To back up his claim, his March 25, 2011, column cited:
- President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who said it took him an hour to write a one-hour speech, but two hours or more to do a 30-minute version.
- Henry David Thoreau: “Not that the story need be long, but it will take a long time to make it short.”
- Mark Twain: “If I had more time, I’d write shorter.”
- Carl Sessions, senior editor, American Journalism Review: “Consider the things that stick with you: the Ten Commandments, the Gettysburg Address, the Seven Dwarfs. Al (Neuharth) is right: Think long. Write short.”
On the other hand, Deborah Tannen, author and linguistics professor, Georgetown University, comments, “Brevity hones thinking and forces clarity, but can also mean losing subtlety and nuance. The challenge is knowing when it does more harm than good.”
Which is why every writer could use an editor.