This story is everything.
Retold by advertising legend, Dave Trott* on his blog last week, it’s all about the power of brevity in writing.
It’s a good ‘un, right?
I stand side-by-side with those Spartans on brevity (if not on murder and pillaging), because it:
- oozes confidence and authority, like you’re a total bad@ss
- forces us to cut the cr@p and get to the crux of our point (wordy waffle often disguises fuzzy thinking)
- makes us choose our words more carefully (rather than writing on autopilot)
- helps our readers get to grips with what we’re saying more quickly (and act on it faster too)
- saves us time (although it can be tough to write succinctly at first, practice makes perfect)
So how can you channel your inner Spartan and nail your next piece of writing?
Start with these 3 power tips:
- Chop out weak filler words and phrases, like ‘very’, ‘due to the fact that’ and ‘in order to’
- Get to the point faster – no lengthy introductions or slow run ups unless you’re writing a novel (imagine you’re going straight into battle)
- Use the active, not passive voice, i.e. “This week, the board decided to vote on the appointment ” not “A decision to vote on the appointment was made by the board this week”
And here’s a bigger challenge if you fancy going full King Leonidas (who in the legend led just 300 hard-as-nails Spartans in an epic battle against 300,000 invading Persians).
For a week, try chopping everything you write in half, and in half again, before you share it.
It’ll make your writing tighter than Scrooge and punchier than an Espresso Martini – give it a go!
(And, you never know, it might just help you vanquish your enemy and become the stuff of legends. Useful if you’re the type to leave your present shopping until Christmas Eve on Oxford Street 😱)