FastCo Design recently published a fantastic interview with George Lois, the original MadMan. In “10 Tips for Success,” he gives some thoughtful advice on advertising that translates well into general life advice. Here’s my favorite:
2. “I’m sorry I could not have written a shorter letter, but I didn’t have the time” –Abraham Lincoln
Not too long after U.S. President Abraham Lincoln delivered the iconic wartime Gettysburg Address of 1863 in under three minutes and in just 10 sentences (272 words he had written and rewritten and agonized over), he wrote a long letter, in miniscule handwriting to a friend. The apology above, that he didn’t have the time to contemplate, correct, and edit his letter, is the most lucid lesson in good writing I’ve ever read. Keep it short, informative, concise, and literary, where every single word counts. But remember: It’s not how short you make it; it’s how you make it short.
Think long. Write short.