Brevity Is Not My Middle Name

(Sometimes the pump just needs priming. After writing about having nothing to say, it turns out I actually did have something to say today. It was just hiding. Here’s a second post for the day.)

A few weeks ago, we had a manager’s meeting here at work. This is a once a quarter affair where we meet, eat pastry, and talk about our plans for the department over the next three months.

Part of these meetings is also a discussion about how we, the management team, can improve ourselves and be better leaders for our team.

This quarter’s growth topic in support of that goal was about our use of words.

A senior member of our staff held aloft the cap from a water bottle, and told us the goal was to “use a capful, don’t pour out the whole bottle.”

He told us to shorten the bullets on our PowerPoint presentations.

He told us to “speak in conclusions” in our emails.

He told us to always be aware of how many words we’re using and then trim it back.

Ironically, it took him over half an hour to pass along this message.

I deeply considered throwing the cap from my own water bottle at him.

But I didn’t.


Look, dear readers, you’ve been with me for over three years, and 1,000 posts which amounts to approximately half a million words.

Do you *really* think I can “use a capful” when I write?

People, please.

To paraphrase The Dude, I’m not really into that whole brevity thing.

I’m a writer! I’m a creative! I pass words like currency through my life. My husband and my best friend, the closest people to me, both have kick ass vocabularies! If you’re gonna run with me, you gotta love the use of words and language and be willing to endure my penchant for storytelling the whole damn six pack, not just the capful.

No, I say! No! I reject the capful and dive headfirst into the ocean of words, swim around nekkid, get the words all soaked into my skin and then I’ll use a few more adverbs just to make it more, erm, wordly!

Damnit! Asking me to ratchet back the words is like tying Rodin‘s hands behind his back and asking him to craft a masterpiece with his toes.*

Ain’t gonna happen.**

* Look who is comparing herself to Rodin. That’s a bit audacious, innit?

** That said…I’m trying. Well, trying at work anyway. Be warned, all the words I have to cut out of my days at work are so totally going to show up here.

Cartoon from Toothpaste for Dinner

About Author


  • Anonymous


    Funny, if I have a criticism of your writing it's that your paragraphs are too short. I read every word but they remind me of a powerpoint.

    I remember attending the kind of meetings that you describe. I was required to attend so very soon I went only for the donuts and lessons on how to hold bs meetings.

    I found that the kind of meetings you describe show that there are too many people in management.


  • Karen Fayeth

    Ephraim – Yes, you've expressed before that you don't like my short paragraphs, and I appreciate the feedback.

    I write this way for two reasons: 1) My blog posts are fairly stream of consciousness, so I tend to hop around topics and 2) short paragraphs make for easier reading, so I keep it brief in my hope to capture attention deficit internet surfers.

    In my work emails I tend to stay on point and want to give enough backstory to lead my management to the decision I seek.

    And I'm totally with you on going to a meeting simply for the donuts.

  • Anji

    I like the way you write short paragraphs. I read a lot but on the computer screen I just can't face huge blocks of writing.

  • Karen Fayeth

    Anji – Thanks. Thats a good point and another reason why I do short paragraphs, when I read other blogs, if I see brief paragraphs I'm more likely to read the post.

    It's all a matter of personal taste, I suppose.

Comments are closed.