Unnecessary Words, Cliches and Colloquialisms

That, Also, Especially, For a long time, Little, Even, Wondering, Somewhat, Really, Actually, Seems, Wandering, Even still, Must have, A bit, For a short time, sometimes, Even as, Things, Very, Of course, Ever, It seems, Suddenly, All, Usually, And then, Sort of, Some, Certainly, Small, It, Certainly, Some, Still, Then, Sudden, Only Just, Only, Anymore, You know, So, For, And, It was, Because, Tries to, And so, Somehow, All right, Big, Such a, Oh, Or not, Just, At all, I know, Exact same. 

Back in the spring I took an online writing course through Coursera (I do recommend browsing their catalog of classes, many of which are free and do provide a great intro to many topcis, including, of course, writing). In one of the lessons on editing, the instructor gave the above list of unnecessary words. I guess I wasn’t necessarily surprised at the words on the list, however, I quickly realized those are all the words that I use most frequently in my writing. They are some of my favorite words and phrases. And added to the list of unnecessary words we can add cliches and colloquialisms. Other things that I add all the time in my writing. And while we are at it, run on sentences and sentence fragments and way too many commas appear throughout, as well. I know all these writing conventions are big no nos throughout the polished and professional writing world. However, I write like I speak, which again, tends to be a no no. But why do I write like this? Why do I use all these unnecessary words and phrases, cliches and colloquialisms? Simply because, they are genuine, they are me, they are how real people speak and talk and write and phrase things. There is a reason they are telling you not to use them. Because you sound like everybody else. 

Now I get it, there is a myriad (see this is a big word, sometimes I will whip out my trusty thesaurus when necessary, though I did come up with this one on my own) of words in the English language, and we do not use anywhere close to the amount of words that we do know, or even could learn to know. But that is just it. That is the whole point. Why am I going to use big words, words that people have never heard of, if I am trying to be inclusive in my writing. If I want to make my writing accessible and approachable to a wide variety of folks. That is why the newspaper is written at a third grade level. Maybe you will disagree and say that I am dumbing down the written word, not embracing educating the masses, etc. etc., but simple words and phrases often convey the meaning and message most clearly. Maybe that is why I am best suited to write children’s books. You can throw in a big word here and there, if it advances your story, if it makes sense to the text. But to throw in big words just because you can? That to me is a no no. 

I think these unnecessary words, cliches and colloquialisms convey emotion, feeling in a way that no other words can. So I may buck tradition and go on and continue to break the rules, with my run on sentences and sentence fragments and commas and unnecessary words and cliches and colloquialisms because that is who I am. This my writing style, my writing voice. And that is who I want to portray in my writing. The approachable, accessible, relatable, inclusive individual on whatever topic that I want to write about. Writing is for everyone, rules need not apply. 

Order A Walk Through the Redwoods

If you loved this book review, you might also enjoy my debut picture book, A Walk Through the Redwoodsillustrated by Natalia Bruno. You can order it now from your favorite bookstore: Amazon, Bookshop, Barnes & Noble.