I remember writing papers early in my schooling. I was always looking for ways to pad my word count to reach the desired number of pages. That is no longer the case for me. These days I am learning how to abide by a word count.
This morning I submitted a paper for the Society for Pentecostal Studies meeting coming up in March. I submitted a proposal of some research I was working on so I was confident I would have something to present. However, when my proposal was accepted, the instructions said my presentation could only be 15 minutes long. My first draft of my paper was 36 pages in length. As I timed myself, I was only able to cover a third of the paper in 15 minutes. That’s a problem.
For the past few months I have been paring down that 36 pages of research to 13 pages. It has been a painful process. It took me hours and hours of writing to produce those 36 pages. Now I was deleting whole paragraphs and excluding valuable research. However as I slowly trimmed and reworded my paper, a much better version of my research emerged. I was making my argument clearer by including only the most important research. I have learned that the impulse to add words that I had learned early in my career was hurting my ability to write. Had it not been for a word count, I would not have given my best research in the paper.
In my writing I am learning to say more in less words. (and blogging. Only 300 words!). My next goal is to do the same for my preaching. In fact, I think it would be good if i limited my words in all kinds of areas like my opinions, my relationships and on social media.