Get rid of the clutter: better writing through deletion

Write better posts has been on my blogging goals every year that I’ve been blogging, but doing it is easier said than done. First off, what does “better” mean? And second, how do I know I’ve achieved it?
I recently read a post about breaking your to do list down into smaller, easily achievable steps, and I’ve (kinda) figured out a way to apply that to my goal of writing better.

Steps towards writing better blog posts:
1) identify problem areas (being sure to focus on problems that’re actually fixable)
2) break down those fixable problems into small chunks
3) fix those chunks -> fix the problem
4) success!

The biggest problem I could see is my bad habit of using the same few words and phrases over and over again. Not only is that annoying to read, but it’s lazy and boring.

Postmaster General James A. Farley During National Air Mail Week, 1938
Not that mail is clutter. Unless it’s junk mail.

For example, I noticed I use the phrase “[something] was interesting” in almost EVERY review I write. I’ve been finding it super hard to get rid of the habit of using it, too.

What I do to fix this is to write two or three more sentences focusing on WHAT I found interesting instead. When I read other people’s reviews, I want to know about the interesting thing, not just the fact that it was interesting, so I figured I’d better do the same thing in my own reviews.

I’ve also been trying to get out of the habit of writing “I think” outside of situations where I’m actually not sure about something. It comes from my polite little girl problem, and I’m sick of sounding wishy-washy on my own frickin’ blog.

Of course MY opinions would be in my own reviews, and everything I write in them is what I’m thinking! So I should only be saying “I think” something when I’m too lazy to go Google for confirmation of something, for instance.

Another word I use too much is “really,” but I haven’t worked out a way to replace it with something yet. Mostly I’ve just been deleting it when it’s unnecessary clutter. It seems to have made my writing just a little bit tighter.

Fixing all this stuff: boom! Better post, better writing, happier Anastasia! And maybe happier blog readers, too, eh?

Do you have any overused words or phrases in your blog posts? How do you fix up your blog posts to make them better (however you define “better”)?


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