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Friday, July 05, 2013

Writing tip: keep a list of "wasteful words" #blogchat



clutter
clutter (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)
Write compelling words that promote action. If you're writing online, it probably isn't just because you want to read it. Study impactful bloggers. See how they use words. Learn from them.

Here's a trick that has helped me craft better blog posts. I keep a list of wasteful words. They are enemies of clarity.

What is a wasteful word?

This is my list of wasteful words.
What are yours?
A word that clouds meaning or takes up space. Word clutter makes you hard to read.

My list of wasteful words


  • There are / There is
  • It is
  • very * extremely * really * actual
  • Given the fact * in fact * the fact is that
  • had a * have a * had an * have an * have on * had on
  • on how to
  • of the
  • say that * think that
  • successfully
  • along 
  • has 
  • ones 
  • specifically 
  • again * available
  • with regard to * with respect to * in reference to * in connection with * for the purpose of
  • advance * together * basic * close * end * free * past
  • you need to
  • a lot

Find and eliminate

If you press Ctrl + F (on a PC) or Command + F (Mac) you can find and remove these words. Most offending words take up space, clouding your point. 

Create a Word clutter collection

Add your own crutch words to your list. (Mine is "a lot.") If you put them in your computer, save time by copying and pasting the words in the find box.

Teach powerful writing and blogging

If you teach writing, keep a word list or add to the list throughout the year. Teach students (especially bloggers) to search for and remove these words as part of writing.

4 Times I always clear word clutter

  1. Before I turn anything in to my editor. All chapters or articles get searched for every word. For frequent words, save time and turn on the advanced search feature and check "match exact word."
  2. "Epic Blog posts" - If it takes longer than 30 minutes to write, I'm going to check it. If a post starts going viral, I'll recheck it for clutter words.
  3. When I'm trying to communicate simply. Less clutter words, more meaning. I've used this in important emails and letters.
  4. This post. I am afraid of using these words and harming my thesis here. I've already searched three times! ;-)
Clutter words are a problem for me. I have to intentionally take them out.

What are your offensive words? Please share in the comments.

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