If you are a writer there are many reasons to love the computer. It does make writing easier. But it also makes books bigger, as in more words and more pages. Books are longer these days, despite the fact that it is just as simple to remove text as to add it. Easier, actually. But psychologically, I think one tends to add rather than subtract. That, I think, is a pity. Famously, Shakespeare, in Hamlet, has Polonius, Ophelia’s long-winded father, say:
Therefore, since brevity is the soul of wit,
And tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes,
I will be brief. Your noble son is mad. . . .
[See my December 13, 2013 post for Samuel Johnson’s thoughts on prolixity.]
One of the most important on-going writing lessons I ever had was, curiously, writing book reviews for the School Library Journal many, many years ago. I was a young writer then (still writing plays) and was more than happy to write long, two-page reviews of books. However, SLJ only wanted short reviews, at most a paragraph. Out of necessity, I would take those long reviews and then try to use fewer words to say the same thing.
The point is, I could.
To this day I write on, and on, and then work backward, and cut, and cut, and cut. Famously, “Less is always more.” As my writer friend, Rachel Vail once said to me, “The most important key on my keyboard is the delete key.”
Slogan of the day: You can always write better by writing less.