June 12, 2019 § 36 Comments
By Brianna Bell
Last week Jeffrey Goldberg, mansplainer-in-chief at The Atlantic, wrote an article appearing to suggest that women can’t write 10,000 words. Women across the world nodded their heads in unison, “Yes, Mr. Goldberg,” they said. “Finally a white man who understands us.”
I can’t write 10,000 words, because I’m a woman, of course. I can write 700 words, however, and a listicle is even better for my short attention span. As the wise Mark Twain once said, “write what you know,” and what I know is why I cannot write 10,000 words.
Here are the reasons:
Women can’t write long features because we’re so busy talking
I know that women can be long-winded, but that’s when we’re using our mouth, using our fingers to type is a completely different thing. Besides, women don’t need facts and figures to back them up when we ramble on with our words. If only we spent less time talking, we could have the gumption to write long-winded stories like white men can.
We are too busy with our families to write 10,000 words
Women work really hard to balance it all. But some dreams are just too big and insurmountable. Sure, we can write a 2,000-word feature in Good Housekeeping, but we cannot write a full cover story of 10,000 words. We can’t even read those cover stories—we skim them quickly between soccer practice or driving our elderly parent to their dentist appt (we can’t even write the full word, appointment, appt will do). There is no time to read 10,000 words, and there is definitely no time to write 10,000 words.
We prefer the personal essay
Women are such deep feelers. My feelings are so deep, an ocean can barely contain all the feelings I have, about all the things. The personal essay is perfect because it requires only feelings, no research or statistics.
The women who can write 10,000 words, write books instead
There are some women out there that are capable of writing more than their grocery list. But these energetic women decide to focus their time writing books. Although women don’t like reading 10,000-word magazine features, we love ourselves a good book. There’s nothing like chick lit and a hot bubble bath to relax us after a long day of balancing it all.
There already is one woman doing it
It is important to fill quotas, and I don’t think it’s right for men to dominate with their 10,000 words without a little bit of a challenge. Luckily, there was that one woman who wrote a cover story that one time, and so now thankfully we can say that we’ve already done it. There’s no need to put too much pressure on ourselves.
We get distracted easily
There’s nothing like a woman who flits about, from one task to the next. One minute she’s folding a load of laundry, the next she’s paying the heat bill, and then she remembers her Starbucks date with her high school friend Sally, so she’s flitted off to that. Expecting a woman to stay focused for an entire 10,000 words on a single story is an impossible expectation.
I know I said that this would be 10 points and 700 words, but I’ve been writing this at my kitchen island while my three kids, two cats, and a dog all begged for snacks and entertainment. I simply cannot finish, which proves that Mr. Goldberg was absolutely correct. Us women cannot be trusted to write 10,000 words.
For this woman writer, 590 words will do.
Brianna Bell is a Canadian freelance writer with work published in The Independent, CBC, and The Globe & Mail. She has never written a 10,000-word feature.