“It’s easier to write long than short, and people are not going to read something that’s long.”
When these words were told to my psychology class by my professor a few days ago, my heart dropped. Of course, I have been told “quality over quantity” for years, but I just feel more satisfied with myself when I write thoroughly, and most of the time, I end up naturally writing a lot. Additionally, for quite a while now, I have prided myself on exceeding writing requirements, often by twice as much as recommended by my professors. For example, my recent post regarding rhetoric was supposed to be the equivalent of a four-page essay, but with my word count, it would have been about twelve pages long. Luckily, most of my professors have seemingly not minded my habit of writing past the suggested lengths of their assignments, but I have realized that I really should be more mindful. Not only could my professors potentially mark me down for going beyond their writing requirements, but other prospective readers of my work may also immediately disregard my writing after seeing its length.
Upon thought of what my professor told my class, I realized that it truly is difficult for me to make choices that would shorten my writing but also make my message just as strong (if not stronger). I still remember when during my sophomore year of high school, my English teacher assigned our class an essay about a book we read as a class. My teacher told us that if we chose a piece of evidence that was not the strongest option, our grade for the essay would drop dramatically. I was terrified of this threat, and although I ended up doing very well on the essay, having to choose the absolute strongest approach in order to prove my claim stressed me out. If I had the option, I probably would have included every piece of evidence “just in case.”
I feel as though this “just in case” mindset is what I am in right now. I probably did not need to include every detail of the construction of the Lighthouse of Alexandria and a large summary about the entire history of lighthouses in my essay about the landmark, but I worried of being criticized if I left anything out. Also, my questions I have written for guest speakers who visit one of my classes most likely did not have to be a paragraph long each, but I feared that I would seem uneducated about the speakers if I did not display my research efforts regarding them. Likewise, if I omitted a specific use of rhetoric in my previous blog post, what if it was one that my professor expected me to discuss?
As one can see, I am at odds with this issue regarding the length of my writing, because I want to be successful at what I do and write out all of my ideas, and sometimes it just does take a lot of pages for me to detail everything that I want to say. Even though having a lot of ideas is a good problem to have, I am starting to believe that I need to figure out how to describe everything I want to say in a concise manner, and condense my arguments into what will really be effective.
Have any of you had similar issues regarding writing length? Especially with the amount of essays I have to write at this time, how do you think I should handle my general “over-writing” habit? I would truly appreciate any tips or advice.