After writing for more than a year, I have started noticing my articles are starting to be longer and longer.
While I originally had a goal of writing articles between 300 and 500 words as a way to stay consistent without rambling too much, I now often end up with more than a thousand words.
For writers of Medium, with the new rule of getting paid by the time of reading spent, it would appear to be a good thing.
But in our society with a low concentration span, that could also work against you.
If you’re trying to make it as a new writer, the consensus is that practice makes perfect, so you should write consistently.
But writing longer articles should not become a synonym of the above!
As you get better at organizing your thoughts and managing your creativity in more productive ways, it would seem articles should become shorter instead of longer.
Indeed, you could summarize what would have originally taken 200 words in just a few sentences, resulting in much more condensed and informative articles.
But at the same time, you could also start to explain more in detail the reasons behind whatever you mention.
Depending on the topic and situation, sometimes it might be better to skip the reasons, but not always.
Anyway, I’ll try to keep this short so it’s time for some bullet points. After all, this article is not meant to be long if I want to make my point on time.
Why articles should stay short
- If you have a lot of information to share, it might be better to list them up and link to more detailed articles about each piece of knowledge.
- If you’re sharing a personal story, be aware that some details might not be really useful to the story and are just sentimentally attached to it for you.
- If you’ve run out of ideas and just want to make a longer article, don’t. We will all thank you for stopping yourself and not wasting our time.
- If you’re trying to make a point and justify it, focus on it and go straight to it. The more you talk about it, the more it could feel like an excuse.
Why long articles could be good
- Obviously, if you’re telling a story and creating an atmosphere, then writing longer pieces makes total sense.
- If you’re trying to break a preconception well installed for the rest of the world, it might be a good idea to first list out those and go in detail below. A great example would be Maarten van Doorn’s Complete Guide to Effective Reading.
- If you want to share a deeply difficult and personal story, a longer piece might be the way to go.
- If you want to show how seemingly unrelated aspects are, in fact, connected, slowly going from one to the other could be a solution.
In the end, it all comes down to why and what you are writing. Both short and long pieces have their advantages, we just need to be careful and consciously use the appropriate one!