Cut ‘it’ out! Just cut ‘it’ out!

You know how some people have ‘verbal diarrhoea’?
Well, I think I suffer from written diarrhoea.

I am very sorry to have put that image in your head. Believe me, I did try, but even the omniscient Google could not suggest more tasteful synonyms for what I wished to convey.

Basically, I’m just trying to say that I can’t stop writing once I begin. That’s probably a better way to put it, yes.


Anyway, I find it really hard to end anything I write. I can ramble uselessly for pages and pages, without actually saying anything meaningful. This blog is actually a very good example of that.

My tendency to be verbose is okay in context of a blog, where the only thing I have to look out for is making sure that my posts are short enough for readers to actually get to the end. And trust me, this is hard enough. But when I have to complete assignments with a word limit, it’s a major problem. And I mean major.

I have no spatial visualization ability, and essays are no exception. I always overestimate the amount I need to write. I usually end up writing novellas for an essay with a limit of five hundred words. Then comes the really hard part: the editing.

Oh, the grief that editing gives me!

I hate throwing things away (serial hoarding disorder), and I love words. This is a bad combination. I simply cannot bring myself to delete unnecessary words, forget entire paragraphs. To explain why I find editing so tough, I’ve devised a little something I like to call ‘the five stages of editing’:

1. Denial: Quite simply, denial is the stage in which I obstinately refuse to understand numbers and what they mean. ‘Five thousand words?’ I think. ‘That’s nothing. I’ll write a couple of thousand words more and then cut it down to five hundred. It’ll be easy. All I’ll need to do is cut down on a few adjectives and definite articles – it can’t possibly be that hard.’  

2. Anger: In this stage, I understand that it is impossible to cut five thousand words to five hundred, and choose to vent my frustration by bestowing the choicest of curses on the person who set the word limit in the first place – i.e. the teacher. ‘What is her problem? She should try writing this essay in five hundred words! It’s just impossible – what was she thinking? How can she not give her students creative freedom? She is suppressing my artistic liberties, my freedom of speech! I should take her to court for this!’

3. Bargaining: By now I’ve calmed down and I’ve realized that there’s nothing I can do about it – I must edit. So I turn to a higher power. My mother. “Could you please edit this for me? Please? I promise I’ll do anything you want. I’ll give you a foot massage! I’ll do the washing-up! Please, just edit this!” And when she agrees to edit it – “No, no, no! What are you doing? Don’t delete that sentence! It’s vital to whole essay! What are you doing? Haven’t you edited anything before? You’re deleting that word, wha…wait! Just give my essay back to me. I wouldn’t have given it to you in the first place if you’d told me that you were deleting important words like ‘very’. I’ve written it twice for a reason – it’s called emphasis.”

4. Depression: Now I’m convinced that there is no hope left for me. This will never work. There is simply no way to cut this down to five hundred words without annihilating the whole essay. But this essay is my life’s work! I’ve never written anything as good as this. I will have to irreparably damage the best thing that I’ve ever done. I hate my life – why does this always happen to me? It’s so unfair that I’m being punished for my writing talents!

5. Acceptance: This stage usually comes a day before the deadline for submission. I’m forced to accept that editing is a necessity of life – I cannot avoid it. So I get to work, editing out words like ‘the’, ‘and’, ‘a’ and ‘it’ until there is no semblance of coherence left in my essay, and it seems like something written by a very drunk James Joyce. For those of you who don’t know James Joyce sounds like (when he isn’t drunk), here’s an example:

What clashes here of wills gen wonts, oystrygods gaggin fishygods! Brekkek Kekkek Kekkek Kekkek! Koax Koax Koax! Ualu Ualu Ualu! Quaouauh!
– James Joyce, Finnegans Wake

Editing is truly very, very frustrating.  


14 comments on “Cut ‘it’ out! Just cut ‘it’ out!

  1. Charlotte M says:

    I concur, having just this week had to cut 300 words from a 2,000 word essay. It was all relevant material for goodness sake! I’m just waiting for the next one…

  2. bersitkk says:

    I Love your writing 🙂 puts a smile on my face. Keep doing what you’re doing.

  3. franhunne4u says:

    How glad I am that I am just writing for my own pleasure and counting words has become a tedious task from my school day past … We had to do it back then in my English classes – to make it easier for the teacher to rate the number of mistakes. Now I may even make mistakes – and nobody complains! Get on – you will reach a time, too, when the number of words becomes not important any more!

  4. mugdhap says:

    Imagine when you have character limit… not words!

  5. Emma says:

    I completely understand. 500 words is such an unreasonable limit. How can I compress what I’m trying to say into such a tiny space? I did a National History Day project last year, and exhibits are limited to 500 words. I tried to keep it short when I was typing out the first draft… and ended up overshooting the mark by several hundred words. I spent hours editing it down until finally I got it to be PRECISELY 500 words. Not one more nor one less. And not counting headings/titles, of course.

    • mushroomsup says:

      That’s exactly what I do when faced with an unreasonable word limit! After all, they didn’t specify that headings and titles are included, did they? (That’s the closest I’ve come to ‘living on the edge’) 🙂

  6. I have the exact same problem and go through the exact same process! It’s why I named my blog ‘Dreamerrambling’ – I can’t stop once I put my fingers to the keyboard. I was marked down all the time back in school for not following the correct essay structure due to my rambling and exceeding the word limit. Sigh.

  7. speakingwins says:

    Very, very, very, very funny. (One, two, three, four, five words. Can’t be said in less.)

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