I was asked again this week why “exactly 250 words.” Which is encouraging to me, because it means people at least read the titles of my emails.
There are several answers:
- I am not a precise person by nature. Which means that artificial constructs of precision allow me the chance to work on skills I value but do not have in abundance.
- I have been accused of rambling, hard to do that with an exact narrow target.
- I am forced to edit. 250 is never where I naturally stop writing.
- All readers are more likely to finish if they know the end target is a specific distance away. (How many pages until the end of the book?)
- 250 words is roughly what you see when you look at an email without scrolling.
- Again encouraging people to willingly read all of what is written.
- It is my mission to get you thinking, not to have you listen to me think.
Boys are especially frustrated when asked to work without a hard target. It’s analogous to being told to work until you are done, or run until you are tired. Done and tired change with every circumstance.
Hard targets can also get in the way. They can become the goal rather than a measure. If misplaced they can defeat rather than encourage.
Pedagogical science has shown us hard targets are a tool we can use teach. The artistry is found in how we use the tool.