Last week, Cheryl Reif asked the question on her blog: Short or Long? Which Way to Post… She wondered if people preferred reading blog posts that weighed in at the “recommended” 300 words, or if people enjoyed longer posts.
Anyone who reads my blog knows I don’t follow the 300 word formula. *cough* In fact, my posts probably average around 700 words.
As I commented on Cheryl’s blog, I’m okay with my post length because most of the 300 word posts feel too short to be useful to me. I agree with her reason for liking longer posts:
Why do I read these writers’ posts even though they take a bit of time to digest? Because they provide real information, not just brain ticklers.
“Brain tickler” is a great phrase to describe those short posts. They make enough of a point to tickle our brain and then the post ends.
What Makes a Post Memorable?
I have just enough scientific knowledge about brain function to be dangerous. *smile* So I know we remember things better when the concept relates to something we already know. Like a lattice, our brain wants to attach new information to facts it already has in storage. The more connections between new knowledge and old knowledge, the stronger the web of understanding.
I’ve seen in my own memory that brain tickler posts often don’t have enough context to connect the point of the article to anything else. Could a reader sit and think about it for a longer period of time to create those connections? Sure. Especially if a reader leaves a comment, we know they’re processing the information on a deeper level.
But the other readers, the ones not commenting, the ones just reading for the superficial words on the screen, they’re more likely to forget our point as soon as they close that tab in their browser. After their half-second of processing, the knowledge we gave them will float away because they haven’t connected the idea to anything else in their brain.
Are Short Posts Worthless?
I think short posts have their place, however. Short posts can be a great way to introduce a question and kick off a conversation in the comments.
And we love quick chuckles, like from xkcd.com. Especially this one, which has inspired a family joke in my house:
But if we’re trying to share information and get our readers to think, longer posts can help our readers learn the knowledge.
Is “Short or Long Posts?” the Wrong Question?
Maybe the question isn’t, are longer posts “better” than shorter posts (or vice versa)? Maybe we first need to answer what we’re trying to accomplish with our blog post. Then the question becomes, what type of blog post will help us reach that goal?
Personally, my teacher-at-heart style leads me to longer posts where I can share information and make you all think. Heh. I approach blog posts the same way I write my fiction—digging deep enough to leave an impression.
On the other hand, I don’t want to overwhelm my readers. When my posts go longer than 700 words, I strive to use shorter paragraphs and bullet points whenever possible. Besides, my Tuesday/Thursday posting schedule averages 300 words a day over a Monday-Friday schedule. *snicker*
So for my personality and my goals, longer and more infrequent posts work for me. But everyone has different goals, so my approach is not for everyone.
Like most things in writing, there is no “right” or “wrong.” We shouldn’t try to write shorter or longer posts simply because we think that would be “better.” Instead, we each need to figure out what’s best for us and our individual needs.
P.S. The content of this post weighs in at 619 words.
P.P.S. Don’t forget to check out the #PotterChat blog hop. We’ve been having fun Twitter chats and tomorrow is the big day for entering the scavenger hunt. I’m offering a beta read as one of the prizes, so I’d love for some of my readers to win.
Do you prefer short or long posts? What makes you read posts even when they’re long? Are you more likely to comment on one type of post over the other? Have you noticed that one type of post makes you think more or remember better?