It’s All About the Word Count

When I write a new post, I rarely think about how many words I am typing. Today I have a new appreciation for how important each word is. I spent almost the entire day working with my daughter on her college application essay. She is an extremely talented and creative writer so she didn’t need any help getting her ideas on paper. Where my role came in was to help her take an amazingly well-told story of 840 words and pare it down to 650max- without losing the essence of how she expressed herself.


It actually became a very rewarding project. She took the day off of school in order to get this done before the deadline of Nov 1. Usually she tells me she has things under control, or rolls her eyes when I offer advice. Yesterday was different. She was able to listen to my suggestions with respect and gratitude and see them as constructive points which would help her, rather than negative comments that only proved I thought she was a terrible writer.

By  noon, she had a second draft edited and emailed to relatives on the west coast just as they were starting their days with a cup of coffee. One of them, her grandmother, was an English professor and had multiple suggestions on how to tighten things up effectively. Amazingly, my daughter was receptive to what was probably an overwhelming flood of ideas coming from three generations of writers in this family.

Somehow she managed to filter the good suggestions from the ones that didn’t seem to fit her style and reshape her essay into something that she could feel proud to submit. I grabbed my Roget’s Thesaurus from the shelf- I always keep it handy- and she opened up Merriam Webster’s dictionary on the computer. We spent half an hour looking up words, trying to find the best way to express what she meant in the most efficient way possible. When she typed up her final draft last night, the word count came in at 659. She is back in school today but tonight she will make a last effort to cut the unneccessy words and then she will hand it to her counselor to file with her applications.


As I type my post this morning, I am thankful that I can ramble freely without the word count restrictions that she had on a much more important piece of writing.

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. suzicate
    Nov 06, 2013 @ 18:37:35

    That’s wonderful you were able to offer “suggestions”. I remember that time with my boys; seems like the only time they wanted my input was when it came to essays…of course, I relished the opportunity!



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