I believe I have discovered the curse of many writers… they write too many words.

In today’s non-stop world, most people are left with precious little time for reading. For instance, 15 years ago many people used to read a daily newspaper from front to back. Nowadays, they are far more likely to scan for news online throughout the day.

Writers who have failed to adapt to this change, are quickly becoming left behind.

If you want to be a successful online writer, then the one thing you need to do is: keep your writing short.

This can be easily achieved by following the rules below:

  1. Choose short words over long words. For example, instead of writing preeminent, opt for simpler words such as main or ultimate. I guarantee that your readers will appreciate the clarity of your writing (especially if they are scan reading).
  2. Choose short sentences over long sentences. It’s not uncommon to see sentences that are over 40 words in length. This is way too long. Recent studies show that when average sentence lengths are 14 words, then readers understand 90% of what they’re reading. In contrast, for average sentences of 43 words, readers comprehension drops to just 10%!
  3. Choose short paragraphs over long paragraphs. Have you noticed what happens when you see a page or screen showing very long paragraphs? It puts you off reading the content. Don’t allow your writing to fall into this trap. For online writing, my suggestion is to keep your paragraphs between 1-4 sentences in length. The BBC News website is a great example of this technique.

Now, please don’t get me wrong. There is definitely a place for long form writing. (Fiction novels and medical journals are just two examples that come to mind.)

However, for most modern writing applications, you should choose to keep your writing as simple and as short as possible.

Your readers will thank you for it.