Journalism skills / Lessons learned / Writing skills

“Writing is hard” and avoiding cliches.

I do it. I write cliches in my writing. Then I delete said cliche and ponder over what else I can write that doesn’t sound cringeworthy and crap. At uni I did Creative Writing as a minor and my tutor would always tell me to not use cliches because they are boring and unoriginal, and so I agreed with her but apparently ignored her advice.

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The thing is, when you’re under a time limit and you’re churning out content to hit deadlines and just tick it off that to do list, these ‘cliches’ just roll off the tongue – or onto the keyboard. They’re common in everyday language so it’s not the worst thing in the world that they’re falling into copy either. But they do sound pretty awful and it’s okay to go back, delete them all, and rewrite that sentence again (and again).

People think that good writers don’t even need to try. And some of them probably don’t. But I read this on Twitter and I loved it, so I have to share it.

Amy Poehler: “Authors pretend their stories were always shiny and perfect and just waiting to be written. The truth is, writing is this: hard and boring and occasionally great but usually not. Even I have lied about writing. I have told people that writing this book has been like brushing dirt away from a fossil. What a load of shit. It has been like hacking away at a freezer with a screwdriver.”

Now I disagree that writing is boring – in fact I find it the opposite of boring, there’s just not always the time to do it. But she hits the nail on the head when she says writing is hard. Even a witty woman such as Amy Poehler admits that nothing is as easy as you think.

So I read that on Twitter, retweeted it, and it made me feel slightly better about my own writing.

I will write something at work and just get it all down on paper (on a Word document) so the information is in there, the stats are in there, the quotes are in there. And then I’ll read it. And then I’ll feel shit about myself that it sounds absolutely awful and wonder if I have any talent at all in this field.

But once I’ve gone through it, taken out all those unnecessary words, made it simpler and snappier and taken out the cliches, I’m always happier. I just assumed that stage was never in the writing process in the real world – where you read something you’ve written and think it’s crap.

And then I read that from Amy Poehler and realised that stage is definitely there in the real world.

One thought on ““Writing is hard” and avoiding cliches.

  1. Amy, agreed! Writing isn’t boring but like all things we enjoy we tend to have less time for them. I often feel like the way you describe in your article when it comes to looking at my own work and in an odd way it’s comforting to hear that you,a trained journalist (unlike myself), still goes through this self-doubting process too…

    Look forward to reading more, all the best! J

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