The long and the short of blogs

It’s a rare day when you can sit down for a nice long blog. To read. More so, to write.

For us somewhat literary-minded people (or maybe I should say reflective-minded people or just thoughtful people) a nice long thought process is a treat. When a long, tightly-knit thought is presented to us, we love to meander through the maze from one thought nodule to another drifting along, just enjoying the experience.

The writer takes care of the grooves along which we run. We enjoy the ride. When we have more time, we ponder, we think and we go off in other directions energized by someone else’s thoughts that we had the privilege to peruse for a while. We agree, disagree or build upon what we experienced.

Those are the long blogs. To be experienced at leisure.

But most of us like to read shorter pieces in the Blogosphere–an exploration of just one of those nodules of those long thought processes that provide us a flash of experience, a tiny, sparkling bubble of thought gloriously glinting in the sun for a moment.

The virtue of these posts is in their quick but powerful impact rather than in their exploratory genius.

I am, naturally, a long-blog thinker. That is to say, long pieces of prose come more easily to me than such short, succinct, powerful but brief pieces. Such brief, concise but vivid and powerful prose does not come easily to me at all.

But I’ve been trying hard. I realized that keeping in mind a few things help to compose such short pieces:

Exploring a single idea without sub-parts: My temptation to overcome here has been to branch off into those sub-parts to back up the main idea but the very short blog does not need or have space for backing up points.

Asking a powerful question without attempting to answer it immediately with my own opinion or evidence. The job of a single successful blog post, I’ve often seen, is only to ask the question. This has proved rather challenging for me. My natural tendency is to treat blogs like conventional essays and provide some answers to implicit or explicit problems I’ve posed in the post!

Beginning immediately. Short blog posts have no space at all for any introductory material. If I amΒ  dealing with very commonly known subjects, this is relatively easy but even then it can be very hard to launch onto a subject almost immediately with the first word.

Simplifying ideas and subjects to their very basic state. It’s terribly hard for me to be both brief and complex. That is a gift which is rare indeed. So my only option in very short blogs is to simplify, simplify, simplify. That always leaves me with a feeling of dissatisfaction!

I wonder what people do to get a better grasp over their style and content when they switch between long and short, brief and extended types of writing.

76 thoughts on “The long and the short of blogs”

  1. This is exactly what I suffer from, which is why my blog posts are always around the 1000 word mark. I do edit, trying to be succinct and make my points quickly, but this is still a skill that I’m working on.


  2. I love this post, and I certainly will use this advice. I have to admit I am one of those longer bloggers although I try not to be. Your tips will be very helpful to me. Thanks also for liking my post Fiction As Art? It’s a long one, so thanks for reading! πŸ™‚


  3. As with the other comments (and one time I’ve read over all of them), a fascinating topic! Trying to define what is short vs long is also interesting. I tend to have some ideas that I will have in draft mode, that I ponder. Over and look at other sources, so. My blogs are by no means instantaneous. 600-800 words seems enticing without being laboured. The chance to ponder and muse over something is preferred, as I see it is for many of the other comments listed…


  4. It’s difficult for me to be brief also, but I think maybe it’s just cuz I write like I talk…. meaning I am one who visualizes everything and therefore details become important. Very good advice …. Perhaps I will try to “not be me” and see what happens… πŸ˜€


  5. i lurved this. “I am, naturally, a long-blog thinker. That is to say, long pieces of prose come more easily to me than such short, succinct, powerful but brief pieces. Such brief, concise but vivid and powerful prose does not come easily to me at all.

    But I’ve been trying hard. I realized that keeping in mind a few things help to compose such short pieces:”

    ME TOO! but sometimes, y’know…? you just gotta add more words and well… that’s how it goes. setting a clock helps too. my “tuesday morning press” pieces are an exercise in restraint. and the pieces about my kids are usually very poignant with people because they love their own kids / or the post touches on their childhoods as well.

    good job! i will endeavor to be briefer. endeavor.


  6. I don’t really have anything to add here just that I tend to ramble quite a bit. It comes from this place of always needing to explain! Maybe attempting to write shorter blog pieces (if I ever start doing them regularly!) would help me with this problem? Another really nice piece that will help me! So thank you!


  7. I’m quite new to blogging (my phone tried to insert flogging rather than blogging .. predictive text gets me into all sorts of trouble!) and I’m sure this piece will help me improve my posts. Thanks for posting such consistently interesting and thought-provoking pieces. Carol, Cumbria, UK.


  8. I also struggle with long/short blog problem. I am trying to write more succinct and to the point posts. We’ll see how it goes. Love the blog by the way.


  9. So you wrote an average size piece about how to turn a long piece in a short piece. Smart! πŸ™‚

    I don’t mind long blog posts as long as the writing is interesting and the colors on the website don’t hurt my eyes.

    Obviously you’re doing a good job, check your follower-count. πŸ™‚

    Found your blog yesterday and loving it so far.

    Kind regards,

    Daan van den Bergh


  10. Funny you should post this now, I’ve been toying with the idea of updating my blog more frequently with shorter, more immediate posts, rather than longer ‘essay’ types. I too, am a bit of a meandering writer, so it will be a challenge to find the middle ground between long blog and witty Facebook status/twitter type entry. Good luck to you!


  11. This post resonated with me strongly … my thoughts also come in a rather long instalments, but I am trying to train them to fit within the confinements of a blog post!
    Thank you for another interesting read,


  12. Very eerie reading this, like you had my same thoughts! I even have a post on my blog about attempting shorter posts, and that post itself was lengthier than I intended! Good advice here on how to improve on that skill.


  13. I do both, but seem to lean towards the longer. I let the blog unfold as I write. Very happenstance actually. I used to struggle with what is of interest (we want what is written to be read, heard) but I have discovered that it is more important to write with passion. The readers and followers will come. Thanks for the thoughts!! Happy blogging.



  14. Great topic. I so want to be a 250-500 words kinda gal, but seem to be stuck at the more bloated 750-1000 level. Now and then I’ll reread my old posts and think “shut up already”. Man, what I wouldn’t do for a great (free) editor.



  15. I’m personally more comfortable with shorter pieces. I like to get in, say it, get out. However, I enjoy your style! You know what they say about variety: it’s preferable to everyone doing the same thing. πŸ™‚


  16. I’m a long-blogger by nature as well, and don’t even bother trying to squash myself into a short box. I think of each entry on my blog as not a “post” but an article, and generally take a “Field of Dreams” approach to the whole thing – i.e. if I write it (long), they (who like long blogs) will come.


  17. I myself am trying two days of short and one longer. The short post have a theme to fit into for me. If it will be long it can’t be one of my the,Ed posts. By theme I mean it has to be in a category really. I find short easier to focus, no time for my own babble.


  18. Your topic here is much appreciated as I, too, am a philosophical writer with difficulties writing short blogs. Short blogs with a philosophical edge has to have just the right words and that I have found, as you have, is a gift. To answer your question, however, I don’t think transitioning between the two necessarily aids in the discovery of your style, as much as it does to reinforce the style your already gifted with and provide challenge with the alternative.

    As a side note, I quite enjoy your style of writing because it allows me to meander down the path you’ve created and take a little side trip on alternate topics which serves to inspire.


  19. Mostly I’ve given up the struggle and just go with what I can do for the days post, be it short or long.

    My readers don’t seem interested in the posts I’m proud of and they like the ones I don’t care do much for.

    There’s always more to learn, isn’t there?


  20. I wrestle with this question, too, so can certainly identify with your post. I am naturally a long poster, but lately have been training myself to write posts that are no more than 500 words long. It’s difficult to keep to this limit, at times, but it is a good exercise for me.
    Thanks for asking the question–I’m sure you’re not alone in trying to figure out the best word length to post for your readers.


  21. I try to find a happy medium. I’ll write both and long and short posts, believing that most people want the short posts. Like you, I tend to want to expand ideas and feel displeased with myself if I need to take things out. Sometimes, I’ll set an approximate word limit for myself.


  22. This posts touches on something I wrestle with as a new blogger. I understand the short, informative blogs. I’m in the news business and readily see the value in them. Catchy headlines and subheads, bullet points, one topic, links to references: all good stuff.
    However, I see a blog like a newspaper column — anywhere from 800 to 1,000 words or more, with room enough to get into the nuances of a topic,
    I don’t know that I’ll ever find a happy medium. I find it’s usually one way or the other.
    Happy blogging!


  23. You seem to tackle just the subject that needs a thought loop.
    Short is great and hard. Working on it too.
    Really enjoy your log posts, as well, an long meandering posts like you described.
    Your insights surprise me, for some reason, thought they are so simple, I hadn’t put words to the thought before. πŸ˜‰
    Then you do. wonderful.


  24. Nice post. I tend to write small and as simple post as I can, as I envision the average reader perusing on their smartphone or what not, and they don’t have time to read longer prose. That’s just my style. But I do love reading longer blogs and have especially enjoyed your work. All in all, I think it depends on you, your target reader, and your goals. In the end, just write– let the world decide.


  25. Reading this makes me nervous, as writing a short blog just isn’t my style, I wouldn’t enjoy it half as much… but I realise that many readers prefer short punchy blogs.. alas!


  26. Blogging has a reputation for being informal and spontaneous. However, one of the best ways to write concisely is to pre-write. Spend a few minutes planning out what you want to write before sitting down at the keyboard. Don’t be afraid to draw diagrams, outline, anything that helps you structure your writing. When you come up with a post that’s long, if you’ve structured it well in advance, you can always break it up (as you’ve been doing lately) into part 1, part 2, etc.

    Also, anything that you write on a blog spontaneously could later be edited. You can save your blog to draft, then tighten up the writing (cutting out tangents–your “sub-parts” and pasting them into new posts, even), and only post after you’ve completed the process.

    On the other hand, maybe being “reflective” and naturally a “long-blog thinker” is your voice. Those of us who follow your blog like that about you. πŸ˜‰


  27. Love your opening line…. a rare day, indeed. We all seem to be ‘time poor’. However; as far as your writing is concerned, I enjoy the read. Therefore, I will generally put it to one side until I have the opportunity to give it the attention it deserves…!
    This morning I couldn’t pass it by; I am fresh and wanted to enjoy it before moving through those other blogs I enjoy.
    Yes, your posts are a little more lengthy than most however; they are well written, thoughtful, and worthy of the time spent.
    To answer your question: I believe we must be true to ourselves. If that means remaining with the status quo; so be it. If it means trying our hands at a different form of expression; so be it. We all perform slightly differently in all things… no right, no wrong… Variety is, after all, the spice of life..!


  28. whether I write a long or short blog depends on the topic, and sometimes quite honestly how much time I have–I too enjoy a long post that takes me on a bit of a journey–but sometimes I write short blogs because that is all I have to say


  29. Great post, posing a question that I deal with every time I sit down to write. I have some similar tendencies to yours. I tend to enter into a post without a firm idea of where I’m headed, which means I often meander to a possible answer. I prefer a writer who uses “might” or “could it be,” rather than “here’s how it is.” This almost necessarily means a meander.
    I think that the method of an open-ended question can work well, particularly if you sincerely want to hear what others think. I’ve also found those WordPress Weekly Photo Challenges get me to say a lot in fewer words. I’m enjoying them. Thanks!


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