You've been rewarded for cheating since elementary school...

mlk i have a dream.jpg

I'll always remember the dreadful sound of my teacher announcing that a "3 page research paper" will be due.

Why did it need to be 3 pages? Did she just make that number up because she knows I run out of things to say after 2 pages?

I don't know why anything ever needs to be any certain length. If I can prove my point in one sentence, why does my paper need to be 3 pages?

I know I'm not alone when I say I did anything possible to extend the appearance of my paper.

When the requirements were size 12 font and 1 inch margins, you better believe my assignment was handed in with a mysterious 12.5 font and 1.2 inch margins. I spent more time trying to deceive my way out of those extra few lines than it would have taken to write one more paragraph.

Yet, it just seemed to make sense. I could get away with handing in less work than I was supposed to. Maybe it was just the thrill of it, but after nearly 20 years of schooling think about how many paragraphs I saved myself from writing! I got rewarded for cheating the length on every single paper I handed in.

Now this introduces yet another issue. Why is writing more like a punishment?? I'm writing this post out of my own enjoyment. No one told me I had to do this... and I don't have a minimum amount of words to submit.

I didn't quit after a few sentences though. I'm writing because I have something to say.

Maybe instead of making students write 3 pages of something they probably aren't interested in, why not let them write as much as they want about something they are interested in?

Sounds crazy!

MLK said a lot of words, but history only remembers a few..

I have a dream that all men are created equal.

(That isn't even a direct quote of what he exactly said, but it's close enough for my point).

Those few words are powerful. He didn't need 3 pages. He didn't need to cheat his font size or margins.

He said what he had to say.

I'm annoyed that throughout my years in school I was trained to hate writing. It was a chore, an assignment, a bothersome experience.

Writing should be something you look forward to each day.

When I set out to write my book JUST GO, I was once again intimidated by the entire process. Would I have enough material. Would I have enough pages? What if it wasn't thick enough?

Who cares!?

You can tweet something in 140 characters that has more substance than an entire book.

Next time you feel intimidated by a project you'd like to start, simply realize the pressure that you're feeling is probably from some bad teacher who felt it was more important to require an amount of pages instead of real thoughts and emotions.

Write a book... make it 1 page if you want.

Make a movie... maybe you can tell your story in 30 seconds.

Record a song... does it need to be 3 minutes like the rest of them?

Write a poem... get the point?

Do whatever you want and do it however you want. You may have been rewarded in school for cheating your way to 3 pages, but now it's time to make something that matters... the world doesn't care how many pages it takes.