Brevity is one thing I struggle with, a lot. But in today's fast-paced world with ridiculously short attention spans, it is one of THE most important skills to have and exercise in all forms of communication. I have tried to explore my struggle with brevity in written communication here.
Initially when I start writing, generating every next word seems like a mind-bending task. However, after I hit a certain number of words (not a fixed limit, depends on the topic) I subconsciously find a niche to write about in that topic, and then my thought flow sets right. That's when it becomes difficult to control oneself and be brief.
Writing insightfully in itself is a wonderful art, but being brief AND insightful is what filters out the best from the rest.
I struggle a lot with word limits, especially if they are really small. (150 or 200 words). For me, that is the point when I have just started to gain clarity on how I am going to approach the topic, and good words start to flow. It's frustrating at best to see your best thoughts and words fall outside the word limit.
Now, in order to adhere to the first word of my title, I will jump to the crux; an approach I recently thought of, to exercise brevity.
SCRUTINIZE EVERY WORD.
This is, of course the most logical way to deal with writings exceeding word limits, or those which are just unnecessarily too long (defining how much is "too much" by yourself is itself a tricky task)
Whenever I am writing something with a painstakingly low word limit, I write my first draft unhindered. Then I cut down sizeable portions of it, sometimes even entire paragraphs. This is fairly easy to do, as intuitively I know that these parts are absolutely not necessary. This substantially reduces the word count.
Then I try to form a question for every sentence that I've written, whose answer is that sentence. I analyze the question, and eliminate or keep the sentence depending on the relevance and absolute necessity of having that question answered. But there are a few exceptions to this, which you will know in the following part.
Finally, even if the word limit is still not met after implementing these, I turn to my last resort. Something which I truly hate doing; I remove the humor and thinly laid references from my writing. Yes, I absolutely love to include pop-culture references and some subtle humor in my writing. "Because that's what heroes do!"
Yes, that's a Ragnarok reference, and removing such stuff aches my heart.
This is of course, my personal process. One may have different priorities while writing; cutting down humor and pop-culture references may as well be the first step in some cases. It may also depend on the context, for example, one may have a very different approach while writing a serious, official document; like a scientific research paper. (Oh me, I would totally love to read and write research papers which are full of memes and references. That would increase its relatability with the general public and establish a deeper connect, far from degrading its (Caution - tongue twister ahead) "scientific sanctity").
Even though finding the right analogy is as hard as....... as hard as......., brevity and insight are like a bear and a unicycle in a circus. Finding them individually is not a big deal.
It's when the bear is riding the unicycle that it becomes truly impressive.
This is all I have to say about the first theme of my title. If you are still sticking around to read what I want to say about the second theme, I guess I have already said it implicitly. The length of this post on brevity is itself ironic, which is what the second theme in the title is. So, as I have done justice to my title and hopefully to you - my reader, I leave you contemplating on brevity and laughing on the irony of how long this write up is!
Thank You! -Aditya Ramdasi