Joshua Wold

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A thousand words

There’s a movie that came out a few years ago starring Eddie Murphy. In it he could only speak 1,000 words, and if he went over that amount something bad would happen. That’s all I know, I never saw the movie.

Some days I feel the same with writing, that I have a limited amount of words available to me each day. A few years back I read about the concept somewhere and it has stuck in my mind since.

I’m curious to install a tracker on my devices to check how much I write each day. I’m going to take a wild guess and pretend it’s 3,000 words.

So, imagine a day that starts with 3,000 words available for writing. Following this exercise, here’s what could happen in a given day, depending on what was done with the time available:

  • Texting: 250 words
  • Slack and internal blogging (P2s) for work: 1,500 words.
  • Email: 250 words
  • Social media posting, commenting, etc: 250 words.
  • Journaling and personal note taking: 500 words

This leaves me with 250 words left to write in other forms, such as on this site.

Again, this is only theoretical, I have no idea how much I actually write. As a designer much of my job comes down to my ability to convey ideas with images and words.

As with reading (worth another post on its own), we have a limited amount of attention available to us. Love Is the Killer App, by Tim Sanders, is an amazing book that touches on this. Reading social media or Reddit can be likened to snacking candy in between meals. Reading a newspaper or news websites might be like a healthy snack. You can take this metaphor quite a ways, but the main point being that most of your time should be spent eating health nutritious meals. In this example that’s reading books, non-fiction books dedicated to a specific topic where the author has spent years thinking through and explaining a concept.

So, to take this back to writing. I’d like to be conscious about dedicating more of my writing quota to concepts that are akin to a healthy meal. That’s where I wonder how much time should be dedicated to social media posts versus writing here. The other form I enjoy is personal communications (texting 1-1 with a friend, or answering an email with a personal or career related question).

Curious if others have thought about this. If you have anything to add feel free to reach out!