sources, I’ll bet I would have gone to him a lot.
Easy Ways to Write More Concisely
Now you know why you should write tight and what a lot of famous authors said about doing so. That seems like proof enough that you should do it. The next question is how.
Take a look at these 11 tips on tightening your writing. If you do just these things, they’ll help a lot.
The best advice on this list, in my opinion? Pretend every word costs you $1. Save your money.
Your Favorite Quote
Hopefully, I’ve convinced you of the importance of concise writing. And it gave me a good excuse to share some great quotes. What’s your favorite quote on writing tight? I’d love to hear it. Comment below!