How writing less could make you happier

I watched Minimalism on Netflix last night.

The documentary follows two young American dudes who chuck most of their stuff away to follow their minimalist dream.

Living with less stuff, according to the two minimalists, makes you happier.

To spread their ‘less is more’ message, the pared-down pair packed a very small suitcase each and travelled the States in their unglamorous car to talk to people about their stark new lifestyles.

Working for what we don’t want

They spoke of how bored we quickly become with everything we buy. This doesn’t make most of us think, “Hold on, maybe I should just stop buying stuff”, it makes us think, “Hurry, I need something new TODAY!”

Yes, of course, we also quickly become bored with that new thing as well. And on it goes in an endless cycle of working long hours to pay for things we soon can’t wait to get shot of.

Shop less, enjoy more

The minimalists decided to simply stop buying so much stuff in the first place.

There does appear to be growing evidence to back up their belief that more stuff doesn’t lead to more happiness. Newspapers and magazines are awash with articles (like this one) telling us that millennials crave experiences over material goods. The newly-minted word to describe this phenomenon is ‘NOwnership’.

The connection I’m suggesting this has with writing is that less can also be more when it comes to words on a page.

Garage sale

Think back to the last time you decluttered your house or garage. One day you woke up, entered the space where your car used to fit, and thought, “I’ve got a hell of a lot of stuff in boxes.” You realise none of that stuff is important to you anymore… if it ever was.

So, you have a sort-out. You sell some, you donate some to a charity shop, you give some away to friends and family

Then you return home. And breathe a gorgeous deep breath.

Lifting a great weight

It feels like a great weight has been lifted off your shoulders. It’s as if you’d been carrying the stuff around with you everywhere, instead of storing it in translucent plastic boxes in your dusty garage.

With all that stuff gone, you feel freer. You can now actually see the space you own. Bizarrely, you never stop to ponder whether you need the actual garage!

It’s often the same with writing.

Let’s say you’ve written 500 words. You pause before you’re due to publish it. You read through it one more time just to check everything is tickety-boo and you think, is all this really necessary?

Probably not.

So, you start highlighting bits of it and tapping happily on the delete key. You hone it down to 250 words without any loss of meaning. This makes it easier to see the important message you wanted to deliver. It stands out, like a car in a garage that isn’t surrounded by junk.

Not everything you write is crap

It’s not necessarily the case that half of everything you write is crap. You often have to go through a process to create a great result. But, by paring down the articles you write, you may encourage more of your readers to get to the bottom of the page.

Which is, after all, the aim of sharing written messages.

What do you think? Is less more when it comes to writing? Are there too many baggy blogs clogging up the internet? Does seeing a sea of words on a page leave you feeling a little green around the gills? I’d love to know your thoughts

Thanks for reading.

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