“It has been proved that a reader or listener has, ateach moment, but a limited amount of mental power available. Compare reading with looking at a picture. Theeye sees and the eye apprehends the picture in a moment,but in writing we can only produce our effect by a series of small impressions, dripping our meaning – so to speak – intothe reader’s mind. A man’s brain at the best is a narrow-mouthed bottle into which we can receive but one word at atime. If you want your reader to think of ‘apples,’ for instance, you must use no words that will take his mind off ‘apples’; and you must write no words that will force him touse mental power in associating their meaning with apples.If you do use such words, you are weakening your owncase, because you are causing him to use up part of ‘themental power available at the moment’ for shifting your wordaround in his mind. He has that much less mental power with which to catch the drift of your idea.”
From a Shaw Publication, AppliedBusiness Correspondence, byHerbert Watson.