My language is just grating!

Shutterstock_42751294 I've noticed something that's been quite prevalent in my writing of late.  The word "great."  Apparently I think just about everything is great. 

Lazy is what that's all about.

Lazy writing is boring writing.  It's not juicy.  My words aren't caressing a darn thing. Lazy is not memorable, quotable or even mildly noteworthy.  No matter what the subject  — word choice matters.


First, I apologize that I've been serving up lazy word choices.  You deserve better.

Second, 2010 is going to be the year of juicy language.  Now I am not going over the deep end.  Every sentence is not going to be jam packed with gooey adjectives just because I know how to mine a thesaurus.  But, I am going to be much more attentive to making conscious word choices.

And third…on the hunch that your writing might have a dash of lazy in it as well, here's a writing exercise for all of us.  Come on…it's time to do a bit of stretching.

Flip through a magazine and find a photo that catches your eye.  Once you've selected your photo, simply look at it and do the following three exercises.

The warm up:  List 25 adjectives that describe the photo.  Don't censor or judge.  The obvious ones will pour out first but notice how you have to push to get to 25.  Is the 24th one better than the 2nd one?

The workout:  Create a business analogy from the photo.  What might it say about anything from your industry to leadership to social media?  The point is to see beyond the obvious and see a hidden meaning inside the image you selected.

The cool down:  What is the perfect word that captures either the meaning or the mood of the photo.  A single word.  No cheating.

Whether you are a copywriter day in and day out, a business owner who crafts an occasional flier or an exec who writes 10 e-mails and memos a day…your audience deserves your best words.  Get out there and and be great! (Just kidding….)

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5 comments on “My language is just grating!

  1. Julia H. Kern says:

    Very true!

  2. Hi Drew,

    Years ago I covered congressional hearings for clients and wrote up a lot of reports. My mom, in editing something for me, noticed that I used the word “said” all the time. So I went to my thesaurus and built a list of alternatives (stated, noted, testified, indicated, observed, added, stressed, reiterated, praised, etc.). The list is still taped up, and it was a good lesson learned.

    Happy Holiday Weekend,

  3. Daria,

    Ahh, a cheat sheet! Good idea. I suspect it’s not just the word great in my case. I think I probably need to slow down, re-read a little more and be more purposeful.

    But, I need to tackle the problem one lazy habit at a time. So, I’m off to make my great cheat sheet!


  4. I agree — part of the problem is the rush of content we push to create — some more formal like a blog post and much of it “fire it off” informal like Tweets and Facebook updates.


  5. Danny,

    I often find as I watch really well written, tight TV shows or movies that I am inspired to sharpen my own pencil and elevate my writing to their level.

    Good reminder!


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