We run an exercise in the Praxis writing module where participants write a blog post, find the total word count, then go back and edit until it has half as many words as the first time through.

I can’t really think of any exceptions to when the final, halved draft is better than the original.  I’ve done this exercise myself many times with the same results.

It reveals how hard it is to translate ideas to language efficiently.  Writing is a way of processing ideas.  I usually begin with a rough sense what I want to convey and the typing teases out the rest.  This is one of the reasons I blog every day and it’s a great way to unearth my thoughts.  But it leads to overworded communication and less than razor-sharp thinking.  It takes greater intellectual power to communicate the same idea in fewer words.

So to get tighter in thinking and communication, cut your words in half.

There’s another challenge I’ve been issuing myself and a few others recently:  Take whatever ideas and goals you have and double them.

The basic insight in both of these exercises is that our ambitions are too small and our words too big.

We waste a lot of time and talk and energy on ideas and aspirations too small to warrant it.  Why not dramatically tighten the talk and radically expand the thoughts?

Try it.