Too often we use the first turn of phrase that comes to mind when we’re bashing out a piece of writing. I’m guilty of it. And you are too. (Probably.)
Clichés always wrestle their way into my first drafts. And then I have to wrestle them back out again while challenging my brain to come up with something at least vaguely original.
A truly original expression will conjure up images in the mind — something that overused phrases unerringly fail to do.
The trouble with clichéd phrases is that the eyes don’t see them and the brain glazes over them. If the writer can’t be bothered to conjure up images, how is the reader supposed to be able to? It’s pure, unadulterated laziness.
(See how easily they sneak into writing? If that’s not a pure, unadulterated cliché, I don’t what is. And if that’s not another one, I don’t know what is.)
Overused phrases don’t mean anything any more. And if they don’t mean anything, they’re sure as hell not going to make anyone feel anything. And (drumroll):
If you’re not making people feel anything, they’re not going to buy from you.
The real skill is in spotting the clichés. They flow so seamlessly from your fingertips that they’re hard to detect. Now I’m wondering if turn of phrase shouldn’t be swept away in the editing process. Comes to mind? Unerring failure? Sure as hell?
It’s tricky, this writing thing, and you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Fortunately we’re not dogs, so get out there and hunt down those clichés, scamp.