One of the greatest things about maturing as a writer? You write so much that you have seen every cliche around, and you know not to use them.
One of the toughest things about maturing as a writer? You write so much that you must continue to write creatively without using cliches — or the creative lines you have already used.
Writers and journalists of any kind — be it video, audio, photography, or print — must make a conscious and continual effort to avoid repetition in what can be a repetitious job.
For sure, every story is unique; this is one of the great joys of working in journalism. Less unique, however, are story types. This year alone, a journalist may have already attended so many press conferences or city council meetings or sporting events that he or she struggles to find ways to cover them creatively.
I welcome any outside perspective that encourages me not to get too comfortable as a storyteller.
In the past few days, I have come across two such perspectives I feel compelled to share.
On Friday, Washington Post writer Carlos Lozada wrote the article, “To be sure, journalists love cliches”. After an introduction where Lozada intentionally uses cliches to write about the importance of not using them — a technique that, frankly, seemed a little cliche to me — he gets to the good stuff. Lozada produces a lengthy list of banned phrases and, as he writes, “Things We Do Not Say” in the newsroom.
Among his targets:
- Be that as it may
- Needless to say
- [Anything] 2.0 (or 3.0 or 4.0 …)
- At a crossroads
(Believe me, this is a mere taste; Lozada writes at least 50 of these …)
Print out this list, and make sure your scripts and articles include none of its items.