Cut the Intro
Here’s one way to improve the thing you’re writing: cut the intro.
Writing about the symbiosis between trees and mushrooms? Don’t start talking about how humanity has depended on trees since the blah blah blah. Just jump right in! Talking about new features in your app? Don’t start with the fluffy stuff about how excited you are to announce yada yada ya – just tell me what improved.
Boom! The text is lighter, faster, less wasteful.
I get why folks feel the need to add a fluffy intro though. There’s real pressure to make a big deal out of whatever it is and turn everything we write into a thundering manifesto because we have to set up all this context and history, right? Well – no! We absolutely do not and often when we do our writing will mostly suffer for it.
This is something I have to remind myself because it’s so easy to start with something like...
Since the dawn of history, painting has been an integral part of human existence...
Just tell me about the painting you painted! Get to the good stuff right away and if you feel the need to pad your writing out with fluff then, well, don’t! A big word count doesn’t make things more profound or academic or smart. In fact, most of the time, more words means we didn’t think about something enough. We didn’t cull, cut, and trim.
So: ditch the parade before you get to the good stuff because we need fewer gosh darn manifestos.
(I am looking at you, Robin.)