Simplicity is difficult

I recently read ‘Brutal Simplicity of Thought’. It’s an overview of M&C Saatchi’s working philosophy. That’s Jeremy Sinclair, the agency’s chairman pictured. After a short introduction the book is filled with examples of Brutal Simplicity of Thought in action.

For me the biggest insight was written in six or seven words on the back cover.

“It’s easier to complicate than simplify.”

At first this feels like a contradiction: complicated it easy; simple is difficult. However, on closer analysis there is real truth there.

In The Consolations of Philosophy, Alain de Botton describes how this effects philosophical writing.

“An incomprehensible prose-style is likely to have resulted more from laziness than cleverness; what reads easily is rarely so written. Or else such prose masks an absence of content; being incomprehensible offers unparalleled protection against having nothing to say.”

It takes time and effort to digest information, to synthesise data, to organise one’s thoughts and to express them with brevity, clarity and impact.

Blaise Pascal perhaps summed this up best in Letter 16 (1657) of The Provincial Letters:

“I have only made this letter longer because I have not had the time to make it shorter.”

For more on simplicity in writing check out:

Hey. I’m Alex Murrell. I'm a Planner at Epoch Design in Bristol where I help deliver highly creative, innovative and effective pack, instore and online communications for some of the world’s biggest FMCG brands. Want to know more? You can find me on Twitter or LinkedIn.

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