Well conceived, clearly said

I saw the quotation below in this article yesterday: Microsoft’s New CEO Needs an Editor.

“Whatever is well conceived is clearly said,
And the words to say it flow with ease.” -Nicolas Boileau

Many words and fancy words do not impress. They communicate, instead, a lack of clarity and likely an ill-conceived idea.

When my sentences keep getting more complex and tangled in paragraphs that need yet another paragraph to explain further, I should stop and rethink what I’m trying to accomplish. Go back to “Why?” and scrap it if I can’t come up with a clear answer.

Tolstoy called for us to be honest and brave and “to act and speak that your motives should be intelligible to an affectionate seven-year-old boy.” (I’ve got a seven-year-old daughter who is mostly affectionate. Tolstoy would nominate her to be my editor.)

Flow is the desired state. I might need to write my way into it and hack through adverbs and jargon to get there, but what I deem inessential should not make it past my Publish button or Print icon.

Share nothing that is not simply stated and easily understood.