Working with Words

I have come to the conclusion that writers tend to think about the world a little bit differently than others. Speaking for myself, I yearn for experience (though not something which might actually destroy me…). Any experience as long as it teaches me something about how my characters might react in any situation. I find that’s why I’m generally (generally speaking, we all have our days) quite keen to do anything.
And, naturally – then there are the words.
More to the point, the amount of words.
We’ve had to write some articles for work again on all sorts of interesting things which can potentially go wrong in any chicken’s life. Admittedly, I had not been very excited about it – as I had written an article for my boss a few weeks back – only to have it shot down with the words: Let’s wait for the vet.
I had used credible sources, yet – because I am only me, my words weren’t good enough.
For these articles though, I sensed that the content might not be scrutinized as much as my article had been and, reluctantly, I agreed to spend two days at work to hack away at them. We were told that the articles much must short. A page or two. No more.
Of course, the writer in me immediately went… Well, how many words?
My colleagues didn’t understand.
“About a page,” my senior colleague had offered when I confronted her with it. “You know. A page.”
I looked at her and instantly realized that she had not yet explored the various word count options that a page could offer you. If you decrease the margins, or increase of font size, or change the font type, it could have a drastic effect on the amount of words that you had to write.
Pages could be manipulated, words couldn’t.
If you wrote bullet points, or long paragraphs, that also affected how much information you could give through in your words on an A4 piece of paper. But, I was like a lone voice in my pressure for a word count.
It was only at the end of today that my colleagues finally understood why I had wanted a simple measure with which we could unify our work. When all the articles were laid out, and all brought down to the same font and script, they varied tremendously.
“Ah,” My colleague had said as I stared over her back, not sure whether I should feel justified or irritated that she had not taken the time to listen. “I see why we needed to get a word count finalized. You were right.”
Yes. Of course.
I am a writer after all.

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2 thoughts on “Working with Words

  1. hearandlearn May 5, 2011 / 12:58 am

    Hello Alyssa! While I know and understand your meaning of this post, there are some times where when a boss just wants you to make an honest effort, and not get hung up in the details. You can normally assume a boss doesn’t want anything in font size 72. I’m sure the boss also doesn’t want you to use a font that only about 5% of the people can read without PhD’s and interpreters. I have had a few bosses that I drove nuts, wanting them to speify exactly what they wanted, and presented an immovable object waiting for an answer I would accept. Working with large-scale computer systems, I’ve often had to create some kind of documentation, for both management, and the actual users of the hardware/software, and for training. I remember when the head of the computer department of a large hospital told me he wanted a Pro’s/Con’s write-up on new software that he was proposing to the hospital, the last thing he wanted to hear me say is, “How many words do you want in that three page write-up? Should every other letter be a different color?” He would have choked me blue! So, just my opinion, save your detail fights for when they are needed. And if your co-workers are clueless on what in God’s name is a normal, practical font and size, educate those poor souls! Take Care! Don

  2. Phoenix May 5, 2011 / 10:12 am

    Some people just need things shoved in front of their faces to see why the details are important. Unfortunately not everyone sees the reason why even if it’s shoved in their faces. It’s a good thing to see you don’t work with this sort of myopic individual.

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