Kevin Brennan Writes About What It's Like

No time left for you…


(This post is approximately 272 words long.)

My bad. I’m one of those readers who looks at the word count on the WordPress Reader. When I see a comma in that number, I tend to go, “Maybe I’ll come back to this later.” Then I never do.

It’s not that I don’t imagine the piece will be engaging enough to hold my attention. It’s strictly a function of time. Anything on the Internet that’s going to sequester me for more than a few minutes (sad but true) causes a weird sort of anxiety — that I won’t have time for the next interesting thing to read.

I know, it’s almost pathological. Plus, I have other things I like to do in life that don’t involve staring into an electronic device.

Now, according to this piece in the NYT, some websites like Slate and Medium have added notations to their stories that indicate how long it will take to read them. (I don’t see it on Slate, but maybe it’s a Slate+ feature….) This I appreciate. Akin to the WordPress word counts, it lets me budget my time, but by the same token, it also allows me to be perhaps irrationally stingy with it.

Oddly enough, I do read longer stories, but usually in print form — magazines, books. It can take me a couple of long sessions to read a good New Yorker article I’m really interested in, and I think nothing of it. But ask me to spend more than five minutes on a web item and I’m getting all edgy and impatient.

What do you think? Are you becoming a time miser?


13 comments on “No time left for you…

  1. sknicholls
    October 3, 2014

    Honestly, I’ve gotten to where I scan longer posts for details. Confessions of a pseudo blogger. I don’t even like to leave long comments. I have to keep moving.

  2. rossmurray1
    October 3, 2014

    Absolutely. Over 1000 words for a blog post (with some exceptions) is too long. It’s simply not a good format for long reads. I tend to suspect posts of 1000 words or more will turn out to be a bit of a ramble and in need of a trim, which in turn makes me reluctant to click. In my own writing, I get antsy around the 750 mark. If I hit 800, I know I have to cut. WordPress readers follow dozens and dozens of blogs, so with each post you’re competing for their time.

    • Kevin Brennan
      October 3, 2014

      I stopped reading your comment at “…not a good format for long reads.”

  3. ericjbaker
    October 3, 2014

    I am so with you. That’s why I keep my posts under 800 words. I feel like that’s the magic number for getting some content in there without making a magazine article out of it.

    • Kevin Brennan
      October 3, 2014

      A man of few words, but many monsters…

      • ericjbaker
        October 3, 2014

        I let the monsters do the talking.

  4. Pamela Beckford
    October 3, 2014

    Agreed – I read blogs on the fly and if they are too long, it just doesn’t happen. Some (the few I get email notices about) I save for later when I know I will have time. But I only take time to go so far back in my reader.

    • Kevin Brennan
      October 3, 2014

      It’s ironic, in a way, for writers because we do put a lot of thought into our posts and other works. As someone in the article says, “I’m even careful about the stuff at the end…” Yet we seldom get to the end.

      Quite the conundrum!

  5. John W. Howell
    October 3, 2014

    I purposely keep my posts below 8oo words recognizing the value of readers time.. Even so, I know I lose some. Hey Kevin, you still reading this comment?

  6. 1WriteWay
    October 4, 2014

    Actually the content, more than the word count itself, decides whether I’ll persevere with a long post. If it’s good fiction (or creative nonfiction), then I’ll read or make sure to come back when I have time. Example: I’ve been reading the serialized novel CHUK by Jessica Bell’s (aka Helena Hann-Basquiat). I make a point of reading each installment even if that means saving it for the weekend. But if it’s a how-to post, like on social media or marketing, I might scan it if it’s too long or just move on.

    I know you stopped reading my comment already but I have more to say. One thing I’ve noticed of late is that I’m starting to see the same content, just from different bloggers. Content on marketing, social media, for example. I’ve come to the conclusion that there really isn’t anything *new* in that content, at least nothing new enough for me to slog through even a 750 word post.

    • Kevin Brennan
      October 4, 2014

      I read the whole comment!

      And that’s a great point you make at the end. There really is a lot of repetition — I guess because the audiences for various blogs overlap. That marketing/social media stuff I skim if I look at it at all.

      I’m interested in fresh-sounding voices that make me laugh or put unexpected spins on things. Or that teach me something I don’t know. That’s worth spending a little more time on!

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This entry was posted on October 3, 2014 by in Publishing and tagged .
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