Blogging for about six years now, I’ve often asked myself: how long should each post be? And as such, you’ll probably notice that Pixelated Thinking has a wide spectrum of post lengths, from 2000+ word essays, to simple quotes less than 100 words. This probably answers my question – that I don’t exactly know what the perfect blog post length is.
But thinking over it, I’ve come to realise that, despite its rootedness in the fast-paced world of technology, blogging is fundamentally an art form, a means of writing and expressing one’s thoughts and ideas. And, as we’ve known from thousands of years of world literature, there is no fixed limit to how long a discourse should be. It can be as long as the 1.8 million word Sanskrit epic, the Mahabharata, or as short and lucid as Lao Tzu’s 81-verse Tao Te Ching. Both are incredibly powerful texts, presenting complex ideas and philosophies, yet they’re of two significantly different lengths. This in itself indicates how uncertain the idea of length is on a piece of writing.
In school, we’re taught to conform to word counts – 200, 500, 2500 words maximum. Anything over, and you’ll lose marks. Whilst this is a good framework for forcing students to get straight to the point and thus structure their pieces rigidly, it can sometimes be quite limiting. And so, the world of blogging, a world where there’s hardly any rules, becomes a virtual playground for us lovers of the written word. But it can also be a curse, bringing the argument straight back to the classroom framework: the freedom to write as much as you like can start to make your work tiresome to read.
The Internet age has definitely shortened our attention spans. Twitter’s 140 character limit is both a fun way of succinct expression, and a reconditioning tool to shorten our focus ability. And so I think that, in trying to answer this popular question of any blogger, one must look to what humans enjoy most: variety.
Writing isn’t about numbers, it’s about expressing yourself. So instead of worrying about how long a piece is, rather focus on the content, and on the best way of converting your thoughts into words. Doing so, be mindful of your audience, of their retention rate on your blog, and also of your content spectrum: by shaking things up with a few long-form pieces amongst an array of quick-burst thoughts, you’ll have a lively blog that can generate its own discourse.