In his comment to my previous post (Too big a calling card?) Sir Hugh said: "As far as length is concerned I try to follow your example, but have no hesitation if I need another fifty words to ensure clarity and understanding."
My re-comment was expanded into this post. It's all rather navel-regarding but it answers a point raised by those who have wondered why I willingly wear a prose strait-jacket.
Sir Hugh: I'm not sure you've got the hang of what I do. I write 300-word posts in which length helps define the nature of the post. Length is almost as important as subject and expression. After a few hundred such posts one starts to recognise a structure and a rhythm that (without doing a count) proclaim 300 words. Tacking on another fifty words would mean I was writing posts of open-ended length. Something else entirely.
The 300-word limit might seem random but it was only random once - on the day I wrote it into the home-page introduction. Thereafter it was a simple statement of intent. Obviously, a limit reduces the risk of boring readers by length alone (I still risk boring them by subject and/or mode of expression).
More important, I am sure in my bones a word limit imposes discipline and discipline in writing is mostly beneficial. A sonnet’s discipline - three quatrains of ABAB rhyming, ending with a rhyming couplet, all in iambic pentameter - couldn't be stricter: no room for adding another quatrain. No one complains about the sonnet's format; why not accept the sonnet's verb. sap?
There are other risks. I often over-compress. But mostly I don't. And, since I now add quotes from Second Hand, the limit shrinks variably. Tough. But who says writing should be easy?