Austin Kleon is a writer and artist who inspires us to see things differently. For personal entertainment, he began creating ‘newspaper blackout poems‘. This involves taking a newspaper article and black marker. He scans the piece for a handful of words to string together. He literally edits the text to create short punchy stories. He boxes his chosen words and edits the rest away with his black marker.
This makes so much sense; Why use 100 words if 15 will suffice? Especially if those 15 words now have more impact.
Here’s a humorous quote from The Minimalists on how to declutter your writing –
Avoid throat-clearing. Blogs, books and social media posts are littered with unnecessary intros, solipsistic digressions and avoidable drivel. Ditch the nonsense and state your points. When in doubt, delete your fist two paragraphs and see whether the writing improves.
My writing tips to help you throw away lots of your words:
What is your key idea for your article? Throw out all ideas on paper or screen. Resist the temptation to edit or structure your text.
What are the key points that support your idea? Now it’s time to position and piece these together like a jigsaw. How do your ideas flow? Is there a logical progression and clear conclusion?
How many sentences or words can you remove while retaining the meaning? Choose short active verbs over flowery adjectives. Be ruthless. Come back to the article the next day. Read it aloud. Edit it again.