Meet Those Pesky Word Limits

Word limits are the bane of my life (or one of them anyway). I find a certain joy in writing and when the time comes to write an essay for school I get a bit carried away –I could write until the cows come home. I simply ignore the limits and write until the essay seems fulfilled, which unfortunately is most likely several hundred words more than I’m allowed. The dilemma to me comes when the teacher yells that I’ll fail if I don’t get rid of 300 words. Here are some tips to cut down that lengthy essay to the correct limit.

1) Highlight the words you don’t need on a hard copy. The task seems more daunting when it’s on the glowing monitor. I find the task easier when I can hold it in my hands. Plus, I just love colourful highlighters! After working on the hard copy long enough, delete the highlighted words on your digital copy.

2) Colloquialisms and Hyphens are a god given gift. I know that colloquialism will make a teachers blood curdle, but using it’s, don’t, won’t etc. will save you those all so precious words when it matters. Use the hyphen whenever possible to turn two words into one.

3) Put phrases into your computer's built-in thesaurus so it spits out a one-word alternative. The thesaurus is another thing I'd struggle without in these essays both in writing and deleting words.

4) Look at each point of your essay and think --Do I really need this?

Come to think of it ,deleting parts of essays is something I really hate. It wastes good work and makes things seem like they're going backwards. My solution to this is after shortening your essay, write something else. No task, no word limit, no rules –it’s my way of giving the lost words new life. In fact, this post was my way of making up for the words I had to remove from an English essay and it was not even that many words I had to delete.

-Barista Ellen-

Image: Jessie Jacobson