Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Five-Hundred Words Just Ain’t Enough!

flickr / Nina Jean

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Years ago when I was learning about this new digital medium that people like to call blogging I was continually bombarded with articles and titles of articles suggesting, no almost demanding, that a digital article, blog entry, or any form of writing on the web should be limited to 500 words. I’ve seen it stated time and time again, heck if you even ask Goggle this is what you get . . .

My first reaction is oh my gosh, if that’s all it takes for online writing is 500 word articles then I’m in. I can produce those in my sleep, with hands tied behind my back, and more than several times a day, or so I thought. That was the best part about the 500-word limit, it was nonintimidating, short, quick, easy. In theory, it holds true . . . But in reality, it just doesn’t hold up, why? Because I tried it and if you are sharing or creating anything worth value it must be well defined. To have a subject that is well defined, you must give it more than 500 words, I tried, I mean I actually tried . . . and I very seldom can make it work, well only on days like today. Yes, I like to clutter up my writing with excessive verbiage. It is a fault and yes sometimes I just like to ramble on. I do agree with other writers to “trim it out, if it doesn't make a necessary contribution to the piece,” it’s just that 500 words is just not enough space to say anything at all, heck look at my word count I’m over halfway there now.

For a writer like me the 500-word rule just can’t apply, and I know what the supporters say which is usually two things, people don’t have enough time to read anything more than that . . . and search engines are more friendly to small pieces. Well maybe so, but search engines are more friendly to sites that receive high traffic too, and if the 500-word post is true than all viral posts should be 500 words or less. Well, we can put that fallacy to rest. The part about people not reading longer than 500 word posts, well I can kill that argument.

Take a look at War and Peace by Tolstoy, 587,287 words, and people still make the time to read it, yes, it is a classic, but it is so long . . . and still, people flock to it in droves. The way I feel about it, especially as a writer is this . . . Don’t limit yourself or your audience’s attention span, give them something to read and sink their teeth into, distract them with powerful and influencing writing and what they will not have time for is to count words, their mind will not even think about how many words they are reading if their mind is intellectually involved. Give them great, mind stimulating writing and let the word count take care of itself.

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My Disclaimer: Well my word count up to this point is 511 words. I just proved my own theory that I was trying to prove. OUCH! Maybe what we should be asking instead of “How long should a blog post be?” But we should be asking is “How good should a blog post be?”

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