Yi Xiang

A Young Writer in Search of His Voice

Why Do I Practice Writing with Posts Less Than 500 Words

When I first started writing English, my instinctive choice was to write posts longer than 1,000 words, maybe even more than 2,000. That is the length I enjoy. Plus, when writing in Chinese, I tend to write long posts as well. So I figure I should do this with English too.

But the problem is, writing in a different language is a lot like learning to write all over again. When you first start writing, you are simply not experienced enough to write a long post and keep it organized. I would start a draft, write a thousand words, only to go off topic midway.

Practice Writing

It’s frustrating, especially since I already considered myself an experienced writer. I expect to just spend some time to become familiar with this language, I don’t expect to relearn writing.

But, after enough failure, I gave up. I said, fuck it, let’s pretend I had an accident and my brain is damaged and I lost all my writing skills, I would have to start again if I still want to write. My question then is, how do I do it? By writing daily, of course. That I already know. But what should I write? How long should I write?

To answer this question, I took a look at my first serious blog where I learned to write inĀ  Chinese. I found that in the beginning, I wrote a lot of short posts, about one year later, I started to write longer ones but they are not well organized. It would take me about another two years before I could write something that is both long and clear.

Then I thought to myself, if that’s how I did it, then in the same way I will do it again. I will begin with short posts, a lot of them. But how short is short enough? 500 words a post is pretty fine to me, so I stick to it.

By the way, I took a look at another blogger and found a similar pattern. His early works are short and very much like rambling, as if he wrote from the top of his mind. But now, his posts are longer and more focused.

I have made this progress with Chinese writing, now I will do it with English. I expect my English writings to improve rapidly in 2 to 3 years until finally my style is nailed and I can express myself fairly good, then improvement will slow down.

But I should begin writing good enough posts long before that, like, half a year or one year from now.

Update: Ironically, just after I decide not to force myself to write long posts, I’ve been writing posts about 1000 words.