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Simplicity is as Elegant as it is Brilliant

Writers take note. Leonardo da Vinci said it 500 years ago.

By Rene Volpi Published 6 days ago 3 min read
Top Story - May 2024
Simplicity is as Elegant as it is Brilliant
Photo by Nick Morrison on Unsplash

Simplicity will carry the day.

Leo Tolstoy said that there is no greatness where there is no simplicity, goodness, or truth.

So, should we all strive for greatness? If so, why? We can still be happy without it. Can we not? The work is good, even comfortable, and beyond acceptable. If we work at a publishing company and the boss is happy, we get paid anyway. It's great. There is no pressure, it is easygoing, and we get paid just like the next person.

Why should I struggle so hard for excellence? Playing devil's advocate, I can argue against it with ten reasons:

1) It's hard work

2) My income won't change since I work for someone else.

3) I'll get disappointed way more often.

4) Most people don't recognise the difference.

5) When I tried to be excellent in the past, people coldly rejected me.

6) Editing any given piece takes more time than the work itself.

7) It is highly time-consuming when I could be enjoying my time doing something fun.

8) I get praised and admired anyway by my underlings and interns. Good for the self-esteem.

9) If it is suitable for my self-esteem, isn't that it? Game over. I come out ahead.

10) Confidence is awarded with little effort yielded. What's so wrong with that?


If we follow the unchallenging path, we might not get the prize or even miss the path altogether.


It's on the road that we find excellence. That's where all the fun happens. It's there that we find who we really are.

The real problem is that we think we are great. But we also need to be busy and overthink. We believe that if we don't write with enough fanciness, we can't create anything worth reading.

That is so far away from the truth that it beats Oswald being the lone gunman.

Simplicity is where true talent lives.

Simplicity could lead to excellence. We don't need fancy writing. It uses old words that make people reach for their dictionaries. Before you even start, you lose your reader there.

These days, no one gets impressed by complicated prose. Don't take my word for it. Ask famous creators to see what they say:

“The secret of good writing is to strip every sentence to its cleanest components"—William Zinsser.

“The shorter and the plainer, the better"—Beatrix Potter.

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication,” said Leonardo da Vinci.

Still, our first compulsion is the idea that to be a successful writer, we must use obscure words.

We believe such a tactic will impress people and make us look like great writers.

Take humour, for example. The shorter the punchline, the better the reception.

Genius music creators have used just two chords for their most beloved and delightful compositions. Many times over.

But we don't respect simplicity enough. It resolves most of our issues. It inspires us to do what we otherwise think is impossible.

We are thick-headed humans. But we learn by failing.

Outside of math, algebra, and quantum theory, subjects are simple. We see simplicity everywhere. We are the ones who make everything complicated. It seems that we enjoy making things unnecessarily complex. Despite hating it, we still find ourselves in the middle of a mess of our own creation.

Eventually, we learn. Simplicity is key.

“The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do.” —Thomas Jefferson.

The best experiments ended with the researcher shouting and looking upwards. They'd say:

"It was so simple!!!"

Because it is.

Excellence has nothing to do with complexity.

Excellence is born out of hard work, discipline, and the mundane.

“True genius lies not in doing extraordinary things but in doing ordinary things extraordinarily well. ~Louis H. Wilson.

Let’s do that.

And also remember, last but not least:

“True beauty lies in the purity of the heart.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi.

By Patrick Fore on Unsplash


About the Creator

Rene Volpi

I'm from Italy and write every day. Being a storyteller by nature, I've entertained (and annoyed) people with my "expositions" since I was a child, showing everyone my primitive drawings, doodles, and poems. Still do! Leave me a comment :)

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Comments (7)

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  • angela hepworth3 days ago

    Congratulations on top story!

  • Tehmeena Adeel 3 days ago

    loved it.. please read it and if you found interesting please give it a like, your support means a lot to me as a reader.

  • Daniel Mozaya5 days ago

    Hi there from Lebanon! It's wonderful to meet a fellow storyteller who's been entertaining people with their creative work since childhood. Your passion for storytelling is truly inspiring, and I'm sure your drawings, doodles, and poems have brought joy to many people over the years. Keep sharing your stories with the world, and never stop creating. Here's to many more years of imaginative storytelling!

  • Back to say congratulations on your Top Story! 🎉💖🎊🎉💖🎊

  • Very good

  • Kendall Defoe 6 days ago

    Shakespeare proved that less is more: 'To Be or Not To Be' 'Now Is The Winter of Our Discontent' 'All The World's A Stage' Boom.

  • I gotta agree, I prefer things being simple rather than complex. Simple doesn't mean low quality and complex doesn't mean high quality

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