How to Get Yourself to Use Fewer Words

Last Updated Nov 25, 2008 7:20 AM EST

Do you use too many words when you write? Who doesn't?

If so, perhaps you should heed the timeless words of William Strunk Jr., author of the #1 book about writing, The Elements of Style:

Omit needless words: Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts. This requires not that the writer make all his sentences short, or that he avoid all detail and treat his subjects only in outline, but that every word tell.
But how to get yourself to use fewer words?

Joan Stewart, The Publicity Hound, has a simple technique: pay yourself.

Stewart suggests that you tell yourself you will give yourself $1 for every word you omit from your press release, blog post, pitch, or any other important written communication. "I've had people 'pay' themselves $60 or $70," Stewart says.

Give it a try!

  • Jon Greer

    Jon Greer has been analyzing media and PR for more than 25 years. He's been a journalist and a PR executive, and has been a featured speaker for many years at the Bulldog Reporter Media Relations Summit, and served as Bulldog's Editorial Director for their PR University series of weekly how-to audio conferences.

    Jon provides PR services including media relations and freelance writing to clients including start-ups, law firms, corporations, investment banks and venture capital firms. In addition, Jon provides spokesperson training. Learn more about Jon's training programs at The Media Bridge.